Making the Rent on Minimum Wage

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Map - Hours at minimum wage needed to afford rent in 50 states, National Low Income Housing Coalition

Hours at minimum wage needed to afford rent in 50 states, National Low Income Housing Coalition, March 2012
(Click map to enlarge.)

So much reporting about the economy is focused on unemployment numbers, but as writer Nona Willis Aronowitz pointed out on Good yesterday, a much less reported story is the number of people who have jobs but are “barely clinging to a decent lifestyle.” Two recent reports show that while employment numbers may be on the upswing, having a job doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on easy street.

In fact, if you’re working at a low wage job, you’re most assuredly not — and that’s the reality for a significant number of Americans. Consider this statistic from Aronowitz’s post:

“In 2010, one in five American adults worked for poverty-level wages, 4.4 million of whom earned wages at or below the federal minimum.”

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, but that figure varies depending on where you live. A few weeks ago, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released their annual housing report documenting the disparity between what minimum wage workers can afford to pay for rent and how much rent costs. While it’s not surprising that these workers have trouble paying their rent, it is shocking to see just how big the gap is in many states. For example, in Hawaii, the most expensive state, a person needs to make $31.68 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment. (An apartment is considered affordable if rent and utilities cost under 30 percent of a person’s income.) For someone making minimum wage, that would mean working 175 hours — which isn’t even possible (since there are only 168 hours in a week). The disparity exists for every state and commonwealth with the shortest work week in Puerto Rico, where you would still need to work 55 hours to make the rent.

Since 2008, the affordability of housing has steadily eroded for working households in 24 states. Nearly one in four working households spends more than half its income on housing costs, according to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy.

Click on the map above to see how many hours minimum wage earners would have to work to afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment in all 50 states. Learn more about the report on the NLIHC blog.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/john.cleek John Cleek

    Shocking stats — and also sad!

  • David Williams

    I’ve always measured the cost of buying a home by the number of years of annual salary it would take. But this “minimum wage to monthly rental” is a tougher statistc. You can’t draw out the rent over time.  Shocking

  • Catherine

    GREED GREED GREED

  • Jpbeech01

    do not forget fines for paying late, and most landlords keep the security deposit. I even had a landlord threaten to sue me after I moved out of apartment that was infested w/ cockroaches. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000927069570 Rick Mitchell

    I don’t know about other areas, but where I live in Tx there are still houses to be had for around $30,000. There are many of the houses being bought by immigrants. One will buy the house and some of his relatives will move in and help him fix it up and pay for it, then once it is paid off, they buy another one.
    Why won’t young American’s do this?

  • steph

    Rick its because of the credit market.   Its hard to establish credit with no credit these days.  In addition its difficult to come up with a down payment if you’re already working 80 hours just trying to eat.  Unless you have family it’s pretty impossible.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TO754R2VVHJDU7QVFI22HRFB24 Debra

     Most young Americans are taught that you must grow up and “leave the nest”  In my house we did that….then Grandpa became very ill and needed full time care. My Husband and Myself had full time Jobs…Our Daughter and her Husband were in between jobs …so they stepped up and moved back home to keep Grandpa out of the nursing home. In the process we saved the family homestead. We all live here together now. We all chip in to share the costs….Do you know what I hear from some of my friends?…Those Kids need to move out on there own! They need to get into a house of there own…Do you know what I say to them ….They worked just as hard as we did keeping Grandpa out of the nursing home. They own just as much of this house as we do…they pay their fair share of the bills. Alone we could not have done this…Alone they could not have done this…Together we did this…Together we still have the “family” home. There are more families thinking this way today than ever before.. We are not unique just “Family”

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TO754R2VVHJDU7QVFI22HRFB24 Debra

    Most young Americans are taught that you must grow up and “leave the
    nest”  In my house we did that….then Grandpa became very ill and
    needed full time care. My Husband and Myself had full time Jobs…Our
    Daughter and her Husband were in between jobs …so they stepped up and
    moved back home to keep Grandpa out of the nursing home. In the process
    we saved the family homestead. We all live here together now. We all
    chip in to share the costs….Do you know what I hear from some of my
    friends?…Those Kids need to move out on there own! They need to get
    into a house of there own…Do you know what I say to them ….They
    worked just as hard as we did keeping Grandpa out of the nursing home.
    They own just as much of this house as we do…they pay their fair share
    of the bills. Alone we could not have done this…Alone they could not
    have done this…Together we did this…Together we still have the
    “family” home. There are more families thinking this way today than ever
    before.. We are not unique just “Family”

  • az al

    What the country needs is an immediate doubling, at least, of the minimum wage.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/IIVL4J7MZUNPCIFZOVLI6GRV7Q Shawn

     Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are
    envied, men of power are feared; but only men of character are trusted

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/E-Bruce-Barnes/100000020551240 E Bruce Barnes

