Leaving aside the selection issue - that some housing markets have gotten so hot that average middle-class incomes are priced out entirely, these numbers really don’t seem right. In fact, I know that California is really off. They claim LA is the most expensive, with $2600, but the average rent on a one-bedroom apartment in SF is at least a thousand dollars more. Even if the difference is down to what people actually pay individually (i.e. in SF you have at least three people crammed into one-bedroom apartments), it still doesn’t add up. I was just reading about how about half the population in the (cheaper) SF South Bay Area are “rent burdened” - that is, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. There’s some sort of heavy selection bias in how they’re coming up with these numbers, they seem to be based on the specific circumstances of the small group of people they do business with, rather than the numbers being based on what’s true for the general population.
They say that “Earnest is a data-driven lender financial services company based in San Francisco offering student loan refinancing, personal loans, and home loan refinancing” - so, home loans aside, this is probably the source of the data. But their numbers don’t tally with anything else I’ve read, so I’m going to say that there’s some serious selection bias going on here - presumably it’s the nature of the people to whom they give loans. It’s not that their numbers are too high, but far too low, for urban California renters at least, so their California borrowers must have relatively high incomes, especially in the Bay Area.
Yeah, considering how many stories I’ve read about people who work in the boom towns who can’t even afford to rent there (living in their cars) and still have high living costs, and even the failure of some of those companies to pay their workers entirely because the boom caused a natural gas glut that drove down prices… Just looking at incomes (of the people who get paid) doesn’t tell us much about quality of life.