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Minimum wage workers in New York City need to clock over 100 hours a week to afford rent

Fast-food workers and supporters fight to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Getty Images | James Leynse / Corbis Historical

In many major U.S. cities, minimum wage workers need to clock in over 50 hours each week just to be able to afford rent on a one-bedroom home, a recent survey conducted by United Way of the National Capital Area found.

In New York City, minimum wage earners would need to work 111 hours to afford to rent a one-bedroom.

United Way used data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition to calculate the number of hours a minimum wage worker would need to put in each week in order to afford rent in the 50 biggest U.S. cities.

There are only two cities on the list where a worker earning minimum wage can afford to work less than 50 hours a week: Tucson, Arizona, and Buffalo, New York.

Here's a look at how many hours a minimum wage worker needs to clock to afford a one-bedroom rental in the 10 largest U.S. cities, and the minimum wage in each respective city: 

New York City

Hours required: 111

Minimum wage: $15

Los Angeles

Hours required: 84

Minimum wage: $15.96


Hours required: 112

Minimum wage: $15.40


Hours required: 104

Minimum wage: $7.25


Hours required: 65

Minimum wage: $12.80


Hours required: 110

Minimum wage: $7.25

San Antonio, Texas

Hours required: 97

Minimum wage: $7.25

San Diego

Hours required: 90

Minimum wage: $15


Hours required: 120

Minimum wage: $7.25

San Jose, California

Hours required: 141

Minimum wage: $16.20

Finding affordable housing was difficult for many even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. However, the onset of the pandemic made these issues even more stark.

"By August 2020, as many as 12 million households were at risk of losing their homes if the government didn't act," NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel tells CNBC Make It. "Many were among those already struggling to pay rent when the pandemic brought sudden job losses, reduced work hours and higher costs for health care, child care and the internet."

There were many emergency measures put in place to mitigate the housing crisis during the beginning of the pandemic. But as these temporary solutions expired, the number of affordable rental homes available has not kept up with demand.

Price increases affect renters of all incomes but threaten the lowest-income renters most.
Diane Yentel
NLIHC President and CEO

"Last year, the cost of rent rose an unprecedented 14% nationally, with some cities seeing rent increases as high as 40%," Yentel says. "These price increases affect renters of all incomes but threaten the lowest-income renters most." 

In fact, NLIHC data shows that for every 10 low-income households, less than four homes are both affordable and available, Yentel says.

"As a result of the shortage, nearly 10 million of the lowest-income renter households pay at least half of their limited incomes to keep a roof over their heads," Yentel says.

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