Sioux Falls, and the surrounding area, continue to be a boomtown of sorts. The city's population continues to grow thanks to Sioux Falls's positive, progressive attitude.

But, that's not the story for the whole state. South Dakota is number one in a category that is not worth bragging about. The 605 was the state that lost the most college-educated residents in 2023.

What is a 'Brain Drain'?

According to research collected by, in 2023 South Dakota, "...saw 72% more people with a college degree leave the state versus move in."

It's known as a 'Brain Drain' and South Dakota leads the way. More college-educated people are leaving the state than in Mississippi, Alabama, or New York.

"Brain drain’s effects on state economies are obvious. Places that lose more of their highly educated adults are likely going to be economically worse off than those that retain or attract highly educated adults." -<a href="" target="_blank"> <em>Joint Economic Committee of Congress</em></a>
south dakota brain drain

READ: Democracy Made Easy - How To Register To Vote In South Dakota

South Dakota's homegrown talent is growing up, going to school, and taking their skills, knowledge, experience, and money to Colorado, Washington, and Wisconsin.

These folks also take tax dollars away, leaving South Dakota with a small, aging, tax base. Less tax revenue means less road repair, less infrastructure maintenance, and fewer services that all the people in a state rely on (like snow plows).

Why Does South Dakota Have a Brain Drain?

It's easy to write off the idea of people leaving SD as kids wanting to live someplace 'cool.' But, in reality, people go where the work is.

The leading reason people are leaving seems to be connected to their jobs. Data suggests that over 70 percent of people leaving are doing so for work, or their spouse's job. Behind that is the desire to find someplace where home ownership is more of a possibility.

People are following the better standard of living.

How To Stop the Brain Drain?

States are trying various things to entice the residents to stay. New York is offering some free college if the person agrees to work in the state for a time. Other states are offering education debt relief or even straight-up cash.

Nearly 1700 students graduated from Sioux Falls High Schools this month. If the numbers hold up, to almost 1200 of those new grads South Dakota will just be where their parents live, and not their home.

New Sioux Falls Residents are Moving from these 5 Cities

Before we get to the top 5, here's an honorable mention that's a bit surprising:

20) New York City: Sioux Falls gained 83 new residents in the latest census, according to Stacker.

Gallery Credit: Andy Gott

LOOK: Here's where people in every state are moving to most

Stacker analyzed the Census Bureau's 2019 American Community Survey data to determine the three most popular destinations for people moving out of each state.

Gallery Credit: Amanda Silvestri


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