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Minimum-wage earners can't buy housing

Yet another “Shame of Bush’s Economy.” (CNN):

In only four of the nation’s 3,066 counties can someone working full-time and earning federal minimum wage afford to pay rent and utilities on a one-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

A two-bedroom rental is even more of a burden — the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour to pay rent and utilities, the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual ‘Out of Reach’ report. That’s nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour.”

Check out what someone needs to make for shelter in various places, according to the report (the federal hourly minimum wage of $5.15, has not changed since 1997):

* Crawford, Lawrence and Wayne counties in southeastern Illinois: A one-bedroom apartment was considered affordable for minimum-wage workers, where the housing wage was under $6.29 an hour.

* Washington County, in the Florida Panhandle, was the fourth county listed as affordable for minimum-wage earners renting a one-bedroom apartment. Its housing wage was listed at $6.06 an hour.

* Clay County, in southeastern Illinois: Housing wage for a one-bedroom rental requires $6.52 an hour, just above the state minimum wage about to go into effect. A typical one-bedroom apartment there rents for $250 a month, said William Herrick, executive director of the county’s housing authority. The cost of rent and utilities is manageable for someone earning the minimum, “but of course, they wouldn’t have any extra money to afford anything else,” Herrick said.

* San Francisco, California, metropolitan area; rent and utilities for a one-bedroom apartment in Marin, San Francisco or San Mateo counties in California required a wage of least $22.63 an hour, tops in the nation. The same three counties also led in the wage needed to afford a two-bedroom rental, at $29.60 an hour.

* California topped all states in the hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment, at $21.24, followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland and New York.

* West Virginia was the lowest, at $9.31 an hour for a two-bedroom rental, followed by North Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding