Minimum wage workers can't afford average two bedroom rent anywhere in the US

Average minimum wage worker must work nearly 97 hours per week to afford two bedroom home

Louise Hall
Friday 16 July 2021 12:33
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Minimum wage workers in the US do not earn enough money to rent an average two-bedroom property anywhere across the country, a new report has revealed.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition has shown that there is not a single state, county or city in the country where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford to rent a two bedroom property.

“In 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, the average renter earns less than the average two-bedroom Housing Wage,” the analysis, says.

The paper evaluates affordability using a “Housing Wage” that is an estimate of the hourly wage full-time workers must earn to afford a rental home without spending more than 30 per cent of their salary.

The report estimates that a full-time worker needs to earn at least $20.40 per hour to rent a modest one-bedroom home, or $24.90 per hour to rent a modest two-bedroom home.

The federal minimum wage sits at $7.25 across the US, and the paper notes that the amount is “worth considerably less today” as minimum wages do not rise with inflation.

Rents, however, continue to climb across the country, making housing increasingly unaffordable for low-earners.

Even when the calculations take into consideration higher state and county minimum wages into account, those on minimum wages are still priced out of the renters market.

“The average minimum wage worker must work nearly 97 hours per week (more than 2 full-time jobs) to afford a two-bedroom rental home or 79 hours per week (almost 2 full-time jobs) to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the fair market rent,” it says.

The report also outlines how the issue disproportionately impacts people of colour with hourly wage distributions being disproportionate between white, Black, and Latino workers.

While the department considers how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated problems for those struggling financially, it stipulates that the housing economic issues run deeper.

“This year’s report shows the extent to which housing costs outpaced wages even before the economic crisis, and the situation many renters face today is even more challenging,” it reads.

Ms Fudge says that “even before the pandemic, our nation had a shortage of seven million affordable and available homes for renters with the lowest incomes.”

The report calls for increased support for renters alongside an expansion of affordable housing stock to begin to tackle the crisis.

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