Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.
May 2, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Rent burden rises for working households
Falling incomes and higher rental housing costs put increasing pressure on working families from 2008 to 2011, according to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy. Using Census Bureau American Community Survey data, the report found that nationally rental costs rose 5.9 percent while incomes declined by 3.2 percent. Some 26.4 percent of working renters spent more than half of their household income on housing costs. Costs for owners in this cohort dropped 3.2 percent while incomes fell 4.2 percent. They paid 20.9 percent, basically unchanged from 2008.
The advocacy group defines working households as those with incomes less than 120 percent of the median for its area, and whose members worked at least 20 hours per week on average. Metro areas with the highest share of households facing a “severe housing burden” were Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando and San Diego.
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue’s rate of working households spending more than half of their incomes on housing was below the average of the 50 largest metros, at 23 percent in 2011. That’s 134,428 households and up from 22 percent in 2008. The data don’t include households where the working-age people are unemployed. In Portland, the number jumped to 24.3 percent from 20.9 percent.
“While rental costs have steadily risen over the last few years, wages for these working families have not fully recovered from the hit they took between 2008 and 2009,” according to study lead author Janet Viveiros. “Spending most of your paycheck on rent means cutting back on other necessities, including healthcare and even food. The increased housing cost burden leaves many working households with insufficient funds to meet other fixed costs like clothing, healthcare and food.”
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
Both want to smash the city
The Man don’t live there