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Report: MN's minimum wage workers can't afford to rent 1-bedroom apartment


Minimum wage workers do not make enough money to afford rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Minnesota.

That's according to the Out of Reach 2015 report, annual rental affordability outlook done by National Low Income Housing Coalition found.

The report finds Minnesota is one of the most difficult states in the Midwest for a minimum wage worker to pay rent.

“Presuming a minimum wage worker can find steady, full time employment, nowhere in Minnesota does this level of pay afford a standard apartment, even after our state's minimum wage increase," Chip Halbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Housing Partnership, said in a news release.

The federal government considers rent affordable when a person doesn't have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. So, at $8 an hour – the state's current minimum wage – affordable rent would be $416 a month.

But market rent for a modest one-bedroom apartment in Minnesota is $707.

A person being paid minimum wage would have to work 68 hours a week to afford it, the report shows. They'd have to work 86 hours per week for a two-bedroom apartment, which has a fair market rent of $894.

To afford a two-bedroom apartment, a Minnesota family must earn $35,767 annually – that requires working 40 hours per week with the hourly wage of $17.20. (See map at right for the average wage needed in each county to afford rent for a two-bedroom apartment. For a breakdown of county and city data, click here.)

The Minnesota Housing Partnership notes even a household that earns a median income falls short of being able to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

Among the Midwest's most expensive

Minnesota is the second least-affordable state in the Midwest, behind Illinois, where minimum wage employees would have to work 75 hours a week to afford a market rate one-bedroom apartment.

Minnesota had been the least affordable state in the Midwest for four years running, the Minnesota Housing Partnership noted.

Nationally, Minnesota ranks in the middle, coming in at No. 21 in the nation for the hourly wage required to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

“It’s very sobering to think that a minimum wage worker would have to work something basically superhuman to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment,” Leigh Rosenberg, research and communications director at the Minnesota Housing Partnership, told the Star Tribune.

Raising the minimum wage has helped bridge the gap between income and housing cost, but the Minnesota Housing Partnership notes the state and federal government will have to make sustained investments to build more affordable housing to meet the growing demand, the release notes.

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