    The original government formula for
    poverty, created in 1955, doesn’t take account of rising costs of medical care
    and other factors. The current calculation sets the poverty level at three
    times the annual cost of groceries. For a family of four that is $21,203. That
    calculation does not factor in rising medical, transportation, child care and
    housing expenses or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does the
    current formula consider noncash aid when calculating income, despite the
    recent expansion of food stamps and tax credits in the federal economic
    stimulus and other government programs. 
    The current formula would put poverty level hourly rate for a two worker
    family of four at $5.07 an hour.  This is
    obviously  to low when the other factors
    are considered.  “The current
    poverty measure does a very bad job of measuring the impact of quite a few of our
    anti-poverty policies,” Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department’s
    undersecretary of economic affairs, said in an interview. “It isn’t
    meaningless, but it isn’t complete.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/E-Bruce-Barnes/100000020551240 E Bruce Barnes

    What the country needs is an immediate doubling, at least, of the poverty level and minimum wage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/E-Bruce-Barnes/100000020551240 E Bruce Barnes

    Elizabeth Warren has reported that the cost of food has
    gone down 19 % from 1970 to 2007. This means the poverty level has gone down 57
    % from 1970 to 2007 and it wasn’t that great in 1970. The poverty level should
    be increased by at least 57 % under the current definition. The
    current poverty formula should be reevaluated to take into account the 100%
    increase in housing, 103 % increase in health insurance, 100 % increase in
    Child Care Services and a 25 % tax increase in the same 1970 to 2007 period.  

  • Rwinger124

    In times past, we are told, people who couldn’t afford to live where they were picked up and moved to somewhere else where they COULD afford to live, with a minimal amount of whining and sniveling about how unfair life is. Get an education, learn how to contribute something necessary to society, and then get on with it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/E-Bruce-Barnes/100000020551240 E Bruce Barnes

    There is no standard definition of
    the middle class. The income levels most Americans say are needed for a family
    to be considered middle class are:

    The threshold for a minimum middle-class
    living standard for a two-parent, two-child family varies from about $31,000
    (rural Nebraska) to almost $65,000 (Boston, Massachusetts), and the median
    threshold is about $40,000. By comparison, in a recent poll conducted by the
    Kaiser Family Foundation, only 21 percent of those polled considered a family
    of four making $30,000 to be middle class. When asked about a family of four
    making $40,000, an additional 21 percent (42 percent total) said the family
    would be middle class; at $50,000, 60 percent of those polled said the family
    would be middle class.

    Assuming that a “living wage” lies somewhere between  $21,203 and $40,000, one can safely say a
    “living wage” is somewhere around $30,000 for a family of four. This
    translates to $7.21 for two-worker family or $14.42 for a single provider. The
    IRS reports that for 2008 the median AGI was $33,048.

     

    If
    we increase the 1970 poverty level by 57 %, the poverty level for a family of
    four would be $33,289. Since the “median“ means half of the population falls
    below the AGI of $33,048, over half of the population are below the middle
    class. This is also consistent with the loss of earning power of 80 % 0f the
    population from 1970.

     

     

  • Anonymous

    Because in a suburb of Seattle you will be paying a minimum of three times that for a tiny fixer that you can’t live in yet.  And regular financing is often not available on homes like that.

  • Whitecrane123

    Love to do that…how do I afford 450.00 credit hour for college tuition?  How do I afford to live in a 6000/yr dorm..this is a state school; not ivy league.  If I work 40 hrs a week and go to school; how long before the grades drop?  If I have a student loan, I lose it if my grade pt ave drops below 2.5….this is 2012, not 1956!

  • Louise Nehl

    Unfortunately more than fifty percent of college students did not make plans to attend, nor did their parents like they did back in 1956,1966,1976.
    Student loans are at an all time low on interest rates. Balance is required to
    maintain your grades and support yourself. I suggest you meet with counselors and
    possibly a financial expert to assist you with a game plan. Best of luck!

  • Louise Nehl

    It is very easy to establish credit. Simply go to your bank or credit union and give them
    $200. Tell them you would like a secure credit card. Never charge up to $200 and always keep your balance at $100 or less. After using and paying for four months, you have established your first line. Then apply for a gas card and do the same charge and paydown to 50% of high credit.
    If you wanted to purchase a home instead or renting, FHA requires 3.5% down and the down payment can come from a gift from a family member, have the seller pay 3% towards your closing cost and pre-paids. Currently thirty year rates are running 3.75 and dropping.
    Purchasing is typically cheaper than paying rent.

  • Louise Nehl

    very simple to answer! American’s want instant gratification. Young people want their parents lifestyle but do not want to work for it!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CWM5RLDQ3ERUIKRQUZ3IYD5UCA Tim

    Young Americans ~Do~ do this. I know a couple groups who do this.

  • Jo

     Sorry, Elizabeth Warren is nuts. In 1970 I could buy a gallon of milk for $1 – now the cheapest place in town charges more than $3. Hamburger meat was 59 cents a pound – have you priced it lately?

  • FoodForAll

    The price of food has gone down along with the quality of it. Good food costs more.

