Map Monday: Metro Area Change In Volume of Low-Wage Jobs

Eric Roper had a must-read article in the Star Tribune this weekend about suburban low-wage jobs and the challenge of transit for those workers. It has a bunch of interesting stories for people who think about transit, density, and employment.

It also includes this map!

It’s worth noting that the total number of jobs in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Bloomington are really large, and they’re always going to be highlighted here. But the growth in different suburbs like Eagan, Chanhassen, Woodbury, and Brooklyn Park Maple Grove is pretty notable. Also notable is the lack of transit and affordable housing for working-class people in many of these same cities.

Check out the whole piece.

18 thoughts on “Map Monday: Metro Area Change In Volume of Low-Wage Jobs

  1. Daniel Hartigkingledion

    Two thoughts:

    -The article says that the loss of low wage jobs in the core is attributable to increased wages. I see that as purely a good thing, since my understanding is that jobs in general are also up in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. That means higher wave jobs are rising significantly in the two cities.

    -How much of the increase in lower paying jobs is due to shifting from full time work to part time work, especially after the financial crisis. This was a much talked about subject circa 2010-2012, if I recall, and the dataset goes from 2005-2015. If one $50k worker was replaced with two $20k part time workers, it will appear that lower wage jobs are much higher.

    Now, loss of good paying full time jobs is not a good thing, but on the other hand, part time employment in the suburbs is also often occupied by kids, spouses, and second jobs. We’d need more data on who is filling these lower paying jobs before we can determine if it is something that needs action.

  2. Eric AnondsonEric Anondson

    I wish that map legend had labels for the middle colors. My inner cartographer gives the map big down votes for that.

    1. Lou Miranda

      I know, right? Where is 0? And why doesn’t the color change at zero, rather than some random -14,000 or whatever?

  3. Lou Miranda

    The problem with these cheap outer-ring job centers is they’re not centers at all. Like most things in distant suburbs, they’re low density. If you quit one job (in Woodbury, say) and get another (in Chanhassen, for example, 33 miles away) it’s a completely different thing than going from a job in Merriam Park to one in Longfellow, just a couple miles away.

    We complain when Walmart has such low wages & benefits that their employees have to use several government assistance programs. Is it much different when companies build on cheap land to save money, and expect government to provide expensive transportation options for their employees? Is one any more negligent than the other?

    Your meal options in distant suburbs are also problematic, especially if you don’t have a car. Few places to eat a walkable distance from your large employer.

    1. Cobo R

      Yep, And affordable housing near these “job centers” is limited.

      The other thing is that these are mostly warehouse / light industry type of jobs… So the employment per square ft of the facility is actually quite low (600+ sq ft per employee or something like that). So you need massive facilities. And the margins can be low, the examples in the article were food processing and warehouse repackaging, neither are huge value adders. So they can’t pay top wages.

      And this is a double whammy, they need lots of cheap land, and create jobs in places where there are not enough locals willing to work for the wages they offer.

      I’m not convinced that buses will work too well in this situation, the jobs and the workers are just too spread out… I think the companies should provide a service to help people form carpools, and maybe even incentivize it. Having 4 people in a car reduces the cost of the trip by 75% per person if they can agree on a cost sharing setup.

      1. Tim

        The need for space is definitely a limiting factor for where some of these jobs can be located. I’m curious about how much industrial space is going unused in the core cities right now and how much has been rezoned/converted to other uses (i.e. the Ford site).

        This isn’t unique to the Twin Cities, either — the Chicago area is seeing significant job growth in warehouses/multimodal facilities on the south and southwestern fringes, for example, due to better access and cheaper land.

        1. Rosa

          we have a lot of light industrial area within the Twin Cities proper – near North in Minneapolis and Como in St Paul, plus a smattering in our southside neighborhoods (our famous Sabo bike bridge, for instance, lets out right by several blocks with enough light industrial that there are semis parked all down the block.) Not a lot unused but I doubt any of it is as expensive as anything in Chicago. Hardly any of it has been redeveloped or rezoned residential, there are actually a scattering of city farms & community gardens which you usually only get if the land’s really cheap.

          1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

            But none of that is as big as the amount of space that companies are looking for these days. None of that is even half the size of what is used on the exurban fringe.

    2. Monte Castleman

      It’s not just cheap land and subsidies. It’s where something of this scale will physically fit (although it probably could have gone on the Orange Line in the space behind Northern Tool in Burnsville), and the road system can handle semi-trucks and employees, both warehouse workers and delivery drivers.

      1. Tim

        Yep. We’re not talking about companies that can just go wherever there’s office space; we’re talking about ones that have large (and sometimes very specific) space needs which are limited to (already shrinking) industrial zones.

    3. Rosa

      they often don’t expect the government to provide anything but highway/road access – they expect employees to support car ownership even on starvation wages. A lot of employers won’t even mention transit accessibility in job ads when it exists, because they want car owners.

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