Minimum Wage is Too Low to Cover Rent for Most Americans

A recent report demonstrates that the majority of Americans do not earn enough money to afford decent housing.

It is no secret that income disparity and wage stagnation continue to be huge problems for American citizens. As it currently stands, minimum wage does not cover rent in an overwhelming majority of the states within America.

According to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, it is impossible for any individual who works a full-time, minimum wage job to afford a decent two bedroom apartment. This includes states where minimum wage is as high as $15 per hour. However, even the current fight for a $15 minimum wage everywhere would still not cover the cost of rent.

Nationally, a worker needs to earn at least $17.60 to afford a one bedroom apartment and $22.10 for a two bedroom. Approximately 66% of the jobs in America pay less than $20 per hour, meaning that even individuals who make more than minimum wage are still struggling to pay rent.

The report is based on the concept that 30% of an individual’s income should go towards housing.

Currently, the most expensive state is Hawaii, where an individual would need to earn an estimated $75,000 annually to afford a modest two bedroom apartment. In Arkansas, the state with the cheapest cost of living with regard to housing, an individual would still need to earn $13.84 per hour to afford a modest two bedroom apartment. The current minimum wage in Arkansas is $8.50

A one bedroom apartment is currently considered affordable for residents of just five states— Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. In all of these states, minimum wage is at least $7.25, which is the current Federal minimum wage. If an individual making Federal minimum wage wanted to afford one of the modest two bedroom apartments, they would have to work 122 hours per week. All year long.

An increase in housing and rental costs has risen dramatically in the decade since the Great Recession.

According to Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the contributors to the report, the situation is critical. “While the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income families. In America today, nearly 11 million families pay more than half of their limited incomes toward rent and utilities. That leaves precious little for other essentials,” he said.

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