Pennington - Work & Economy
Pennington County's median income exceeds most other counties in the Black Hills region and has risen from $37,485 in 2000 to $46,972 in 2009. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the county's total labor force in November 2012 was 53,574, with 2,370 people or 4.4 percent listed as unemployed. In 2011, trade, transportation and utilities account for the largest share of jobs in Pennington County with nearly 22 percent of total employment. Education and health services is second with 17 percent. Most employed resident work in the county, with less than 5 percent commuting out. The median drive to work lasts 17 minutes. For an in-depth economic profile of Pennington County, visit the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce has aggregated data links related to the Rapid City economy. Rapid City Economic Development also provides market data on the local economy.
Agriculture & Resources
Despite the growth of the urban population around Rapid City, agriculture continues to play an important role in Pennington County's economy. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of acres devoted to agriculture declined by only 2 percent. Meanwhile, the market value of agricultural products raised in the county rose 30 percent, to $56,038,000. Livestock accounted for two-thirds of these sales, but 73.4 percent of all agricultural land was devoted to pasture.
The average farm or ranch in Pennington County was 1,809 acres in 2007. It produced $85,554 in marketable products and received another $13,418 in government payments. The average principal operator was 58.1 years old and most likely white and male. American Indians made up just under 5 percent of all principal operators, while women accounted for only 13.6 percent.
For more information on agriculture in Pennington County, see the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture.
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 284,126 passenger "emplanements" in 2010. This volume represented a 6.63 percent increase over 2009, and was almost exactly in line with the growth predicted in the airport's 2008 Master Plan. By contrast, passenger volume rose 12.67 percent in Casper, WY; 6.48 percent in Bismarck, ND; 6.98 percent in Sioux Falls, SD; 6.04 percent in Bozeman, MT; and 3.75 percent in Fargo, ND. In Billings, Montana, passenger volume fell by 2.31 percent. The May, 2008 Masterplan provides a wealth of information on the future growth of the airport. (The executive summary is available here. The full report is available here.)