Minimum Wage Workers Can’t Afford to Live Anywhere in the U.S.

The 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.

The 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.

Obviously, 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.

Can 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.

Since 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?

The 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.

Housing 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.


James P.
James P.1 years ago

"housing should be a right, not privilege" well yes and no, in make believe fairy land yes, in reality no, everything has a price, if you can't afford you don't have, this entitlement attitude is exactly the reason why people end up homeless and feel sorry for themselves and perpetuate the need for everyone else to feel the great "social injustice" those minimum wage workers did not study at school so they suffer and will die miserable, its not offensive or other foolery to assume every human has their place that they earn, it's called the pyramid of life, CEO's , bosses, managers sit at the top while the uneducated lazy good for nothings straddle the bottom rungs of the ladder and its just tough titty if you cant afford to eat, prison will look after you that's the route people take when they steal things from hardworking educated people. lazy people should not be rewarded they should be punished and brutally pushed and conjoled physically into fitness and mentally into discipline and organization. work equals humble pie not do nothing get stuff, doesnt work that way and never will, you do or you die thats how it is, cant afford rent then stop buying dope go out and freeze to death until you can afford your rent, its called realism, work equals nice things. laziness equals punishment and suffering. too bad, get a second job stop being filled with excuses. emotional responses will not invalidate the need to pay what you owe. pay or go away go rot in a field, no one cares exc

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

Minimum wage jobs are not supposed to be career choices but starter jobs or in between jobs or part time jobs. They are not supposed to support a family.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 years ago

Very worrying. Thank you for caring and sharing.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 years ago

Very informative, same happening in Australia. Thank you for caring and sharing.

Glennis Whitney
Glennis W2 years ago

Interesting article. Thank you for caring and sharing.

Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson2 years ago

@David F--when your source is FOX reporting on anything, I would get more factual information from a Tea Party illiterate holding a sign saying "Keep your Government hands off my Medicare!" I have noticed Conservatives are all against any kind of Gov. help until they, or their loved ones are affected and then they are the first in line. I've got NEWS for you, David, the Ruling class OWN us NOW and as long as they can keep people poor, illiterate, and voting against their own interests, we'll soon be wearing Shock collars and you and FOX NEWS will be bloviating on how fortunate we are to have the Collar manufacturing job making 5$ and hr and how free we are to be able to pick the size and color. Again, David---Go Preach to your Conservatives---they'll believe anything, as long as there aren't any Facts involved to confuse them!

.2 years ago

As long as david f has his, he doesn't much care if anyone else does.
How's that deer in the freezer david taken from a "public"? reserve? Even if it's private, did you purchase it or just have to shoot it?

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Marie W.,
You may be right. The working class seems to be fighting the middle and upper class. The struggling poor are left out, but the working class includes them on their side. The claims that they represent the 99% and are fighting the 1% is largely untrue. In reality it is more like a two or three to one fight - depending on where one draws the line.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Class warfare.