Gimme (Affordable) Shelter (Part 2)

Today’s question: What US congressional districts have the highest share of households with a severe housing cost burden? By “severe housing cost burden” I’m using the 50 percent-plus share of household income spent on monthly ownership or rental costs.

In the United States, 14.3 percent of households have a severe housing cost burden, as of 2016. The median household income in the United States was $57,617 in 2016. And the median monthly housing costs in the United States was $1,022 in 2016. The median annual housing costs (the monthly multiplied by 12!) is $12,264. (Data on median household income and median housing costs is from the Census Bureau’s American Factfinder, Table S25003.)

The top ten congressional districts with the highest share of households with severe housing cost burdens are all in New York City and Los Angeles City.


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Gimme (Affordable) Shelter (Part 1)

Housing affordability. It’s a really big and really important topic for all of us! This is my first post on this topic, and hopefully I’ll lay the foundation for subsequent posts on how housing affordability has changed over the years.

Housing affordability is typically based on the percentage of a household’s monthly income spent on housing costs. If the percentage exceeds a certain level, say, 30 percent, then that household has a moderate-to-severe “housing-cost burden.”

Housing costs are assessed based on the household’s tenure, that is, are they an owner-occupied household, or a renter occupied household.

Renter households have “Gross Rent” (GR). This includes contract rent plus utilities.

Owner households have “Selected Monthly Owner Costs” (SMOC). This includes mortgages, real estate taxes, utilities, and condo association fees. Oftentimes (but not always) the owner-occupied households are split into households-with-mortgages and households-without-mortgages. As you could imagine, there’s a significant difference in affordability for owner households with or without a mortgage!!

Why the 30 percent of income standard for housing affordability? It’s a relevant question, and there’s a comprehensive answer in a must read article on the Census Bureau’s website: “Who Can Afford to Live in a Home?: A look at data from the 2006 American Community Survey” by Mary Schwartz and Ellen Wilson of the US Census Bureau. The above link is to PDF document squirreled away on the Bureau’s web site. I can’t find a corresponding web page that refers to this important article! Oh well.

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How Big is the American Community Survey?

Really big! Over 49.9 million people have been surveyed in the American Community Survey over the past ten years, 2007-2016.

The American Community Survey (ACS) collected by the US Census Bureau is the replacement for the “long form census” conducted on April 1st of years ending in “0”. The last traditional “long form census” was in year 2000.

The American Community Survey was introduced to my professional community in the mid-1990s as the Continuous Measurement (CM) program. That name didn’t stick or click, and the Census Bureau renamed it the American Community Survey in the late 1990s.

The first, fully functional, nationwide implementation of the ACS was in 2005, though that year excluded group quarters (dormitories, prisons, hospitals, etc) persons. Group quarters were introduced in the 2006 ACS, so 2006 is sometimes considered the first year of full implementation. (If you’re just interested in household and housing characteristics, then don’t overlook the 2005 ACS!)

Well, is the ACS the same sample size, in general, as the older long form data?

Yes, if you look at ten years worth of ACS data.


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Health Insurance in the USA (Part 4)

The Census Bureau released data from the 2016 American Community Survey last week (September 12-14).

Here is the Bureau web page related to 2016 Health Insurance Coverage. The report P60-260 (pdf format) includes abundant information related to changes in health insurance status of the American population between 2008 and 2016. It is a must read in the current era of amending and/or repealing the US Affordable Care Act.

This blog post is an update to my June 17, 2017 post. That post used data from the 2015 American Community Survey. I’m updating this with data from the 2016 American Community Survey, Table GCT-2701.

(I’ll be out of the country for the next two weeks, exploring Mayan ruins and current cultures in Central America, so don’t expect blog posts in the near future!)

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The ABCs of Defining Metropolis

Maybe the sub-title to this blog post should be: “Welcome to the San Jose Bay Area!”

The US Bureau of the Census has been defining — and re-defining — metropolitan areas over the past one hundred years. This has numerous uses in national and sub-national analyses: ranking of metropolitan areas by various indicators, changes in metropolitan area characteristics over time, and changes in the geographic structure of these metropolitan areas.

It appears that the first formal effort to “standardize” metropolitan area definitions was after the 1950 decennial census.


(The next section in this blog post is a bit long and dense. Read at your own risk!)

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Median Household Income in the SF Bay Area?

Question: What is the median household income in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area?

Answer: The 2016 estimate of median household income in the twelve-county San Francisco Bay Area is $91,234, according to the 2016 American Community Survey conducted by the US Census Bureau.

Uh, the “twelve-county San Francisco Bay Area”? Well, it’s actually called the “San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area.” The Combined Statistical Area, or CSA, is a creation of the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) using population data collected by the US Bureau of the Census. The CSA is similar to the CMSA and the SCSA from bygone days. I’ll enlighten (and/or confuse) readers about these terms in future blog posts.


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New 2016 Data from the Census Bureau

The US Census Bureau released the 2016 data from the American Community Survey (ACS) on Thursday, September 14, 2017. There is an amazing amount of information to be consumed / pored over / digested.

The Census Bureau tweeted several of the highlights from the ACS, on several topics, including:

  • Median Household Income (State, Largest 25 Metro Areas);
  • Household Income Inequality (State);
  • Poverty Rates (State, Largest 25 Metro Areas);
  • Health Insurance Coverage (State, Most Populous 25 Metro Areas);
  • Non-English Language Spoken at Home;
  • Working-Age Veterans without Health Insurance;
  • Characteristics of Persons without Health Insurance

The Census Bureau’s 9/14/17 Press Release covers the same topics. And the same information is on the Bureau’s Facebook page.

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