Inequality has risen across America. Once high-paying middle class jobs have disappeared, as the job market has cleaved into high-wage knowledge and professional jobs and an even larger number of low-pay, low skill service positions. The result of this cleaving has been increasingly unaffordable housing, especially in the high-priced cities supposedly suffering least in the wake of the recession.
A report released this week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2014, identifies the growing gap between housing and wages across the United States. To get at this, it uses a metric it calls the "housing wage" – the wage Americans would need to pay for a two-bedroom unit at market rent, devoting the recommended 30 percent of their income to housing costs. The housing wage for the country as a whole is $18.92 an hour, up 52 percent since 2000. Across the country, this means it would take an average of 2.6 full-time minimum-wage jobs to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.