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Ohio’s gap between rent, wages grows

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(The Center Square) – Three of Ohio’s 10 most popular jobs pay well enough to afford a modest two-bedroom home in the state, according to a new report from affordable housing advocacy groups.

The 2023 Ohio Out of Reach Report showed full-time workers need to earn at least $19.09 an hour to afford what it called a modest, two-bedroom apartment in the state. The National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio released the report.

Of the 10 jobs with the most employees in the state, only three earn more than $19.09. Those three are general operations manager ($42.29/hour), tractor-trailer truck driver ($23.92/hour) and registered nurse ($36.93/hour).

The seven other popular jobs needing to earn more to afford the modest apartment included fast food worker, stocker/order filler, cashier, retail salesperson, laborer, customer service representative and assembler/fabricator.

“It’s not just fast-food workers, hotel maids, big box store cashiers, and home health aides who are struggling to keep a roof over their heads,” homelessness coalition Executive Director Amy Riegel said. “The low-wage, high-rent gap is impacting people who assemble parts in factories, fill orders at warehouses, ship freight, and answer the phone when you have problems with your internet service.”

Riegel said rents increased by 17% over the past two years, faster than wages among Ohio’s most-common jobs.

The Housing Wage were highest in Union County, Columbus and Cincinnati, but the report showed the gap between rent and wages was wider in more rural areas. In Fairfield County, renters need to earn $22.37 an hour to afford a modest apartment but make, on average, just $12.10 an hour.

Other counties with large gaps include Licking, Athens, Brown, Morrow, Pickaway, Madison, Hocking and Geauga.

“When so many jobs pay too little to afford a secure place to live, families are forced to make impossible decisions about whether to pay the rent, buy food, or forego medicine, transportation or education,” Riegel said. “A precarious workforce means tired, stressed, unhealthy employees, higher absenteeism and lower productivity. Affordable housing is a key factor that prospective employers consider when making decisions about where to site new operations.”

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