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New York State metros

FMR = Fiscal Year 2014 Fair Market Rent, determined by HUD. AMI = Fiscal Year 2014 Area Median Income (for a family), determined by HUD. In this case, "affordable" means a rent that's 30 percent of income.

housing wage table NYS metros

New York State county map

The counties are shaded by the hourly wage that would be necessary to afford at 2 BR apartment at the HUD-determined fair market rent. The deeper the green, the higher wage.

The minimum wage and "the housing wage"

housing wage table NYS map

The deeper the green, the higher required hourly wage to afford a 2BR apartment. (Don't squint, there's a bigger, clickable map after the jump.)

Later on AOA: Here's an updated look at New York's planned minimum wage increases and the housing wage. [2016 April]
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The issue of the minimum wage -- and whether it should be raised -- has been been circulating recently, both here in New York State and nationally.

The Empire State minimum wage increased to $8/hour at the beginning of this year, and it's set to increase to $9/hr by the end of 2015. On the national level, the Obama administration has been pushing for the minimum wage to increase to $10.10.

One of the complications in talking about the minimum wage is that just tossing around the number lacks context for what that amount of money is actually worth, especially when it comes to necessities such as housing. Example: What sort of rent could you afford is you were making minimum wage?

But a recently released report tried add just that sort of context by looking at how the minimum wage in New York -- and every other state -- stacks up against what it costs to rent an apartment.

So, let's have a look at New York State and the Capital Region...

The report

This report -- Out of Reach 2014 (pdf) -- is published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which describes itself as an org "dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes."

Using numbers from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, NLIHC's report looks how the minimum wage stacks up against HUD-determined "fair market rent" for 2 bedroom apartments, and in a few different ways. Among them:
+ How many people earning minimum wage a household would need to pay this rent (with utilities)
+ The hourly wage a person would need if they were to be able to afford this rent (with utilities), if the rent equaled 30 percent of a person's income.

Like anything, this is just one way of looking at the topic. And it's estimated a relatively small slice of people working in New York State are paid at the minimum wage (2012 federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report). But using the minimum wage is in this way is kind of like using it as a yardstick, and it points to the shape of the situation for people who are making close the minimum wage.

Here is the methodology explained in detail (pdf).

Capital Region

OK, let's use the Capital Region metro as an example:

housing wage table Capital Region

There's a table with other metro areas -- and a bunch of other measures -- from around the state above in large format.

Counties

The report also make this data available by county. We've pulled it into a clickable map above in large format.

Something to keep in mind: The numbers aren't all that fine grained, in part because they're set across wider areas. For example: Schoharie County appears to be lumped in with the Capital Region core, which probably skews things a bit.

National

The Washington Post pulled this data, using a bit different measure, and applied it to a national county-by-county look. As its analysis concluded, "No single county in America has a one-bedroom housing wage below the federal minimum wage of $7.25."

(Thanks, Erin)

Comments

I love these posts. Thanks for the analysis and insight!

Great post!

It's really a shame that this issue does not get discussed when questions of wage are being considered. If only the Cuomo administration wasn't blocking Mayor DiBlasio's plan to raise the wage, regionally, for workers in New York City.

Our debates in general are spatially, and data deprived, but posts like this help close that gap.

thanks!

What this data suggests to me is that low earners (even those somewhat above minimum wage) in the Capital Region have to be in two-income households, either married, coupled, or with a roommate to find decent housing. You can't be single and afford the average apartment. Frankly I left the roommate lifestyle behind after college, but I guess it's a necessity for a lot of people now (as is moving back with parents).

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