27 votes

Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay for a Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere

31 comments

  1. [14]
    Nmg
    Link
    Can someone explain why 30 percent of a single person's minimum wage should be able to cover the cost of a 2 bedroom apartment?

    Can someone explain why 30 percent of a single person's minimum wage should be able to cover the cost of a 2 bedroom apartment?

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. Eva
        Link Parent
        For anyone that this message resonates with, maybe look into Georgism/Geoism, an philosophical/economic/political stance that dictates that the value of the land naturally belongs to and should be...

        For anyone that this message resonates with, maybe look into Georgism/Geoism, an philosophical/economic/political stance that dictates that the value of the land naturally belongs to and should be given to the people. Ignore the single-tax bit, though, most people have decided that's a bad idea. Plus, it gives you a well-thought-out way to heavily imply that Milton Friedman (an economist who thought it effective with limited caveats, all based around the rough argument "Might Makes Right") supported slavery, which is always fun to make your more economically-leaning friends spasm out a bit.

    2. [8]
      skullkid2424
      Link Parent
      Spending 30% of your income on housing is a very common rule of thumb for estimating the max you should be spending on housing. It comes from various government housing assistance programs/metrics...

      Spending 30% of your income on housing is a very common rule of thumb for estimating the max you should be spending on housing. It comes from various government housing assistance programs/metrics - but I believe was set to 30% in ~1980. I've heard arguments that as things like food and clothes get cheaper, the % of a budget spent on them can shrink and the budget for housing can grow. I don't know how that can be reconciled with other newer expenses like internet access, but spending 30-40% of your income is probably a common goal for the "max" you should pay for housing.

      Whether minimum should be able to afford the average 2 bedroom apartment (as opposed to the lower end of the market or 1 bedroom apartments) is also up in the air. We might expect that those working a minimum wage job would be looking for below-average priced housing (or choosing a 1 bedroom apartment).

      7 votes
      1. [5]
        j3n
        Link Parent
        No, it's not. Even a one bedroom apartment on minimum wage is a huge stretch. A minimal living wage should cover something like 50% of a 2-bedroom apartment. The idea that a private apartment is...

        Whether minimum should be able to afford the average 2 bedroom apartment (as opposed to the lower end of the market or 1 bedroom apartments) is also up in the air

        No, it's not. Even a one bedroom apartment on minimum wage is a huge stretch. A minimal living wage should cover something like 50% of a 2-bedroom apartment. The idea that a private apartment is something that is the minimal reasonable housing option is completely absurd.

        1 vote
        1. [3]
          Greg
          Link Parent
          Why is it absurd? Genuine question. It's vastly outside our current experience of the world (although it was the case within living memory, as I mentioned below), but why not aspire to it? Why not...

          Why is it absurd? Genuine question.

          It's vastly outside our current experience of the world (although it was the case within living memory, as I mentioned below), but why not aspire to it? Why not have even the lowest paid being comfortable?

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            j3n
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            It's right there in the name. You don't need a place to yourself to survive. The government has no business enforcing more than that. Edit for a bit more detail: I do think there are some serious...

            It's right there in the name. You don't need a place to yourself to survive. The government has no business enforcing more than that.

            Edit for a bit more detail: I do think there are some serious issues with wealth inequality that need to be addressed at the Federal level, and I think housing is a huge problem in some areas. I think fixing both of those things would have far-reaching benefits to society. Minimum wage laws are a very heavy handed way of treating the symptoms instead of the cause.

            1 vote
            1. Greg
              Link Parent
              You say that as though it were self evident, which is far from being the case. Minimum can be read to mean any number of things, most prosaically "the minimum a company is allowed to pay". You...

              You say that as though it were self evident, which is far from being the case. Minimum can be read to mean any number of things, most prosaically "the minimum a company is allowed to pay". You imply it should be "minimum necessary to survive", I would suggest it should be "minimum for a comfortable and fulfilling life". Many other people and societies, past and present, have tried things both within and beyond those bounds.

              If it's the government's business to keep people alive, why not take another step and try to improve their quality of life?

              7 votes
        2. skullkid2424
          Link Parent
          Depends who you talk to and what they think the purpose of minimum wage is. But generally I agree with you, minimum wage isn't going to be a nice 2 bedroom apartment - its going to be splitting...