  • Liberalbill

    Here is the map Michelle and everyone concerned about the wages in our Country, that shows the wages for rent. Just like we have talked before about comparing blue vs. red, I would be pointing out the dark blue ones. The wages are Higher which increases the cost of living that helps keep some states living in a third world country, compared to the demographics of blue vs. red. It would be challenging but I would bet divorce rates, teen pregnancy and about every social net can be included. But the biggest thought to all of this is when will we collectively stop pointing the finger?

  • Tbogeyt

    What is the profile of a minimum wage worker?  The majority are 16-24 and work part-time. http://www.bls.gov/cps/minwage2011.pdf 

  • Giftedone1952

    Had always hoped our kids could settle somewhere near us. One is gone and the second about to follow, looking to find jobs that would enable them to stand on own two feet. It is especially hard on those starting out. When we retire. In about 5 to 6 years, we may need to sell our home of 30 years if we want to afford our property taxes and be somewhere near the kids and hopefully someday near the grand kids.

  • Hedy

    Excuse me, how old are you and are you in college now?  Take a moment to understand where someone else is coming from before you give advice that probably isn’t applicable.  If you’ve been there, and been through it in our time, you would be fit to give advice that would be helpful.  Everything costs money and time that is ever harder to come by, and more money means less time, more time means less money.  It’s just not enough.  Public colleges used to be paid for by the public, not anymore.  The rich are screwing you and your children over.

  • Hedy

    Hun, we could have our parents lifestyle but the ones before us did everything in their power to lock in their wealth, and the cost was our future.  I think you are missing the point of this article.  Minimum wage is what’s available to young people and they can’t live off it.  So how the hell do they get anywhere, by taking out student loans?  They have to pay those someday, and with the decreasing numbers of jobs, there is no guarantee even going through school that they will get a job that pays enough.  As an older member of society, I bet you were able to get a job, you were able to go to school under the idea that you could get a job from it, and clearly yes, you worked to get where you are.  But that was then, when the odds were in people’s favor if they did all the right things.  There are no longer set rules to get ahead, and the odds are now against those struggling to get ahead.  We are in survival mode so we won’t have the power to change our lives.  So the rich can stay so, and the price is any quality of life for those that aren’t already rich.

  • Pirou3t

    Or….. A single mother of two beautiful children going to school full-time. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.mccarey Sage McCarey

    I would love to know where Ms. Warren shops for groceries. All I see is food going up and up. Many times I go to the grocery and find an item I bought a month ago is now 10 cents more. I do not believe the cost of food has gone down.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.mccarey Sage McCarey

    This is true of some young people but not the ones I know. Don’t paint everyone with the same brush.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sage.mccarey Sage McCarey

    It is amazing to read articles like this that point out how people are being used by big rich companies like Labor Ready and still hear someone blaming individuals for not being able to make it. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, just accept the fact that you are a wage slave, don’t eat so much (you’re probably too fat anyway), stop whining and accept that the rich get much, much richer and the poor get poorer”. There is such a lack of compassion in this christian country.

  • Jamel brown

    It’s impossible to make the rent in newyork , making minimum wage at $7.25 a hour..you need at lease $15.00 a hour to start ..on a salary job $80,000 annually ..the average rent in newyork for a single bedroom $1200 -2000 per month..two bedroom $2000-3000 per month..three bedroom $3000 -$4000 pre month..this is not including cost of living so to much it here in newyork as a single person yo u need to $80,000 to $150,000 annually a year ..with out government assistance and section 8 reform..its tough to make it single in newyork ..if you have a family one child and more you would have to make $150,000 to $250,000 annually to maintain the house hold with out government assistance..

  • need help to paying rent.

    i need help paying my rent because job only give me 12 hours aweek at10.45 and hour and now the landlord want me to move and all the money i had save up has ran out and i dont know what to do evanston ill get very cold in the winter , on my way out doors. please. 847-328-70238

  • me-n-jcb

    I feel for the young people today…it’s sad, and this article doesn’t even mention the fact that in most cases it’s hard to find full time work, much less the hours needed to afford being on your own. My daughter works 2 part time jobs just to get an average of 35 hrs a week. She’s only 18, so hopefully in her time, things will turn for the better.

  • DDD

    Nope. I’m 18 and I work a minimum wage full time job on weekdays and on weekends I have to work a second job for 8 hours each day.

