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Employment

Minimum Wage Doesn’t Cover Rent Anywhere in the US

This is America.

Tamia Heard

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An annual report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) shows that minimum wage workers cannot afford to rent a two-bedroom home in any of the 50 states.

Each year the NLIHC puts together the Out of Reach report which documents the gap between wages and cost of living across the United States. The housing wage included in this report is the estimated wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a decent rental home.

For 2018 the National Housing Wage is $22.10 for a two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom. This means that even with the recent push for $15 minimum wage would be enough to make housing affordable in a majority of states.


A full-time worker making a minimum wage of $7.25 would need to work approximately 122 hours per week all year in order to afford a two-bedroom rental at the national average, or 99 hours a week for a one-bedroom.

The coalition found that even those making above minimum wage struggle to pay for housing. The findings are based on the basic budgeting model in which households who spend over 30% of their income on housing are considered cost burdened.

According to the report, no worker earning the federal minimum wage can afford to rent a modest two- bedroom home by working a standard 40-hour work week. Out of more than 3,000 counties there are only 22 in which full-time minimum wage workers can afford a one-bedroom rental. These counties are located in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington which all offer a minimum wage higher than $7.25.

“Make no mistake: while the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for very low-income families,”  wrote Sen. Bernie Sanders in the preface of the report. While higher minimum wage is important, there are still so many obstacles to affordable housing.

 

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Tamia Heard is a rising senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Tamia is majoring in communication studies with a journalism concentration. As a southern woman, she enjoys Saturday's filled with college football and good food!

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