Why We Need More Unions and Higher Wages

Typical Pennsylvania Wage is too Little to Pay the Average Rent

By Tim Grant
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

March 13, 2013 – When a basic two-bedroom apartment in Pennsylvania costs an average $895 a month, renters must earn at least $17.21 an hour — 2.4 times the state minimum wage — to afford a decent roof over their heads.

Although the cost of renting a two-bedroom unit in the Pittsburgh region is lower at $772 a month, Pittsburgh households still must earn about $14.85 an hour to afford the apartment, which amounts to more than twice the state minimum wage and 117 percent of what the average city renter earns.

An estimated 56 percent of Pittsburgh-area renters cannot afford to meet the expenses for a two-bedroom apartment.

"The [typical] renter’s hourly wage in Pittsburgh is $12.70. That means the most they could afford to pay is $660 a month in rent," said Liz Hersh, executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania. Her estimate is based on renters paying no more than one-third of their income on rent and utilities.

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