Oh really: Wonkblog claims minimum wage workers can’t afford a 2-bedroom apartment anywhere

There’s a Republican president in office again, most of those “Fight for 15” protests have fizzled … it’s time for the media to remind citizens just how bad this country is. The Washington Post’s Wonkblog was up to the task Wednesday with an analysis concluding that a minimum wage worker can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.

A minimum-wage worker can’t afford a 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in the U.S. https://t.co/05sfZfk60P

— Wonkblog (@Wonkblog) June 13, 2018

Tracy Jan writes:

The economy’s booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Not even in Arkansas, the state with the cheapest housing in the country. One would need to earn $13.84 an hour — about $29,000 a year — to afford a two-bedroom apartment there. The minimum wage in Arkansas is $8.50 an hour.

Even the $15 living wage championed by Democrats would not make a dent in the vast majority of states.

The economy’s booming and wages are growing — how can we spin this as a bad thing?

Umm… I have stats on 2 bed apts all over the country and 90% sure this is not a true statement https://t.co/8XmwwBPSao

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

Tweeter @politicalmath decided to take a closer look at the claim by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (no agenda there).

Come around, young friends, and let me tell you an interesting story about averages and how lots of people are terrible at reading numbers /1 https://t.co/8XmwwBPSao

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

The tweet says “min wage workers can’t afford a 2 bedroom ANYWHERE” in the US.
Well, that is quite the claim, so let’s dig into the details and see if their numbers hold up /2

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

First, they author immediately starts making caveats.
para 4- People can’t afford a “decent 2 bedroom”. Ok… what defines “decent”? We are not told.
para 5 – can’t afford a “modest 2-bed”. Again, no idea what “modest” means here. /3

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

Ah… a map! This should be helpful!
ok… they expect 30% of your income to go to housing, that is the ideal recommendation.
But… why are they using fair market rent by state? /4 pic.twitter.com/TGIVNsDkR8

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

Yeah, there’s a lot of fine print on that map: “the Fair Market Rent for a TWO BEDROOM RENTAL HOME, without paying more than 30% of their income.”

Fair Market Rent varies WILDLY by state.
FMR is going to be WAY different in New York City than it is in Buffalo.
I know this b/c I wrote an app to determine FMR by zip code, which is how the HUD publishes their FMR prices.
Here’s the data https://t.co/HXK3YtdV4P

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

Now minimum wage at $7.25, 40 hrs, 52 weeks, 30% of income means $377 per month on housing.
That is really low, no doubt.
But is it so low, you can’t get a 2 bed ANYWHERE in the US?
No, it is not. /6

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

There are, in fact over 100 zip codes where the average 2 bedroom costs less than $377 a month.
And that’s the average one. That means there are 2 bedrooms both above and below that rate. /7

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

So let’s look for zip codes where the average 2 bed is $500 and hope / guess that we can get *something* in that area under $400.
(I could write some better code to suss this out, but I’m lazy and also, I should get back to work soon)

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

There are 544 zip codes with an average 2 bedroom rent under $500 in which you can probably get a 2 bedroom on a minimum wage income.

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

Now… that’s not actually a lot of zip codes. And minimum wage is not a lot of money. I’m not saying that life is easy on minimum wage.
I’m saying “don’t lie to your readers, @Wonkblog. Words mean things and numbers mean things. Use both carefully and appropriately” /fin

— PoliMath (@politicalmath) June 13, 2018

OK, so, I care a lot about raising wages AND lowering housing costs, but this is just wrong.

The report says that minimum-wage workers can’t afford a 2-bedroom apartment *at the 40th percentile of rents*, *without spending more than 30% of their income*. https://t.co/zzPCLd3QAV

— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) June 13, 2018

Minimum-wage workers don’t pay the average rent in their states. Next question. https://t.co/RPwcy8aZVb

— CG’s Cassandrian Blockchain PitchBot (@cg_shadow) June 13, 2018

Hmm …

My wife and I did it, maybe a budget or living within your means could help. https://t.co/wSMOTJwqcx

— Topher Doll (@Topher_Doll) June 13, 2018

Will probably need to find a bigger place and have a roommate or two. https://t.co/rdeEDZMF7T

— RBe (@RBPundit) June 13, 2018

fine print: assuming they don’t spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Also, this is some bullshit. I’ve lived in decent $400 a month sublets. Way to make it seem like all minimum wage folks are on the brink of homelessness. https://t.co/BCaHg1ITCi

— sonomono (@sonomonono) June 13, 2018

That seemed to be the plan. Democrats like Joe Kennedy jumped on the report to show just how terrible America is.

Meanwhile @realDonaldTrump & GOP want to raise rents on affordable housing tenants, take away their health care and refuse to raise the minimum wage. https://t.co/3f2EOhBt19

— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) June 13, 2018

“Die already”- the government to poor people https://t.co/k9h58DA4Gi

— Box Brown (@boxbrown) June 13, 2018

America’s not so beautiful anymore. https://t.co/QN0H9FzcsU

— Charlie said: (@CharlieSaidWTF) June 13, 2018

Well, the article had the intended effect on at least a few readers.


High minimum wage forces San Francisco SPCA to replace humans with robots to rid building of homeless people https://t.co/bGE5BAOow1

— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) December 13, 2017

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