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The average American needs to work 63 hours to pay monthly rent

  • Americans making an average wage need to work for 62.6 hours to pay the typical U.S. monthly rent. 
  • Over the past five years, rents have grown 36.9%, while the average wage is up only 23%. 
  • Renters in Miami need to work three full-time days more than they did five years ago to earn enough to pay the typical rent in that metro area.

SEATTLE, Nov. 21, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — An American making an average wage needs to work about 63 hours before earning enough to pay the typical monthly U.S. rent of $2,040. That is three hours more than they would have needed to work a year ago, and six hours more than before the pandemic in October 2019, a new Zillow® analysis finds1.

These figures illustrate the growing affordability hurdles renters face, even amid what has been a strong labor market. The average hourly wage has grown 23% over the past five years, but rents are up 36.9% over the same period.

“The rental market has cooled this year, but so far that has meant prices growing more slowly, not any real relief for renters,” said Jeff Tucker, senior economist at Zillow. “Rents were growing at a record pace for much of 2021, squeezing budgets for renters moving or renewing leases. Now, it appears more people are opting to double up with roommates or family, which means more vacancies and pressure on landlords to price their units competitively, offering some hope of relief on the horizon. Rents fell last month for the first time in two years, possibly the start of more price drops to come, or at least a signal that we are back to the usual seasonal rhythms of the rental market.”

The typical U.S. rent finally ended a two-year streak of nonstop growth in October, falling 0.1% month over month to $2,040. Annual rent growth peaked at a record 17.1% in February, and has since slowed to 9.6% year-over-year growth. 

Renters in Miami face the greatest affordability hurdles, needing to work 96 hours at the average wage to pay the typical rent. That is 24 hours more than Miami renters would have needed to work to pay rent five years ago, the biggest gap among the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. 

Other Sun Belt markets — the hottest housing region during the pandemic — have seen similarly large jumps in hours of work needed to pay rent. An average worker in Tampa would need to work an additional 20 hours to pay rent compared to five years ago. Phoenix rents are up 66.7% since 2017, the most in the country among large markets, and renters need to work 17 hours more to pay rent. 

Even after steep rent hikes, hours of work needed to afford rent remain below the national average of 63 hours in several Sun Belt markets. This includes Atlanta (61 hours), Phoenix (61 hours), Nashville (60 hours) and Austin (58 hours), among others. While longtime residents will see a much different picture than they may have been used to, these markets still offer relative affordability and are likely to continue to attract residents from more expensive areas of the country. 

Rents have gotten easier to pay over the past five years in only three large metros, and they are among the most expensive in the country: San Jose, Boston and San Francisco. Rents have grown more slowly than average in these markets, helping wages catch up just a bit. Even after the slight drop since 2017, the average person would need to work more hours to pay rent than the national average in each of these markets.

In addition to affordability challenges, Zillow research has revealed that the search process has caused 40% of renters to lose sleep. Strategies such as being flexible about move-in date and being one of the first applicants have helped recent renters find a place to live. Zillow has tools designed to help renters search with confidence in their area, including a rent affordability calculator, rental market trends tool and a move-in date filter.

Metro Area*

Hours of
Work Needed to
Pay Rent**

Typical Rent
(October
2022)

Five-Year
Change
(Typical
Rent)

Five-Year
Change
(Average
Wage)

Five-Year Change
(Hours of Work
Needed to Pay
Rent)

