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Fed Insight: A Snapshot of U.S. Housing


housingA recent report by the Fed [1] attempts to gauge the health of the United States economy, in the process providing insights into the health of the housing market as well.

Entitled “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017,” the report [2] was prepared by the Consumer and Community Development Research Section of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs (DCCA) and was recently released to the public. The results are based on the fifth annual Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), which the Fed report describes as being designed to provide “insights into how households approach their financial lives and decisions.”

Survey respondents reported plenty of good news. Seventy-four percent of adults surveyed said they were either “doing okay” or living comfortably in 2017, up 10 percentage points over the original 2013 survey’s results. However, the Fed survey did register discrepancies in optimism depending on demographics. Over three-fourths of white respondents reported that they were financially doing okay in 2017, as compared to less than two-thirds of blacks and Hispanics.

Three in 10 adults reported that their family income varies from month to month, and 1 in 10 reported experiencing hardships due to those fluctuations. Nearly 25 percent of young adults under age 30, and 10 percent of all adults, reported receiving financial support from someone living outside their home.

When it comes to housing, 8 in 10 adults living in middle- or upper-income neighborhoods reported being satisfied with their community, whereas the reported satisfaction rate for those living in low- or moderate-income neighborhoods drops to 6 in 10.

Sixty-six percent of adults surveyed reported owning a home [3], 25 percent were renting, and eight percent reported some other type of living arrangement. On average, renters are both younger and report lower income than homeowners, with less than half of those with incomes under $40,000 owning their own home.

The median monthly rent [4] was reported as being between $750 and $1,000. For low-income renters bringing in $40,000 or less a year, that median monthly rent drops to between $500 and $750. Seven out of 10 low-income renters reported spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

To read the full Fed report, including insights into student loans, employment, and retirement, click here [2].