Wages, housing, out of whack in Oregon

A 2-bedroom apartment in Oregon is out of reach for those making less than $16.61 an hour.

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Housing on the West Coast is becoming out of reach for many as wages stagnate.

Gov. Kate Brown wrote the preface for this year’s Out of Reach report, which investigates the gap between wages and housing costs. She asked for a $100 million loan to build affordable units in Oregon.

From OregonLive.com:

In Oregon, where the inflation-indexed minimum wage is $9.25 an hour, someone looking to rent a fair-market two-bedroom apartment, at $864 a month, would need to earn $16.61 an hour. In the Portland metro area, that so-called “housing wage” would rise to $18.15. In cities such as San Francisco, that number comes close to $40 an hour. (See a statewide chart below.)

“Housing that meets the needs of individuals and families is an essential part of the infrastructure that builds a strong workforce and sustains local economies,” Brown wrote in the report, released Tuesday. “I have proposed a $100 million investment in affordable housing for Oregon that will add approximately 4,000 new homes to help meet this essential and most fundamental need.”

The report was conducted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It stated that wages simply aren’t keeping pace with housing costs.

A report published by OregonLive.com suggests that workers’ pay is actually decreasing. The average hourly rate fell in April eight cents from the $23.38 mark it reached in March.

Yet the average hourly rate has improved only 50 cents, or 2.2 percent, in the past year. That’s equal to the area’s inflation rate, so workers have little left over after rising costs.

“Everyone’s watching wages, and nobody’s seeing rates increase,” said Patrick Emerson, an economics professor at Oregon State University.

The unemployment rate did drop in April to 5.2 percent.