Jobs that don’t pay the rent


Nationally, occupations with the most rent-stressed workers include: food service, office and administrative support, building and grounds maintenance, transportation, personal care, construction, cashier, production, education and retail.

The renters in the top ten job categories make up more than 70 percent of the nearly 20 million working individuals who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent.


  • The population and share of workers who struggle to pay rent increased significantly during the 2007-2009 recession and has remained elevated ever since.
  • Low-wage workers such as food service employees, administrative assistants and maintenance workers are especially impacted.
  • Rising rents and sluggish wage growth mean that renters in low-wage jobs across the country find it difficult to make ends meet.
  • Wage gains over the past 15 years have been highly concentrated among people with higher incomes.


icon1_26x33  Workers who struggle to pay rent have jobs that are essential for local economies to function. They should be able to live near or where they work.

icon2_32x32  Many rent-burdened workers in such occupations as food service, transportation, and personal care depend on tipping and inconsistent wages for some portion of their income.

icon3_32x25  A bad night for a food server or a slow season for a taxicab driver or construction worker can cause dangerous fluctuation in the amount of money available for rent and living expenses, especially for low-income workers.

icon4_20x31  When renters must pay such a large share of their income on rent, they are often forced to choose between paying their rent and paying for groceries, medicine, childcare and other essentials.




We already have many of the tools to solve this problem. Commonsense, bipartisan policies can help communities across America thrive – and can help reverse these distressing trends and make homes more affordable.  Here’s what will work:

  • Increasing the supply of affordable homes, with commitments from the public, private and philanthropic sectors
  • Directing scarce public support to the low-income renters who most need the help
  • Ensuring hard-working families achieve financial stability through a fair minimum wage and expanded tax credits. These policies can ensure low-income workers have enough money to live on.

Download the PDF: Jobs that don’t pay the rent