8/15/2019 12:00:00 PM
With a median hourly wage of $18.09, the 26-county Northwest Minnesota planning region has the second lowest median wage of the six planning regions in the state. Median wages were nearly $5 lower than in the Twin Cities metro area, and between $0.50 and $1.00 lower than the neighboring Northeast and Central regions, respectively (Table 1).
Many factors create these wage gaps, including the industry and occupational mix, the size of employers and the demand for employees, and the cost of living in the region. To that end, Northwest Minnesota also has the second lowest cost of living of the six planning regions (Table 2).
While the median annual wage in Northwest was about $9,750 lower than in the Twin Cities, the cost of living for a typical family was also about $13,750 lower in Northwest than the Twin Cities metro. Likewise, Central Minnesota’s cost of living was nearly $6,000 above and Northeast was about $1,500 higher than Northwest. In all cases, the median hourly wage in each region was above the hourly wage required to meet a basic needs cost of living.
This simple comparison means that well over half of all occupations in the region provide a wage that would allow a typical family to meet a basic needs cost of living. This includes over 430 detailed occupations employing nearly 155,000 people – or nearly 70 percent of jobs in the region.
However, that also means there are nearly a hundred occupations employing over 60,000 workers with median hourly wages that fall below that threshold. For example, there are 6,830 people working as cashiers, making it the second largest employing occupation in the region, with a median wage of just $11.83 per hour. Even at the high end of the pay scale, cashiers are not earning enough to meet the region’s basic needs cost of living.
A family can afford to have one worker holding a job below the wage threshold if it also has another worker that is earning above the required wage, but not all households have that luxury. Some households have just one worker, more children, or higher or lower costs in some of the major cost categories such as housing, transportation, food, or child care. For example, the hourly wage required for a single parent with two children was $27.74 in Northwest Minnesota. While there were still 175 occupations that had higher median hourly wages, there were just 43,260 people currently employed in those jobs, meaning they are likely harder to find.
Every household situation is different, so finding an occupation that is in demand and provides wages that can meet or exceed the region’s cost of living can be a unique challenge. DEED provides a wide range of data tools to help job seekers in the region find the career that fits their lifestyle.
Contact Cameron Macht at 320-441-6596.