If you’re a renter and have been complaining that your rent keeps rising, the statistics seem to back you up. In the graph, the purple line shows the evolution of rents in the U.S. as a whole, while the light blue line shows the general price level (CPI). Clearly, rents are increasing faster than prices overall. Of course, location matters for anything related to housing, and there are large regional differences: Rents in the New York and San Francisco areas have clearly appreciated more than average. Rents in the Detroit area have increased but well below the average rate; still, they’re keeping up with general inflation.
Note, however, that the graph shows the evolution of rents, but not their level. It shouldn’t be too surprising that rents in 1984 (the beginning of this sample) were higher in New York and San Francisco than in Detroit. And that gap has increased even more over time.
How this graph was created: Search for “rent CPI CBSA” (which stands for core-based statistical area, a metropolitan area defined around a core) and select the area you want shown. We selected semi-annual data instead of monthly, as these data are not collected every month. Click on “Add to Graph.” Add the remaining two series the usual way: From the “Edit Graph” panel, open the “Add Line” tab, search for “rent CPI” and add it, then search for “CPI” and add it. The last step is to limit the sample period to start on 1984-01-01.
Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.