Tag Archives: census

2010 Census Reveals Bigger-but-Fewer Households

The Recession and the housing crisis are doing funny things to California – or so say the results of the 2010 U.S. Census.

More and more single family-owned homes are empty these days – the vacancy rate is reported at 2.1% (a .7% increase from 2000). While one might think that this would mean crowding for rentals, that hasn’t been the case. In fact, the vacancy rate for rentals has risen by an even steeper margin – from 3.7% to 6.3%.

Taken in isolation, those statistics might lead you to believe that the recession-ravaged Golden State is experiencing an exodus – but that simply isn’t true.  The median age of Californians has risen, implying that soon-to-beretirees, despite high costs of living, are not fleeing the state quite yet. And though the number of households has decreased, the size of those households has actually gone up – from 2.87 people to 2.9 people.

According to Silicon Valley-based Mercury News, there are two possible explanations. One is that “households” are actually adding members in an effort to save money. Adult children are returning to the nest, widowed or divorced parents are settling in with their kids and grandkids, siblings and their spouses are pairing up. As for the dream of the single young professional living alone in a chic apartment – well, that dream is dying quickly. Ask many, many unwed 20- or 30-somethings in San Francisco and he or she will tell you that life without a roommate is a luxury they simply can’t consider right now.

The other explanation is the growth of minority groups whose nuclear families tend to stay together for longer – the growing percentage of Asian and Hispanic families in particular may account for this trend toward larger households.

Either way, increased vacancy means lower demand for new homes and rentals – which should mean that prices will remain low. But with rising gas prices and new job growth concentrated in just a few areas in the state, things may not be quite that simple.