Minimum-Wage Workers Can't Pay the Rent

A blog about business and economics.
March 19 2013 10:59 AM

The Rent Is Too Damn High for Minimum-Wage Workers

03192013_ren

Here's a cool report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition showing how many hours of minimum-wage work it would take to rent a two-bedroom apartment in different places. 

At any rate, I wouldn't get too bogged down in the details here, but one broad pattern that emerges is a fairly damning portrait of liberal state governance in action. More liberal states typically have higher minimum wages, but it's not generally the case that liberal states have a better housing affordability picture for low-wage workers. The least-affordable states—New York, New Jersey, Maryland, D.C., California, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire—are a very disproportionately blue bunch. And the problem is that the impact of high regulatory minimum wages in many of these states is swamped by the impact of excessive restrictions on housing supply.

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Now that's not to say that Kentucky is necessarily a better place for low-income workers than Massachusetts, since Massachusetts offers more generous benefits of various kinds and has a higher-performing public school system. But it's a reminder that prices do matter, and on the crucial question of housing, California and the Northeast have high-price policies that ill-serve the poor.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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