To afford a modest two-bedroom home in New Jersey, a family must earn an hourly wage of $29.69, far more than the state’s average hourly wage of $19.10 or the current $11 per hour minimum wage, a new report suggests. An individual earning the mean wage would have to work 62 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. And a minimum-wage worker would have to work 108 hours a week to afford the same apartment.
Underlining the high cost of rental accommodation in the Garden State, “Out of Reach,” an annual report released Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, places New Jersey as the seventh most expensive state for renters in the U.S.
The report documents the ”housing wage” — the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest and safe rental home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs for all states and counties in the country. Among the 30 largest occupations in New Jersey, 20 pay median wages less than the housing wage. Included in this category are teacher assistants, nursing assistants, accounting clerks, home health aides, truck drivers, security guards, laborers, food preparation workers, receptionists and cashiers.
New Jersey housing advocates are urging state and federal legislators to enact measures that help keep people in their homes during and after the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, they are asking the Assembly to consider the “People’s Bill,” which would offer rent relief and mortgage forbearance for residents. The measure has received Senate approval and awaits consideration in the Assembly.