United States

Full-Time Minimum Wage Workers Can't Afford Rent Anywhere in the US, According to a New Report

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People working minimum wage jobs full-time cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment in any state in the country, the National Low Income Housing Coalition's annual "Out of Reach" report finds. In 93% of U.S. counties, the same workers can't afford a modest one-bedroom.

The report defines affordability as the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to spend no more than 30% of their income on rent, in line with what most budgeting experts recommend. This year, workers would need to earn $24.90 per hour for a two-bedroom home and $20.40 per hour for a one-bedroom rental. That's an increase from $23.96 and $19.56, respectively, from last year.

The average hourly worker currently earns $18.78 per hour, the report finds, more than $6 short of the wage needed to afford a two-bedroom rental.

Given each state and locality's minimum wage, the report finds that the average minimum wage worker in the U.S. would need to work nearly 97 hours per week to afford the average two-bedroom home. That's more than two full-time jobs.

The pandemic exacerbated housing issues, with low-wage workers facing the brunt of job loss. They were also more likely to contract Covid-19.

Additionally, the report finds that Black and Latino workers are more likely to spend more of their income on rent, as they make less, on average, than white workers. Over 40% of Black and Latino households spend more than 30% of their income on rent, compared to 25% of white households.

NLIHC is urging the government to ensure that Covid-era emergency rental assistance programs help those with the greatest need. It is also calling for policymakers to create permanent, universal rental assistance for eligible households, to invest in new affordable housing and to implement stronger renter protection laws.

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