Paycheck to Paycheck
Paycheck to Paycheck

Wages and the Cost of Housing in America

Communities across the country are recognizing the importance of affordable housing to their future economic and social well-being. Economic expansion is at risk when growth in jobs and population is not matched by the growth in the supply of affordable housing. Also at stake are basic issues of equity for low- and moderate-income working families.

In high-priced communities, people who provide the bulk of vital services — teachers, firefighters, police officers, and laundry and restaurant workers — often cannot themselves afford to live there. Yet, it is often in those communities where affordable housing for working families is most needed that the most opposition to such housing exists. Moreover, a host of social problems can occur when working families face a shortage of affordable housing. Family disruption, overcrowding and congestion degrade the quality of life in the communities for all residents.

About Paycheck to Paycheck

For the last five years, the Center has published a series of reports documenting the growing numbers of working families with critical housing needs. One recent study revealed a dramatic 76 percent increase between 1997 and 2003 in the number of low- to moderate-income working families paying more than half their income for housing.

To put a "face" on aggregate numbers, the Center developed "Paycheck to Paycheck" analyses which look at wages for selected vital occupations to see how working families relying on these earnings fare in housing markets nationwide.

We are pleased to present this new interactive version of "Paycheck to Paycheck" which allows visitors to our Web site to select among 64 occupations for each of almost 200 of the nation's largest housing markets. The report is based on data dated: 11/30/2003.

Start by selecting one of 196 metropolitan areas.

- OR - Start by selecting one of 64 occupations.

You may also view our current findings at