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How Missouri workers making minimum wage fare with housing rental prices


Missouri workers earning minimum wage would need to work nearly 60 hours a week in order to afford an average one-bedroom rental home in the state, according to a recent report.

The report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition ranked Missouri 39th (with No. 1 being the most expensive) in terms of affordability for renters making minimum wage. It said those making the $8.60 minimum wage would need to work 59 hours per week to be able to afford a one-bedroom home at fair market rent or 74 hours per week for a two-bedroom place.

The average renter’s wage in Missouri, according to the report, is $14.72. However, the coalition found workers should make at least $16 per hour — working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year — to afford a fair market rent two-bedroom home ($832) without spending more than 30 percent of his or her income.

It deemed the most expensive places in Missouri to rent as Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia, Pulaski County, and St. Joseph.

“For decades, Missouri’s minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living in the state,” Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of Empower Missouri, said in a statement. “We cannot begin to address the harsh economic inequality that exists within our state and our nation without first ensuring that minimum wage employment comes with the dignity of being able to afford basic necessities like a place to live.”

Last fall, Missouri voters approved Proposition B, which increases the minimum wage for private employees by 85 cents per hour each year through 2023. It does not apply to public employers, nor does it allow the state’s minimum wage rate to become lower than the federal level.

Tipped employees must also make at least $8.60 per hour.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition found Hawaii, California, Massachusetts, District of Columbia, and New York — in that order — to be the most expensive places to live in the U.S. The average employee in Hawaii would need to make more than $36 per hour to be able to afford a fair market rent two-bedroom home.

“In 99 percent of counties in the U.S., a full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom rental home at a fair market rent,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a statement. “Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years.”

The full report can be found here.