Nearly 75 percent of workers who would qualify for Minneapolis paid sick leave live outside the city

Last year President Obama called on cities and states to pass legislation to require employers to provide paid sick leave to employees.  Minneapolis just became the latest liberal metropolis to fall in line with Obama’s agenda.

Council members called it a historic moment as the city became the first Midwestern locale to pass the controversial mandate.  History making?  Maybe, but not the sort of history the council members envision.

If history is made, the unanimous city council vote will most likely become part of the legal history defining the limits of city power.

In a Star Tribune commentary, I outline a rather straightforward legal argument on why the Minneapolis ordinance violates state law.  Simply put, a city cannot legislate on a matter of statewide concern unless the state gives the city the express authority to do so.

Paid sick leave certainly appears to be a matter of statewide concern, considering the Minnesota Supreme Court—in a case overturning a St. Paul ordinance requiring contractors to hire Ramsey County residents for city jobs—has already said “the activity of laborers is a statewide matter.”

If that’s not enough, I noted in my commentary how the presumed benefits of the paid sick leave will accrue to “tens of thousands of people who live in the suburbs and commute to one of the 158,000 jobs in downtown Minneapolis.”

It turns out I severely understated just how much the city ordinance reaches beyond the borders of Minneapolis to touch people living all over the Twin Cities region.  It’s not just tens of thousands of people who commute to Minneapolis and live elsewhere.  It’s actually hundreds of thousands.

The U.S. Census OnTheMap tool shows 327,525 people worked in Minneapolis in 2014.  Of those workers, 243,539—nearly 75 percent—live outside Minneapolis.  (See map and table below for more details.)  St. Paul and Duluth are now being pressed to pass the same paid sick leave mandates, but, like Minneapolis, 75 percent of St. Paul workers and 59 percent of Duluth workers live beyond their respective borders.

This is just one part of the argument on how paid sick leave is a statewide issue.  The better part of the argument rests on how employers with employees working inside and outside Minneapolis must now follow two sets of sick leave rules and possibly three or four or more if St. Paul, Duluth and other cities pass their own ordinances.


Inflow/Outflow Job Counts (Minneapolis All Jobs)
Count Share
Employed in the Selection Area 327,525 100.0%
Employed in the Selection Area but Living Outside 243,539 74.4%
Employed and Living in the Selection Area 83,986 25.6%
Living in the Selection Area 189,725 100.0%
Living in the Selection Area but Employed Outside 105,739 55.7%
Living and Employed in the Selection Area 83,986 44.3%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. 2016. OnTheMap Application. Longitudinal-Employer Household Dynamics Program.