Rent Out of Reach for Many Americans

May 27, 2016

The rental picture is getting more grim for many Americans working full time on local minimum wage. In fact, according to a new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there isn't a single state where a minimum-wage worker working 40 hours a week can afford even a one-bedroom rental.

The study also reveals that the wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom rental in the U.S. is $20.30 per hour.

To put this in perspective, "The average hourly wage for Americans is actually $15.42 per the report, which is not nearly enough to afford a two-bedroom," says CityLab in its analysis of this study. "And the federal minimum wage, at $7.25, is around a third of what’s required. That means minimum-wage workers would have to work three jobs, or 112 hours a week, to be able to afford a decent two-bedroom accommodation."

Average Americans wanting to buy a home are feeling stifled by the rental affordability problem as well. "Rising rents are making it difficult for potential first-time buyers to become owners, especially since rent increases are outpacing wage gains," says Lawrence Yun. "That means more of a tenant’s income is being eaten up in rent, making it harder to save for a down payment."

Since the price of rentals and hourly wages varies by state, the National Low Income Housing Coalition created a map showing the minimum wage needed to afford a two-bedroom in each state:

Source: "The Hourly Wage Needed to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment Is Rising," CityLab (May 25, 2016)