Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households


The Federal Reserve Board recently released its Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households. The report provided results from the responses to the 2019 Survey of Household Economics and Decisionmaking (SHED), as well as from responses to a follow-up survey conducted in April 2020. Surveyed items included income, employment, dealing with expenses, banking and credit, housing, education, and retirement.

As of the end of 2019, 76 percent of adults reported “doing okay” or “living comfortably financially,”, which was unchanged from 2018 and was 13 percentage points higher than when the survey began in 2013.

The report showed how homeownership is closely intertwined with a household’s finances. Though nearly two-third of adults owned their homes, homeownership rates varied by age, race and location. Homeownership rates generally tended to rise with age. The report revealed that 26 percent of 18-to-29-year-old owned their homes compared with 85 percent of people age 60 and older, as young adults were more likely to live with parents to save money. Similar analysis had been done by NAHB based on the results from Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS).

White adults had higher homeownership rate than black and Hispanic adults. 71 percent of white adults owned their homes, compared with 48 and 50 percent of black and Hispanic adults. Moreover, rural residents were more likely to own their homes compared with people living in other areas. 31 percent of rural residents owned home without mortgage, compared with 20 percent of urban residents.

The survey also provided information on the economic well-being of renters. Renters were asked to indicate all reasons for renting rather than owning. One of the common reasons for renters not to own their homes was difficulty accessing mortgage. 62 percent of renters reported that they could not afford the downpayment, and 41 percent of renters said that they could not qualify for mortgage. Other reasons that keep people renting include convenience and affordability. More than half of renters preferred renting because it is cheaper and convenient. Among renters, 35 percent of respondents were looking to buy a home.

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