Driving Insights with American Community Survey Data
June 11, 2019
IPanelists discussing the implications of the study's findings in the Brookings Institute's Faulk Auditorium.
On May 20th, Polygon Research, Inc. attended the unveiling of a fascinating research paper on the state of housing growth and affordability in the capital region at the Brookings Institution. This research paper was the product of a joint effort among the Brookings Institute, Fannie Mae, Georgetown University, and George Washington University. These organizations carried out a focused analysis of U.S. housing trends over time using Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) data sets from 2000 to 2017. The study assessed differences in housing developments according to the urban, suburban, and exurban segments and their respective counties in the D.C. metropolitan area. It also explored the different patterns between renter vs. homeowner status as well as housing value vs. income.

A key finding from the analysis pointed to the disproportionate growth rate of housing in exurban counties at 45% growth compared to a combined growth rate of 15% in suburban and urban counties. Moreover, the data revealed a relative increase in the percentage makeup of homeowner-occupied housing from urban to suburban to exurban areas, respectively rising from 40% to 65% to 75%. This highlights the understanding that D.C.'s urban areas consist of a greater concentration of renters at 60% versus suburban and exurban regions at around 30%. PRI was also interested in the report's finding that the median housing value was more than four times the median income across the entire Washington MSA, yet the ratio of housing value to income fluctuated greatly according to segment, ranging from a 7:1 ratio in urban areas to a 3:1 ratio in exurban areas.

The paper visualized these key findings and data trends through charts and maps, comprehensively displaying the concentration of an outcome by county. To check out these insights and read more about housing and affordability in the D.C. metropolitan area, click here.

PRI was excited to see the use of ACS microdata to shed light on housing trends and gaps in affordability within the capital region. Polygon Research's interactive apps, available via subscription, also incorporate ACS microdata that allows researchers, consumer groups, and the general public to find and communicate housing and population insights and trends for any region in the United States.

Take a look at how PRI harnesses the power of 5-year ACS data analysis and visualization in its soon-to-be-released CensusVision app, which complements and expands upon the paper's findings:
There is a significantly greater disparity in median incomes between homeowners and renters within D.C. (left) as opposed to the aggregate metropolitan area (right).
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