  • Frustrated Mother

    Oh in the perfect world. You have to realize not everyone comes from a perfect credit history. As a single mother of 10 years, I can tell you working full time, and trying to afford rent and bills- when I did have good credit- I was young and put a lot on credit cards. Lost my job, couldn’t pay the bills- evictions, judgements for the credit cards etc, no medical insurance + emergency rooms visits…. fast forward 8 years later- married with more children, we have two incomes- living in a small apartment so we can save for a down payment- but after trying to “establish credit” for 3 years- I STILL am unable to get my scores up high enough to get approved for a mortgage. Because of the housing crisis- rent is unreal- there is 10x the demand vs. the supply. We wash our family of 5′s laundry in the bathtub to save money- we live with 6 people in less than 1,000 sq feet. We both have college degrees and both are working. Because of the crazy high rent (and believe me we found the cheapest rental we could find) all of our income is going to just cover bills so we can just survive and have gas to get to work and get our kids to school everyday. We’ve gotten a new car loan (after only owning cars and paying cash for them) just to help with my credit score- It’s very discouraging to know that a stupid number is keeping us from owning a home where our monthly mortgage payment would be less than 1/2 of what we pay for rent now. Down payment can come from a family member sounds great- but not everyone has family members who are in any better situations. Obviously purchasing now is cheaper than paying rent- if more people could GET APPROVED for better housing there wouldn’t be such a huge demand for rentals! Your scenario of walking into the credit union and getting a secured card is great in theory if you have a ZERO credit score.
    There are many of us out there who had to make choices to feed our families and provide shelter vs. keeping a nice credit score. The scam that is FICO is a JOKE. I’ve been repairing my credit for over 3 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.cameron.7737 Scott Cameron

    Well maybe if people started to demand legislation in their local government to regulate rental rates. About no more than a 1/3 of your monthly income should be used to cover the rent. So rates should be no more than 1/3 of the rate of a full time employee working at minimum wage. Those wages of course fluctuate based on your city and state of residence. That would be ideal. And if the greedy guys want more money they would have to increase minimum wage.

  • Samantha Hartman

    That’s not how credit works. Your credit is based off of a lot of factors and one being how long you’ve had it. Credit cards? Aren’t even going to tip your numbers up if you’ve never had a loan or haven’t had a credit card for longer than 4-5 years. Car loans are usually the best solution to this, but then again you need to be able to afford one of those too.

  • Sam

    This data is interesting but not really useful unless we have something to compare it to: how are other nations doing? Nations that with better distributed wealth, or better welfare programs? How about worse ones?

  • AustrianGuy

    Economics. Price fixing ends up horribly. I think NY, CA, and IL would love this idea though.

  • greg

    my guess is she is adjusting for inflation

  • http://www.facebook.com/keithMBender Keith M Bender

    Coddle Capitalism while expecting it to take care of it’s Employee’s ? Seems thats too much to expect since Profit is of course more important especially if the Employee’s get underwritten by Taxes and by attacking Taxes we directly further the disrespect due the Employee’s. Snake eating it’s own tail and pretending that it’s delicious.

  • ISB

    Girlofwords, where the heck do you live? My family budgets $250 – 300 a month for “groceries” – which includes toiletries etc as well as food – a month for our family of 5. That’s our “comfortable” budget, now my wages (single-earner household, married couple, 3 kids 5 and under) have gone up. As a family of 4, less than 2 years ago, we were budgeting $180 – 200 per month.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1026604875 Edward Lester

    My Rent is $750 per month for a 2 bdroom house. Utilities cost me about $100 per month. That’s $850 per month. On minimum wage I’d earn $1160 per month. Am I missing some math here or is this article wrong?

  • http://twitter.com/kaisawheel kaisawheel

    That leaves you with 310 dollars. Lets factor in life shall we: Taxes, social security and health insurance premiums will eat up most of that for you, then there is car insurance premiums, gas, household supplies….FOOD. Yeah. You’d be doing JUST fine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=68603341 Branden Kirk

    Minimum wage was never meant to pay for a two bedroom unit, maybe a studio if you are lucky but more likely sharing a place with roommates. Minimum wage is for ENTRY-LEVEL employment for people just entering the work force with NO vocational skills like teenagers who live with their parents. If you are past your teen years and have no job skills one has to ask why you haven’t pursued more marketable professional skills.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edavila.02 Ed Avila

    You can’t ask that Branden. You have to consider also that just recent college grads are having no choice but to work the minimum waged jobs talked about here. That in turn is preventing teenagers from working because a minimum wage job would much rather higher a college grad then a teen. Then there are thous looking at the unemployed workers who was laid off. They too much work the minimum wage job. Plus let’s not forget that most (and I mean most) minimum wage jobs don’t work their employees full-time. So now you have to consider, health, food, gas, insurance, and education bills before you can even talk about rent somewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/edavila.02 Ed Avila

    OK, we can go over your math because (yes) it is wrong. I do numbers for a living and I can tell you to calculate payroll there is a formula. The formula goes: pay-rate x number of weekly hours worked, x 52, divided by 12 months and that would equal your average monthly pay NOT including taxes. So when you do the math at minimum wage with a 40 hour work week, it equals $1256.67 per month. When you calculate everything that kaisawheel stated it comes out to a negative figure. Edward, my father told me when I was young that if I could not make rent with 2 paychecks then that would mean I could not live on my own, that was wise logic back then. I am 40 something now, and I have to tell you, that if I told my daughter that very same thing today she would just laugh at me. At full-time she is barely scraping the barrel.

