DataMarkets & Economy

Rent and income growth: Do they ever trend together?

Adjusted for inflation, rents have increased 64 percent while incomes have only grown 19 percent since 1960
  • An Apartment List study says U.S. rents rose 64 percent between 1960 and 2014, while real household incomes increased by 18 percent.
  • Incomes in Washington D.C., Boston and San Francisco jumped since 1980, but rents have increased twice as fast.
  • Income fell by 10 percent in Houston during the span, even though rents continued to push forward.
  • Sparked by a growing population, Austin rents rose steadily since 1980, but incomes kept up with the ascending flow.

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Does it feel like more of the paycheck is going toward rent? For most metros, renters are spending more of relatively unchanged incomes, according to Apartment List. Some of the most economically unbalanced cities for rent and income growth include Houston, Washington D.C., Boston and San Francisco, according to the website's rent growth study. By analyzing U.S. Census data from 1960 to 2014, the rental search and data website saw average U.S. rents rising 64 percent, while real household incomes increased by a mere 18 percent. Back in 1960, the median U.S. rent was $568 per month. Hopefully, it's not too difficult to swallow lease terms after seeing that figure. Rents rose fastest during the '60s (18 percent increase) and the '80s (16 percent increase). The '70s and '90s saw modest rent hikes of 4 and 2 percent, respectively. The only decade when income outpaced rent was the '90s, when wages grew 10 percent. From 2000 to 2010, incomes actually fell 7 perce...