Watch the video recording of the event discussing middle class housing challenges.
Over the past decade, housing costs in the U.S. have risen faster than average incomes. While housing affordability has long been a problem for low-income families, middle-income families are increasingly facing affordability challenges, especially in urban areas with strong labor markets. When housing costs rise, households can respond by adjusting their consumption; for instance, living in smaller spaces or moving farther from city centers. In this paper, I examine middle-class housing stress along four dimensions: affordability, inadequate space, commute times, and homeownership. Using household-level data from the Census Bureau’s Individual Public Use Microdata Sample (IPUMS), I explore how housing stresses vary by income, household type, race, and geography. Results show that, on average, middle-income families are doing well on all four dimensions. However, distinct population groups show stress on several metrics, including affordability, crowding, long commute times, and access to homeownership.