How A Decade Of Rising Housing And Transportation Costs Squeezed The Middle Class

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Since 2000, middle class incomes and wages have essentially been stagnant; that period has been called a “lost decade” for the middle class. Meanwhile, some costs have skyrocketed. According to a new report from the Center for Housing Policy and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, rising costs for housing and transportation have squeezed the middle class over the last 12 years, rising by 44 percent. As the report shows:

Housing and transportation costs have gone up faster than incomes for American households. Since 2000, combined housing and transportation costs have risen 44 percent in the 25 largest U.S. metros, while household incomes have risen only 25 percent. That means that for every dollar household incomes have gone up, housing and transportation costs have risen about $1.75, cutting into wealth, savings and even budgets for essentials.

Moderate-income households spend a disproportionate share of income for housing and transportation. For households earning 50 to 100 percent of the median income of their metropolitan area, nearly three-fifths (59 percent) of income goes to housing and transportation costs. For these households, the growing “costs of place” are particularly burdensome, leaving little for necessary expenses such as food, education and health care.

This chart compares the rising cost of housing and transportation to income, in non-inflation adjusted dollars:

Another recent study found that the U.S. transportation system does a miserable job connecting workers to jobs. Republicans, meanwhile, are trying to cut the few mass transit investments that the U.S. is making.