Each year the National Low-Income Housing Coalition undergoes an extensive research process to release its “Out of Reach” report. The report determines the gap between what a full-time minimum-wage worker makes and the amount they’d need to earn to afford a “decent” two-bedroom or one-bedroom apartment.
The 2020 report concludes that in 95% of counties in the U.S. a full-time, minimum-wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom rental at fair market rent.
“In no state, metropolitan area or county can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home,” the report says.
The coalition relied on the assumption that no more than 30% of a person’s gross income should be spent on housing. They also rely on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Market Rent, which is the amount people would spend for “decent housing” if they were to move today.
“These rents are for minimally decent homes, not for what we might call luxury housing,” said Dan Threet, a research analyst for the coalition.
“In Vermont, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,215. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $4,050 monthly or $48,597 annually,” according to the report.
That figure translates to an hourly wage of $23.36. In the Burlington-South Burlington metropolitan area that number is about $30.25.
At the state’s $10.96 minimum wage, a full-time minimum-wage earner would have to work 85 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom fair market rent apartment. For a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, that person would have to work 68 hours per week.