NLIHC’s annual report, Out of Reach, documents the gap between wages and the price of housing across the United States. The report’s Housing Wage is an estimate of the hourly wage that a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest and safe rental home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on rent and utility costs. This year’s findings highlight the struggle faced by millions of families in affording a safe and decent home. Wage stagnation, particularly among lower wage workers, rising rents, and an inadequate supply of affordable housing continue to present significant challenges. In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home in the U.S., renters need to earn a wage of $21.21 per hour. The Housing Wage for a two-bedroom apartment is $13.96 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and $4.83 higher than the average hourly wage of $16.38 earned by renters nationwide.
In no state can a person working full-time at the federal minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent.
A renter earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 117 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the Fair Market Rent and 94.5 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom. In only 12 counties can a full-time worker earning the prevailing federal or state minimum wage afford a one-bedroom rental home.