As a society, we have learned so much about the world around us during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most important lessons was the reminder as to just how valuable our frontline medical workers are. Every day for the past year, healthcare professionals have put themselves in harm's way while caring for the sick in hospitals and clinics around the globe.

That's been especially true in South Dakota, and specifically in Sioux Falls where the medical community makes up such a large part of the local workforce.

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But despite all of their sacrifices, our local nurses continue to be underappreciated and underpaid.

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that South Dakota nurses are some of the worst compensated in the country.

Annual nursing wages in the Mount Rushmore State average a little more than $60,000 ($60,960), ranking behind only Alabama as the lowest in America.

STATES WITH LOWEST NURSING ANNUAL WAGES (Bureau of Labor Statistics) 

  1. Alabama - $60,230
  2. South Dakota - $60,960
  3. Mississippi - $61,250
  4. Iowa - $62,570
  5. Arkansas - $63,640
  6. Tennessee - $64,170
  7. Kansas - $64,200
  8. Kentucky - $64,730
  9. West Virginia - $65,130
  10. Missouri - $65,900

South Dakota's nursing pay is nearly $20,000 below the national average ($80,010) and half of what nurses in the top paying states make.

STATES WITH HIGHEST NURSING ANNUAL WAGES (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  1. California - $120,560
  2. Hawaii - $104,830
  3. Massachusetts - $96,250
  4. Oregon - $96,230
  5. Alaska - $95,270

South Dakota's low pay comes despite the state having the highest concentration of nursing jobs in the United States. The 13,130 nurses in the state account for 31.93 per 1,000 jobs. West Virginia is the only other state with a number above 30.

That concentration of nursing jobs is even higher in Sioux Falls, where 6,550 are employed in the field, making up 42.69 per 1,000 jobs. That's the eighth-highest amount among all U.S. metropolitan areas.

METROPOLITAN AREAS WITH THE HIGHEST CONCENTRATION OF NURSING JOBS (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  1. Rochester, Minnesota - 101.72
  2. Bloomsburg-Berwick, Pennsylvania - 66.90
  3. Morgantown, West Virginia - 51.66
  4. Greenville, North Carolina - 46.91
  5. Ann Arbor, Michigan - 46.51
  6. Iowa City, Iowa - 46.25
  7. Sebring, Florida - 45.49
  8. Sioux Falls, South Dakota - 42.69
  9. La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin-Minnesota - 42.10
  10. Carbondale-Marion, Illinois - 42.09

Nurses in Sioux Falls ($61,770) are the lowest compensated among those ten cities, making nearly $9,000 less annually than the average salaries of the other nine areas ($70,768).

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