Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

Meade County, the state's second-largest cattle producer, has 580 ranches.
Meade County, the state's second-largest cattle producer, has 580 ranches.
Black Hills Knowledge Network photo/Kenzie Wagner

Meade County - Work & Economy

Meade County's median income exceeds most other counties in the Black Hills region and has risen from $54,840 in 2015 to $55,515 in 2015. According to the 2015 American Community Survey, the county's total labor force was 14,345 with 307 people or 1.5 percent listed as unemployed.

Nearly four out of ten workers in Meade County are employed by various federal, state or local government agencies, including nearly 750 people who work at the Fort Meade Veterans Affairs facilities near Sturgis and another 578 who work for Black Hills Special Services.

Meade County government supports economic development with an aggressive five-year property tax abatement for new and expanding business construction, and citizens county-wide understand the bulk of construction will happen in the west along Interstate 90 — in and near Sturgis, Summerset, Piedmont and Black Hawk.

For an in-depth economic profile of Meade County, visit the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development.

Gross Sales Revenue 

Business in Meade County did over 527 million dollars in gross sales in 2016, as reported by the South Dakota Department of Revenue in 2016. That sum represented 0.8 percent share of the state total. 

Gross Domestic Product of South Dakota 

In 2016, South Dakota current-dollar GDP was $48.1 billion and ranked 47th in the United States. In 2006, South Dakota GDP was $32.5 billion and ranked 48th in the United States. In 2016, the South Dakota real GDP grew 1.7 percent, and the 2015-2016 national change was 1.5 percent.

More information on Gross Domestic Product can be found here

Tourism Tax 

Meade County ranked 4th in the state with $38,472,451 in real taxable tourism sales in 2016.  That amount represented 4.6 percent share of the state’s total. To see where other counties rank, see our chart on the South Dakota Dashboard. 

Employment and Workforce 

The largest employment industries are healthcare and social assistance, retail trade, and healthcare and accommodation and food service. Supervisor is the most common job description in Meade County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Meade County has  6,941 total jobs, a 3.5 percent increase from the previous year. South Dakota has 416,020 jobs and the United States has 139,491,699 but South Dakota’s total has increased by 14.3 percent since 2000, the United States has increased by 7.4 percent. 

Meade County had a 75.8 percent proportion of adults working, less than the South Dakota average of 76.4 percent, but larger than the national average of 68.7 percent. 

Income & Wages 

The Meade County median household income for individuals over the age of 65 was $36,597 in 2015, less than the South Dakota median of $37,896 and the United States median of $40,971. 

Of the total population, 2,598 people live in Poverty in Meade County, approximately 9.9 percent. The state’s poverty rate is 13.7 percent as compared to the United States average of 14.7 percent.  

Out of the 10,351 total households, 3,137 or 30.3 percent pay 30 percent or more of their income on monthly housing costs, also known as housing cost burden. South Dakota’s housing cost burdened is slightly less than Meade County at 24.5 percent, but the United States is larger at 33.3 percent. 

Agriculture & Resources

There were 891 farms in Meade County totaling 2,032,553 acres according to the 2012 U.S. Department of Agriculture Census. The average farm or ranch was 2,281 acres. The number of farms engaged in cattle production was 580. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms devoted to agriculture rose by 1 percent. The market value of agricultural products sold in the county rose 49 percent, to $116,443,000 from $78,408,000 in 2007. Livestock accounted for 78 percent of all sales. Eighty percent of farmland was devoted to pasture in Meade County. The amount of government payments farms received totaled $4,935,000, down by 17 percent since 2007. The average principal operator of a farm was 54 years old and was most likely male and white. Eighteen Native Americans and 79 females were principal operators of farms. Meade County was the state’s second largest producer of cattle and third largest producer of hay in 2012.

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

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. 

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