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Where does South Dakota stack up in nationwide disability employment statistics?

Disability Employment in South Dakota: Where We Stack Up

June 20, 2016

In South Dakota, we value the contributions of all of our citizens. And thanks to the increasing trend toward taking advantage of the untapped workforce of people with disabilities, more and more South Dakotans are enjoying the feeling of employment.

But where do our state’s results stack up when compared to the rest of the country? Let’s dive into a few examples.

No. 1 in Disability Employment

Wear this one like a badge of honor – South Dakota far and away ranks No. 1 when it comes to employment of adults with disabilities. In fact, half of the top 10 states are Midwestern, with South Dakota (50.1%) in the lead and North Dakota (49.9%), Iowa (46.5%) and Nebraska (46%) following.

No. 4 in Smallest Employment Gaps

All things being equal, the employment rates of people with and without disabilities can say a lot about a state’s efforts toward keeping an even playing field for all of its citizens. In this regard, South Dakota ranks No. 4 among states’ smallest gaps between employment rates for people with and without disabilities. At 33.6%, South Dakota falls just behind the top three North Dakota (32.1%), Nevada (33.4%) and Utah (33.5%).

No. 5 in Lowest Disability Poverty Rate

Employment is only the beginning – once you have a job, it’s a question of whether you have enough to live off of, and South Dakota lands in the top five in that regard. When it comes to poverty rates among people with disabilities, South Dakota ranks No. 5, with 19.4%. North Dakota (17.7%) and Arkansas (17.8%) come off best, but South Dakota actually ranks No. 2 when it comes to the lowest poverty rate gap between people with and without disabilities.

No. 6 in VR Success Rate

When it comes to Vocational Rehabilitation, or “VR,” South Dakota stays in the top 10 among states with successful results. When residents with disabilities utilize VR to secure and maintain employment, South Dakota closes with positive results 64.3% of the time – approximately the national average. West Virginia and Mississippi come out on top in overall rankings, while in blind-specific VR, South Dakota ranks No. 7 (75.6%) behind high-ranking Vermont (83.3%) and Connecticut (83.1%).


South Dakota is in great shape when it comes to disability employment – but there’s always room for growth. Keep up the good work, and keep hiring diversely!

Sources: U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Census Bureau

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