Chicagoland wages lag cost of renting for many

The media has been obsessed with talk of foreclosures and the travails of homeowners as the housing market cools, but it’s no cakewalk for renters either. The average Chicagoland renter earns $14.82 an hour, which is about $3.16 less than the amount needed to afford a modest apartment without spending more than 30 percent of income on rent. That statistic comes from a news release issued by Housing Action Illinois using figures from “Out of Reach,” a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The “housing wage” is $17.98 in Chicagoland, according to the report, and $15.95 in Illinois as a whole. The housing wage is defined as the hourly wage a family must earn working 40 hours a week to be able to afford rent and utilities for a two-bedroom apartment at market rates. The housing wage has gone up 24 percent since 2000 in the Chicago area, according to the report, and a family would need 2.8 wage earners working full time at the current minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom here.

Any good news in the report? Not really, but things could always be worse. Illinois ranks as the 17th most expensive state by housing wage. D.C. takes the number one slot, with a housing wage of $24.73, followed by Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, which range from $20.70 to $23.53.

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