  • charlie1220@gmail.com

    I’m twenty three and am willing to work hard, the problem is, jobs that can pay for what everyone needs are becoming harder to find. Food, shelter and clothes and water. I am still looking for any job that doesn’t require a degree that I can’t afford. How many jobs have just been outsoruced or just eliminated?

  • charlie1220@gmail.com

    Our WHOLE country is like this. This isn’t about complaining, this is about our country loosing jobs that can support anyone for what they need, not want. The last time I checked our whole country had a bad economy.

  • Annyonomous…

    I think its even worse…. What lot of people seem to over look to is that it is impossible for anyone making minum wage and to be able to live on their own and fully support themselves. IT makes it even hard when your just a kid trying to get out on your own… You can’t even rent a one bedroom for what is considered “affordable”…. Yet they say go to college so you can make better money. Yet you can’t go to school if your having to work so much a week just to keep food in your month and a roof over your head. but who the hell cares about people like me…

  • annoyomous

    The government doesn’t care about its people. The won’t even pass laws or reform health care so that it isn’t depend or over ruled by profit. They don’t care if you living in the streets, or can’t go to school, or can’t pay your rent… They want slaves, robots….They don’t care about humanity, and they certainly don’t care if things are fair or equal…. If they did, we might actually be a free people…. and we might actually make progress as a country instead of only increasing the profits of those who already have everything and anything they want….

  • dr jones

    A lot of these comments here are pretty ignorant and disgusting. A lot of kids ARE going to college, they ARE taking out “cheap interest” students loans. But guess what? Tuition costs have inflated astronomically! Oh but the interest is “low”. Well if you’re flat broke, barely surviving, this doesn’t help you anyway. And you have to take out private loans to cover what government loans don’t.

    I have a MASTERS DEGREE. Guess what. There are no jobs. The only jobs that are available to me right now are minimum wage, or serving in a CHAIN restaurant. Everything is a damn chain. I have so much debt that due to bouts of unemployment, rent, and grocery/gas, and extremely high student loan payments, I’ve had to use my credit cards which got me further in debt. I drive an old economy car and live pretty much bare minimum and am not even scraping by.

    There’s no way out. By the way…if you have private student loans (likely if you’re born into the lower class and don’t have a rich family to buy you cars and help you pay for things), and they are Sallie Mae, they don’t defer for unemployment. Typical monthly repayment is $500-1,000/month. Welcome back to The Jungle. They have orchestrated a grand economy in which you are indeed a wage slave.

    P.S. For anyone who cares to actually educate themselves, the preface alone of the book American Theocracy will teach you a lot about your country. Allow you to step back and read it like you would a history book about another nation.

  • juani

    I was heartbroken that my wife moved in with another man so I
    had a spell to bring her back home and stop the affair she had with him.
    In just 4 days she left him and went to live at the motel. She called
    to say so and get news of the kids. The discussion was pleasant, as if
    she was changing to become the woman I knew when we got married. It was
    exactly as you said…. Now she’s back home and is absolutely crazy about
    me. I am so thrilled by this spell that I cant find the right words to
    say how I feel right now. All I can decently say is that you changed my
    life and saved the most important thing in my life: my family, way to
    contact my savior is winexbackspell@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucyinthaskye Cindy Strickland

    Thank the Commodities Futures Modernization Act (2000) for your milk, eggs, and gas (everything) prices going up. Speculators are enriching themselves off the backs of the consumer.

  • robkenn

    i’d like to live where you do Edward lester..1bd apt runs between $750-1000 a month, bills run between $300-500 a month this is for , electric, phone and a basic form of entertainment ( tv ) sorry but even for 1 person, it would run between 50-100 a week in food. forget about gas and car insurance..so when all is said and done 750+300+200 for food a month =$1250 a month..a minimum wage job only pays at 40 h/week 1160..already in the hole for the month..that don’t include transportation nor clothing expenses..and if you get sick and miss a few days, forget about it..since most minumum wage paying jobs dont give you sick time.there is less in the check….now we didnt even talk about taxes yet..so lets take that 1160 number and drop it to 850/ after taxes..this number dont even cover the rent for the month…now i have to work an 80 h/week just to make ends meet 850 +850…..and as to the person who thinks the Mexicans can buy a house for 30,000…yes they have thier uncles aunts brothers and sister and cousins..with 6 children living in the same 2bd house…American citizens would not be able to live like this because we have a standard of living the gov imposes..a married couple with 2 children boy and girl would have to live in a 3 bd house because each sex has to have separate bedrooms..not only that but each bedroom must have its own closet…i experienced this first hand . as a single father with a daughter i was told on numerous occasions that i was not allowed to rent a 1 bdr apt. even though it was all i could afford..because of these standards…

    this map is still a conservative estimate…households making less then 40,000 a year is still below the poverty level

  • Dave K

    If someone is willing to work to support themselves then that work should pay enough for them to do so. Many will argue that some jobs aren’t worthy of a living wage. When more and more of the ones they do deem worthy are being sent elsewhere, though, what’s the alternative? Are we supposed to simply accept that less and less Americans will be able to support themselves, even when they’re doing what we think of as “playing by the rules?”

