Economic Indicators

This week in 1979, The Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight,” one of the most influential songs ever made-right up there with anything from the Beatles or Elvis Presley. In fact, the song changed the course of music history, even though it never went higher than #32 on the US charts.

What made it so transformational? Simply put—"Rapper’s Delight” was the first rap/hip-hop song to ever break into the top 40. With its opening lyric: “I said a hip hop the hippie to the hippie, to the hip hip hop and you don't stop,” you knew there was something different going on.

To this day the song is a verbal dance inside the pleasure centers of the skull. And it paved the way for every rapper you’ve ever heard—Run DMC, LL Cool J, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and even Pitbull, who opens the Summit Arena next month.

This month’s economic indicators are a bit like that too, paving the way for the future of the region. That’s because we’ve hit a new record for average weekly wages: $902. Never in this region’s history have we crossed the $900 threshold. $902 a week equates to an annual salary of $46,904.

We’ve noted previously wages in the area are consistently higher than surrounding competitors like Billings ($834) and Cheyenne ($891).There's a new chapter to that story. Rapid City wages are now on par with Sioux Falls ($916).

Net migration over the last five years has gone in Rapid City’s favor in the battle between east and west river, and it now seems that it’s more than just Rapid City’s world-class mountain biking, hiking, vibrant downtown, and a raging beer-pub scene. It’s wages too.

It’s certainly reason to be proud. Combine that with some of the other indicators this month—2.6% unemployment (13th lowest in the country), 331 building permits, and almost $800 million in gross sales, you’ve got the makings of a community in transformation. There’s still work to be done on the housing front—prices are still too high; listings still too low (although they are starting to creep up)—but things are looking good for Rapid City’s future.

I'll bring one last thing to your attention. We've added another indicator this month: new housing units.. We think it’s a good idea to keep track of what’s going on as we work toward solving the housing crisis that exists in the Black Hills (and across the country). We know we are going to see a demand of several thousand units a year in the next decade (at a minimum) so it’s a good way of see if the market is responding.

Until next time, God-speed and happy rapping.

-Tom Johnson,
President & CEO

Updated: September 17, 2021

2021: January / February / March / April / May / June / July / August / September
2020: July / August / September / October / November / December