Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Election 2009: The James Beard... | McCain Launches New Attack Bef... »

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We Have a Winner!

posted by on October 15 at 15:59 PM

Daniel Rutherford was the first person to correctly answer the pop-quiz math question in our endorsements and email us at iworkherebutican’

The question, to refresh your memory:

The city of Seattle considers $1,153 a month for a one-bedroom apartment “workforce” housing. Next year, the state minimum wage will increase to $8.55 an hour. How many hours a month would you have to work at minimum wage to pay “workforce” rent?

For his correct(ish!) answer of 135 hours (see below), Daniel gets a $50 check and a large cardboard box.

Why do I say “correct(ish)”? Because, while $8.55 * 135 hours technically gets you to $1,153, that’s without ANY other expenses. (Or taxes and other deductions, but let’s leave that one alone). Given that the city of Seattle defines “affordable” housing as what you can pay for using 30 percent of your monthly income, you’d actually have to work 449 hours a month—or 104 hours a week, assuming 13 four-week “months” per year—to make enough to “afford” the city’s “affordable” housing. That’s like having almost three full-time minimum-wage jobs! (For kicks, I did the same quick calculation using the federal minimum, and found you’d have to work 176 total hours to pay for the city’s “workforce” housing, or 135 hours a week to “afford” that housing. Neat!).

Thanks to everyone who submitted answers. For getting his in first, Daniel gets a check for $50 and a large cardboard box.

RSS icon Comments


Because the minimum wage workforce is entitled to a one bedroom apartment?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | October 15, 2008 4:14 PM

The roommate city.

Posted by Mr. Poe | October 15, 2008 4:14 PM

Good thing Stranger writers and readers will be voting for all those levies next month -- that ought to make the city more affordable!

Posted by joykiller | October 15, 2008 4:21 PM

I hope I was at least the first to submit the correct after-tax income adjusted answer. I HOPE FOR MYSELF AND HOPE FOR AMERICA.

Posted by Rejemy | October 15, 2008 4:24 PM

So isn't there plenty of apt's below $1,153 a month already? Searching on craigslist found 654 listings with the search term Seattle at $900 and under ranging from 2 bedrooms down to studio apts. Where's the shortage??

Now probably most people don't want to raise a family in 2 bdrms or less. I know I wouldn't, but I would if I had no other option.

Posted by Brian in Seattle | October 15, 2008 4:38 PM


The issue is that the city is rewarding developers who provide apartments at that price. As you point out, the market is already providing apartments at that price and lower, so why is the council setting "affordable" rents so high?

Posted by keshmeshi | October 15, 2008 4:42 PM

People earning minimum wage are, well, poor. Poor people have roommates. Or they live with their parents.

People who have families while earning minimum wage are using something other that "rationality" to decide their timing for having children.

People who think that minimum wage should translate to "a comfortable living for adults, perhaps even with children" weren't paying enough attention in both their Government and Economics classes.

Posted by Tiktok | October 15, 2008 4:44 PM

these commenters are so nice. did it ever occur to you that some people with kids had good jobs until recently and are now working minimum wage jobs to feed their families?

Posted by um | October 15, 2008 4:49 PM

I agree with ECB here. $1,153 is definitely high for "Workforce" housing. By workforce, we mean people who are doing things like waitress/barista/cashier/etc. My boyfriend, who was making shitty wages as a machinist at Boeing (I think they start you out at the high rate of $12.50/hr), now makes $9.55/hr as a stock boy at the neighborhood supermarket...on a shitty shift too.

At 12.50/hr, 40 hr/wk, without taxes or deductions, that is 92 hours/mth, or, given that October has 23 work days. 50% of income for a 1 bedroom apt. If you want to tell me that working as a machinist is not supposed to be a "family wage", by all means, let me know. But, I highly doubt that you could argue that with an amount of seriousness.

Chances are, you will argue that if you're working at Boeing you should live in Everett, but there is that factory in South Seattle.

Posted by TheMisanthrope | October 15, 2008 5:17 PM

As a small business owner, I honestly can't afford to pay more than minimum wage. I don't even make minimum wage. The rents and mortgage rates in this city and in the country in general are extremely skewed. Homes should not be worth what we've let them get to so the trickle down is that we all suffer.

Posted by amy | October 15, 2008 5:36 PM

I make what most would consider to be an income at the lower end of middle class, and there is no way in hell that the City should subsidize brand new apartments that I wouldn't begin to consider affordable and that I can readily find cheaper alternatives to - and I sure as hell shouldn't have to subsidize people making even more than I am through tax breaks (which, after all, just shift the tax burden to the rest of us) either.

The shamelessness with which our local elected officials whore themselves out to developers is truly breathtaking.

Posted by Mr. X | October 15, 2008 5:44 PM

LOL @ Mr. X for implying that elected officials are subject to the laws of shame and / or physics.

Posted by nightlifejitters | October 15, 2008 6:07 PM

Lorig et al think that $1400 for a 2BR is "work force" housing in south seattle...

Posted by wawaweewa | October 15, 2008 7:36 PM

"As a small business owner, I honestly can't afford to pay more than minimum wage."

You can't pay your workers even minimum wage, and you pay yourself less?

What were the "bad" business plans you rejected?

Posted by Tiktok | October 15, 2008 10:22 PM

amy might be a hack architect that is hoping she can convince some lackeys to work for free

Posted by mike | October 15, 2008 11:06 PM


Geez, now I'm laughing at me too.

Gotta big favor to ask - would you be willing to serve as a personal reference and tell everyone who accuses me of being cynical the true story of what a naive, trusting soul I actually am?



Posted by Mr. X | October 15, 2008 11:40 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.