The National Housing Conference’s Center for Housing Policy (CHP) released the 2014 edition of Paycheck to Paycheck on September 23. This year’s Paycheck to Paycheck examines housing affordability in 210 metro areas for workers in five growing healthcare occupations: geriatric nurses, home health aides, case managers, medical records transcriptionists, and billing clerks. The population of older adults in the U.S. will increase dramatically in the coming years, causing a rise in demand for health care workers.
The study draws data from the National Association of Home Builders’ Housing Opportunity Index for the first quarter of 2014, HUD’s 2014 Fair Market Rents (FMRs), and Salary.com wage data from February 2014.
Despite the rapid growth of jobs in the healthcare sector, many healthcare workers are not earning enough income to afford housing. Among the report’s five occupations, home health aides have the greatest number of employees and the largest projected growth of almost 50% by 2022. However, a typical home health aide has a national median salary of $26,789 and therefore can only afford to rent a two-bedroom home in one metro area (Mansfield, Ohio), or afford to purchase a two-bedroom home in just 18 of the 210 metro areas examined. Most of the metro areas affordable to home health aides are in the Midwest.
The situation is slightly better for medical billing clerks and medical records transcriptionists, but billing clerks can only afford to buy a home in 42 of the metro areas, while transcriptionists can only afford to buy a home in 74 metro areas. Medical transcriptionists can afford the two-bedroom FMRs in 148 metro areas, but in some of the expensive metro areas they would need to spend much more than 30% of their wages on housing costs. Typical wages for geriatric nurses and case managers are higher, making it possible for them to rent in nearly all of the 210 metro areas. Yet, even with higher incomes, geriatric nurses cannot afford to purchase homes in 20% of the metro areas, and case managers cannot afford to purchase homes in 46 metro areas.
The gap between what healthcare workers can afford to spend on housing varies across metro areas. For example, home health aide workers in Honolulu would need to spend 120% of their monthly income as homeowners, while geriatric nurses in San Francisco would have to spend 85%. Metro areas lacking a sufficient supply of affordable housing may face difficulties attracting and retaining healthcare workers to meet the needs of the growing aging population.
CHP also updated a Paycheck to Paycheck database which contains data on housing costs and wages for the five healthcare occupations highlighted in the report for the 210 metropolitan areas. The database also contains information comparing wages and housing costs for 80 additional occupations in the 210 metropolitan areas.
Paycheck to Paycheck 2014: A Snapshot of Metropolitan Housing Affordability for Health Workers is at http://www.nhc.org/PaycheckReportfinal.pdf
The database is at http://www.nhc.org/chp/p2p