The vast majority of workers nationwide are still struggling to find a place to live, according to “Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America,” a study on housing affordability released in January by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Housing Policy.
Workers in high-growth but low-wage occupations continue to struggle to afford rents in many metro areas. In fact, workers in two of the five hottest job sectors—retail sales and food preparation—cannot afford the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in any of the 210 metro markets surveyed by the study, which crunched wage information from Salary.com with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
According to the study, among the other top five job growth sectors, office clerks and customer service reps find it difficult to afford an apartment. Only registered nurses—the highest growth occupation in the country—can afford rents in all 210 markets. Ownership affordability was even more distressed, due to higher price points for entry.
The results “put the affordability question in perspective,” says Center for Housing Policy research associate and study author Rebecca Cohen. “It is a story we have been telling for awhile—these modest increases in income haven't been enough to keep up. It's just not enough to close that gap.”
The study found that renters in New York would need an hourly salary increase of 4.25 percent or greater to match the rent increases from 2006 to 2007. The five worst markets for rental affordability were West Palm Beach, Fla.; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; San Diego; Miami; and Dallas.