~by Joy Brown

Whether you’re exploring career options for the first time or interested in a career tune-up, there is one rubber-meets-the-road issue that most of us have to face:  Will I make enough money?

While deciding what is “enough”  can be a very complex and personal question, the Cost of Living Tool from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)  provides information to help you make decisions.

What is the cost of living?

The Cost of Living Tool from DEED estimates the “basic-needs” cost of living in Minnesota.  This tool calculates the total annual cost of items like child care, food, health care, housing, transportation, and taxes.  The calculation does not include savings, restaurant meals, or entertainment.

You can see what the cost of living is by county, region, or view a statewide calculation.  The tool also allows you to choose from a variety of family definitions, including one or two adults working either full-time or part-time, and up to four children.

Sample results

Typical Minnesota Family Yearly Cost and Hourly Wage by Planning Region

Region Yearly Cost Hourly Wage Family Type
Seven County Mpls – St. Paul $55,896 $17.92 Partnered – 1 full-time, 1 part-time worker and one child
Central $49,884 $15.99
Southeast $45,300 $14.52
Northeast $43,560 $13.96
Northwest $43,464 $13.93
Southwest $41,352 $13.25

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Cost of Living Labor Market Information (2015)

The chart above shows the yearly and hourly cost of living for a typical Minnesota family, considered to be a three-person family with two adults working a combined 60 hours per week.

You can see from the chart that the cost of living is highest in the seven county Minneapolis – St. Paul region.  Southwest Minnesota has the lowest yearly cost.

Understanding the results

The chart below shows the hourly wage needed for a typical Minnesota family to meet the cost of living cost compared to the median wage for the region.  Median wage means that half of the workers earns more than this amount and another half earns less than this amount.  Ideally, the median wage will be larger than the cost of living if most workers are going to earn enough to pay their bills.  This is true for all of Minnesota’s regions.  Southeast Minnesota has a median wage that is the highest at 122% of the region’s cost of living.  Central Minnesota has the lowest median wage with 104% of the cost of living.

Chart showing cost of living and hourly wages across Minnesota's planning regions.
Cost of Living Hourly Wage and Median Wage

Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Cost of Living Labor Market Information (2015), Median Wage from Occupational Employment Statistics (2015 First Quarter)

The data in the chart above is for all occupations.  To find information specific to the career you’re interested in search for Salary Information on ISEEK.   If you’re are still unsure about what career interests you, use the Career Search Tools on ISEEK.

Read Matching Pay with Cost of Living  for more information about comparing Minnesota’s cost of living and hourly wages.

Joy Brown is the Webmaster for ISEEK.