A full-time worker in the U.S. needs to make $28.58 an hour, on average, to afford the rent on a modest two-bedroom apartment in their area. In California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York, full-time workers must earn more than $40 an hour to do so.
They’d have to be paid $61.31 an hour in San Francisco to afford a two-bedroom apartment rental, and $50.67 an hour in Boston, according to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
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In no state, county or city in the U.S. can a full-time worker earning the local minimum wage come up with the costs for a two-bedroom apartment, the NLIHC writes.
More than a third of U.S. households are renters.
“This is a problem,” said Andrew Aurand, senior vice president of research at the NLIHC. “Research shows that families struggling to pay their housing costs sacrifice other necessities like food, health care and educational needs.”
Wages haven’t kept up with rising rents
To understand how unattainable rents have become for many workers, experts point to the slow growth of the minimum wage across the country.
For over a decade, the federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25, and several states, including Texas, Indiana and Idaho, haven’t passed laws raising that number.
Even for workers in states and cities where the minimum wage is double the national figure, rents remain unaffordable. For example, the minimum wage in Washington state is $15.74. Yet, to afford a two-bedroom apartment there, a full-time worker needs to earn over $36.33 an hour, the NLIHC found.
Dan Rose, an organizer with Housing Justice Now in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, said he recently worked with tenants who were being forced to leave a complex with some of the last affordable housing in the area.
When those tenants looked at the costs of rentals elsewhere, Rose said, “they were not able to find any decent two-bedroom units.”
“Overall, we see renters here barely treading water or drowning,” he said.