Joke's On You, American Workers! $15 An Hour Still Won't Cover The Rent Pretty Much Anywhere!
LOL, artists being able to afford to live in the East Village
Oh hey! You know how we've been fighting for quite a while to get the minimum wage up to $15 an hour? And all the Republicans have been opposed to that, and just WEEPING for how horrible that would be for the poor job creators? Well, it turns out that even that may not even be enough to cover rent these days! Fun!
According to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in order to afford a one bedroom apartment at the average fair market rate, without going over 30 percent of one's income, a person would have to be making about $16.35 an hour. A single parent with a child (29% of all minimum wage workers) who needs a two bedroom would need to earn $20.30 an hour.
Here is a charming graphic showing how many hours a person working at the current minimum wage would need to work in order to afford an average one-bedroom apartment in each state in the US of America!
Call me crazy, but it seems as though anyone who works 40 hours a week ought to be able to live somewhere! Is that so much to ask? No one should actually have to work 525,600 minutes a year in order to pay the rent. And guess what? Even if you did, an apartment that cost 30 percent of your income would run you about $1587 a month, which is actually a lot less than many two-bedrooms cost!
Rent is definitely skyrocketing, there's no question about that. It's getting positively ridiculous. When I first moved to Chicago about 12 years ago, I had a two-bedroom, no roommate, in Wicker Park for $650 a month. Sure! It was a garden apartment and my landlord kept screwing with my heat and my water pressure, but STILL. The average rent in that area now, for a one bedroom, is $1800. In 12 years, the rent has tripled, and wages have most certainly not.
Coincidentally, I'm actually currently looking at apartments right now, and there is literally no way anyone making $15 an hour-- which comes out to $31,200 a year -- could possibly afford to live almost anywhere in this city without a roommate. If you're only supposed to spend 30 percent of your income on rent, that comes out to $780 a month. You could MAYBE get a studio for that, but it would likely be in an area without a lot of public transportation. Which is a pretty necessary thing to have if you don't have a car. Unfortunately, most of the areas in our city that are especially close to public transportation are getting prohibitively expensive, because rich people don't want to drive either.
And yeah, you could say "Wanna pay lower rent? Don't live in a city!" But living in a city also means saving money on transportation, so it evens out in a lot of ways. Besides, there is no way a city could even function without minimum wage workers. It wouldn't even be a city anymore, because there would be pretty much no place to go. Without minimum and lower wage workers, you couldn't have grocery stores, or practically any stores for that matter, you wouldn't have fast food restaurants, or gas stations or basically anything a society needs to exist.
Also, not to be all "Oh, the poor starving artists!" about stuff -- but when only the rich can even afford to have enough spare time to be an artist, we end up with Taylor Swift. And that is a terrifying prospect. I mean, have you noticed that the vast majority of popular singers these days were all ex-Disney type people? That's because everyone else is too busy just trying to make enough money to pay the damn rent! They don't even have time to sing about paying the rent, that is how busy they are, working.
And for those who say "Oh, but minimum wage jobs are supposed to be for high schoolers!" I feel like they might be a little peeved if none of those places opened up before 3 p.m.
The current minimum wage in my city will rise to $10.50 an hour on July 1, which comes out to $21,840, meaning you'd need to pay around $546 a month! Definitely not a thing. The national minimum wage is $7.25, or $15,080 a year, meaning you could afford $377, and good luck with finding anything for that little pretty much anywhere in the whole country. And imagine if you have a kid, and you need a two bedroom! You can't even pull that off in West Virginia, the poorest state in the nation. In order to get a two-bedroom there, you'd need to be making at least $13.17 an hour.
If you were to eliminate every job that currently pays a wage it is impossible to live off of, we would all be naked and starving. Including all the precious and very delicate "job creators." That is a fact. So I think it is probably fair to say that minimum wage workers do enough for our society that they ought to not be naked and starving either. And they should be able to pay their rent!
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse