Since 1989, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach report has called attention to the gap which exists between actual wages and what people need to afford rent.
The Coalition’s 2021 report shows that the 2021 National Housing Wage is $24.90 per hour for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $20.40 per hour for a modest one-bedroom rental home (based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development fair market rents). The report also found that 11 of the 20 largest occupations in the United States pay less than the housing wage, including:
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants ($20.22/hour)
Motor Vehicle Operators ($20.02/hour)
Financial Clerks ($19.51/hour)
Other Office and Administrative Support Workers ($17.69/hour)
Information and Record Clerks ($17.41/hour)
Material Moving Workers ($15.15/hour)
Building Cleaning and Pest Control Workers ($13.99/hour)
Home Health and Personal Care Aides ($13.94/hour)
Cooks and Food Preparation Workers ($13.35/hour)
Retail Sales Workers ($12.95/hour)
Food and Beverage Serving Workers ($11.87/hour)
While the data may reflect higher dollar values locally, the trends hold true. In Fairfax County – even with the state’s increase in the minimum wage to $9.50 – the data continue to indicate the criticality of the effort to bring more affordable housing options to all areas of the county:
32% of households are renters
$1,765 is the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment
$33.94 is the hourly wage necessary to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at a fair market rent – or $70,600 per year.
3.6 full-time minimum wage jobs required to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at fair market rent
Currently, at the estimated average renter hourly wage (2021) of $29.22 per hour, the affordable monthly rent is $1,519.