10 States Where People Can’t Really Afford to Pay Rent

for rent sign

An apartment building with a “for rent” sign | Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

With rent prices soaring in many cities in the United States, hardworking Americans are struggling to make ends meet. The Out of Reach 2016 report shows just how bad the situation is for renters across the U.S.

According to the annual study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is no U.S. state where minimum wage workers working full-time can afford a one-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent, without spending more than 30% of their income. (Most financial experts suggest spending no more than 30% of your income on housing). The map below outlines how many hours per week minimum wage workers would need to work to afford a one-bedroom rental without exceeding the 30% cutoff.

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Low Income Housing Coalition

Nationwide, renters need to earn $20.30 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to the report, and $16.35 for a one-bedroom, without exceeding the 30% threshold. In other words, to afford the typical two-bedroom unit in the U.S., renters need to make 2.8 times the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and $4.88 more than the $15.42 the average U.S. renters earns. In 14 states and Washington D.C., the housing wage exceeds $20 for a two-bedroom apartment.

National Low Income Housing Coalition

National Low Income Housing Coalition

Even in states and cities with higher minimum wages, it’s not enough to keep pace with the steep cost of renting. In Emeryville, California, for example, the minimum wage is $14.44 an hour – roughly double the federal minimum wage. But you’d still need to earn twice that, or $31.98 an hour, to afford a one-bedroom apartment in the city. Even many workers earning well above the minimum wage would still struggle to hit the affordability mark.

“Three-quarters of extremely low-income families pay more than half of their income just to keep a roof over their heads, leaving less money for food, child care, transportation, and so many other basic necessities,” Julian Castro, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, wrote in the report’s preface. “I learned of one San Jose family in which both parents worked full-time but the only place they could afford was at a local homeless shelter. ”

As the report makes clear, low- and middle-income renters across the country are struggling. But in these 10 states, you’d need to earn triple or quadruple the minimum wage to afford to pay rent for two-bedroom apartment for yourself and your family.

10. Washington

seattle skyline

Seattle, Washington | Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,203
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $23.13

In order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Washington state, a household needs an annual income of $48,113, or a job that pays at least $23.13 per hour. Yet the average renter in the state earns only $16.69 an hour. A minimum-wage worker would need to put in 98 hours per week to cover their rent. In Seattle, the state’s largest city, you need to make nearly $30 per hour to afford the typical two-bedroom apartment, and the average renter actually earns about $21 an hour.

9. Alaska

alaska

The village of Tatitlik in Alaska | David McNew/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,209
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $23.25

In Alaska, where 37% of households rent, you’d need to earn $23.25 per year to afford the typical two-bedroom apartment. But the average renter actually earns $17.76 per hour, which means the most they can comfortably afford to pay in rent is $924 per month.

8. Connecticut

new london connecticut

New London, Connecticut | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,285
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $24.72

A minimum-wage worker in Connecticut would have to put in 103 hours per week to afford the typical two-bedroom apartment in the state. Stamford, where you need to earn $37.15 per hour to afford an apartment, is the most expensive city for renters. The average renter in that city  earns $21.81 an hour.

7. Massachusetts

boston

Apartment buildings in Boston, Massachusetts | Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,347
  • Hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom: $25.91

In Massachusetts, the typical renter earns $18.47 per hour, more than $7 less than what they’d need to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rates. A minimum-wage employee would have to work 104 hours every week if they wanted to spend no more than 30% of their income on rent.

6. New Jersey

apartment building

An apartment building in New Jersey | Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,379
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $26.52

A minimum-wage worker in New Jersey would need to work 3.2 full-time jobs in order to afford the typical two-bedroom apartment. In other words, two people working 40 hours per week for the state minimum wage of $8.38 per hour still wouldn’t be able to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment. In order to avoid spending more than 30% of income on housing, a household would need to take home at least $55,152 per year.

5. Maryland

man outside apartment building

A man outside his apartment building in Silver Spring, Maryland | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,380
  • Hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom: $26.53

The average Maryland renter earns $15.91 per hour, about $10 less than what they’d need to afford the typical two-bedroom apartment in the state. Apartments are most expensive in areas closest to Washington, D.C., including towns like Bethesda and Silver Spring, where you need to earn $31.21 an hour to afford an apartment. The typical renter in that part of the state actually earns about half that, or $16.67 per hour.

4. New York

apartment building

An apartment building in New York City | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,388
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $26.69

In New York, you’d need to earn nearly $27 an hour, or $55,508 per year, to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the state. However, the gap between actual renter wages and the two-bedroom housing wage is not as large as it is in some states. The average New York renter earns $22.85 per hour, $4.11 less than what they’d need to make for housing to be truly affordable.

3. California

uhaul

A moving truck in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Pacifica, California | Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,487
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $28.59

The average two-bedroom apartment in California costs almost $1,500 per month, and rents are much higher in some big cities. You’d need to earn $59,464 per year to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment in the state. But the average renter actually earns $19.22 per hour, or $39,978 yearly. The Bay Area is the most expensive part of California, with renters needing to take home between $40 and $44 an hour to afford their rent.

2. District of Columbia

washington dc neighborhood

A woman walking with a baby in the Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,623
  • Hourly wage needed to afford an apartment: $31.21

Renters in the nation’s capital need to earn $31.21 per hour, or $64,920 per year, to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment. The average renter wage is about $5 less than that, which means their rent should ideally be no more than $1,357 per month. Someone earning minimum wage would need three full-time jobs to afford their rent.

1. Hawaii

honolulu apartment building

An apartment building in Honolulu, Hawaii | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment: $1,780
  • Hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom: $34.22

Living in paradise isn’t cheap. Hawaii households need an annual income of $71,184 if they want to avoid spending more than 30% of their income on rent. The typical renter earns less than half that — $14.53 per hour. The state’s minimum wage is $8.50 an hour. If you were earning minimum wage, you’d need to work 161 hours per week to comfortably afford rent, leaving about seven hours left over for sleep and everything else.

Chloe Della Costa also contributed to this article.

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