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Minimum wage earners must work 89 hours per week to afford modest apartment

According to a national report released last week, a minimum wage earner in Minnesota would have to work 89 hours per week - or hold 2.2 full time jobs -- to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Of the twelve states in the Midwest, Minnesota has ranked the worst for affordability for minimum wage workers for three consecutive years.

However, if $9.50 per hour minimum wage legislation were passed in Minnesota, as has been proposed, the state would move from the worst position in the Midwest for low wage workers for housing affordability to the second best. Yet even with this new wage, affording a two-bedroom apartment would require a minimum worker to work 68 hours a week.

The Minnesota Out of Reach 2013 report was released jointly by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, D.C.-based housing policy organization, and the Minnesota Housing Partnership. The report provides rental affordability data for every state, metro area, and county in the US.

In order to afford the rent and utilities for a safe, modest two-bedroom apartment in the private housing market, a Minnesota worker must earn $16.08 per hour, 40 hours a week, all year long. By contrast, the typical renter household in Minnesota earns the equivalent of $14.09 per hour for a worker. Federal minimum wage pays only $7.25 per hour.

Kris Jacobs, of the JOBS NOW Coalition, said, "This report underscores the urgency of raising the minimum wage in Minnesota. It is a tragedy that low-wage workers need to work 89 hours per week just to afford a place to live."

Chip Halbach, Executive Director of Minnesota Housing Partnership added, "When housing is unaffordable to renters, stress and limited budgets take a toll on children and their families. Strategic investments in housing and homelessness programs by Minnesota lawmakers can minimize the harm caused by high and rising rents throughout the state."

An estimated 55 percent of renters in Minnesota do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the "fair market rent" where they live.

More Minnesota Out of Reach facts:

--Twin Cities metro rents are the most expensive. A modest two-bedroom apartment requires a full time worker to earn $17.69 per hour year-round -- the most expensive in the state.

--The counties least affordable to renters, given the incomes they earn, are distributed throughout Minnesota. The counties with the highest estimated percent of renters unable to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment are Mahnomen (70 percent unable to afford), Winona (68 percent), Carlton (68 percent), Lake of the Woods (68 percent), Wadena (66 percent), and St. Louis County (62 percent). In the seven-county metro area, the county least affordable to the renters living there is Ramsey (60 percent).