United States

62.6

$2,040

36.9 %

23.0 %

6.3

New York, NY

87.0

$3,212

23.3 %

18.1 %

3.5

Los Angeles, CA

80.6

$2,979

32.9 %

28.6 %

1.7

Chicago, IL

55.4

$1,869

20.7 %

17.6 %

1.4

Dallas–Fort Worth, TX

55.6

$1,855

40.1 %

24.8 %

6.1

Houston, TX

52.4

$1,613

24.5 %

12.9 %

4.9

Washington, DC

56.3

$2,257

20.1 %

17.8 %

1.1

Miami, FL

95.9

$2,827

59.5 %

18.9 %

24.3

Philadelphia, PA

53.2

$1,793

28.5 %

17.2 %

4.7

Atlanta, GA

60.8

$2,002

54.0 %

16.4 %

14.8

Phoenix, AZ

60.6

$1,938

66.7 %

19.2 %

17.2

Boston, MA

64.7

$2,806

22.4 %

23.3 %

-0.3

San Francisco, CA

72.7

$3,199

15.0 %

16.3 %

-1.2

Riverside, CA

90.5

$2,584

53.8 %

24.4 %

17.3

Detroit, MI

43.7

$1,460

36.2 %

27.9 %

2.7

Seattle, WA

56.3

$2,285

29.4 %

12.4 %

7.4

Minneapolis–St. Paul, MN

46.1

$1,632

21.2 %

20.3 %

0.3

San Diego, CA

85.5

$3,105

46.9 %

27.0 %

11.6

Tampa, FL

69.2

$2,135

65.5 %

17.1 %

20.1

Denver, CO

54.9

$2,028

30.1 %

28.2 %

0.8

St. Louis, MO

37.1

$1,273

31.3 %

31.2 %

0.0

Baltimore, MD

53.7

$1,798

22.7 %

21.8 %

0.4

Charlotte, NC

54.8

$1,824

46.4 %

19.4 %

10.1

Orlando, FL

67.0

$2,045

53.9 %

28.2 %

11.2

San Antonio, TX

55.1

$1,518

32.9 %

21.2 %

4.8

Portland, OR

54.3

$1,949

30.3 %

28.1 %

0.9

Sacramento, CA

67.6

$2,326

41.2 %

21.8 %

9.3

Las Vegas, NV

64.7

$1,832

55.9 %

25.2 %

12.8

Pittsburgh, PA

45.1

$1,338

27.0 %

16.7 %

3.7

Austin, TX

58.0

$1,912

42.6 %

17.5 %

10.2

Cincinnati, OH

48.9

$1,505

41.9 %

19.9 %

7.6

Kansas City, MO

45.9

$1,364

36.8 %

12.4 %

8.2

Columbus, OH

52.5

$1,509

39.3 %

15.6 %

8.9

Indianapolis, IN

50.4

$1,483

44.8 %

9.6 %

12.3

Cleveland, OH

43.6

$1,370

31.3 %

21.1 %

3.4

San Jose, CA

66.3

$3,341

15.7 %

18.1 %

-1.4

Nashville, TN

59.9

$1,906

40.7 %

26.0 %

6.3

Virginia Beach, VA

56.3

$1,648

35.5 %

19.6 %

6.6

Providence, RI

62.3

$1,986

50.4 %

21.9 %

11.8

Jacksonville, FL

55.7

$1,810

53.5 %

17.3 %

13.1

Milwaukee, WI

37.4

$1,243

24.5 %

19.5 %

1.5

Oklahoma City, OK

45.5

$1,316

29.9 %

22.9 %

2.5

Raleigh, NC

55.5

$1,793

42.4 %

18.1 %

9.4

Memphis, TN

54.7

$1,501

49.0 %

23.3 %

9.5

Richmond, VA

51.1

$1,613

40.2 %

28.6 %

4.2

New Orleans, LA

53.6

$1,527

27.4 %

13.8 %

5.7

Louisville, KY

46.2

$1,293

33.4 %

22.2 %

3.9

Salt Lake City, UT

52.0

$1,764

45.1 %

24.0 %

7.5

Hartford, CT

47.5

$1,707

30.5 %

13.4 %

6.2

Buffalo, NY

41.4

$1,255

35.1 %

22.5 %

3.9

Birmingham, AL

44.0

$1,326

31.5 %

22.1 %

3.1

*Table ordered by market size 

**The U.S. estimate uses October 2022 rent and wage data. Estimates for each metro area use September 2022 rent and wage data. October 2022 wage data is not yet available at the metro level. 

1 Estimates for hours of work needed to pay rent use average hourly earnings data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (source: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CES0500000003) and rent data according to the ZIllow Observed Rent Index. The U.S. estimate uses October 2022 rent and wage data. Estimates for each metro area use September 2022 rent and wage data. October 2022 wage data is not available at the metro level at the time of this release.

About Zillow Group
Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z and ZG) is reimagining real estate to make it easier to unlock life’s next chapter. As the most visited real estate website in the United States, Zillow® and its affiliates offer customers an on-demand experience for selling, buying, renting, or financing with transparency and ease. 

Zillow Group’s affiliates and subsidiaries include Zillow®; Zillow Premier Agent®; Zillow Home Loans™; Zillow Closing Services™; Trulia®; Out East®; StreetEasy®; HotPads®; and ShowingTime+™, which houses ShowingTime®, Bridge Interactive®, and dotloop®. Zillow Home Loans, LLC is an Equal Housing Lender, NMLS #10287 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). 

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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