Business and Economics

NWI Ranking On National “Housing Wage” List

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April 23, 2014 — Lakeshore Public Media staff — Northwest Indiana ranks higher than most Indiana regions for the amount of income needed to cover the cost of modest rental housing.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition took  “fair market rents” and calculated how much a worker would have to earn per hour to cover such modest housing, assuming that one worked a 40-hour work week and a 52-week year. They call this rate a “housing wage,” and it is, to no one’s surprise, much higher than the minimum wage in much of the country.

The coalition focused on one person’s hourly income that is needed to afford a two-bedroom rental, a scenario that most closely applies to single parents supporting children alone.   But they also compiled data on one-bedroom “housing wages” — a metric that applies more broadly — and the organization gave us the data at the county level.

The “Washington Post” took it one step farther.  They went thru the county-by-county data and this is what you’d need to earn per hour, working a 40-hour week, to cover the kind of housing that the federal government considers modest in your county.  For northwest Indiana:

Lake County — a “one-bedroom housing wage” is $12.40 an hour — $25,972 a year (for working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year)
Porter County — it’s $12.40 hr — $25,972 a year
Newton County — $12.40 hr — $25,972 a year
Jasper County — $9.83 hr — $20,446 a year
LaPorte County — $10.21 hr — $21,236 a year

The northwest Indiana “housing wages” are comparable to central Indiana counties that include Indianapolis.  They are slightly higher than for Fort Wayne, South Bend and Evansville.

No single county in America has a “one-bedroom housing wage” below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 (but several counties in Arkansas come in at $7.98).


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