Belle Fourche - Work & Economy
Agriculture is South Dakota’s No. 1 industry, with the state routinely ranking among the top 10 states for the production of hay, sunflowers, rye, honey, soybeans, corn, wheat and cattle. Agriculture generates 20 percent of state’s economic activity and employs more than 80,000. South Dakota’s agriculture industry has a $20.9 billion economic impact each year.
Belle Fourche is equally steeped in agriculture.
Belle Fourche’s wool shipping warehouses are the largest in the United States and the city is known as a trading center for a three-state agricultural area “encompassing 21,000 square miles” in northwest South Dakota, northeast Wyoming and southeast Montana.
With so much riding on agriculture, residents of Belle Fourche and the state are vulnerable to weather variations.
In October, 2013, Belle Fourche and much of the Black Hills were hit with an early winter storm that killed thousands of cattle. The impact to Belle Fourche area ranchers is in the millions.
(Read more about storm Atlas in the Black Hills Knowledge Network archives.)
While agriculture is the main industry in Belle Fourche, the city is working to attract other businesses. The city completed in 2013 a 100-acre Industrial and Rail Park. City bonds of $4.5 million made the park possible.
For the first time Belle Fourche will have a full-time economic development director, to be hired by the Belle Fourche Development Corporation.
Pipeline Plastics opened its doors in Belle Fourche in 2013, serving oil production in both Wyoming and North Dakota.
Business Activity & Taxable Sales
The Belle Fourche economy generated nearly $103.2 million in business activity subject to state sales tax in fiscal year 2013 (July 2012-June 2013). This represented a 4.75 percent increase over FY2012.
The city's largest sector, retail trade, slipped from $185 million in FY12 to $179 million in FY2013, and services dipped from $32 million to $31 million. Manufacturing climbed from $31.1 million to $37.2 million.
Find current month-by-month sales tax data on the South Dakota Department of Revenue website.
Below is a chart detailing sector gross by sales for May 2012 through April 2013.
Income & Wages
The median household income in Belle Fourche in 2009, according to the U.S. Census' American Community Survey, was $38,702. Close to 12 percent of families had incomes below the poverty level.
With a potential labor force of 4,446 people aged 16 years or older, Belle Fourche has approximately 2,934 people employed or seeking employment in the community, according to the U.S. Census 2011 American Community Survey. With only 140 people unemployed, Belle Fourche has an unemployment rate of 4.8%. The economic sector employing the most people was retail trade which accounted for 546 jobs, or nearly one-fifth of total employment in the community. Educational services, health care, and social assistance and the sector related to tourism also accounted for significant shares of local employment. Approximately 16.4 percent of all workers were employed by a government agency. The mean travel time to work was approximately 19 minutes.