Working Full Time Won’t Put a Roof Over Your Head

Even in states with higher-than-the-federal minimum wage, you will still need overtime or a second job to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Your best bet is in South Dakota, it turns out, where just 49 hours a week at minimum wage will get you a one-bedroom apartment. You’ll need to work longer hours if you plan to eat, of course.

There are (at least) two ways to interpret this report:

  1. There aren’t enough affordable rental units.
  2. The minimum wage is (way) too low.

Both are undoubtedly true. If you cannot afford food, shelter, and transportation while working a reasonable number of hours in any state in this country, then this is not a land of opportunity. There’s no opportunity for someone who can’t make ends meet even by working their ass off. And even if you think 60 hours is reasonable for someone earning minimum wage, there are only 13 states in which you can find a one-bedroom apartment by working 60 hours at that state’s minimum wage, and you still won’t have enough left over for food and transportation.

The $7.25/hour federal minimum wage is just ridiculous. But the minimum wages in states that have raised it really aren’t much better. But no matter what the minimum wage, there is nowhere near enough affordable housing.

Here’s the full report (pdf) from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.