Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Retail trade in Lead jumped more than 8 percent in fiscal year 2013.
Retail trade in Lead jumped more than 8 percent in fiscal year 2013.
Black Hills Knowledge Network photo/Chelsea Gortmaker

Lead - Work & Economy

For 125 years, the major employer in Lead was Homestake Gold Mine. The Homestake Mine became the longest continuously operated gold mine in the country, operating for more than 125 years. The mine reached more than 8,000 feet below the city of Lead. But in September 2000, mining officials announced the mine would close. Two years later, in January 2002, Homestake closed its doors. But those doors would open again, this time in the name of science.

When Homestake closed, the company donated it to the state of South Dakota. In 2006, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to establish the Sanford Center for Science Education. The state of South Dakota has invested $40 million to the project and secured a $10 million Community Development Block Grant. In 2011, the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, began supporting science operations. Find more information at the Sanford Lab website.

In recent years, the majority of jobs in the Lead area have been in hospitality. Lead is next door to the historic gaming town of Deadwood and amid the Black Hills National Forest. Tourists flock to the Black Hills each summer and Lead residents play a role in welcoming them.

The Lead Chamber of Commerce promotes local businesses and events and provides a list of businesses in Lead.

Due to its proximity to such attractions as Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, Lead and Deadwood draw from the tourism crowd. But Lead’s location also makes it a prime location for recreational activities such as skiing, hiking, mountain biking, camping and snowmobiling. As a result, many of the businesses in Lead cater to outdoor recreationists.

Business Activity

The Lead economy generated nearly $795,599.40 in business activity subject to state sales tax in fiscal year 2015 (July 2014-June 2015). This represented a 9.52 percent increase over FY2015.

Find current month-by-month sales tax data on the South Dakota Department of Revenue website.

Tourism Tax

Lawrence County ranked 3rd in the state with $72,205,249 in real taxable tourism sales in 2016.  That amount represented 8.7 percent share of the state’s total. To see where other counties rank, see our chart on the South Dakota Dashboard.

The South Dakota Department of Revenue can provide more information on Tourism Tax in South Dakota.

Employment and Workforce

The proportion of adults, people between the ages of sixteen and sixty-four, working is 73.5 percent for the city of Lead. The largest occupations by share in Lead are sales, cleaning and maintenance and personal care and services in that order.

Income & Wages

Median household income for the city of Lead was $41,087 according to the American Community Survey from 2011-2015. $41,912 is less than the median household income of Lawrence County, South Dakota, and the United States.


Of the population for whom poverty status is determined in Lead, there are approximately 315 people living in poverty. The poverty rate of Lead is 10.3 percent, less than both the South Dakota average of 13.7 percent and the United States average of 14.7 percent.

More Information

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

Charts and Graphs

Below is a chart detailing the by sector gross sales for the City of Lead according to the South Dakota Department of Revenue.

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