Publication Date

July 2013

Author(s)

Giang Nguyen, Kim Manturuk, Sarah F. Riley

Client/Funder

Ford Foundation

Abstract

Using data from the Community Advantage Panel Survey and a multivariate proportional hazards framework, we investigate relationships among house price dynamics, unemployment, and the mobility and housing tenure decisions of low-income homeowners in the United States between 2005 and 2012.

In recent years, house prices have declined and unemployment rates have increased in many parts of the country, and existing literature provides mixed insights into whether housing market conditions have impeded recovery in the labor market.

Our results suggest that negative equity and falling house prices are associated with delayed homeowner mobility, while finding employment or living in an area of increasing unemployment is associated with increased mobility. Those homeowners who experienced a change in employment status during the study period are largely distinct from those who experienced negative equity.

In addition, most movers who remained homeowners relocated because of changes in family structure, while those movers who became renters were more likely to move because of housing costs or changes in employment status.

Therefore, we infer that a transition out of homeownership may be more likely for those low-income homeowners who move for employment reasons, but that low-income homeowners generally do not appear to be prevented from moving to take advantage of employment opportunities when necessary.