SALT LAKE CITY — New research shows rental prices are skyrocketing, even though Utah’s unemployment rate remains among the lowest in the nation.
With a jobless rate of 3.1 percent in July, jobs are plentiful in the Beehive state, but anyone who would hope to move to Utah to take advantage of those openings may have a hard time finding and affording housing.
New research from real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap shows both rental and home prices are skyrocketing across northern Utah. Currently, if a person earns minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, they would have to work 94 hours a week in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City. In downtown SLC, prices were the highest with an average rent of $1,237 per month.
Rental prices in Utah, Davis and Salt Lake Valleys aren’t much lower: averaging $1,100 dollars a month. Weber County renters were able to find the best deals; a two-bedroom apartment in that area was averaging $911 per month, though those rates are rising as well.
The average rent in Salt Lake County rose from $832 to $1,031 a month between 2010 and 2016, an increase of nearly 24 percent. Now, the average sits at just over $1,100 for 2018. And with wages not keeping up with increased rental prices, Tara Rollins of the Utah Housing Coalition says a person needs to earn $26 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in South Jordan.
Rollins is also concerned about the amount of dollars Utah spends drawing tourists to the state. She says Utah spends $20 million a year on advertising for tourism, but claims that’s not nearly enough to support the infrastructure tourism requires, such as livable wages for housekeeping hotel staff and restaurant servers.
“A chambermaid who works in a hotel in Salt Lake City can’t afford to keep a roof over her head,” Rollins says.
Some residents say just trying to find an available apartment to rent is like finding a needle in a haystack. Even outside of the rising cost of rental property, researchers said there was a lack of housing in general, with residents in Orem and Lehi facing the least number of available apartments to rent.