Report failed to mention crucial stats

Posted on April 25, 2009

A misleading story (“Rent unaffordable for some,” April 17) recently purported that a wage rate twice the state minimum wage is necessary to pay rent to live in Minnesota.

What the article failed to acknowledge is that only 15 percent of minimum wage earners are the primary breadwinners for their families. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the vast majority of minimum wage earners are teens living at home (41 percent), or second-wage earners in a household (21 percent).

Advocating a higher minimum wage policy to address rental rates in the state would be severely misguided. In fact, decades of economic research have shown that mandated minimum wage hikes spike job losses, particularly among vulnerable groups like adults without a high school diploma. This job loss is only exacerbated in a weak economy.

Those concerned about whether the working poor have enough money for housing should instead support increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC delivers 94 percent of its benefits to poor families without eliminating job opportunities for the most vulnerable workers.

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth.