NYT: When The Data Doesn’t Fit The Narrative, Ignore It – OpEd


Can someone buy the NYT Internet access? For some reason the paper insists on ignoring data from the Census Bureau when telling readers about the housing market. Last month it repeatedly told readers that young people, minorities, and lower income households were unable to buy homes when the Census Bureau data showed rapid increases in homeownership for these groups since the start of the pandemic.

The paper is doing its misinformation routine again today, telling readers: “More Americans — almost 44 million households — rent than at any other time in the last half century, according to an October report by Rent Cafe.”

I’m not familiar with Rent Café and the reliability of its surveys, but we can get data on renters from the Census Bureau. It reported in the third quarter there were 43,575,000 occupied rental units. The number fell throughout 2022. The third quarter number was lower than any quarter since the first quarter of 2021. It was also lower than in the first two quarters of 2019.

The country does have a growing population, so it would not be surprising to see the number of renters rise through time. It is not clear how many renters Rent Café says we had a half century ago, but according to the Census Bureau we had roughly 24 million renters in 1972.

It seems that the NYT wants to push a story of declining homeownership rates, but the data refuse to cooperate, so they ignore it.

This first appeared on Dean Baker’s Beat the Press blog. 

Dean Baker

Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). He is the author of Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy.

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