In most U.S. counties, a worker needs to earn almost three times the $7.25 federal minimum hourly wage in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
That’s one unsettling finding in a recent report mapping minimum hourly wages and renting estimates around the country.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s latest Out of Reach report defines “affordable” as housing and utilities that cost less than 30 percent of a person’s annual income. The Coalition has examined these national figures since 2005 and the minimum “housing wage” has risen every year since then.
The report also observes that there are 12 counties in Washington, Arizona and Oregon—which have minimum wages above the federal standard – in which a worker can afford a small one-bedroom rental unit. However, “almost all of these are in sparsely populated rural areas, far from job centers,” the report states.
The report notes that in California, it would take 92 hours per week of full-time, minimum-wage work to reasonably afford a one-bedroom apartment. And in Hawaii, which has the nation’s highest housing costs, a two-bedroom apartment costs about $1,830 per month, meaning it would require a worker to earn $35.20 per hour – nearly four times the state’s minimum wage of $9.25 to afford rent.