Thursday, March 15, 2012

Making square feet meet

This graphic, which can be found here, makes a tremendous point. It's also undermining itself:
Why use a two-bedroom apartment as the indicator? If the purpose is to demonstrate how hard it is to get by on a single, minimum-wage income, a one-bedroom apartment is a better, and more damning, metric. A one-bedroom apartment (or an efficiency in major urban areas such as New York City) is something any gainfully employed person should be able to afford. I'm single and rent one-bedroom flats, and even with well-paying, professional jobs and no debt, rent can be a challenging chunk.

To use an analogy: this chart is lamenting that the minimum wage won't buy a brand-new sedan, when the real outrage should be that it often won't buy a beater either.

This isn't to suggest that some people in this situation don't need a two-or-more-bedroom apartment; but if the point is to illustrate how much of our money goes to even the cheapest housing, start at the bottom. Because it's a far, far climb back up.

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