Denver's blue-collar, service workers hit hardest by increasing rents

Posted at 11:20 AM, Jun 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-28 13:23:27-04

DENVER – As the cost of renting in the Denver metro area continues to rise, workers in blue-collar and service jobs are left with a dwindling amount of money with which to pay other important expenses.

Denver is one of several major U.S. cities that have seen an overall decrease in “post-rent” wages in the past decade, according to a new report from ApartmentList. “Post-rent” refers to the amount of money left over after a person pays rent.

Overall, incomes have increased over the past decade and the economy has recovered from the recession, but that wage growth hasn’t been equal across occupations, the report says, and it hasn’t kept pace with rent increases.

Rents are now about 25 percent higher than they were 10 years ago in Denver, according to ApartmentList. The median cost of a 2-bedroom was just over $1,300 in May.

After paying rent, blue-collar workers in the Mile High City now have 10.2 percent less to spend than they did a decade ago and service workers have seen a 12.3 percent decrease.

Only people in “knowledge” professions – think people like engineers, doctors and managers – have seen an increase. Their post-rent wages have gone up 1.9 percent in the past 10 years.

Combining all three sectors, Denver has seen a 0.4 percent decrease in post-rent wages.

As more tech companies and other high-wage businesses locate and hire employees in Denver, knowledge workers make up an increasingly large percentage of the workforce and wages have increased overall.  But blue-collar and service jobs still make up the majority of the workforce and they’re increasingly being priced out.

READ MORE: Minimum wage workers have to work 95 hours a week to make rent in Colorado

ApartmentList found that metro areas with “inclusive” wage growth – meaning increases were seen across industries – have experienced relatively flat rent growth, allowing lower- and higher-wage workers alike to benefit from increased income.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, all three sectors saw post-rent wage growth, for an overall increase of 7.6 percent across the metro area.

To read the full report, log on to