The number of single people continues to rise in the Twin Cities. But if current trends are any indication, many of them won't be able afford to stay in the city. 

The words "family-friendly" have always made me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Not because of their thinly veiled connections to, say, church pews and Jesus-themed goldfish tosses. But because it's a phrase so often thrown around and embraced it's easy to think "family-friendly" is the majority rule rather than less than half of the equation. In fact, if event-goers were looking to court more people, they should be going after the New Single. Or, to be fair, The New Independent. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing face of Minnesota, noting that "married-couple families" continue to be on the decline while "householders living alone" (28 percent of all Minnesota households) are on the upswing, according to the latest Census figures. 

It's part of a national trend that doesn't show any sign of slowing down, if the numbers released this week from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are any indication. For the first time since the organization began collecting data in 1976, "single Americans" now make up more than half of the adult population, totaling 50.2 percent, up from 37 percent in 1976.

Are the Twin Cities prepared for the contiuned growth spurt of singles? It depends on how much money they make.

According to the latest data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, single persons make up 35 percent of the total rental market share, accounting for the majority of renters. Yet while rental prices continue to rise, income and wages have actually decreased over the last decade. In Minneapolis, the average price of a two-bedroom apartment has reached $1,000, and it contiues to climb, putting a squeeze on rent to income ratios.

What's more, the Twin Cities have one of the lowest metro area vacancy rates in the country, hovering at around 2.7 percent. It's improved ever-so-slightly over the last year as development increases, yet the majority of the new apartments on the market are hyper-swank luxury downtown spaces, way out of the price range for low- to middle-income singles. 

Then there's the issue of a single income—and single women, especially mothers with extra mouths to feed, still aren't faring well. According the AAUW, median earnings for men in Minnesota in 2012 were $50,885 compared to women’s median earnings of $40,595 —an earnings ratio of just 80 percent. 

Of course, this doesn't mean that single women should feel completely left out in the cold (literally) by the income gap and luxury market trend. (This could take up another whole 257 blog posts about gender/race disparities in the Twin Cities.) 

Yet if we're focusing on the sudden spike in the single population, it's worth watching how singles, especially women, are impacted as rental and home prices continue to climb upward, developers cater to the affluent, and wealthy dime store Ryan Gosslings seem to multiply like Gremlins and trample sockless all over the Twin Cities landscape. In five years from now, how will typical single people—a growing majority of residents—with average or below-average incomes fare? 

 

 

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