Number of the Day: $24.52

May 3, 2011 | Number of The Day

You have to earn $24.52 an hour to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey, far more than the mean wage of a typical renter, which is $15.82 an hour.

That was the conclusion of Out of Reach 2011, a report issued jointly by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), Washington, D.C.

The report concluded that New Jersey was the fifth most expensive area in the country for renters, after Hawaii, Washington, D.C., California and Maryland.

The report also noted that many middle-class occupations, including social service workers, dental lab technicians, preschool teachers, home health aides, emergency dispatchers and others do not earn $24.54 an hour. A minimum wage worker, at $7.25 an hour, would have to work 3.4 full-time jobs to earn enough for the average two-bedroom apartment. The study used a rule of thumb of 30 percent of income being put toward housing to determine the fair market rental wage.

The study found the Bergen and Passaic counties are the most expensive for rentals, with two–bedroom apartments costing $1,404. Passaic, Cumberland and Essex were the three counties with the most renters unable afford their monthly payments (76 percent, 71 percent and 66 percent, respectively.) In Essex County, 53 percent of the total households are renters.