When does a booming economy make a state’s residents worse-off? When rents far exceed what low-wage workers can afford to pay.
In Wyoming, where the oil and gas industry is growing rapidly, unemployment has decreased and remains below the national average, while homelessness has increased. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, while the population is increasing, the supply of housing is not, and with a county rental vacancy rate of 1.6% and just 600 public housing units provided by the public housing agency in Casper, low-wage workers will have a hard time finding the housing they need at rents they can afford.
High demand for rental units is a trend seen nationwide, according to this post on The Pump Handle, a public health blog. The article notes that the kind of housing instability seen in places like Wyoming has broad impacts on residents’ health and well-being.
What low-wage workers need is more housing affordable and available to them, not less. But as the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette explained last week, sequestration cuts to the HUD public housing budgets means fewer people will have access to the affordable housing they need.