Waning Affordability Contributes to Slower Job Growth

WASHINGTON (January 15, 2020) – Metro areas where affordability has worsened over the last five years have seen a decline in job growth during that same period.

These findings come from a new National Association of Realtors® study, which examined the top 174 metro areas and ranked them based on affordability.1 NAR analyzed the shift in affordability ranking, considering the pace of non-farm payroll job growth in 2019 Q3 compared to average job growth from 2014 to 2018.

The NAR report, “Home Affordability Index Ranking and Payroll Job Growth,” found that affordability rankings declined in 81 metro areas, 34 of which saw non-farm job growth fall faster in 2019 Q3 than the national rate over the previous five years.2

Those 81 metro areas need more housing inventory to boost affordability, according to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Job growth has slowed in these areas in part because limited supply is making homes less affordable,” he said. “As inventory continues to decline and affordability worsens, workers, businesses and companies are less incentivized to do business in these areas.”

Boise, Idaho, experienced the largest drop in affordability ranking (108th in 2014 and 153rd in 2019 Q3). From 2014 to 2019 Q3, the median sales price of single-family homes in Boise increased 75% ($172,900 in 2014; $303,100 in 2019 Q3), four times the growth rate in median family income of 18% ($62,000 to $73,1013). With a steep decline in affordability, non-farm payroll employment growth slowed roughly 0.8% in 2019 Q3 from average growth during 2014 to 2018 (3.2% from 3.9%).

Tampa, Fla., has also seen a rapid decline in affordability (98th in 2014; 133rd in 2019 Q3). During this same period, median single-family home prices jumped 58%, three times the growth of median family income of 19%. As affordability declined, Tampa’s job growth slowed by 0.8 percentage points (2.8% vs. 2.0%).

Nashville, Tenn., experienced a similar drop in affordability ranking (105th in 2014; 126th in 2019 Q3). Median single-family sales prices increased 53%, nearly double the region’s median family income growth (23%). As affordability worsened, the pace of job growth was cut in half (1.9% vs 3.7%).

Metro areas in the relatively affordable Midwest region were also not immune to ranking declines.  Grand Rapids, Mich. (37th in 2014 to 60th in 2019 Q3); Louisville, Ky. (51st to 62nd), Indianapolis, Ind. (46th to 64th); and Columbus, Ohio (57th to 80th) all experienced drops.

San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara, Calif., is the least affordable U.S. metro region, while Anaheim-Sta. Ana-Irvine, Calif. (173rd); Los-Angeles-Long Beach Glendale, Calif. (172nd), San Francisco-Oakland, Calif. (171st), and San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. (170th) remain among the nation’s most unaffordable markets. There was no notable shift for Seattle, Wash. (164th in 2014; 164th in 2019 Q3) and Denver, Colo. (159th, 158th). In Austin, Texas, affordability ranking improved, but because it is already relatively unaffordable, the pace of job creation has slowed as well (134th, 122nd, -1.8%).

Yun says worsening affordability and inventory conditions could leave some of the nation’s previously fast growing metro areas unable to sustain job and economic growth. “Even fast-growing markets could be hurt and unable to further expand because of weakening affordability conditions. We must improve affordability by building more homes in line with local job market growth.”

Metros in Order of Affordability Rank in 2019 Q3

The metro areas with strong job growth from 2014 to 2018 that had a significant shift in affordability ranking (five or more steps) and are now experiencing slower job creation (percentage point difference) are (ranked in order of 2019 Q3 affordability):

  • Grand Rapids-Wyoming, Mich. (60th in 2019 Q3 from 37th in 2014 -1.7%)
  • Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind. (62nd from 51st, -0.9%)
  • Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. (64th from 46th, -0.9%)
  • Chattanooga, Ga. (70th from 58th, -0.3%)
  • Columbus, Ohio (80th from 57th, -1.0%)
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga. (91st from 73rd, -1.1%)
  • Spartanburg, S.C. (96th from 83rd, -0.4%)
  • Pensacola, Ferry Pass-Brent, Fla. (111th from 84th, -1.9%)
  • Raleigh, N.C. (112th from 90th, -0.8%)
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond, Fla. (125th from 94th, -1.5%)
  • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn. (126th from 105th, -1.8%)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. (133rd from 98th, -0.8%)
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla. (134th from 89th, -1.0%)
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C. (137th from 111th, -1.3%)
  • Jacksonville, Fla. (140th from 117th, -0.8%)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (151st from 146th, -0.4%)
  • Boise City-Nampa, Idaho (153rd from 108th, -0.8%)
  • Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. (159th from 143rd, -1.4%)
  • Yakima, Wash. (160th from 145th, -0.6%)
  • Eugene, Ore. (162nd from 155th, -1.9%)
  • Salem, Ore. (163rd from 147th, -1.5%)

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 NAR measures affordability by calculating a Home Affordability Index (HAI). The HAI is the ratio of the median family income to the metro area’s qualifying income (QI). QI is the income needed so that the 30-year fixed mortgage payment on a median-priced single-family home purchased with a 20% down payment accounts for no more than 25% of income.

2 Employment growth is the year-over-year percent change of the non-seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll employment level released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The U.S. non-farm payroll employment on a non-seasonally adjusted basis rose 1.45% in the 2019 Q3 from the level in 2018 Q3. During each of the quarters from 2014 Q1 through 2014 Q4, non-farm employment rose on average by 1.8%. Source of data: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

3 The 2019 Q3 median family income is NAR’s estimate which is derived by growing the 2018 median family income estimate of the 2018 American Community Survey by the change in the average weekly wage in 2019 Q3 from one year ago.

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