How do your wages stack up? New analysis pinpoints cost of living in Minnesota

As debate swirled at the State Capitol in recent years over whether – and how much – to raise Minnesota’s minimum wage, lawmakers found themselves confronted with a question their own experts could not easily answer.How much do workers need to earn to meet their most basic costs?To zero in on an answer, the Legislature charged the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Developmentwith conducting a study.DEED’s Labor Market Information Office devised a plan to break down the cost of living not only statewide, but by county and region, taking into account geographic disparities in seven cost categories: transportation, housing, child care, health care, food, taxes and other necessities.Now the results are in, and DEED’s new Cost of Living tool, available on the department’s website, sheds light on the challenges and difficult decisions Minnesota’s working families face.The results, said John Clay, a research analysis specialist for DEED who devised the study’s methodology, don’t “represent a middle-class income. It also does not represent a poverty-level income. Rather, it’s a basic income that meets health and safety needs.”The annual cost of meeting those needs in the seven-county Metro Area is $25,932 for a single worker without children, according to the new tool. Given a 40-hour workweek and year-round employment, a worker would require wages of $12.47 per hour to reach that annual income level.In other words, even with the scheduled increases in the state’s minimum wage – up to $9.50 per hour next year for most workers – the Metro Area’s lowest-paid jobs are leaving workers without the resources necessary to meet their basic costs.Those costs go up, of course, with family size. A single parent of one child in the Metro Area requires full-time wages of $24.97. Continue Reading

Transportation, budget will be focus of 2015 legislative session

The Minnesota Legislature’s 2015 session convenes Tuesday, with passage of transportation legislation and a state budget at the top of the agenda. Transportation – including mass transit as well as highways and roads – is seen as the major unfinished priority from 2014. Move Minnesota, a coalition of groups that includes organized labor, is pushing for a comprehensive transportation legislation that includes:

Reliable roads and bridges
Greater accountability and transparency
Better transit access
Safe, convenient bike and pedestrian choices

“If Minnesota does not fix its transportation system, our economy and ability to create and retain jobs will be at risk,” the coalition said. “Our economy is one of the fastest growing in the country, yet the cost of fixing and upgrading our transportation system cannot be met with current funding. Making smart investments in transportation will ensure Minnesota can compete for jobs and businesses.”

Lawmakers also must pass a two-year budget to fund health, human services, education and many other needs. Continue Reading

Wage increase, organizing were highlights of 2014

The first minimum wage increase in nine years and the union vote by 26,000 home health care workers were among the highlights for Minnesota’s workers in 2014. The year was marked by major organizing efforts, both inside and outside the workplace, particularly among low-wage workers. The 2014 legislative session featured many gains, including passage of the minimum wage increase. A hopeful tone was set in early February, when the world-class musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra returned after being locked out of their jobs for nearly 16 months. Not long after, hundreds filled the state Capitol for a rally in support of the minimum wage increase. Continue Reading

Why you should tip…

Being a server means your income is based on minimum wage, and the amount of tips you earn. Serving in America is a hard job. Surviving as server means you depend on many factors for your income. Some of theses factors include your employer, employees, the government and customers. The government has the “power” because they control the amount of minimum wage. Continue Reading

OPINION | What I experienced working for the City of Minneapolis

I had been working with the City of Minneapolis for six years and 11 months before I was discharged on July 3, 2014. I started in solid waste in 2007, then went to utility billing in February 2008. I was a customer service rep 1 before finally going to the Business License and Consumer Services Department in January 2011, where I was also customer services rep 1.

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