For Rent: Many minimum wage workers struggle to pay rent nationwide

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(WETM) – Across the United States, minimum wage workers are struggling to afford rent. According to experts, workers should budget 30 percent of their income for housing, but in many cases, people have to spend much more than that.

Housing is usually the biggest expense for Americans. Add in utilities and even taxes and it becomes even more costly. Whether you rent or buy, housing costs are still pricey in most areas.

In Chemung County, the minimum wage is $12.50 per hour but will continue to increase toward $15 dollars per hour. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is more than $1,500, per the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

For a full-time employee making minimum wage, their average yearly income before taxes is $26,000. That means they should be paying $650 per month on rent. The area average is significantly higher than what residents are paying. The National Low Income Housing Coalition says minimum wage employees would have to work 94 hours to afford a “modest one-bedroom rental”.

“Minimum wage doesn’t cut it; however, remember minimum wage jobs are just entry-level jobs. That’s not a job you should be in for your entire working career,” Dr. Martin Cantor added.

Minimum wage jobs are struggling to return after the pandemic, as people consider new career opportunities or have to stay home for things like childcare.

Why 30 percent?

This percentage is a standard government measure in order to have leftover, non-discretionary spending.

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