By Dean Baker
That’s what the Census Bureau data for the first quarter of 2023 showed, in a report completely ignored by the media. While NPR was telling us that the homeownership rate reported in the 2020 Census hit its lowest level in half a century (this was the top of the hour news summary, no link), the data the Census Bureau puts out quarterly tell the opposite story.
Homeownership rates have been rising throughout the pandemic and the recovery, hitting levels not seen since the collapse of the housing bubble. The homeownership rate for households with less than the median income hit 53.4 percent in the first quarter of 2023. That’s up from 51.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019, and the highest at any point since 1994 when the series begins. For some reason, it doesn’t seem the media think a record high homeownership rate for moderate-income people is newsworthy.
There is a comparable story for homeownership rates for Blacks, which rose to 45.8 percent in the first quarter, compared to 44.0 percent before the pandemic. For Hispanics, the homeownership rate in the first quarter stood at 49.7 percent, up from 48.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019. The homeownership rate for people under age 35 was 39.3 percent in the first quarter, a 1.7 percentage point increase from 37.6 percent pre-pandemic rate.
The quarterly data are erratic, and this picture could change with high current mortgage rates, which could go higher with more rate hikes from the Fed. But the point here is that there is a really good story on homeownership that the media is not only ignoring, it is telling people the opposite. I would be tempted to say “FAKE NEWS!,” but I can’t afford the royalty payments to Donald Trump.
This first appeared on Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog.