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An employee earning the Massachusetts minimum wage would have to work three of those jobs to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the state, according to a new report.
The annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition looks at the full-time hourly wage a household must earn in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR), while spending 30 percent or less of income on housing.
According to the report, the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts is $1,251, and would require the state's minimum wage earners to work a total of 120 hours a week (or, three jobs at 40 hours per week) in order to afford the cost of housing.
Assuming a 40-hour workweek, 52 weeks a year, the hourly minimum wage worker would have to earn $24.05 per hour in order to afford the cost of a two-bedroom — a $50,029 annual income. Currently, Massachusetts’ hourly minimum wage is $8, or $16,640 annually.
The report notes that the average hourly wage for a renter in Massachusetts is $17.17 — still below the $24.05 per hour needed to make the two-bedroom at Fair Market Rent affordable.
Massachusetts is the sixth most expensive jurisdiction in the country, following New York (139 hours needed to afford an apartment at FMR), New Jersey (137), Maryland (135), Washington, D.C., (132) and California (129) — all places with high relative housing costs.
The report also acknowledges that there is no state in the country where a minimum wage earner with one full-time job can afford a two-bedroom apartment.
While the study reports at a state level, it also breaks down the necessary minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom at FMR in specific metropolitan areas and counties in Massachusetts:
- Nantucket County requires the highest hourly wage to afford a two-bedroom at FMR, at $36.10;
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy comes in second, at a $27.77 hourly wage;
- and Dukes County comes in third, at a $26.92 hourly wage.
From unrelated data collected in January, the average cost per bedroom in the Boston/Cambridge metro during that month was $1,314.
This program aired on March 20, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.
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