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September 09, 2003
Groups says Housing Remains "Out of Reach" for Many
Workers earning the minimum wage can only pay about one third of what it would cost to rent a two-bedroom apartment, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

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A person working full-time would need to earn $15.21 an hour, or $31,637 a year, to afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment that costs no more than 30 percent of their wages, the organization says. In 1999, a person had to earn $11.08 an hour to afford fair market rent. Thr organization calls these "housing wages."

The group says the figures on the jump in housing wages raise concerns about the affordability of housing for the millions of workers who earn below $15.21 an hour, especially those earning at or near the federal minimum wage of $5.15.

The average hourly earnings of production or nonsupervisory workers on private payrolls was $15.45 in August 2003, according to the Labor Department.

According to the report, the least affordable states are (in parentheses are the housing wages):

1. Massachusetts ($22.40)
2. California ($21.18)
3. New Jersey ($19.74)
4. New York ($18.87)
5. Maryland ($18.85)
6. Connecticut ($18.00)
7. Hawaii ($17.02)
8. Alaska ($16.75)
9. New Hampshire ($16.49)
10. Colorado ($16.29)

The least affordable metropolitan statistical areas and their San Jose, Calif. ($35.02 an hour); San Francisco, Calif. ($34.13 an hour); and Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. ($28.71 an hour).

Researchers used data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Census Bureau for the report.

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