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Study: Most Common Jobs In Ohio Don't Pay Enough To Afford Housing

Bernard Spragg

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) found that only two of the top 10 most common jobs in Ohio pay enough to rent a basic two-bedroom apartment.

The coalitions say that the average Ohio renter makes just over $13 an hour. Bill Faith, executive director of COHHIO says that falls almost $2 short of the state’s so-called "housing wage."

“Statewide, it’s $15.25. That’s what you need to make per hour at a full-time job to afford a two-bedroom unit,” Faith says. “In Columbus, that number is $17.50.”

Faith says the median pay for eight of the top 10 jobs, like food preparation and office clerks, don’t come close to being able to pay that wage, which follows the federal standard for housing affordability by keeping rent at around 30 percent of total income. And though unemployment is at historic lows, the earning potential of those available jobs isn't enough for many to pay rent.

“There’s a common misperception that, if the economy’s well, then everyone is doing well,” Faith says. “And that’s not necessarily the case.”

Registered nurses and customer service representatives are the two that meet the statewide housing wage, though the latter fails to meet Central Ohio’s $17 figure.

“That’s the highest in the state," Faith says. "And it’s just the mismatch between where rents are at in Central Ohio compared to where wages are."

Faith says that to fix the gap, change needs to happen both on the housing and the workforce sides of the equation--through subsidized creation of jobs with livable wages and stronger housing policy.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.