Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal joined The Atlantic’s Jim Fallows in Sioux Falls, S.D. for the first stop in our collaboration called “American Futures.”
You can follow along on our trip — and even suggest a future stop -- on our "American Futures" blog.
If you don’t know much about Sioux Falls, you’re not alone. It doesn’t help that an hour away, across the border in Iowa, is the similarly-named Sioux City.
South Dakota's Sioux Falls is the biggest city in the state -- with 159,908 residents within city limits – all 73 square miles of it. The average work commute takes 16 minutes.
The largest employers in the city are the two hospital and health systems – Sanford Health and Avera. John Morrell & Co., the local meat-packing facility comes in third, with 3,300 workers. But that’s followed close behind by Wells Fargo and Citigroup – two big banks that have headquarted their credit-card operations in South Dakota.
The median household income is $51,831 – a couple thousand dollars higher than the median household income for the entire state. About 62 percent of Sioux Falls residents own their own home. The poverty level is at 11.1 percent — compare that to the national poverty level of 15 percent.
Meanwhile unemployment is at a low 3 percent.
A little under 85 percent of the population identifies as Caucasian. But that doesn’t necessarily give you a picture of the city’s diversity. Sioux Falls has been a landing spot for refugees since World War II. In fact, there are 60 different languages spoken by kids that attend the local school district.