          Depends who you talk to and what they think the purpose of minimum wage is. But generally I agree with you, minimum wage isn't going to be a nice 2 bedroom apartment - its going to be splitting something with roommates. I think articles like this highlight that more people are making minimum wage (or just above minimum wage) - the middle class is shrinking.

          4 votes
      2. [2]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        What bugs me about these metrics is it's tied to how much money you make. If you make $10m/year, you can easily spend much less or much more of your income on housing and have plenty of money left...

        What bugs me about these metrics is it's tied to how much money you make. If you make $10m/year, you can easily spend much less or much more of your income on housing and have plenty of money left over for whatever you want.

        Alternatively, if you're making minimum wage, 50% of your income may be the bare minimum to afford food, clothes, gas, etc.

        I understand why they chose to set it as a percentage of income, but I don't think there's a good way to really anchor how much one spends on housing to anything else. We should be providing figures for a minimum amount or a reasonable amount to be spent on things that everyone gets that should stay relatively static, such as food and gas, but if you're pulling in 150k/yr and you want a nice house, it doesn't really matter if its 75% of your take home pay if you're maxing out your 401k and can afford to live comfortably in other respects.

        1 vote
        1. skullkid2424
          Link Parent
          Yup, thats why its a "rule of thumb". It isn't super accurate - but its a place to start.

          Yup, thats why its a "rule of thumb". It isn't super accurate - but its a place to start.

          1 vote
    3. [4]
      Octofox
      Link Parent
      I think the point is you can't have kids with one parent staying home to care for the kids if the other parent is on minimum wage. It is a bit of a stretch to expect this to be affordable anywhere...

      I think the point is you can't have kids with one parent staying home to care for the kids if the other parent is on minimum wage. It is a bit of a stretch to expect this to be affordable anywhere but I see the point.

      4 votes
      1. [3]
        Nmg
        Link Parent
        Was that ever possible?

        Was that ever possible?

        3 votes
        1. Greg
          Link Parent
          Based on some back of the envelope numbers from a previous discussion, it looks as though it was plausible in the 1950s-60s US.

          Based on some back of the envelope numbers from a previous discussion, it looks as though it was plausible in the 1950s-60s US.

          5 votes
        2. bbvnvlt
          Link Parent
          Don't know for sure, but I do think this was kinda the idea behind minimum wage in Western Europe some time after WWII. The minimum a breadwinner and their family could live on (taking into...

          Don't know for sure, but I do think this was kinda the idea behind minimum wage in Western Europe some time after WWII. The minimum a breadwinner and their family could live on (taking into account extra children's allowance and other subsidies).

          5 votes
  2. [9]
    Eva
    Link
    Ctrl-f "Average". Misleading on that front. Like anyone else, I'm against rent as a concept at all (see: Geoism), but this is a bad article. Averaging per-state almost maliciously misleading, and...

    Ctrl-f "Average". Misleading on that front.

    Like anyone else, I'm against rent as a concept at all (see: Geoism), but this is a bad article. Averaging per-state almost maliciously misleading, and there's little reason someone making minimum wage would need more than a one-bedroom in practice.

    2 votes
    1. [8]
      alyaza
      Link Parent
      so are we just ignoring the existence of familial units here or the fact that many families have breadwinners who make minimum wage or less than minimum wage? my family for example has a...

      and there's little reason someone making minimum wage would need more than a one-bedroom in practice.

      so are we just ignoring the existence of familial units here or the fact that many families have breadwinners who make minimum wage or less than minimum wage? my family for example has a two-bedroom apartment because--shocker-- there are three of us, but both my parents make less than minimum wage because they have irregular income. this take literally only makes sense if you completely ignore the idea of there being more than one or two people who have to share a given living space, which is ridiculous.

      3 votes
      1. [7]
        Eva
        Link Parent
        There's a reason why it's a minimum; if both of your parents aren't making it, then something's up. If they were, then 1+1=2, and there you are.

        There's a reason why it's a minimum; if both of your parents aren't making it, then something's up. If they were, then 1+1=2, and there you are.

        2 votes
        1. [4]
          eladnarra
          Link Parent
          What about a single parent with a kid (or two), thus only 1 income? Should they share a bedroom? It's not out of the question that a family may need more bedrooms than the number of people in the...

