Even tech workers can’t afford NYC rentals

Only 1 in 3 apartments is affordable for industry employees

Even Tech Workers Can’t Afford NYC Rentals

(Photo Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty)

Not even those who work in one of the more lucrative industries in the country can afford to rent an apartment in New York City.

The city’s tech workers could only afford about 35 percent of the rentals available on the market last year, according to a report from Tech:NYC and StreetEasy. 

That’s significantly better than what the average worker can afford in the city, but still indicative of how high rents are pricing out all walks of life.

For an entry-level professional, only 2.1 percent of studios and one-bedroom units were affordable last year. 

The study defined “affordable”  as apartments costing less than 30% of gross annual income, the threshold for being rent-burdened as used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

StreetEasy data shows only 10.7% of market-rate rentals in NYC were priced below the affordable amount ($2,216), as per the average gross annual wage ($88,647) in 2023. To comfortably afford the city’s median asking rent ($3,475), one would need to be earn $139,000 annually.

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While Manhattan was prohibitively unaffordable to entry-level tech workers, nearly half of the 274 units noted in Staten Island — essentially a world away from most offices — were accessible. Still, the general lack of affordability could send workers elsewhere to start their careers, a potential brain drain for the city.

New Yorkers who earned the city’s average annual wage last year could only afford 5 percent of the market’s rental units. Essential workers earning the average wage in their field couldn’t even afford 1 percent of the rentals available.

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“Housing affordability has been a persistent barrier – and top priority – for all New Yorkers, from the essential workers keeping our city running to the tech workers powering New York’s fastest-growing industry,” Tech:NYC president Julie Samuels said in a statement.

The report poses a few solutions for making the rental market more affordable for all New Yorkers, including zoning reform, eliminating parking requirements, increasing Manhattan’s floor-to-area ratio and revamping the upfront costs associated with renting.

A recent report from Zillow and StreetEasy revealed that rents in New York City grew seven times faster than wages last year, creating the widest disparity in the country. Since 2019, New York City rents have risen by 27.5 percent, while wages have grown by only 11.2 percent.