New Census Data shows Improved Household Confidence

In our earlier blogs, we followed the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) to examine the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the housing market.  The Census Bureau conducted weekly surveys starting from late April through July and then launched a second phase of bi-weekly surveys in August.  The survey data was collected from August 19 to August 31 and was released on September 9, 2020.  Using the new data, SP Group updated our graph showing the difference in confidence levels between renters and homeowners for meeting their housing payment obligations.  Figure 1 illustrates that renters have consistently been twice as unsure as homeowners in their ability to meet their housing payments[1].  We also observe that the confidence levels continue to improve as the percent of homeowners and renters with low levels of confidence decreased in August.  This could be due to people adapting to the situation and/or supplementing their financial position with additional income sources since the pandemic began.  We also observed that this latest batch of HPS data from August had a higher response rate as well as a higher number of total respondents.

Figure 1. (click to enlarge)

Changes to the Household Pulse Survey (HPS) Data Tables. The Census Bureau has modified the HPS survey with additional survey questions during this second phase.  HPS now includes new tables in accordance with the new survey questions.  The Census Bureau stated that “Phase 2 includes new questions on social security benefits, post-secondary education, evictions/foreclosures, SNAP benefits, unemployment benefits and mental health services.” SP Group will be closely monitoring the new data tables on evictions and foreclosures.

[1] These percentages are calculated by adding together the number of households that have “No confidence” and “Slight confidence” in their ability to pay next month’s mortgage or rent. The total is divided by the total number of households subtracted by the number of households that are “Owned free and clear” or “Occupied without rent” because those households do not have a mortgage or rent payment that needs to be made.