    I’m just old enough to remember when one fairly low-skilled mill job supported Dad, Mom, my brother and myself. I was a young teen when that started to change and I remember it illustrated by an example a kid would notice. At Christmas we had plenty of presents under our tree, and more waiting at our grandparents’ houses. The ones at the latter weren’t just from our grandparents, though.

    The mill and factory jobs our uncles worked at paid well enough that we also got presents from them, too. By the Christmas of 1980 I had another brother and also four cousins on Mom’s side of the family. There were presents under her parents’ tree for each of us kids from the grandparents and one $10-20 one for each of us from each of the uncles.

    Then Reaganomics and globalization came, and there was less and less to spare for luxuries like Christmas. Eventually the mills and factories left, and we started exporting raw timber and buying Chinese and Japanese-made wooden furniture. We used to keep those logs here and sell foreign consumers the furniture we made from them. Now those mill and factory jobs are gone and all that’s left here are starvation wage positions selling each other the stuff that we used to make.

    Now the accepted wisdom is that we workers will be better off when the owners have so much on their tables that they can’t fit it all in their mouths. The more scraps they drop, the richer the rest of us will be, we’re told, even as the owners put away more and more of that excess for later, or to leave to their own kids (while we, and our kids, are expected to “earn” our wealth through hard work, discipline, talent or luck). It’s all part of the double standard of the wealthy and their mouthpieces.

  • Katherine

    Your story reminds of the Walton show where the father and mother took care of the grandparents in the same home. My brother’s ex-wife’s family also took care of their older parents until their health issues were beyond their care taking skills. My Grandma is almost 96. Our Dad and Aunts and one Uncle live at the corners of our country. The grandkids have been her major caretakers, primarily my brother, two cousins and I and it is harder when you don’t live with your elder relative. Also, depending upon the sex and how old they are is a factor if they can live with you or not. My Grandma trusts my brother the most, My female cousin is married so that helped her. Also, a factor is the mental stability of the elder, which can make it hard because one day they say yes and then the next day they say, did I say that. Well, I am glad the Walton style of taking care of older relatives works for your family.

  • SmilingAhab

    This is a tradition far older than our nation. It’s a generational house, and it is how things have been done in our civilization since its foundations. Telling the kids to get the heck out is an aberration, and is what really separates families. If one has a home big enough, one simply moves the youngest where they can have fun and love with others and takes the opposite side.

  • SmilingAhab

    It’s all in inflation adjustments. Do all the calculations at 1970 value and the costs go down. But someone forgot to tell those upper crust quants that 1970 values mean nothing because we don’t live in 1970.

  • SmilingAhab

    The big five cities – LA, Chicago, New York, Philly and Miami, reflect prices like that.

  • Mesha

    Im 21 and i work for a grocery store i make 1 something which isnt what i want but its hard, the bad thing is people telling me i can get my place but not if im making that i will need a second job again honestly just saying. help me out guys cause i know all yall have yall own place i have not even had my my first one yet its crazy i know.

  • minimum wage life

    I am a college grad. I work a minimum wage job because I have to. I have to pay rent, pay for food, pay for everything. I soon will be paying for student loans. I had no work experience because I was a full time student in another state with no car. I was on scholarship and could not let my grades slip. So, now most employers pick up the unemployed workers that have 15 years experience with little education over the person with lots of education and little experience.

    Minimum wage may have started as an entry position, but for a lot of people in a lot of areas, it is a trap. Once you start making minimum wage you either have to adjust you life and in most cases mean going without and taking handouts, or working your butt off taking as many jobs as possible to survive and get stuck in a rut.

  • Minimum wage life

    You did not factor in taxes, or how you get to work be it by car, bus, train, or walk… In order to walk you still need shoes, skates, bikes… Its a cost for most people. I also would like to know where you live because if utilities costed only $100 for a 2 br house, this must be one green house with only basic necessities. I am also almost positive renters insurance is not included.

  • Minimum wage life

    With this situation, people always say go to college, but speaking first hand, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for some people to work 35 hours at two jobs and go to college. I work 40 hours with no benefits and still cannot sit in class. First, I do not make enough to pay back loans, or pay a bill or for books at the same time, but other than that, I have to do overtime in order to make any kind of money.

  • Jacob

    I’m one of them. So lost and pissed at the world. I work 60ish hours a week making 11 dollars an hour at one job and minimum wage at the other. I don’t have anything to my name accept a 12 year old preowned car. I am 21 and still live with my parents, I am a diabetic, my meds which I must take to stay alive cost me nearly 300 a month. I don’t have the ability to do anything. Trying to go to school to get a good career, but taking time off work for classes makes living even harder. At this point I don’t know what else I can do.

