This year, New Orleans' housing wage for a two-bedroom unit was one of the highest in Louisiana, second only to Vernon Parish. One would need to earn $13.84 an hour - about $29,000 a year - to afford a two-bedroom apartment there.
In Hawaii, the state with the most expensive housing, one would have to make $36.13 - about $75,000 a year - to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment.
The Hawai'i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice outlined details of the Out of Reach 2018 report, compiled by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. A wage of $39.06 translates to more than $81,244 per year.
But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum-wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
In Contra Costa County, where the hourly pay needed for a 2-bedroom apartment ranges from $38 in Richmond, Martinez, and Antioch, all the way up to $67 in Danville. "The rents are far out of reach from what the average renter is earning".
The problem? Even the lowest amount is higher than the local minimum wage. In Seattle, a worker making the mean wage would have to put in 49 hours for a one-bedroom and 60 hours for a two-bedroom. For someone in need of a two-bedroom, like a single parent with a child, that jumps up to 93 hours per week.
The findings are based on the standard budgeting concept of not spending more than 30 percent of one's income on housing.
Last year, New Orleanians needed to earn $18.54 an hour, the most in the state, to rent a two-bedroom apartment. It shows residents would need to earn at least $27 an hour to live in the code area that includes the Lower Garden District, much of the Central Business District and part of the Garden District, for example, while they'd need about $19.42 hourly to live in the ZIP code that includes the Lower 9th Ward, Holy Cross, Bywater and parts of Marigny and the Upper 9th Ward.
Renters across the country earn an average hourly rate of $16.88, the report estimated, a finding that illustrates how even folks earning more than the minimum wage scramble to pay for housing. The number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month almost doubled between 2005 and 2015.
Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a press release that low wage workers often have to choose between paying for rent, health care, childcare, and other basic necessities.
In a preface to the report, Senator Bernie Sanders writes that "wages have been stagnant for decades, while the cost of housing keeps going up".
The low-wage workforce is projected to grow over the next decade, particularly in service-sector jobs such as personal-care aides and food-preparation workers. As it stands, only 1 in 4 households eligible for federal rent assistance gets any help, the report said. Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has proposed raising rent for those getting housing subsidies.