next time you hear someone moaning about Democrats trying to increase
the minimum wage, hit him with this fact: There is nowhere in the United States that people can afford to live on minimum wage.
Make no mistake: nowhere means nowhere. We’re not just talking the big cities where everyone already knows how outrageous rent is. According to data compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition,
there’s not a state or county in the country where the average price of
housing is affordable to a person working full-time for minimum wage.
government classifies a fair, affordable rent as one that costs 30
percent of a worker’s paycheck. Sadly, the rate for a two-bedroom
apartment in every county is far more than 30 percent. Consequently,
parents and single parents especially are in a bind.
If you’re thinking that minimum wage workers should settle for a decent one-bedroom apartment instead, that’s fair, but that’s also unrealistic.
In most states, people earning minimum wage would need to work 60-80
hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. In some states –
Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York – minimum wage employees
would have to work over 100 hours each week.
Keep in mind that the average age of a person on minimum wage is
35. Moreover, 88 percent of people on minimum wage are over the age of
20. These aren’t just teenagers who still live at home – these are
adults working full-time who ought to be able to afford housing.
most people working minimum wage jobs aren’t homeless, so how do you
explain this discrepancy? Unfortunately, these workers have to cut
corners in other areas to cover the cost of housing. Many use more than
half their paycheck to cover rent, meaning they have to skimp on other
important things like food, education, health care and heat.
you stomach any more bad news? Here goes… While raising the minimum
wage will certainly help to reduce some of the burden on workers, they
still won’t be able to “afford” rent by the government’s standards.
Forget minimum wage – the average American earns just $15.42 per hour.
However, people need to earn $20.30 to comfortably rent a two-bedroom
abode in 2016. It’s not just the minimum wage workers who can’t afford
their rent – it’s the average worker, too! Suddenly, the Fight for 15 campaign seems a lot more modest than its opponents paint it to be.
rent is outrageously expensive for even the average American worker,
it’s easy to conclude that housing simply costs way too much these
days. Where’s the “Rent Is Too Damn High” guy when you need him?
fact that the cost of rent is no longer commensurate with the incomes
of real Americans is a crisis. It’s no wonder that so many people are
being evicted, disabled people are having trouble affording apartments and fewer women are able to flee domestic abuse because housing costs too much.
should be a right, not a privilege. If the government can acknowledge
that Americans cannot afford to pay rent anymore, then it’s time for
some intervention to alleviate this problem.
This commentary was originally published by Care2