Americans Work Less, Have Less Valuable Homes

October 5, 2010

Americans worked less in 2009 as their home values dropped, according to new American Community Survey (ACS) data from the US Census Bureau.

Work Hours Fall Across the Board
Overall, ACS data shows that the average amount of hours worked by Americans per week fell 36 minutes, or 1.5%, from 39 hours to 38.4 hours. Work hours fell in 46 of the 50 most populous U.S. metro areas between 2008 and 2009.

Workers in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair occupations worked about 63 minutes less per week in 2009 than in 2008. In addition, self-employed workers experienced a greater reduction in work hours between 2008 and 2009 than workers in other types of employment.

Workers who were self-employed in their own unincorporated businesses worked 66 minutes less per week in 2009, while those self-employed in their own incorporated businesses worked 49 minutes less in 2009.

Under 55 Male Labor Force Participation Declines
In addition to a reduction in hours worked by employed Americans, the labor force participation rate for men 16 to 24 decreased nationally from 61.5% in 2008 to 59.2% in 2009, a 2.1% decline. For women this age, the rate decreased 1.1%, from 60.4% to 58.7%.

For men 25 to 54, the national labor force participation rate decreased a slight 0.7%, from 88.5% in 2008 to 87.9% in 2009; while women in this group experienced a fractional increase from 77% to 77.1%.

For men 55 and older, the national labor force participation rate remained unchanged (at 45.2%) from 2008 to 2009, while the rate for women increased 1%, from 32.8% to 33.2%.

Median Household Income Drops in Most States
As would be expected considering the general decrease in hourly labor in the US, real median household income in the US fell between 2008 and 2009. Overall, it decreased 2.9%, from $51,726 to $50,221.


Between 2008 and 2009, real median household income decreased in 34 states and increased in one: North Dakota.

Median Home Value Drops 5.8%
In 2009, the median property value for owner-occupied homes in the US was $185,200. After adjusting for inflation, ACS data indicates the median property value decreased in the US by 5.8%between 2008 and 2009.

Interestingly, five of the 10 highest median property values among the 50 most populous metro areas were in California: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($638,300), San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ($591,600), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ($463,600), San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ($417,700) and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville ($298,000).

Between 2008 and 2009, the percentage change in home values in the 366 major US metro areas recognized by the Census Bureau ranged from a decline of 34% in Merced, CA, to an increase of 19.7% in Hattiesburg, MI.

Rental Situation Varies
The situation for Americans renting their living space varied by geographic location. Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5%) experienced housing costs that consumed 35% or more of their incomes. Housing cost burdens ranged from a low of 23.2% of renting households in the Casper, WY metro area to a high of 62.8% of renting households in the College Station-Bryan, TX metro area.

Double-digit rental vacancy rates characterized the following 12 of the 50 most populous metro areas: Jacksonville, Fla.; Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga; Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark.; Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.; Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.; Orlando-Kissimmee, Fla.; Houston-Sugarland-Baytown, Texas; Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev.; Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla.; and Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich.

US Poverty Rate Rises
About one in seven Americans had a household income at or below the poverty level in 2009, according to other recently released estimates from the US Census Bureau. The nation’s official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3%, up 8.3% from 13.2% in 2008, marking the second statistically significant annual increase in the poverty rate since 2004. There were 43.6 million people in poverty in 2009, up from 39.8 million in 2008, the third consecutive annual increase.


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