New York state's labor commissioner is expected to approve a plan any day now raising the minimum wage of fast-food workers in New York City to $15 per hour — but that figure may still shut them out of city's ever-more-expensive real estate market.
New Yorkers working 40 hours a week need to earn an hourly wage of at least $38.80 — more than four times the state’s current minimum wage of $8.75 — to afford the city’s forecasted median rent of $2,690 a month in 2015, according to a study published Tuesday by the New York listings site StreetEasy.
It should be no surprise that the minimum wage necessary to afford the forecasted median rent in Manhattan in 2015 — $44.60 per hour — is the highest among the boroughs. Brooklyn comes next at $35.87 per hour, while Queens ($29.67), Staten Island ($26.21) and the Bronx ($21.26) are slightly more accommodating to low-income families.
Use the map below, from StreetEasy's report, to see the lowest hourly wage an individual would need to earn to afford the forecasted 2015 median rent in neighborhoods around the city. (Keep in mind: The study considers rent "affordable" if renters are spending no more than 40 percent of their gross annual income on total annual rent; federal rent subsidies keep beneficiaries' housing costs to 30 percent of their income.)
"The High Burden of Low Wages," StreetEasy/Alan Lightfeldt
Historically one of New York City's most expensive neighborhoods, Central Park South demands the highest hourly wage, $85.07, from lessees paying the 2015 median rent. To put that in perspective, a worker earning the state's minimum wage would need to put in 389 hours a week at work — 221 more hours than a week contains — to afford a place on Central Park South.
Fast-food workers making $15 an hour would most likely find an apartment they can afford in Throgs Neck in The Bronx, where the necessary hourly wage to pay median rent in 2015 is projected to be $13.64. Other options include New Dorp on Staten Island ($15.76), Woodstock in the South Bronx ($16.45) and Fordham in the The Bronx ($16.79).
So, how can minimum-wage workers manage the costs of renting real estate in the city? They can find roommates, lock down more than one job or move elsewhere, the study suggests.