As part of its 2012 report on rent affordability, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released a chart that’s been floating around the Internet. It shows that there isn’t a single state in the country where it’s possible to work 40 hours per week at minimum wage and afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. In West Virginia and Arkansas, you’d need to work at least a 63-hour week, and that’s as good as it gets. In California, Maryland, D.C., New Jersey and New York you’d need to work 130 hours or more. Hawaii comes in last place: 175 hours. (via NYTimes)
This is important.1 There’s a common lie that if people are just willing to work hard, they should be able to get by without public assistance. There’s another lie suggesting that people making more money deserve greater compensation because they are working more hours. In reality, many people at the lowest end of the income spectrum are working to grueling jobs just to cover expenses.