Life Is Not Getting Any Easier For Minimum Wage Renters

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May 26, 2016

Emeryville, Calif. has a minimum wage of $14.44, which is one of the highest in the country. Even so, a renter would still need to earn $32 an hour while working 40 hours a week in order to afford a typical one-bedroom apartment in the city, and if they want to rent a two-bedroom apartment, they better be ready to work some overtime.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, cities all around the country are facing similar issues; minimum wage is just not enough for workers to be able to afford a typical apartment in a given city. The data comes from a recently released report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and shows that even with a cooling rental market, relief for low-income renters may still be quite distant.

Nationally, a family would need to earn $20.30 an hour working full time to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in the U.S. That means working 2.8 full-time jobs at minimum wage; you can see where the problem arises. In fact, there is not a single state in the country where a minimum-wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment. Additionally, of the 370,000 multifamily rental units completed from 2012 to 2014 in 54 U.S. metropolitan areas, 82 percent were considered to be in the luxury category.

Rents are becoming less affordable for many people around the country and it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain in the comfort zone of spending no more than 30 percent of one’s monthly income on rent. In order to afford rent many families need to make cutbacks in the form of groceries or diapers and are also having to take on more and more hours per week at work. It can be especially difficult for single parents or families with only one income to make ends meet.

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