Don’t Blame Millennials for Ownership Drop

October 29, 2014

There are fewer home owners in the United States today than last year. The home ownership rate dropped to a 20-year low in the third quarter as more Americans became renters, another sign that the housing recovery is still mending from the Great Recession. But while millennials’ changing preferences often take the most heat for the decline in home ownership numbers, they can't take the blame for the latest dip, according to an article in The Atlantic.

Instead, it’s Generation X, those aged between 35 and 44, who have had the sharpest drop in home ownership since the recession.

Home ownership among the 35 to 44 age group has dropped 9 percent since 1994.

As for the millennials, in the last 20 years, home ownership has fallen less for young people than for any other age group under 64, according to an analysis of the Census data by The Atlantic.

Why are Gen Xers shying away from home ownership? Employment may be key. Researchers note that employees in their forties once outnumbered the 55-plus cohort in the workforce by 16 million, but now there are actually more workers older than 55 than fortysomethings. 

“The economy has a Gen X problem,” The Atlantic's article notes. “It’s a small cohort with a much smaller than usual home ownership rate.”

Overall, in the third quarter, the home ownership rate, seasonally adjusted, fell to 64.3 percent in the third quarter, the lowest since the fourth quarter of 1994, according to the Commerce Department. In 2004, the home ownership rate peaked at 69.4 percent.

Source: “Home Ownership in America Has Collapsed – Don’t Blame Millennials,” The Atlantic (Oct. 28, 2014); “U.S. Home Ownership Rate Falls to 20-Year Low,” Reuters (Oct. 28, 2014); and “Census Bureau: Home Ownership Continues to Drop,” HousingWire (Oct. 28, 2014)