A productive workforce requires safe, stable housing. Yet, too many Minnesotans laboring in the most in-demand jobs must pay too much for housing, forcing them to forgo groceries, medicine and other critical daily needs to make ends meet.
While workforce housing often focuses on modest-income households, Out of Reach Minnesota 2018 reveals that the crisis in housing hits hardest for the workforce that is still the backbone of our communities; jobs like retail sales, food preparation and housekeeping. It also foreshadows challenges ahead, as jobs with the most projected growth, like home health aides, don't make enough to pay the rent, either.
Building on the annual report produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, this report tracks the growing gap between wages and rent, not just in urban areas, like the Twin Cities, but across Greater Minnesota.
Nearly 30 percent of Minnesota residents — more than 609,000 households — live in a rental home. That's a 12% increase from 2000 to 2016.
At $18.82, Minnesota ranks #22 in the nation for the highest hourly wages required to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
Minnesota's housing wage — the wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment — has jumped 10 percent over the past decade alone.
Meanwhile, median renter income declined 11 percent from 2000 to 2016.
The growing gap between wages and rent has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. While only 24 percent of white households are renters, 61 percent of households of color are renters. Statewide, the median wages earned by Black and Native American workers are barely half that of white and Asian workers.
A full-time minimum wage earner can't afford a one-bedroom apartment in any of Minnesota's 87 counties.
Minimum wage earners have to pay $3,228 more than they can afford per year to cover the rent for a one-bedroom apartment and $5,724 more than they can afford for a two-bedroom. Those are dollars taken away from other critical needs. For instance, for an individual with only one child in Minnesota, the cost of food is $5,900 per year and healthcare is $3,340 per year.
In nearly half of all counties (47%) the average renter would need to earn at least $10,000 more per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment. While two-bedroom apartments are out of reach in all Minnesota counties, even one-bedroom apartments are out of reach to the average income renter in 41% of counties
Over the next decade, the five positions with the most projected job openings earn median incomes less than $25,000 per year -- $5,000 below the income necessary to afford a one-bedroom apartment and $14,000 below the income necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment.