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These blue-collar workers are getting priced out of the cities that need them

Jana Kasperkevic Apr 13, 2017
In many U.S. cities, houses are too expensive for teachers and first responders. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

These blue-collar workers are getting priced out of the cities that need them

Jana Kasperkevic Apr 13, 2017
In many U.S. cities, houses are too expensive for teachers and first responders. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Every city needs teachers and first responders. Yet these blue-collar jobs no longer guarantee workers an entry into America’s middle class or a home of their own.

Teachers, firemen and police officers are struggling to afford homes in many of America’s major cities, according to a new study from Trulia, a real estate website. Teachers specifically were priced out of Austin, Denver, Honolulu and California coastal areas, but were able to afford homes in the Rust Belt. First responders were also priced out of some California areas as well as cities where first responders were paid less, such as Nashville.

Trulia defines affordability as spending 31 percent of one’s paycheck on mortgage payments with a 20 percent down payment for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.1 percent.

Whether specific workers were priced out of a city depended on their wages and availability of houses within an affordable price range.

It should come as no surprise that most people — even doctors with high salaries — are priced out of San Francisco.

home affordability San Francisco real estate

Even doctors are getting priced out of San Francisco Bay area. 

In New York, on the other hand, about a third of some blue-collar workers found a home within a reasonable price range, thanks to their salaries. The median listing price for New York homes was $519,000.

First responders in New York were paid a median wage of $74,000 and could afford about 32 percent of the homes listed, according to the study. Teachers, who were paid a fraction more than first responders at $76,483, could afford about 33 percent of the homes listed. Restaurant workers could afford just 3 percent of the homes listed on the market. Their median wage was $24,480.

Yet, it’s not just big coastal cities where blue-collar workers are struggling to afford homes. Take the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where a median home price was $320,000.

Restaurant workers in this area could afford even fewer homes than those in New York. They could afford just 2.72 percent of the homes listed with their median wage of $22,398. First responders in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area fared about as well as they did in New York. They were able to afford about 32.77 percent of homes with a median wage of $49,685. Teachers, on the other hand, were paid a median wage of $63,640 and could afford almost half of the homes listed, or 47.54 percent.

Chicago, it turns out, was a more affordable Midwestern city for teachers and first responders, thanks to lower home prices and higher wages.

home affordability Chicago real estate

Who can buy a home in Chicago? Not restaurant workers. 

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