Census Bureau Data Emphasizes Housing’s Resiliency

by Chicago Agent

The Census Bureau's new data on housing is both grim and uplifting, especially for the Midwest.

The Census Bureau just released its massive tomb on housing data from 2000 to 2010, and as expected, the “Housing Characteristics” brief is a sweeping, detailed analysis of housing, offering both good and bad information on the embattled market.

The good: homeownership rates are at their second-highest level in the history of the survey, which dates back to 1890. At 65.1 percent, the 2010 rate is second only to the 2000 rate of 66.6 percent. The bad: 65.1 percent is a 1.1 percent drop from 2000, the largest decline in homeownership since the 1930s, when the U.S. was mired in the Great Depression.

More good: the Midwest leads the nation in homeownership rates at 69.2 percent, which is almost 3 percent higher than the second place South and 9 percent higher than the last place West. But, more bad: at 55.1 percent, Chicago has the third highest percentage of renters in the nation.

Though the data sways back and forth between positive and negative, the overall message from the report seems to be housing’s resiliency. As The Street put it, “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.”

In other words, even with all that housing has encountered, its overall numbers are still promising – and housing has encountered quite a bit. The Census Bureau also reported that vacancies increased to 15.8 million units in the last decade, a 13.6 percent share of housing units and a 43.8 percent increase from 2000.

Scary numbers, to be sure, but for housing to still post the second highest homeownership rates in the bureau’s history certainly says something.

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