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? Throughout much of the country, people who provide the bulk of services — office clerks, janitors, security guards, groundskeepers, and retail sales workers — cannot afford to live in the communities where they work. In high-priced communities, teachers, police officers, nurses, and accountants do not earn enough to afford typical rents or home prices. 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 70 occupations and home prices and rents for more than 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.
  • Note: The National Association of Realtors revised their median home price for 1Q 2011 in Sioux Falls, SD, from $147,400 to $138,300.

A Closer Look — Paycheck to Paycheck 2011

Media Release: Among new hires, incomes that cover housing costs remain elusive

Paycheck to Paycheck 2011 Report: Is housing affordable for Americans getting back to work?

Rankings for More Than 200 U.S. Metropolitan Areas:

Fact Sheet Most to Least Expensive Homeownership Markets in 2010 and 2011
Fact Sheet Most to Least Expensive Rental Markets in 2010 and 2011
Fact Sheet Changes in the Qualifying Income Needed to Purchase a Home from 2010 to 2011

Frequently Asked Questions About Paycheck to Paycheck

The Center for Housing Policy gratefully acknowledges the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in funding Paycheck to Paycheck: Wages and the Cost of Housing in America.  Any opinions or conclusions expressed, however, are those of the author alone.

Paycheck to Paycheck
Data presented below are for the 1st Quarter of 2011.
Start by selecting one of 210 metropolitan areas.

- OR - Start by selecting one of 72 occupations.

To learn how to do your own Paycheck to Paycheck analysis, click here.

You may also view our earlier findings:
    First quarter 2005:
    Third quarter 2005:
    Third quarter 2006:
    Third quarter 2007:
    Fourth quarter 2008:
    Fourth quarter 2009:
* In a few select cases, 2003 and 2005 wage data may not be comparable due to a change in methodology.

Paycheck to Paycheck can be viewed using a recent internet browser with Flash support. For printing the chart pages, we recommend Internet Explorer version 7 or later.