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Report shows 40-hour minimum wage job won’t cover rent in Minnesota

In order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Polk County, a tenant making minimum wage would have to work more than a 40-hour week to come up with rent.

In Minnesota, there isn't a county in which a renter could work 40 hours a week earning the $8 minimum wage and afford a typical one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent, according to a report released by nonprofit Minnesota Housing Partnership.

"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 statement.

In the six counties making up the state's northwestern corner, employees must work 46 to 52 hours per week at minimum wage to afford fair market rents.

The fair market rents in the area span from $475 to $542 per month.

"That's an area of the state that has somewhat lower housing costs than other parts of the state," said Leigh Rosenberg, director of research and communications for MHP. "I think it's still worth mentioning that if someone does have a lower wage job, folks are still facing a situation where 40 hours a week would not cut it for a one-bedroom."

The MHP report, called "Out of Reach 2015," contains county-level data aggregated by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a housing policy organization in Washington, D.C.

Making rent

In order to be considered affordable by federal standards, housing costs generally should not surpass 30 percent of a person's income.

For example, a renter living in Polk County working full time would need to make at least $10.33 an hour — $21,480 per year — to afford a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent of $537, the report said. If making minimum wage, he or she would have to work 52 hours to bridge the gap.

About 25 percent of households in Polk County make less than $25,000 per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the Grand Forks metropolitan statistical area, which consists of Grand Forks and Polk counties, a renter would also need to make $10.33 an hour working a 40-hour week to afford a one-bedroom apartment, according to the report.

Finding space

In the northwest part of the state, jobs seem to be plentiful, but housing options are not.

Major manufacturers in the area have reported trouble filling open positions because there is no place for their workers to live.

Cities such as Thief River Falls and Crookston are pursuing or moving forward with multifamily housing developments in an effort to increase the area's housing stock by building new units or renovating spaces.

Should someone find rental housing in Kittson, Marshall, Pennington, Red Lake and Roseau counties, he or she would need to bring in between $9.13 and $10.42 an hour during a 40-hour work week to afford a one-bedroom apartment, according to the report.

Those looking to swing a two-bedroom apartment need to make at least $12.37 an hour in the six northwestern counties, which translates to a minimum yearly income of $25,720.

Census data indicates between 20 and 27 percent of households in those five counties have an annual income of less than $25,000.

Closer to the Minneapolis-St Paul metropolitan area, minimum-wage employees need to work between 62 and 77 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Full-time workers in those counties need an hourly wage of at least $15.31 for the same apartment.

On the Web

The entire Minnesota Housing Partnership report can be read online at