It’s a fact that many, if not most, minimum-wage workers cannot afford to a pay for a modest, one-bedroom apartment, according to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual report. While the average national housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment is $17.90, the federal minimum wage is only $7.25. Therefore, a worker earning the federal minimum wage would need around two and a half times their stipend to be able to afford solely a one-bedroom apartment.
Due to an increase in rental rates in conjunction with a stagnation in the minimum wage, the result is piss-poor conditions for minimum-wage workers and an inability, very often, to provide adequate housing for themselves. When the general rule of thumb for housing costs is factored — that is, no more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing costs — The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) annual report has recently shown that a worker needs to earn $17.90 an hour at a full-time job — not the $7.25 currently being offered as compensation — in order to “afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.” If you are doing the math, that is over $10 more than the current federal allotment for a minimum wage worker. In order to shore up the rest of the $17.90, the minimum wage worker would have “to take on another part-time, minimum-wage job to make up the difference. All things considered: That’s a 99-hour work week, 52 weeks a year.”
Hourly wages needed to afford a 1BR by state
This map exhibits an hourly wage that is required to afford the rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment, by state, taking into account a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks a year. This is also known as the “housing wage:”
- Five states in total — Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State — have affordable housing for minimum wage workers across 22 counties.
- If you are looking for housing outside of the 22 counties, however, the federal minimum wage will simply not cut it.
- Washington State: The housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment is $21.65. In Washington State, a worker would need income from two jobs to be able to afford the minimum wage rate of $11.50 and a one-bedroom apartment as well.
- Arizona minimum wage rate is $10.50 (although the minimum wage is the lowest of the five states listed above, the housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment in Arizona is $14.64).
- Arkansas — which has the most affordable housing in the country — still has a higher one-bedroom housing wage ($10.98) than minimum wage ($8.50)
- In Hawaii, the minimum wage pay per hour is $10.10 while the housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment is $27.44. For a worker in Hawaii to hold 2.5 full-time jobs, they would still be about $2 short of the housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment. “A worker in Hawaii would have to work almost three full-time jobs just to afford a one-bedroom rental,” according to the report.
If something is going to change, there must be radical steps taken the bring the housing wage further in line with minimum wage. As it stands today, the exorbitant chasm between what a minimum-wage worker is paid hourly and what is necessary to afford a one-bedroom apartment is simply unacceptable.
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