I removed most of this original post as I discovered confusing irregularities in the reporting that made it impossible to figure out what they were saying. Instead, I’ll leave just the original part here.
The Oregonian newspaper:
If the average renter cannot afford to rent even a one-bedroom apartment, then how are they living in a rental unit?
This logical conflict was invented by the headline writers as the actual underlying report says something different. But the headline sure makes for good click-bait!
In the version for Oregon, they use a one bedroom apartment and rents should not exceed 30% of income. The average hourly wage in Oregon is $25 per hour or $52,000 per year.
Update November 2018
Another study notes that San Francisco, judged one of the most expensive cities in the country, is 2nd best rental prices when taking into account the high median income.
Update July 2018: The actual study this comes from words the claim differently than that distributed by the news media and its a subtle but important difference: “a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent“.
“Fair market rent” is normally defined by the Federal government as the 40th percentile for local market rents.
When the claim is unrolled and translated into English, it actually says
Average Oregon renter cannot afford a one bedroom apartment in the top 60% of the market.
News reports left off the last part “… that costs in the upper 60% of rentals”
Note the significant change in your interpretation of the headline from “Average renter cannot afford a one bedroom apartment” to “Average renter cannot afford a one bedroom apartment in the top 60% of market prices”.
The latter is no where near as dramatic as saying no one can afford an apartment.
This demonstrates the effectiveness of propaganda messaging. The story was widely distributed, receiving prominent newspaper and television coverage – even though the message delivered by the media was false.
The news reports took the false interpretation and translated that into the average minimum wage earning worker cannot afford a one bedroom apartment. But that is NOT what the study actually said.
In the San Francisco version, they use a two bedroom apartment and rents should not exceed 40% of income. The average hourly wage in San Francisco is $40 per hour.
The discrepancy between markets, choosing 1 and 2 bedroom rental units and the 30% and 40% income levels is not explained.