Urban Institute Releases Housing Supply Chartbook

The Urban Institute released a “Housing Supply Chartbook,” which provides summary data about the total U.S. housing stock, the share of the housing stock by housing type, construction costs, regional variations, and changes since the Great Recession. It contains dozens of charts that help illustrate the current supply crisis.

The authors report that the nation’s housing stock expanded by 20% between 2000 and 2018, to 138 million homes. Of those 138 million homes, 67% were single-family homes, 27% were in multifamily structures, and 6% were manufactured homes. The number of manufactured homes has fallen by 2% since 2000, while the number of single-family homes has increased by 22% and the number of multifamily homes has increased by 18%.

Over the last two decades, growth in the housing stock has barely kept pace with population growth. The number of homes for every 1,000 people rose 3%, from 410 to 423, between 2000 and 2018. Since 2008, however, the number of homes for every 1,000 people has declined by 0.2%. The authors report that in 2018 alone, 1.2 million households were formed, but the net number of housing units increased by only 850,000; although 1.3 million units were completed, nearly a half million homes were demolished or converted to other uses.

Housing production since the Great Recession has been anemic. New housing production in 2018 was 123% higher than in 2009, indicating some recovery since the recession. Today’s production, however, still remains 28% below the 2000–2003 annual average level of 1.87 million units. With regard to single-family homes, the annual production rate of new construction more than doubled between 2011 and 2018. In 2018, 2.68 single-family homes were built per 1,000 people and 0.29 manufactured homes were shipped. These rates, however, are still lower than those seen in any year between 1959 and 2007.

Multifamily starts relative to population growth have returned to levels reached in the mid-2000s. Multifamily starts were 243% higher in 2018 than in 2009. Growth has been concentrated in buildings that have 10 or more units. There has been a shift toward larger buildings since 2007, as the share of the occupied multifamily housing stock with more than 20 units increased from 31% to 36%. The rate of construction of small multifamily buildings (with fewer than 10 units) remains below its 2008 levels. 

Finally, the report examines total spending on construction, the construction labor market, and the contribution of housing and utilities to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Total spending on private residential single-family construction remains below the 2005 peak, while total spending on private multifamily construction is above its pre-Great Recession high. The number of payroll jobs within the residential construction industry remains below its pre-recession peak. Housing and utilities’ share of nominal GDP has remained steady since 1982, at approximately 12%.

The “Housing Supply Chartbook” is available at: https://urbn.is/2TGb74N