Wages that aren’t keeping up with housing, child care and transportation costs are driving an “affordability crisis” that is pushing people out of city, Comptroller Scott Stringer argues in an updated report.
Stringer’s office released the second version of its Affordability Index report Wednesday, which found that costs of necessities are taking a much bigger bite out of New York’s paychecks than in years past. The index tries to measure how much money a “typical” New Yorker—with incomes between the 40th and 60th percentiles—has left after paying expenses such as housing, taxes, transportation, health care and child care.
For typical single New Yorkers, incomes climbed between 2% and 3% each year between 2005 and 2017. Over the same period, median rents for a one-bedroom apartment climbed 4% each year, on average. Transportation costs climbed 3% annually, health care costs climbed between 4% and 6% and food costs climbed 2.1% yearly. Taxes for a single adult household climbed 1.6% each year and 4.4% yearly for married couples with two children, according to the report.
“Over the last decade, the lack of affordable housing and the soaring cost of everything from child care to basic everyday necessities have ravaged New Yorkers’ bank accounts, and now, these pressures are pushing people out,” Stringer said in a statement. “This data shows exactly why we need an affordable housing plan that puts people before profits and a bold investment in quality affordable child care.”
For single New Yorkers living on their own, about 15% of their paycheck is left each month after paying bills, according to the index. In 2005, 24% of their income was still available after paying bills for housing and other costs.
For single parents with two children, the index is actually in the negative. The costs of basic expenses for those families exceeds typical salaries by 26%. The families are likely “making compromises, racking up debt or forgoing basic needs,” Stringer said. That number is down from the 28% gap between expenses and income Stringer measured for 2016, but up from the 20% gap in 2005.
The fortunes of the city’s married couples have remained relatively steady from 2005 to 2017, the index shows. A married couple without children typically spent about 61% of its income on basic expenses in 2005. In 2017, that same couple would have spent about 62% of their paycheck for the same costs. For a married couple with two children, about 83% of monthly income went toward expenses in 2005, compared to 82% in 2017.