Rent higher than federal minimum wage

The amount earned in a month on the state minimum wage is several hundred dollars below the national rental cost.

Home prices and rents continue to rise, but the federal minimum wage hasn’t changed since 2009.

A recently viral tweet claimed, “The average rent in the US hit a new record high of $1,827 last month. With the federal minimum wage at $7.25, people take home $1,256 a month.”

THE QUESTION

Has the typical rent in the United States exceeded the income earned by the federal minimum wage?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, typical US rent has exceeded income earned on the federal minimum wage.

WHAT WE FOUND

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.

Assuming a 40-hour week and a 52-week tax-free work year, the monthly income on that wage is $1,256, just like the tweet claims. Of course, some states have higher minimum wages; we’ll come back to that.

Next, VERIFY examined data on typical rents in America, which the tweet says are $1,827 per month.

This number is from Realtor.com’s April 2022 average rent estimate based on units advertised on the site in the top 50 metropolitan areas and includes only studio, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.

Redfin performs a similar estimate based on recently listed units of all sizes in the top 50 metros. That number for April was $1,962 per month.

Zillow calculates an estimate that actually tries to account for all rentals, not just new listings. The national “typical rent” for April was $1,927 per month.

All of these rent estimates are significantly higher than the $1,256 per month you can earn on the state minimum wage.

So what wage would you need to earn to afford a typical rental in the United States?

Using Zillow’s estimate of $1,927, you would have to be making $11.22 an hour just to be able to afford the rent and nothing else. This also does not take into account taxes or other living expenses.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have minimum wages that meet or exceed this threshold, although rental costs in these states may be higher than national estimates.

But spending 100% of the budget on housing is certainly not realistic. The Federal Office for Housing and Urban Development defines “cost-burdened” as anyone who spends 30 percent or more of their income on housing. In order not to be overwhelmed and rent a typical American apartment, your hourly wage would have to be $37.06. That’s an annual income of just over $77,080.

Washington, DC has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $15.20 an hour. That works out to an annual income of $31,616 per year.

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Alley Einstein

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