Homeownership Rate, Seasonally Adjusted
The U.S. homeownership rate has fallen to a 19-year low. Why?
Let's begin with the youths, as we must. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a journalist in possession of a negative statistic must find a way to blame Millennials for it. In 2012, Jordan Weissmann and I observed that young people were turning away from homes and cars, the twin engines of the economy. Two years later, the homeownership rate is still declining for Americans under 35 (most of whom are Millennials, i.e. born between 1982 and 2000).
Millennials: No Houses for Us, Thanks
But there's another cohort turning away from homes even faster—Gen-X. That's right, Americans between 35 and 44 have had the sharpest drop in homeownership since the recession struck, far outpacing the national rate. (Pedant's note: Some people like to leave hateful comments about Y-axes that don't begin at zero, but it's almost impossible to see homeownership changes at that scale, so we're repeatedly violating that rule throughout this post.)
Gen-X: Fewer Houses for Us, Too
Draw back the lens to 1994 to study the 20-year change in homeownership, and the evaporation of ownership among this age group is even more surprising. The entire country rode the roller-coaster of the 2000s, during which the total homeownership rate cracked 69 percent in 2004 and 2005. Since then, it's been one long tumble down the other side of the mountain. But for 30- and 40-somethings, the fall has been particularly steep.