Apartment rents and home prices are rising faster than inflation. That's great news for a growing economic recovery–stronger demand for housing is a leading indicator of a stronger economy. But it creates stress for working families.
“Wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership," said Maya Brennan, senior research associate for the Center for Housing Policy (CHP), research affiliate of the National Housing Conference. Brennan is co-author of Paycheck to Paycheck 2013: A Snapshot of Metropolitan Housing Affordability for Travel and Tourism Workers.
Paycheck to Paycheck shows the widening gap between the income needed to rent or buy a place to live and the money earned by average people in 76 full-time jobs in 207 U.S. metropolitan areas. This year's edition focuses on workers in the travel and tourism business, since a stronger economy has allowed some Americans to once again travel for fun.
“Americans are spending more on vacations, but many of the workers fixing their cars before a long road trip, cleaning their hotel rooms, or serving their meals are struggling to afford basic expenses like housing," said report co-author Janet Viveiros, a CHP research associate.
Readers can explore the data on the NHC website, where they can choose metro area such as Santa Barbara, Calif., and see how the average income needed to rent a one-bedroom apartment there ($47,600 a year) compares to the average annual salary of front desk managers ($46,606), flight attendants ($69,687), auto mechanics ($45,620), housekeepers ($23,286) and restaurant wait staff ($24,066). A front desk manager would need $57,040 a year to afford a two-bedroom apartment and would need $89,416 to afford to buy a median-priced home in Santa Barbara.
Visitors to the site can also choose from a list of occupations ranging from elementary school teacher to news reporter to urban planner.
The data shows why many households need the income from multiple jobs or squeeze into overcrowded housing. The income from many full-time jobs is simply not enough to afford a place to live in many parts of the country. The report uses Fair Market Rents set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, home price data from the National Association of Home Builders and information on local average salaries from Salary.com.