Here’s what you need to earn to rent a home in Pa. | The Numbers Racket

(Photo via The Philadelphia Tribune)

While state lawmakers debate the issue of minimum wage, renters earning minimum wage in Pennsylvania find themselves struggling to make ends meet. 

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition examined the state of renting a home in Pennsylvania and its 67 counties. 

Here’s what they found.

State Facts

Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has held steady at $7.25 for more than a decade. 

The average renter’s wage is $15.90 per hour.

There are 1,557,665 renting households in Pennsylvania.

Renters makeup 31 percent of households statewide. 

At minimum wage, the NLIHC calculates that $377 per month is an affordable rent for low income households. 

For workers at the average renter wage, NLIHC calculates $827 per month to be an affordable rent for low income households. 

The Fair Market rent statewide for a 1-bedroom apartment is $811 per month and $1,000 for a two bedroom apartment. 

In order to afford rent, NLIHC projects that a Pennsylvania household must earn $39,992 annually. Assuming 40 hours per work week for 52 weeks in a year, NLIHC calculates that the state housing wage to be $19.23 per hour. 

Statewide Minimum Wage Numbers

On average, workers would need to work well over the normal 40-hour work week in order to afford housing statewide. 

Based on the statewide average workers would need to work:

75 hours per week  … to afford a studio apartment.

86 hours per week … to afford a one bedroom apartment. 

106 hours per week … to afford a two bedroom apartment. 

135 hours per week … to afford a three bedroom apartment. 

150 hours per week … to afford a four bedroom apartment. 

The NLIHC calculates that minimum wage workers would need to have 2.7 full-time, minimum wage jobs to afford a two-bedroom rental home. To afford a one-bedroom rental home, workers would need 2.2 full-time, minimum wage jobs. 

The Five Most Expensive Housing Areas

According to data from NLIHC, the most expensive areas in the state are: 

  • Pike County, Housing Wage: $24.88
  • Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (Metropolitan Statistical Area), Housing Wage: $23.58
  • East Stroudsburg (MSA), Housing Wage: $20.19
  • Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton (MSA), Housing Wage: $19.73
  • Lancaster County, $19.63

The needed housing wage is calculated using the $1,000 fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year and without paying more than 30 percent of income on housing.

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.