Data Source

The primary data source for estimates presented in this tool is the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS), accessed via the Minnesota Population Center IPUMS-USA database (IPUMS-USA, University of Minnesota, www.ipums.org). For areas with 200,000 or more renter households, single-year ACS PUMS files (2005, 2014) were used to generate estimates. For those areas with fewer than 200,000 renter households, the five-year ACS PUMS files were used (2005–2009, 2010–2014). See Methodology for details.

Contact

Please address any questions or comments about this data tool to Eileen Divringi (Eileen.Divringi@phil.frb.org).

Calculations and Definitions

Affordability and Availability of Rental Housing

Renter income category

Calculated for renter households based on the relationship of the household’s income to the regional median family income (MFI):

  • Extremely low-income (ELI): A renter household for which household income was ≤30 percent of the regional MFI. Households reporting zero or negative income that paid more than the Fair Market Rent1 for their unit during the survey year were reclassified as “not lower-income.”
  • Very low-income (VLI): A renter household for which household income was >30 percent and ≤50 percent of the regional MFI.
  • Low-income (LI): A renter household for which household income was >50 percent and ≤80 percent of the regional MFI.
  • Lower-income: A renter household for which income was ≤80 percent of the regional MFI; this term is inclusive of ELI, VLI, and LI renter households.

Gross rent

Contract rent plus tenant-paid utilities such as electricity, gas, water, sewer, and fuel for heating the home.2

Cost burden

Calculated as the share of renter households for which gross rent was >30 percent of the monthly household income.

Severe cost burden

Calculated as the share of renter households for which gross rent was >50 percent of the monthly household income.

Median rent gap

The rent gap is calculated as the difference between a cost-burdened household’s maximum affordable rent (30 percent of the monthly household income) and their reported gross rent. Median rent gaps are calculated based on all cost-burdened households in each income category.

Surplus/deficit of affordable and available rental units

A unit is considered affordable if gross rent did not exceed 30 percent of the monthly household income at the given income threshold, adjusted for number of rooms (see Methodology for details). A unit is available if it is either vacant or currently occupied by a household at or below the given income threshold. The surplus/deficit is calculated as the total number of rental units that were affordable and available at a given income level minus the total number of renter households at or below that corresponding income level.

Affordable and available units per 100 renter households

Calculated as the number of rental units that were affordable and available to households at or below a given income threshold per 100 households at or below that income level.

Vacant rental units by affordability category

Calculated as the share of total vacant units that were affordable to renters in each income category.

Demographic Profile of Cost-Burdened Renters

Cost-burdened, lower-income household

A renter household for which income was ≤80 percent of the regional MFI and gross rent was >30 percent of monthly income.

Race/ethnicity

Calculated as the share of all individuals in cost-burdened, lower-income households in racial/ethnic categories. Race categories exclude those who identified their ethnicity as Hispanic; the Hispanic category includes individuals of any race.

Age

Calculated as the share of all individuals in cost-burdened, lower-income households that falls within each age category. Unrounded percentages sum to 100.

Household type

Calculated as the share of all cost-burdened, lower-income households that falls within each household type category. Unrounded percentages sum to 100.

Share of households cost-burdened, selected vulnerable subgroups

Calculated as the share of all renter households in selected vulnerable groups for which gross rent was >30 percent of monthly household income:

  • Resident with a disability: Individual reporting a cognitive, ambulatory, independent living, self-care, vision, or hearing difficulty.
  • Single-parent household: A family household with one child or more in which the householder’s spouse was not present.
  • Senior-headed: Householder or spouse/partner 60 years of age or older.
  • Grandparent responsible for grandchildren: Grandparent responsible for most of the basic needs of any grandchildren under the age of 18 living in the same housing unit.

Economic Profile of Cost-Burdened Renters

Working-age

Individual 18 to 65 years old; not enrolled in school.

Number of employed persons

Calculated as the number of individuals in cost-burdened, lower-income households who reported being employed at time of survey. Includes those employed part time.

Current employment status

Calculated as the share of working-age adults in cost-burdened, lower-income households by employment status at time of survey.

Prior year employment status

Calculated as the share of working-age adults in cost-burdened, lower-income households by employment status during 12 months prior to survey:

  • Full time: 35 or more hours per week.
  • Part time: 34 or fewer hours per week.
  • Most of year: 27 or more weeks during the period.
  • Part of year: 26 or fewer weeks during the period.

Educational attainment

Calculated as the share of individuals 25 years or older in cost-burdened, lower-income households by highest level of education completed.

Occupations of working adults

Calculated as the share of employed individuals in cost-burdened, lower-income households by occupational category of primary job (at which they worked the most hours):

  • Service occupations: health-care support, protective service, food preparation and service, building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, personal care and personal services occupations.
  • Sales and office: sales and related occupations, office and administrative support.
  • Production, transportation, installation: construction, extraction, installation, maintenance, farming, fishing, forestry, production, transportation, and material moving occupations.
  • Education, community, legal, arts: Community and social services, legal, education, training, library, arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations.
  • Other: Military, management, business, financial, computer, engineering, science, health-care practitioner, and technical occupations.

Data Notes

All dollar figures are in 2014 dollars.

Two changes to the methodology for determining gross rents and household income categories preclude direct comparison of these estimates to those of prior reports released by the Philadelphia Fed’s Community Development Studies & Education Department. First, beginning with this update, utility costs for vacant units are imputed based on the median utility costs of similarly sized units. Second, households reporting zero or negative income that paid more than the Fair Market Rent (as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) for their unit during the survey year were reclassified as “not lower-income” since their income situation was assumed to be either temporary or not indicative of broader economic hardship.

To adjust for PUMA boundaries that were discontinuous with MSA boundaries, Cecil County, MD, is excluded from estimates for the Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington MSA, and Green County, PA, is included in estimates for the Pittsburgh MSA.

Methodology

To read about the details of the methodology used in this analysis, click here.  

1 Fair Market Rents are gross rent estimates that include the shelter rent plus the cost of all tenant-paid utilities, except telephones, cable or satellite television service, and Internet service. For more information, see: https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/fmr.html.

2 For this definition and other standard Census definitions, see www.census.gov/glossary/.