Could you afford rent on a minimum wage salary?


Evan Rodd, PayScale

“Should we raise the federal minimum wage, and if so, how high?” This has been a popular topic of conversation in recent months, especially as wages and profits are beginning to increase across various industries. 

A recent post on UpWorthy by the National Low Income Housing Coalition outlined how many hours one would need to work in each US state in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. Even in states where the minimum wage exceeds the federal minimum wage, it seems the average workweek would have to be around 80 hours, with some states going well over 100. In California, one would have to work 129 minimum wage hours per week to afford rent, and in New York it’s 139 hours. It seems in these states, even earning double the minimum wage won’t let you have a 40 hour workweek.

What do you think, should we raise the federal minimum wage?


  1. 4 Just Say'n 02 Sep
    First of all, why would anyone want to work for minimum wage? I completely understand that the fast-food industry and mall retail (ones not solely based on commission) need people to do the labor. They are definitely not positions where skilled-labor is necessary whereas management and technical positions oftentimes require skilled training & practice and basic, intermediate or advanced knowledge that is logic- or theory-based. Students especially cannot live on a minimum wage salary. If you're lucky, you can live at your parent's home until the day comes and you have earned your degree or have progressed in some area of the company has upward mobility, therefore higher wage. There is nothing wrong with a person who strives to be at those elite , top executives of X company. They put in more than 100 hrs a wk schmoozing with investors to help maintain the health of the company. That is why they rake in the outrageous amounts of money. If you were gifted with the talent that NFL, MLB players have there is always another person there who is willing to work harder, train harder, and willing to "sell out" their our teammates and/or coaches for a better offer. So if there are limitless opportunities, why would anyone want to live or even try to live on a minimum wage salary? A job that only pays minimum wage should only be a temporary position until you have reached the position or self-employed where the pay exceeds the standard cost of living. Minimum wage exists because laws were enacted to ensure employees are paid for work performed. If there was no law that required an employer to pay a person for work performed, people with the highest form of education, people who have disabilities (laws enacted to prevent discrimination), or people of different race (discrimination laws enacted), the employee would not be protected and the employer can say that $100 is all you get for a 100 hours of labor. Minimum wage laws were not enacted solely to make sure that every employable person can afford rent. It was enacted to protect the employee from the employer, and ensures that the employer paid at least the minimum federal wage per hour. And, if a person worked overtime, that person is compensated for their time. Many people lived together in an apartment (centuries before our generation) in order afford to pay the rent to have a roof over their head. There's no difference in today's economy. As cost of living increased, and with inflation of the economy the minimum wage requirements increased. Moral of the story, if you want to be able to pay rent, live within your means and do what you have to do to pay for the lifestyle you wish to live. But, raising the minimum wage to $15 to stock shelves, flip a burger at a fast food joint, janitorial duties ... Non-skilled work is a bit extreme and outrageous! Our military personnel doesn't make that much! And even then, in order to get higher pay, you were required to perform or take tests so that you can step up to the next rank ... Example: Army Private (PVT) to Private First Class (PFC) or from Sergeant (E6) to Staff Sergeant (E7). All this bickering about minimum wage increase is nothing but ludacris when people in the military with are trained for battle, skilled at combat, die for our country ... The price for the and every citizen of the USA is less than minimum wage for the lowest rank soldier. This if FOOD for your brain ...
  2. 3 Cindy Ross 21 Aug
    Wow!!! Why hasn't this topic been more widely talked about? That really make one think about all those wage earners who will never afford even a basic place to live let alone a house. No wonder the housing and banking industries are in such a mess. WE MUST START TALKING ABOUT INCREASING THE MINIMUM WAGE IMMEDIATELY!
  3. 2 sally 06 Aug
    Ditto Dorothy . . . see Wall Street Journal's article on the Standard & Poor's report of stagnating growth if the "rich get richer" and the middle class sinks. When the middle class fails, so goes the country. Why people don't see that or want to believe it is beyond me.
  4. 1 Dorothy Freeman 19 Mar

    We desperately need to improve the situation of the minimum wage earner.  We also need a shift in business management to caring about employees being able to reach middle class living standards (growing the middle class again in America).  The benefits of the hard work of all employees are being horded by the company elite, top management.  


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