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The COVID-19 pandemic jumpstarted residential mobility, which had been slowing for decades. The national mover rate - the percentage who changed residences during the previous year - has more than halved since the mid-1980s, falling from over 20 percent to less than 10 just before the pandemic. And although the immediate response to COVID was to shelter-in-place, migration picked up quickly after that. Our survey research indicates that more Americans moved in the year after the pandemic than in the year before. Among full-time workers, 16 percent moved between April 2020 and April 2021. And Google Trends data show that interest in apartment rentals is higher now than during and before the pandemic.1
To assess how severely the rental market has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how quickly it is returning to pre-pandemic prices, we use historical rent data to estimate “projected” rent prices from April 2020 onward. These projections assume that rent growth in 2020 and 2021 mirrors pre-pandemic growth and follows typical seasonal trends in each city studied. For more details on these projections, see the Methodology section below.
The last decade significantly shifted the urban geography of the United States. The longest economic expansion on record brought new opportunities and challenges, then came to a screeching pandemic halt in 2020. The growth was long-lived but uneven. New and existing innovation hubs and oil towns boomed, while some markets struggled to shake off sluggishness after the Great Recession. Throughout the 2010s, America’s housing growth both reflected and reinforced these trends.
In this report, we analyze housing supply growth across the United States to take stock of this changing landscape. According to recently-released data from the Census Bureau, the United States added over 9 million net new housing units from 2010 to 2020, expanding the nation’s housing inventory by 6.9 percent. Growth in new housing, however, varies dramatically by region. While some major markets are building enough to keep up with demand, many of the most sought-after metros are severely underbuilding.
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