Center for American Progress

RELEASE: New Data Show Housing Affordable for Low-Wage Workers Is Located Far From Job Centers in U.S. 15 Largest Metro Areas
Press Release

RELEASE: New Data Show Housing Affordable for Low-Wage Workers Is Located Far From Job Centers in U.S. 15 Largest Metro Areas

Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress with data analysis of the top 15 U.S. metropolitan areas that have seen above-average job growth between the Great Recession up until the start of the coronavirus pandemic finds a spatial mismatch between affordable housing and low-wage jobs in all of those areas. The report looks at the Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Grand Rapids, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Riverside, Salt Lake, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose, and Seattle metropolitan areas and finds that low-wage workers in these areas are either forced to reside in job-poor areas with an expensive and burdensome commute to employment opportunities, because of the shortage of affordable housing near employment centers, or forced to live in high-cost areas that they cannot afford in order to be close to their workplaces, with significant consequences for their quality of life, health care, children’s education, and savings opportunities.

In all sample metropolitan areas, at least 43 percent of renters have experienced a housing cost burden—that is to say, they spend more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs—but the problem is particularly acute in California cities. In the Los Angeles, Riverside, San Jose, and San Francisco metropolitan areas, more than 90 percent of low-wage workers live in areas deemed unaffordable.

The report features a discussion of the national spatial mismatch between jobs and affordable housing and provides sections with in-depth analysis for each of the 15 metro areas.

“From janitors to food prep workers to security guards, regional economies cannot function without lower-wage workers,” said Michela Zonta, senior policy analyst for Housing and Consumer Finance Policy at CAP and author of the report. “The fact that in many of our country’s most successful cities, it’s nearly impossible for lower-wage workers to live near their jobs is both a social justice issue and ultimately undermines a region’s competitiveness and limits its economic growth.”

Read the report: “Expanding the Supply of Affordable Housing for Low-Wage Workers” by Michela Zonta

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at