How Renting Has Changed Since The 2000s Housing Bubble And Great Recession

In a recent story, we examined how homeownership has changed since the days of the 2000s housing bubble, its bursting, and the ensuring Great Recession. As September 2022 dawns, it has been almost 15 years since the beginning of the Great Recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the Great Recession started in December 2007 and lasted 18 months — the longest economic contraction since the Great Depression — until it finally ended in June 2009. The housing crash and the many years of both recession and recovery has left indelible marks on American society, especially in the characteristics of its housing.

Using data from the 2020 U.S. Bureau Census, we analyzed 10 years’ worth of housing data to evaluate how renters and renter-occupied households have changed since 2010. The latter year, though technically being after the NBER’s date for the end of the Great Recession in June 2009, was the nadir of the United States’ economy, with unemployment peaking that year, while housing prices continued to fall in many places until 2011 or even 2012.

Read on to find out the significant ways in which renting and rental households have changed since the housing bubble and housing crash.

Cities With the Biggest Increase in Renters from 2010 to 2020

Looking at the data from 2010 to 2020, the change in the number of renter-occupied households has been biggest in a variety of cities, geographically spread across the U.S. South region, and Mountain and Pacific divisions. You might expect an expensive, tech-boom city like Seattle to see a large increase in rental housing units. But cities you may have not anticipated, like Plano, have also experienced massive growth. Both Florida and Texas have multiple cities on the list below, and both states are well-known for being tax-friendly in many ways. Below is a table that includes the 10 cities with the biggest increase in renter-occupied households from 2010 to 2020:

Nine out of 10 of these cities experienced rates of growth of renter-occupied housing units that were faster than their respective rates of growth of total occupied housing units. Only New Orleans, which experienced a 31.6% increase in the number of renter-occupied households since 2010, saw total occupied housing units increase by 32.7% since 2010.

Also, the percentage of total occupied housing that’s renter-occupied tended to grow in most of these 10 cities. For example, Tampa’s renter-occupied housing units in 2010 accounted for 44.9% of all occupied housing units. By 2020, Tampa’s renter-occupied households exceeded more than half (50.7%). In Charlotte, renter-occupied households accounted for 40.7% of total occupied housing units in 2010. A decade later, that percentage had grown to 47.2% of all occupied housing being rental units.

Renters Have Faced Faster Increases in Housing Costs Than Owners

A particularly startling data point that stood out from this housing study is the substantial increase in median monthly housing costs for renter-occupied households compared to owner-occupied households. From 2010 to 2020, on the national level, the median monthly housing costs for renter-occupied households rose by 30.3%: From a median of $841 per month in 2010, to a median of $1,096 per month in 2020. In contrast, the median monthly housing costs of owner-occupied households rose by only 1.4%: From a median of $1,126 per month in 2010, to a median of $1,142 per month in 2020.

Increase in High-Income Rental Households

One of the more interesting housing trends since 2010 is the growth in the share of renter-occupied households with incomes of $100,000 or more. Over the last decade, this share of renter-occupied households has increased significantly. Below you can see the substantial growth in renter-occupied households with high incomes from 2010 to 2020:

The increase in the share of renter-occupied households with incomes of $100,000 to $149,999 from 2010 to 2020 is staggering in some cities. The 10 cities in the table below have experienced the largest growth in the share of renter-occupied households with incomes of $100,000 to $149,999 over the last decade:

In all 10 cities in the above table, the share of renter-occupied households earning $100,000 to $149,999 more than tripled from 2010 to 2020. With a 270.8% increase in its percentage of renter-occupied households earning $100,000 to $149,999, Aurora has seen its share of high-income renters nearly quadruple over the last 10 years. More intriguing is that cheaper housing markets for buying a home, like Toledo, have still seen massive growth in its share of high-income renter-occupied households.

The list of 10 cities where the share of renter-occupied households earning $150,000 or more has many of the same cities as the previous table:

Where Lincoln came in No. 2 in the previous table, it now ranks as No. 1 when it comes to the rate of growth in its share of renter-occupied households with incomes of $150,000 or more. Seattle experienced both a huge percentage-point increase and percentage rate of growth from 2010 to 2020.

The unfortunate point about several of the above 10 cities is that their respective median household incomes are quite low. The median household income in 2020 for the U.S. overall was $64,994. In nine of these 10 cities, the median household income for renter-occupied households was less than $64,994:

  • Lincoln renter median household income: $38,535
  • Aurora renter median household income: $49,041
  • Seattle renter median household income: $70,164
  • St. Paul renter median household income: $38,334
  • Raleigh renter median household income: $47,469
  • Tucson renter median household income: $31,885
  • Oakland renter median household income: $57,431
  • Portland renter median household income: $49,643
  • Denver renter median household income: $53,420
  • Corpus Christi renter median household income: $41,413

So, while high-income renter-occupied households have increased, the median incomes for the typical rental household is below the U.S. median.

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