  • Kim McHenry

    Hey Branden,
    Why don’t you tell that to anyone who has ever worked for Ford, GM, any of the Steel Mills or like the first poster, a Milling Company. NOT everyone is cut out for school. BTW, why don’t you ask those of us who went to college/post graduate studies to see how much extra money those diplomas have made us after paying monthly student loan payments out of our above average incomes. I for one, will be in debt most of my career.
    A cashier at any huge retail chain makes a little above minimum wage, even after years of service. He/she DOES possess marketable skills ( customer service, sales, basic accounting and genuine business ethics). Are you saying these people are not worthy of having enough to feed their families or be able to take them to their doctor if they get sick?
    I hear more and more of this type of disgusting ranting every day. GOTTA GET MINE, SCREW THE REST! My Canadian father told me a few years back. ” Unfortunately, you are witnessing the decline of the American Empire”. He was so right. But it hasn’t only been at the hands of the politicians. We have our fellow Americans who are intolerant and self righteous in their ignorant beliefs like you Branden, to Thank.

  • Michael Russo

    First of all, minimum wage today cannot even pay for gas in your car. Who are we kidding? Most people (I am sure) earn a bit more then minimum wage unless they are very young with little to no skill sets. That said, don’t think for a moment that life suddenly gets better when you become a wage earner between 29,000 and 50,000. Yeah, you can afford that apartment now but now you don’t qualify for any medical coverage. Medical insurance is way expensive, like a car payment and I am mean a nice car. If you don’t have insurance, medical cost are out of pocket with no discounts. suddenly your middle class paycheck is looking pretty thin. Your cost for dental, vision and a doctor visit can exceed your income fast. You no longer qualify for education grants and saving for a house or even qualifying for a house loan can be tough. Your not out of the woods unless you are earning 60,000 and above or a double incomer and you have a job with benefits – depending on your location of course.

    Jobs with benefits are usually corporate and government jobs. Self employed? Work for a small business? Good luck. You just got left in the cold.

  • jelice

    My ex-boyfriend dumped me 4 months ago after I accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him.I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me.I was so confuse and don’t know what to do,so I reach to the internet for help and I saw a testimony of how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me and assure me of 3days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my ex came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness.I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that,we are about to get married.once again thank you Kala spell.you are truly talented and gifted Email: perfectspellcaster3@gmail.com is the only answer.he can be of great help and I will not stop publishing him because he is a wonderful man perfectspellcaster3@gmail.com

  • Laurie

    Very young with no skill sets? I have two college degrees, and am 49 years old. I work as a housekeeper, making 8.50 an hour.

  • Laurie

    There are a lot of people who followed the spiel and got the college education. Now they are working for minimum wage.

  • Keri

    Hmm…interesting comment. At 21, I had gotten my bachelor’s degree in psychology and my starting pay was 9.72/hr. Those without a degree made 7 &8/hr. It was highly stressful and we were definitely underpaid. I had medical insurance coming out my check leaving me with a minimal amount just to pay a bill or two. Anything else, forget it. Life was very hard. Now 10 years later, I do have more experience and finishing up a master’s degree but life isnt exceedingly better. I moved back in with my parents, even though, I’d much rather be on my own. It is just more affordable and helps me out. Paying rent and a car note eats up all of your money.

  • julie

    Employers should only be allowed to pay Minimum wage to minors living at home. If young adults age 18-24 still live at home, go to college and are claimed as dependents, a wage that is 20% above minimum should be paid. People 25 and older need to be paid a living wage. That wage would vary and be unique to each “municipality” (be they cities or counties or towns or rural hamlets) because, for example, in USA County, average rent for a modest 2BR apartment may cost $650/month in Town A, yet rent for equivalent in Town B, 25 miles away, may be $800/month.

    The Living Wage (minimum for independent adults 25 and older) should be calculated using the accepted standard that rent should never exceed 30% of gross income. So in my example, in Town A with average rent for a 2BR apt at $600/month, the Minimum Living Wage would be $1,800/month. In Town B it would be $2,400/month. Where I live, average rent for a modest 2BR apt is $1,300/month so a Min. Living Wage should be $3,900/month. And that’s w/o figuring in utilities because those are so irregular it wouldn’t be appropriate to assign an average. However, where I live, there are few jobs (compared to population), and 85% of them are in retail or the hotel/restaurant industries…of which about 8% are FT salaried jobs, and the rest start at our state’s minimum wage of $7.25/hour, or $290/week, or $1,160/month–before taxes. And THAT’S A 40 HOUR WEEK! But if we (incorrectly) assume only couples and families rent 2BR apts, both husband and wife working FT, the household would gross a whopping $2,320/month. After the numerous payroll deductions they’d NET about $1,800/month…a mere $500/month more than the rent. Hawaii taxes rent and food, too. Tax on $1300=$55. Even the most frugal small households’ electric bills run approximately $250/month. So our sample household with 2 FT minimum wage workers would have only about $200/month for food, clothes, laundry, health care, and transportation. You KNOW these folks can’t afford a car, or Christmas festivities, or new appliances, or jewely, or dining out, or vacations, or even all the household sundries they need each month (another 2 FT American workers that won’t be contributing to this country’s economy in any expansive way).

