Paycheck to Paycheck
Paycheck to Paycheck

Wages and the Cost of Housing in America

When it comes to the health and vitality of America's communities, affordable housing is key. And where it is lacking, the challenges are formidable. Local governments deal with overcrowding and congestion. Employers struggle to attract and retain the labor force so vital to their bottom line. Low- to moderate-income working families work longer hours, endure long commutes or cut back on basic necessities in order to pay for housing.

Who are among the ranks of America's workers struggling to afford housing? In some high-priced communities, people who provide the bulk of vital services - teachers, firefighters, police officers, retail sales workers and restaurant workers - cannot afford to live in the communities they serve. Even in more moderately-priced communities, people who work a full-time job pay an excessive portion of their income for housing.

About Paycheck to Paycheck

In this revised and updated version of its online, interactive database Paycheck to Paycheck, the Center for Housing Policy presents wage information for more than 60 occupations and home prices and rents for nearly 200 metropolitan areas. Paycheck to Paycheck utilizes consistent measures of wages and housing costs so you can:

  • See how workers in your metropolitan area are faring in the housing market;
  • View the big picture for housing affordability for working families in various occupations across the country; and
  • Use these analyses as a template to examine wages and housing costs in neighborhoods in your community.
The Center gratefully acknowledges the support of Freddie Mac for this research. Freddie Mac

Data presented here are for the 3rd Quarter of 2005.

Start by selecting one of 181 metropolitan areas.

- OR - Start by selecting one of 63 occupations.

You may also view our earlier findings:
    First quarter 2005:
You may also view our current findings at
* In a few select cases, 2003 and 2005 wage data may not be comparable due to a change in methodology.

Please note the database is best viewed by the most recent versions of available Internet browsers.