A new report shows that skyrocketing rent prices have put basic living arrangements out of reach in nearly every state for most low-income workers.
In order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment in the U.S., workers on average need to earn at least $20.30 an hour, according to 2016 data from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). That’s roughly $13 more per hour than the federal minimum wage, and roughly $5 per hour more than the average national $15.42 hourly wage earned by renters last year.
Even a one-bedroom apartment is out of reach for minimum wage earners today at Fair Market Rent (FMR) levels. FMR is the metric that the Department of Housing and Urban Development uses to determine standard payments for housing choice vouchers, rent ceilings for the HOME rental assistance program, and rents at Section 8 housing developments when contracts are up for renewal.
The NLIHC estimates that a worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour needed to work an average of 90 hours per week to afford even just a one-bedroom apartment in 2016. The number of hours needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment jumps to 112 hours of minimum wage work.
Fair market rent varies by state. But after looking at the average cost of rents throughout the U.S., and comparing that side-by-side with the Area Median Income (AMI) of each state, the NLIHC estimated that the average rental wage needed to afford rent for a two-bedroom apartment hovered over a little over $20.30 an hour.
However, because the average renter’s wage is actually just $15.42 an hour, this means that rent needs to be, on average, $802 a month or less in order to qualify as affordable. This means each worker would need 1.3 minimum wage jobs in order to make rent for a modest two-bedroom unit.
The NLIHC’s 2016″Out of Reach” report estimated the wages needed for rent in each state by classifying “affordable” rent as being no more than 30 percent of a worker’s monthly take-home pay.
Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Ohio ranked as the most affordable places to live, while Hawaii, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, and New York ranked among the most expensive places for renters.
The two maps below show how many hours in each state a minimum wage earner needs to work in each state in order to pay for a one-bedroom apartment, and the hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment in each state.
Tom Cahill is a writer for the Resistance Report based in the Pacific northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or follow him on Facebook by clicking here.