Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Maintenance crew members conduct a readiness exercise at Ellworth Air Force Base.
Maintenance crew members conduct a readiness exercise at Ellworth Air Force Base.
U.S. Air Force photo

Box Elder - Work & Economy

Box Elder’s median household income in 2015 was $48,652. According to the U.S Census 2015 American Community Survey, the county's total labor force of those 16 years and older in 2015 was 5,083 with 139 people or 2.1 percent listed as unemployed. For an in-depth economic profile of Pennington County, visit the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development. 

Ellsworth Air Force Base is the largest employer in the region and the third largest in the state of South Dakota. According to the 2014 Economic Impact Analysis by Ellsworth, the base employs 7,948 people, both military and civilian. Other Box Elder community members commute approximately 10 miles using I-90 to Rapid City. 9.9 percent of Box Elder residents, or 465, report commuting more than 30 minutes for work. Outside of Ellsworth Air Force Base, Box Elder has a small business community, which includes a chiropractor, restaurants, banks, and salons.

City Profile

The South Dakota Dashboard offers city profiles for South Dakota cities with populations of 1,000 and greater using data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Find total population, racial breakdown, gender breakdown, poverty rates, disability rates, home ownership rates, housing cost burden data, median income, median age and more for Box Elder on the South Dakota Dashboard.

Gross Sales Revenue 

Pennington County ranked second in South Dakota for gross sales revenue in 2016, generating  $6,551,735,881, as reported by the South Dakota Department of Revenue. Highest grossing sectors included retail trade ($3.11 billion), services ($2.18 billion), and transportation and public utilities ($430.0 million). Taxable sales in Pennington County exceeded $2.9 billion in 2016, according to the South Dakota Department of Revenue.  

Employment

Box Elder has a potential labor force of 3,095 with 2,901 civilians in the labor force according to the U.S. Census 2014 American Community Survey. This gives a labor force participation rate of 67.7 percent. 

According to Data USA, the most common industries in Box Elder are public administration; retail trade; accommodations and food services; health and social assistance; and administration, support, and waste management services.

Pennington County has a total of 55,556 jobs as of 2015 and 76.2 percent of adults are working, more than the national average of 68.7 percent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the county's total labor force in May of 2016 was 53,857, with 1,468 people or 2.7 percent listed as unemployed.

Income & Wages

The median household income for families in Box Elder in 2015 was $48,652. This is lower than the Pennington County median of $52,217, but higher than both the South Dakota median of $53,017, and the United States median of $55,775.

In Box Elder, 970 people live in poverty, or 11.5 percent. This is slightly lower than the rate of 12.2 in Pennington County, the state rate of 13.7 percent, and the national rate of 14.7 percent.

Of Box Elder’s total 2,880 households 867, or 30.1 percent, pay 30 percent or more of their income on monthly housing costs, also known as housing cost burden. Pennington County ranks 61st of 66 counties in this category with 29.6 percent. This is higher than South Dakota’s housing cost burden at 24.5 percent, but lower than the national rate of 33.3 percent.

Agriculture & Resources

Despite the growth of the urban population around Rapid City, agriculture continues to play an important role in Pennington County's economy. 

There were 599 farms in Pennington County totaling 1,074,103 acres according to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture Census. The average farm or ranch was 1,793 acres. The number of farms engaged in cattle production was 325. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms devoted to agriculture decreased by 9 percent. The market value of agricultural products sold in the county rose 17 percent, to $65,746,000 from $56,038,000 in 2007. Livestock accounted for 55 percent of all sales. 76 percent of farmland was devoted to pasture in Pennington County. The amount of government payments farms received totaled $2,942,000, down by 10 percent since 2007. The average principal operator of a farm was 59 years old and was most likely male and white. 19 Native Americans and 74 women were principal operators of farms. Pennington County was ranked 8th for winter wheat production in the state and 13th for horse and pony production.

For more information on agriculture in Pennington County, see the county profile at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website. Explore more information at agcensus.gov and Rural Life and Census Data at SDSU, Brookings, SD. 

Environment & Conservation

Located in Rapid City, the Pennington County Conservation District was established in 1940 and serves a large portion of Western South Dakota. The current district covers 980,425 acres, including federal land and townships located within the district boundaries.

Housing

In Box Elder, 1,288 of 2,880 households are owner occupied, making the homeownership rate 42.3 percent in 2015. Pennington County ranks 48th of 66 counties in South Dakota for homeownership, with 67.0 percent of homes owner occupied. This is higher than the national rate, 63.0 percent, but lower than the state rate of 68.2 percent. Only 231,452 households out of 339,437 total households are owner occupied in South Dakota as of 2015.

Of Box Elder’s total 2,880 households 867, or 30.1 percent, pay 30 percent or more of their income on monthly housing costs, also known as housing cost burden. Pennington County ranks 61st of 66 counties in this category with 29.6 percent. This is higher than South Dakota’s housing cost burden at 24.5 percent, but lower than the national rate of 33.3 percent.

Transportation - Rapid City Regional Airport

The Rapid City Regional Airport serves as the primary airport for a broad area that includes most of western South Dakota, as well as parts of Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Rapid City airport ranked 156th among the nation's airports with 264,170 passenger "enplanements" in 2015. This volume represented a 0.92 percent decrease from 2014. The airport employs 24 permanent employees and has budgeted an estimated $5 million for operations and maintenance and $7,795,056 for Capital Improvements.

Tourism

Pennington County ranks 1st of 66 counties in South Dakota for real taxable tourism sales, with $ 227,262,434. That amount represented 27.4 percent of the state’s total. To see where other counties rank, see our chart on the South Dakota Dashboard.

Two of the top five leading industries in Box Elder are Retail Trade and Accommodations & Food Service, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, as tourism and services make up a large part of the Pennington County economy.

More Information

For more data on the economies of South Dakota and the Black Hills, please check out our interactive graphs and charts at the South Dakota Dashboard.

 [R1]This information was recently updated with  2016 data on the South Dakota Dashboard.

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