    How can the USA expect its economy to grow if most Americans can’t buy anything beyond rent, utilities, taxes and insurance???

    If our country wants the economy to grow, it must ensure its 350 million people can earn enough money to resume spending on non-bare-essentials! !

    The biggest cost of govt our taxes are wasted on aren’t entitlements; it’s the cost of maintaining the morbidly obese govt itself. We’re paying for BS programs, like to have the NSA track our movements, spy on our emails, gather data on us from all the electronic devices we use, invading foreign countries “just in case” a handful of extremists might live there, might hate America, and might plan to attack us. Horse-hockey! The govt has used 9-11 to convince us that half the world hates us and wants to use all their resources to dstroy us, that we should live in fear, waive our constitutional and human rights, and allow it to waste OUR wages for its oppressive programs…while an exponentially increasing number of us can’t even buy clothes or Christmas gifts for family, or put our kids even through trade school or Jr. College.

    If the govt doesnt do away with minimum wage for all workers over age 21 who are not anyone’s dependant, it MUST make it a LIVING WAGE, and such wage cannot be federal or even statewide since costs of housing alone usually vary immensely from region to region. Otherwise, only allow employers to pay the dying (minimum) wage to minors and dependants, and let the free market control wages.

  • Kayla Blue

    I wish more would realize what corporate greed has done to America: ruined it. Heads up, people – the poor aren’t holding on to all the money!

  • Kayla Blue

    People recite that line so often: “He/she should really move out of his/her parents’ house.” “When is he/she going to move out and grow up already?” Believe me, I’m 26 and I hear it all the time. People think nothing of belittling me because I live with my parents due to my financial situation. I am college educated and unemployed. I have marketable skills but no one cares. I have been turned down for over 100 jobs.

  • crapola

    LOL. Love the map. Except you don’t know what you’re talking about. Did you know you have to work every day of the week, 24-hours a day, plus do a time-warp thingie and work an extra seven hours on your timesheet to get an apartment in Hawaii. My question: If you have to work 24×7, why do you need an apartment?

    Bottom line: Nobody had the 9th grade knowledge to fact-check this map, or the 6th grade knowledge to verify the data. Hint: you’re off by a factor of four.

  • crapola

    Yes, or, as an alternative, how about people work harder and make themselves more valuable … and reap the rewards???

  • crapola

    I completely agree. What you should do is borrow some money from your parents (or their retirement/pension account). Open a business. Pay a good wage and give the employees healthcare. I promise you I have three friends right now who will come take those jobs!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Truthsayer

    Haha no way. It’s only possible if the toddler eats gold.

    I have lived in the most expensive city in the world.

  • Melanie Davis

    Try watching on Netflix the documentary Inequality for All. Or try http://Www.inequalityforall.com

  • Joy Ward

    people are working their A$$ off and not reaping the rewards… there is NO rewards. No sick pay, no holiday pay, no benefits, no vacations. you sir are expendable as well. People are getting fired at the expense of being able to get rid of you full-time and hire some part-time to do the SAME job in less hours and less pay…. THOSE people are “trying” to work just as HARD as the ones getting paid more than them and the rewards aren’t there….

    We’re ALL working harder, but their ALL paying less and giving less, and earning MORE…. It’s just flat out wrong!

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL.

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. ………………

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. ….

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. .

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. ///

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. ….

  • Nikita Wynn

    I want to use this medium to tell the world about Doctor OKAYA who helped me in getting my lover back with his powerful spell, my ex and i where having misunderstanding which led to our breakup though i went to beg her several times to please forgive and accept me back because i know i offended her but each time i went i always feel more deeply in pain and agony because she always walk out on me and would not want to listen to what i have to tell but on i faithful day as i was browsing i came arose a testimony of a woman whose problem was more than mine and yet Doctor OKAYA helped her with his spell so i was happy and also contacted Doctor OKAYA for help via email and then told him my story but the only thing he said was that i will wipe you tear with my spell so lucky for me everything want well just as he promised and right now i have got my fiance back and we are both living happily. there is nothing Doctor OKAYA can not do with is spell and just as promise my self i will keep testifying on the internet of how Doctor OKAYA helped me.Are your problem greater that mine or less i give you 100% guarantee that Doctor OKAYA will put an end to it with his powerful spell, contact Doctor OKAYA for help Via email OKAYASPELLHELP@GMAIL.COM

    1. GETTING YOUR EX LOVER BACK.

    2. WINNING LOTTERIES.

    3. CHILD BEARING.

    4. BREAKING OF GENERATION COURSE.

    5. GETTING OF JOB.

    6. JOB PROMOTION.

    7. MONEY SPELL.

    8. SPIRITUAL PROTECTION.

    9. HERBAL CARE.

    10. BEAUTY SPELL. …………..

  • christine

    what about the greedy landlords BILL? why isn’t rent affordable? does anyone else wonder why the people earning minimum wages can’t shop, buy new cars, or go to restaurants???