The Rent Rises Higher

In 2017, the average rent in the U.S. was "too damn high". In 2018, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey, it was even higher.

Average Annual Home Ownership and Rent Expenditures per U.S. Household Consumer Unit, 1984-2018

Remarkably, the rent rose even as the cost to own, as measured by the average annual combined cost of mortgage principal and interest payments, fell. From 2017 to 2018, the average household consumer unit expenditure for rent increased from $4,167 to $4,269, while the cost to own declined from $5,104 to $5,002.

Before going any further, we should recognize the data reported by the Consumer Expenditure Survey is spreading all these payments out over all household consumer units in the United States. In 2018, there were an estimated 131,439,000 household consumer units, where 48,632,430 (37%) paying rent, an equal number of homeowners making mortgage payments, and 34,174,140 homeowners (26%) with no mortgage payments.

Doing the math for renters, multiplying the average $4,167 in annual rent payments by 131,439,000 household consumer units, we estimate the total rent paid in 2018 adds up to $547.7 billion. Dividing that result by the estimated 48,632,430 rent payers, we find the average annual rent is $11,262. Dividing by 12 gives an average monthly rent of $938.51, which is indeed slightly higher than the $935 per month figure we previously calculated for 2017.

Doing the almost identical math for homeowners making mortgage payments, we estimate aggregate mortgage payments to be $657.5 billion, with the average annual total of mortgage payments working out to be $13,519, which corresponds to an average monthly principal and interest mortgage payment of $1,126.58.

The average monthly rent paid in the United States in 2018 is 83% of the cost of a simple mortgage payment that omits any homeowners' insurance payments or property taxes that might be included with it.

In case you're wondering what ever happened to Jimmy McMillan, the founder of the Rent Is Too Damn High political party in New York who ran for state governor in 2006 and 2010, he has retired from politics, but since the rent keeps rising, we can only wonder if he is considering making a comeback!

Data Sources

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau.  Consumer Expenditure Survey.  Multiyear Tables.  [PDF Documents: 1984-1991, 1992-1999, 2000-2005, 2006-2012, 2013-2018]. Reference Directory: https://www.bls.gov/cex/csxmulti.htm. 10 September 2019. 

16/10/19: Recalling the Celtic Tiger


Recalling the Celtic Tiger, edited by Brian Lucey, Eamon Maher and Eugene O’Brien is coming out this week from the series of Reimagining Ireland Volume 93, published by Peter Lang, DOI 10.3726/b16190, ISBN 978-1-78997-286-3.

The book includes 12 mini-chapters by myself and multitude of contributions from some top-level contributors. Wroth buying and reading... and can be ordered here: https://www.peterlang.com/view/title/71254.





16/10/19: Ireland and the Global Trade Wars


My first column for The Currency covering "Ireland, global trade wars and economic growth: Why Ireland’s economic future needs to be re-imagined": https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/1151/ireland-global-trade-wars-and-economic-growth-why-irelands-economic-future-needs-to-be-re-imagined.


Synopsis: “Trade conflicts sweeping across the globe today are making these types of narrower bilateral agreements the new reality for our producers and policymakers.”


16/10/2019:Corporate Bond Markets are Primed for a Blowout


My this week's column for The Currency is covering the build up of systemic risks in the global corporate bond markets: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/1962/constantin-gurdgiev-corporate-bond-markets-are-primed-for-a-blowout.


Synopsis: "Individual firms can be sensitive to the periodic repricing of risk by the investors. But collectively, the entire global corporate bond market is sitting on a powder keg of ultra-low government bond yields, with a risk-off fuse lit by the strengthening worries about global economic growth prospects. Currently, over USD 16 trillion worth of government bonds are traded at negative yields. This implies that in the longer run, market pricing is forcing accumulation of significant losses on balance sheets of all institutional investors holding government securities. Even a small correction in these markets can trigger investors to start offloading higher-risk corporate debt to pre-empt contagion from sovereign bonds markets and liquidate liquidity risk exposures."