Nowhere in America can a full-time minimum wage worker afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment
There is nowhere in this country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Thursday documenting the gap between wages and the cost of rental housing.
Downsizing to a one-bedroom will only get you so far on minimum wage. Such housing is affordable in only 12 counties located in Arizona, Oregon and Washington states, according to the report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
You would have to earn $17.14 an hour, on average, to be able to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in a safe area without having to spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing. Make that $21.21 for a two-bedroom home – nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
The report details how much a household must earn to be able to afford rent in every metropolitan area and county in the country. Renters in the U.S. make, on average, $16.38 an hour.
The minimum hourly wage required to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment, of course, depends on where you live – ranging from a low of $11.46 in some counties in Georgia to a high of $58.04 in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The most expensive state for housing is Hawaii, where workers would need to make $35.20 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. They would need to make $33.58 in the District of Columbia, $30.92 in California, $28.27 in Maryland, and $28.08 in New York.
In the District of Columbia, where the hourly minimum wage is $12.50, a household — say a single parent – must earn $69,840 a year to be able to afford the fair market rent of $1,746 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.
Someone making the federal minimum wage would need to work 117 hours a week – or nearly three full-time jobs – to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Many of the occupations projected to add the most jobs by 2024 pay too little to cover rent. These are customer service representatives, personal care aides, nursing assistants, home health aides, retail salespeople, home health and food service workers who make, on average, between $10 and $16 an hour.
Those whose earnings put them below the federal poverty level cannot even afford the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in any state. The national average rent is $892 a month for a modest one-bedroom apartment and $1,103 for a two-bedroom.
As a result, more than 11.2 million families end up spending more than half their paychecks on housing, the report said – a trade-off with other basic needs such as food, transportation and medical care.