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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A report says that more people in Sioux Falls are finding full-time work and escaping poverty as the economy benefits from a growing middle class.

The number of people living in poverty in the four-county metro area declined last year for the first time in four years, falling more than 2 percent. That translates to about 6,000 fewer people below the poverty line, the Argus Leader reported.

Population data recently released by the American Community Survey show that Sioux Falls’ success mirrors a national trend of decreasing poverty and growing middle-class salaries.

Lon Clemensen is the vice president of workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He said much of the city’s credit belongs to nonprofits, local businesses and other community groups that have prioritized education and work opportunities for low-income families.

“I believe all of these organizations are coming together, collaborating,” he said. “They’re increasing job opportunities. They’re promoting upward mobility among their employees, which lowers the poverty level.”

In terms of education opportunities, the survey shows that the percentage of people in the four-county area with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased in 2016 to more than 34 percent. But there were large gaps in both levels of educational attainment between white people and people of color. Less than 14 percent of black people and zero Native Americans in the metro area have a four-year degree, though the data includes a 4,8 percent margin of error.


Information from: Argus Leader,