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Travel and Tourism Workers Struggle to Cover Housing Costs in Many Metros

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In the midst of a housing and economic recovery, many workers key to Americans’ summer vacation plans struggle to afford housing in metro areas across the country. In the latest edition of Paycheck to Paycheck, Center for Housing Policy (CHP) researchers draw on the latest data from the first quarter of 2013 to reveal the gap between wages and the costs of housing, both rental and owned, in 207 U.S. metro areas for workers in occupations central to the summer vacations Americans hope to squeeze in before school starts.

“One of the most overlooked aspects of this recovery is that for many workers, incomes are not rebounding in step with local housing markets,” explained CHP Senior Research Associate Maya Brennan, a co-author of a report released with the new data. “Even in a strong sector like travel and tourism, wages have not kept pace with the rising costs of renting or homeownership.”

The accompanying report, Paycheck to Paycheck 2013: A Snapshot of Metropolitan Housing Affordability for Travel and Tourism Workers, explores trends in housing affordability for mid-career workers in five common jobs related to travel and tourism: housekeepers, wait staff, auto mechanics, front desk managers and flight attendants. Of these professions, only one—flight attendants—has an average wage high enough to afford the mortgage on a median-priced home in the U.S., and workers in two of the jobs—housekeepers and wait staff—cannot afford the typical rent on either a one- or two-bedroom apartment in any metro area.

“The data show that working hard is not enough to make ends meet,” said report co-author Janet Viveiros, a research associate at CHP. “Americans are spending more on vacations, but many of the workers fixing their cars before a long road trip, cleaning their hotel rooms or serving their meals are struggling to afford basic expenses like housing.”

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