Homeownership Has Biggest Drop in 70 Years

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The rate of homeownership in the U.S. decreased by 1.1 percentage points, to 65.1%, between 2000 and last year, according to the latest Census Bureau data. The decrease is the largest posted since the decade between 1930 and 1940.

The Census did say the homeownership rate was the second-highest on record since homeownership data collection began in 1890, behind only 2000. This is at least some good news, considering the beleaguered housing market.

The number of housing units in the nation increased by 15.8 million units, or 13.6%, during the past measured decade, but so did the number of vacant units. Of the 131.7 million housing units last year, 116.7 million had people living in them (88.6%) on Census day, while 15 million units (11.4%) were empty. These numbers represent an increase of 43.8% from the 2000 vacant housing unit inventory of 10.4 million.

Vacancy rates increased in every region, but the South led the way with the largest percentage of empty households: 12.7%.

Homeownership rates also decreased in every region, with rates highest in the Midwest (69.2%), followed by the South (66.7%), the Northeast (62.2%) and the West (60.5%).

West Virginia (73.4%) and Minnesota (73.0%) led state by state in homeownership rates, as they did in 2000. New York continued to post the lowest percentage of homeowners at 53.3%.

Homeowners were outnumbered by renters in many of the country’s largest cities. In New York, renters made up 69% of households, followed by Los Angeles (61.8%), Chicago (55. 1%) and Houston (54.6%).

Data on vacant units and homeownership rates were collected during several different Census Bureau surveys, including the Housing Vacancy Survey, American Community Survey and the 2010 Census itself.

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