If you're living in a one-parent household making the $7.75 minimum wage in Hawaii, you would need to work 163 hours a week to comfortably make your rent payment on a two-bedroom apartment — giving you a luxurious five hours a week to sleep, eat or spend time with your family. To comfortably afford a decent two-bedroom home on a 40-hour work week, by contrast, you'd need to earn $31.61 an hour.
The map above shows the hourly wage that a household needs to earn in order to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment in every state, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. High hourly wages are necessary to afford decent housing in Washington, D.C. ($28.04), California ($26.65), New York ($25.67), New Jersey ($25.17), Massachusetts ($24.64), and other states.
This data comes from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an advocacy group for affordable housing, which has published an extensive report comparing the cost of renting with wages in each state. The group defines housing affordability as paying less than 30 percent of your income to housing, a common standard for the industry, and it assumes a "fair market rent" as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In much of the Midwest and South, a renter can afford a two-bedroom house if his or her household makes less than $15 (which is still much higher than the minimum wage in those states). But on the coasts, the wage needed to comfortably afford a two-bedroom house rises to $20 an hour or more.
The figures haven't changed much from last year, when my colleague Emily Badger wrote about the data. As she pointed out, not all workers need two-bedroom homes, and some families have multiple earners.
The new data ranks how the 50 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico in terms of affordability:
This map flips that information around to give it in terms of the state's minimum wage. The figure in each state shows how many hours a worker making the minimum wage would need to work to afford a one-bedroom apartment, based on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's estimates.
The map shows that workers making the minimum wage and working a 40-hour week would not be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in any state without paying more than 30 percent of their income. The state that gets you closest is South Dakota, where you can make the cut by working 49 hours a week at minimum wage. In the worst state, Hawaii, if you want to make your rent payment, you basically can't sleep.
The site gives a huge amount of information on wages, rents, social security and more for each state, using data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, and the Census. To see an interactive version of the map that shows you how your state compares with others, click here.
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