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A Decade After the Recession, Housing Costs Ease for Homeowners

by Christopher Mazur, U.S. Census Bureau

Nov 13, 2019

For Renters, Housing Cost Burden Is About the Same

Recently released data from the American Community Survey (ACS) estimates the percentage of “burdened” households, or those that spend at least 35% of their monthly income on housing costs, and provides a 10-year look at the trends from 2008 to 2018.

An estimated 40.6% of rental unit residents spent 35% or more of their monthly household income on rent and utility bills last year.

Burden Depends on Mortgage Status

There were 77.7 million owner-occupied housing units in the United States in 2018. Approximately 62% of these homeowners had a mortgage, down 6.5 percentage points from 2008.

For the purposes of this analysis, a burdened owner-occupied household is one where the homeowner spends 35% or more of their monthly household income on mortgage payments, utility bills, real estate taxes, property insurance, and any required condominium or mobile home fees.

In 2018, 20.9% of homeowners with a mortgage were burdened. That’s down about eight percentage points from 10 years prior when 28.8% of homeowners with a mortgage were burdened.

Housing costs also eased slightly for homeowners without a mortgage or who own their homes free and clear.

According to the ACS, even without a mortgage payment, 11.0% of these households were burdened in 2018, compared with 12.0% in 2008.

Renters Still Burdened

The picture wasn’t quite as bright for the nation’s 43.8 million renters. An estimated 40.6% of rental unit residents spent 35% or more of their monthly household income on rent and utility bills last year. That’s a dip of only 0.2 percentage points from 2008 when 40.8% of renters were burdened.

decade-after-the-recession-housing-costs-ease-for-homeowner-figure-1

Housing Burden in Metro Areas

Changes at the metro area level followed a similar trend as the nation.

Some highlights:

  • In 2008, there were 43 metro areas where at least 40% of homeowners with a mortgage were burdened. There were none in 2018.
  • In 2018, 53 metro areas reported that over 10% of homeowners without a mortgage were burdened, compared with 85 metro areas in 2008.
  • The number of metro areas where more than 40% of renters were burdened in 2018 was 81, the same amount as a decade earlier.

The ACS is an ongoing survey that publishes annual estimates on a range of housing, demographic, social, and economic characteristics. ACS estimates from 2008 were based on data corrected after they were originally released.  For more information, see the U.S. Census Bureau’s note.

Christopher Mazur is a survey statistician in the Housing Statistics Branch in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division.

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