HUFFINGTON POST
10/19/2012 12:45 pm ET | Updated Oct 22, 2012

Housing, Transportation Costs Consume Majority Of Middle-Income Earners' Paychecks: Study

While Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama debate who's is going to help the middle class more, the two candidates are sidestepping one of the most pressing financial issues facing Americans: paying for basic shelter and transportation costs.

In the 25 largest cities in America, middle-class households are shelling out 59 percent of their paychecks for these two basic necessities, according to the report released on Thursday from the Center on Housing Policy, a nonprofit housing policy organization. And while middle-class families struggle more than ever to pay for these basic costs, they are falling further behind economically, the report warns.

When it comes to the most expensive cities, forget San Francisco and New York. The study compared local housing and transportation costs to the median income and found that the middle-class is taking the biggest hit in cities in Florida and Southern California where the median income is low and costs for housing and transportation remain high.

The report showed that Miami is the most expensive city for middle-class families, where 72 percent of household income goes to cover basic housing and transportation. Other cities in the top five include Riverside, Calif., (69 percent); Tampa (66 percent), Los Angeles (65 percent); and San Diego (63 percent). These cities ranked higher than more expensive cities because costs are much higher than the local median income.

Washington, D.C. has the the lowest cost burden for middle-class families with just 51 percent going toward housing and transportation. Other cities with the lowest cost-burden include Philadelphia (52 percent); Baltimore (53 percent); Minneapolis (54 percent); and Boston (54 percent).

High costs of housing and transportation leave families no money left over to pay for other basic necessities like food, education, and health care, let alone savings. With rising food costs and higher taxes right around the corner, things are only going to get worse.

In the 25 biggest cities in the United States, residents saw their costs for housing and transportation jump by 44 percent over the last decade. Unfortunately, income didn't rise quite as fast with paychecks only growing a modest 25 percent during the same stretch of time, the report said.

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