Can Minimum Wage Earners Afford Rent in Texas?

I came across an excellent article published by City Lab the other day which examined the minimum wage an individual would have to make in order to afford a two bedroom apartment in their state. A "golden financial rule" is your mortgage or rent payment should be ~30% of your gross income which CityLab's article takes into account when determining an hourly pay rate. CityLab's data piqued my interest and I was curious to examine the same data at a lower level of grain for the great state of Texas.

I quickly (okay, it wasn't that quick - I'm trying to cover up for my lack of title/legend/etc in the visualization) created a d3.js map leveraging Texas County topojson as well as the Census data for median gross rent of 2 bedroom apartments in each Texas county (it's important to note that gross rent in the Census includes bills such as water and electric). For each county in Texas, I then calculated the % of income spent on rent for a minimum wage earner ($7.25/hr here in TX) and applied a heat map to the result set. You can see a screen shot of the result below and/or use the interactive version here.

I will eventually add a layer to display major Texas cities but it's evident from the visualization that the counties surrounding Austin and Dallas are the most unaffordable for minimum wage workers (this is not shocking - keep Austin weird...and expensive). Bexar County, home to San Antonio, is 20% lower than that of Austin in affordability but still hovers at 77% of a minimum wage earner's income.

Soon I will update my code to include filters for 1 and 2 bedroom apartments as well as create the same heat map visualization for all counties within the United States.

Rachel Rinaldi

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San Antonio, TX