The “Week 52” edition of the Census Bureau’s Pulse Survey shows that the portion of renters who are behind on their rent payments fell slightly to 13.3 percent, down from the 13.7 percent reported in the “Week 51” survey.
The Week 52 survey collected data from December 9 to December 19, 2022.
Tracking delinquencies down
Renters in all phases of the Pulse survey have been asked whether they are behind on their rent. The first chart, below, shows the portion of respondents who said that they were behind at the time they were surveyed. Note that the midpoint of the “Week 52” survey period was December 13, 134 weeks after the initial Pulse Survey.
The portion of renters reporting that they were delinquent fell 0.3 percentage points between the Week 51 and Week 52 surveys, possibly assisted by the data collection occurring slightly later in the month. The small difference seen between the Week 51 and Week 52 results could also just be random variation caused by the relatively small sample size of the people surveyed. Still, the delinquency rates seen in recent surveys are down from the levels seen over the last 2 years.
Assessing rent growth
The survey asked participants whether they had experienced rent increases over the past 12 months. The results are given in the next chart and are very similar to those reported for Week 51. Over 44 percent of survey respondents said that they either had not experienced a rent increase in the past 12 months or that their rent had actually gone down. An additional 21 percent had experienced a rent increase of less than $100.
The next chart shows the distribution of rents paid by survey respondents. The data show that 38.5 percent of renters are paying less than $1,000 per month for their housing while 37.5 percent are paying more than $1,500. These figures compare to national average apartment rents of $1,344 from Apartment List and $1,715 from Yardi Matrix.
Profiling the participants
Of the respondents who reported being current on their rent, 34 percent said that they had children in the household. Of those reporting being behind on their rent, 53 percent reported having children in the household.
Of the respondents who reported being current on their rent, 13 percent said that they or a household member had experienced a loss of employment income over the prior 4 weeks. Of those reporting being behind on their rent, 37 percent reported that they or a household member had experienced a loss of employment income.
The final chart shows the sources of the funds survey respondents used to meet spending needs. Many of the differences between the people who are current on their rent and those who are behind are as one would expect: the former are more likely to rely on regular sources of income while the latter are more likely to rely on borrowing and on government assistance.
What is the Pulse Survey?
The Pulse Survey is an experimental program that the Census Bureau started shortly after economic shutdowns were imposed in response to COVID-19. It was designed to assess how the population of the country was faring under the economic stress caused by the reaction to the pandemic. The current survey, designated Week 52, is the first planned to be collected under what Census calls Phase 3.7 of the survey. With each new phase of the survey, Census modifies the set of questions being asked. For example, Phase 3.7 added questions about the impact of natural disasters on respondents’ lives and on Medicaid coverage. The renter portion of the survey covers renters of both multifamily and of single-family properties.