No one needs to tell New Yorkers how expensive it is to live in their city. But a report released this week made it clear just how inhospitable it can be for minimum-wage workers at the bottom of the economic ladder.
According to an analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a “fair market rent” for a two-bedroom apartment in New York State is $1,388. To afford that, household income would need to be $55,508 annually.
That breaks down to an hourly income of $26.29 for a 40-hour work week.
New York State is fourth on the list of most expensive states, with Hawaii grabbing the number one spot.
However, for New York City the numbers go up, with residents having to make an hourly wage of at least $30 – across the five boroughs – in order to afford a two-bedroom home.
The Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan are three of the most expensive counties in the state, with residents having to make at least $30.21 to afford monthly housing costs of about $1,571 across each borough. They are only beat by Nassau and Suffolk counties where residents must make $30.92 an hour.
Queens and Staten Island are tied with the other boroughs, requiring $30.21 hourly to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
For workers making the state minimum wage of $9 per hour, the report found that they must work 119 hours per week to be able to afford a two-bedroom home. Each household would need to have individuals holding three full-time jobs at minimum wage to afford such a home.
Even when it comes to a studio apartment across the five boroughs, individuals must make 24.87 per hour – compared to $20.91 statewide -- to afford the home.
Maria V. a Manhattan McDonald’s employee, who askedthat her last name not be used, said the findings of the report only prove the struggle minimum wage workers face on a daily basis.
She added that although she gets a little over the minimum, it still is not enough to support her family.
“It’s just crazy. Imagine, there are weeks where I almost don’t see my children,” she said. “ I work so they can at least have a home, but $10 doesn’t work. Possibly for one person but not a family.”
One Manhattan Wendy’s employee, who asked not to be named, said that he wasn’t surprised by the report’s findings as he fights to attend school and pay for rent – of a room.
“I don’t think you need that [report] to know that living here is crazy,” he said. “ I make $10, go to school and have to pay rent for a room that I only fit in – $900 for a room. Can you believe that? But I guess that what it costs to say I live here. “
Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a $15 minimum wage plan into law that phases in pay increases over several years.
For workers in the city that are employed by large businesses – with at least 11 employees -- the minimum wage would go up to $11 by the end of this year and then would rise another $2 each year after that.
Workers in the rest of the state would see minimum wage go up to $9.70 by the end of the year and another 70 cents each year after until reaching $12.50 by 2020.