          What about a single parent with a kid (or two), thus only 1 income? Should they share a bedroom?

          It's not out of the question that a family may need more bedrooms than the number of people in the family earning full time wages. There are kids, elderly people, disabled folks, people with intermittent work...

          5 votes
          1. [3]
            Eva
            Link Parent
            Yeah, why not? I did as a kid (grandparents & two siblings); I don't see how or why it's necessarily a bad thing. It gave me the motivation I needed to move out early and afford a much better...

            What about a single parent with a kid (or two), thus only 1 income? Should they share a bedroom?

            Yeah, why not? I did as a kid (grandparents & two siblings); I don't see how or why it's necessarily a bad thing. It gave me the motivation I needed to move out early and afford a much better quality of life. And the last three of those groups should have welfare to take care of them.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              eladnarra
              Link Parent
              "Should" being the operative word— a disabled person on SSI gets less than minimum wage, and their benefits are reduced if they get married/live long term with a partner.

              And the last three of those groups should have welfare to take care of them.

              "Should" being the operative word— a disabled person on SSI gets less than minimum wage, and their benefits are reduced if they get married/live long term with a partner.

              3 votes
              1. Eva
                Link Parent
                Not that I don't agree with the idea that welfare benefits should continuously increase, but that's only one group, to be fair, and a small enough minority to be able to handle on an...

                Not that I don't agree with the idea that welfare benefits should continuously increase, but that's only one group, to be fair, and a small enough minority to be able to handle on an individual-to-individual basis.

        2. [2]
          alyaza
          Link Parent
          a stupid reason, when you apply it to housing. minimum wage is cool and all for things like bills and expenses, and i suppose food and water because those are already well beyond the point of no...

          There's a reason why it's a minimum;

          a stupid reason, when you apply it to housing. minimum wage is cool and all for things like bills and expenses, and i suppose food and water because those are already well beyond the point of no return, but people have exactly zero choice in whether or not to have shelter in our modern world if they want to live well. there are a lot of things which should not be commodities, and housing is one of them. optimally, people shouldn't be paying for housing--but at the literal minimum, i don't think it's exactly too much to ask for a 'minimum' to actually cover housing costs or at least come very close to it (which involves more than just wages, obviously).

          if both of your parents aren't making it, then something's up.

          i literally just said they receive irregular income, a state of being which is not infrequent among people in this country. not everybody works a 9-to-5 or gets a regular salary.

          If they were, then 1+1=2, and there you are.

          based on the statistics in the article, i regret to inform you that based on our soon to be $12/hr minimum wage, even if both of my parents worked 40 hours a week, they wouldn't cover housing on average in my state, so this doesn't really work out the way you think it does.

          3 votes
          1. Eva
            Link Parent
            I agree on both counts, as is a core tenant of Geoism. It does, though, so long as you're actively working on it, as per the article. Exactly, which was the point of the line. If it's irregular,...

            minimum wage is cool and all for things like bills and expenses, and i suppose food and water because those are already well beyond the point of no return, but people have exactly zero choice in whether or not to have shelter in our modern world if they want to live well. there are a lot of things which should not be commodities, and housing is one of them. optimally, people shouldn't be paying for housing--

            I agree on both counts, as is a core tenant of Geoism.

            but at the literal minimum, i don't think it's exactly too much to ask for a 'minimum' to actually cover housing costs or at least come very close to it (which involves more than just wages, obviously).

            It does, though, so long as you're actively working on it, as per the article.

            i literally just said they receive irregular income, a state of being which is not infrequent among people in this country. not everybody works a 9-to-5 or gets a regular salary.

            Exactly, which was the point of the line. If it's irregular, they should apply for unemployment benefits.

            based on the statistics in the article, i regret to inform you that based on our soon to be $12/hr minimum wage, even if both of my parents worked 40 hours a week, they wouldn't cover housing on average in my state, so this doesn't really work out the way you think it does.

            My initial comment explicitly noted that measuring average housing for this was almost maliciously stupid. If they were measuring by the median, that'd be more acceptable, but even then, they should be looking to the lower half; the minimum.

            2 votes
  3. [3]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    Some useful info here, but I would imagine a two-bedroom home on whatever the local minimum wage income is would be wishful thinking in practically any non-rural area around the world.

