Minimum-Wage Workers Can’t Afford Rent Anywhere In The US


Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

People working full time for minimum wage can’t afford a one-bedroom apartment in 93% of counties in the US, a new report found. 

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition released an annual report Wednesday (July 14) that also found that there’s nowhere in the country where a person working 40 hours a week at state or federal minimum wage levels could afford a two-bedroom rental. 

The report defines a person’s ability to afford an apartment if more than 30% of the income is not spent on housing. Based on the group’s estimates, US workers would need to make $24.90 an hour for a two-bedroom rental and $20.40 per hour for a one-bedroom apartment, far above the current federal minimum wage rate of $7.25. 

At current wage rates, the average minimum wage worker would need to work 97 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental and 79 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. 

“One full-time job should be enough,” the report says. The Coalition is urging the federal government to raise minimum wage rates, offer additional rental assistance programs, and fund affordable housing development. 

The report also noted racial disparities in the nation’s affordable housing crisis with more than 40% of Black and Latino households shelling out over 30% of their income on housing compared to 25% white households. 

The pandemic’s impact on Black and Latino workers has also been disproportionate, exacerbating the wealth gap that existed before the pandemic began. Since then, Black and Latino workers have experienced higher rates of unemployment and greater risk of eviction

At the end of this month, the CDC eviction moratorium is set to expire, putting millions at risk of experiencing homelessness.

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