Study Puts Struggles of Minimum-wage Workers into Perspective


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Chances are, at some point in your life, you’ve held down a minimum-wage job. Perhaps you worked as a barista, cashier or a busboy. Maybe it was your first real job or maybe it was a part-time gig to pay off a few bills or earn a little extra spending money. In all likelihood, you probably didn’t rely on this income to pay the rent or make a living. For some Americans, however, a minimum-wage job is all they have and they must do their best to make ends meets.

A new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, however, points out that their best might not be enough. According to the group’s study, minimum-wage workers must work on average 2.6 full-time jobs to afford an average two-bedroom apartment in the United States without paying more than 30% of their income. In fact, a minimum-worker can’t even afford a one-bedroom unit outside of a few counties in Oregon and Washington.

Great Recession

“They” clearly live in a different reality than us lowly ‘peasants’.

The low-income housing advocacy group’s report provides a state-by-stare breakdown of the number of hours an individual working as a minimum-wage employee would have to put in to afford rent at their state’s fair market value. In over a dozen states, for example, a minimum-wage worker would have to work over 100 hours each week just to afford a two-bedroom unit.

According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Labor Department, 21 states along with Washington D.C. have a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. However, a higher minimum wage doesn’t always translate into housing affordability, according to a story in USA Today. Although the minimum wage in Washington D.C. is $11.50, a full-time worker would have to earn $15.42 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Recently, the Obama administration has supported an increase in the federal minimum wage but the NLIHC says this alone is not the solution. Instead, the country must address the shortage of nearly 7 million affordable rental units for low income households, a move that would cost $30 billion a year for an entire decade, says the NLIHC.

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2 comments
LesCourtney
LesCourtney

If the minimum wage had simply tracked U.S. productivity gains since 1968, it would be $21.72 an hour -- three times what it is now. 

ShellWhip
ShellWhip

Eye opening. I'll be doing some research on this in the very near future.