    Some useful info here, but I would imagine a two-bedroom home on whatever the local minimum wage income is would be wishful thinking in practically any non-rural area around the world.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      Lawrencium265
      Link Parent
      It depends on what you're definition of rural is, but I know of several places where houses can be had for around $20k-$30k and you can rent a 1 bedroom apartment for $350/month. Obviously those...

      It depends on what you're definition of rural is, but I know of several places where houses can be had for around $20k-$30k and you can rent a 1 bedroom apartment for $350/month. Obviously those would be on the low end of the area, but they do exist if you're not too picky.

      3 votes
      1. culturedleftfoot
        Link Parent
        Two bedrooms though, that's the troublesome bit.

        Two bedrooms though, that's the troublesome bit.

  4. [5]
    lepigpen
    Link
    cries in Los Angeles something something bootstraps something back in my day etcetera...

    cries in Los Angeles

    something something bootstraps something back in my day etcetera...

    3 votes
    1. [4]
      unknown user
      Link Parent
      This one looks like it'd be a comment with value to add to discussion if only it was less cryptic.

      This one looks like it'd be a comment with value to add to discussion if only it was less cryptic.

      1 vote
      1. [3]
        lepigpen
        Link Parent
        It's pretty standard internet speak to be fairrrrrrrrrrrrrrr But I can translate: I am struggling in Los Angeles, where I am from, because of property values/rent costs. It's one of the worst...

        It's pretty standard internet speak to be fairrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

        But I can translate:

        I am struggling in Los Angeles, where I am from, because of property values/rent costs. It's one of the worst places for living costs just below San Fran and New York

        This narrative, in a broader context, always leads to incredibly careless older generations saying 'kids need to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps' and "back in my day I bought a home and raised a family working at the local supermarket". I shouldn't be surprised, but it can be baffling the lack of nuance older generations have for the discussion of modern problems.

        This is why I often have a great appreciation of teachers. Teachers are forced to think of a child's life experience and what their future might be like, and this offers them the perspective needed to understand the context of modern problems. Last week I was having dinner with my aunt&uncle at my grandma's house, they are both retired teachers, and it was refreshing to hear 50+ types (baby boomers basically) sympathize with the plight of today's youth and understand that this system threw them overboard fuckin decades ago. And we keep heading towards this unstable breaking point where income inequality and run of the mill government corruption is going to bring this country to its knees. BUT... As long as we have exciting new cell phones to fiddle with and blockbuster video games to play and stereotypical music festivals to attend then fuck it we must be fine and dandy I guess.

        [this message brought to you by my 7 am double espresso and a healthy dose of George Carlin & Christoper Hitchens searing through my brain as I stare into the abyss of future burn out lol]

        1 vote
        1. unknown user
          Link Parent
          It's not the internet speak part but rather not being familiar with how stuff is in the US. Thanks for the details! It is interesting how extremes are so bad for us: here in Turkey, families help...

          It's not the internet speak part but rather not being familiar with how stuff is in the US. Thanks for the details!

          It is interesting how extremes are so bad for us: here in Turkey, families help with everything, and put their noses in everything. Many people are unhappy because not even marrying and building a family helped them become independent individuals. Parents and relatives want to always be involved, and the sons and daughters can't distance themselves just enough to build their own lives because economy, tradition and insecurities a set of parents&co that does not know nor teach how to be independent: their children are princes and princesses, they tend to them for way too long, and try and help even when it is not necessary that it becomes harmful.

          Both these attitudes, the one you describe and the one I do, harm and hurt the youth. We have a saying: a stick with shit on both ends. If we could only sit somewhere about the middle of the stick, we'd be fine, but sadly we gravitate towards the ends.

          Wish you a lot of luck with your life!

          2 votes
        2. monarda
          Link Parent
          The internet argument that I see goes goes something like this: "Just move if you can't afford it." "Just because you were born here doesn't mean you have a right to live here." As far as I can...

          The internet argument that I see goes goes something like this: "Just move if you can't afford it." "Just because you were born here doesn't mean you have a right to live here." As far as I can tell these sorts of statements are not being made by older people, but by educated people in their 20s and 30s who can afford to live in a lot of these more expensive rental markets. However, I do see older people trying to block urban density measures. I wonder if instead of it being a youth vs older generation, it is a have vs have-nots. I don't know.

          1 vote