Map of the Month

Housing-Cost-Burdened Households Across Missouri

The U.S. Census Bureau, in partnership with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), calculate a measure of the percent of household gross income committed to paying for basic housing costs. If more than 30% of household gross income is spent on housing costs, a household is considered housing-cost burdened. The definition of cost burden considers monthly rental fees and utilities for rental housing and mortgage payments, second mortgage payments, utilities, real estate taxes, association fees, and homeowner’s insurance for owner-occupied households.

The concept of measuring a housing-cost burden emerged as a policy indicator during the implementation of the United State Housing Act of 1937 and has been used as a tool to understand trends in housing affordability trends since. Initially, a household was considered cost burdened if spending greater than 20% of household income on housing costs. The policy definition of cost burden has evolved over time. The currently used 30% was adopted in the early 1980s by HUD and has been used as a tool to inform both mortgage-lending policy as well as policy regarding supports for low-income, subsidized housing. Households paying greater than 50% of their gross income for housing are considered severely housing-cost burdened. The paper “Who Can Afford to Live in a Home”, published by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006, provides a policy history and discussions of methodology and interpretation that remain useful.

The U.S. Census Bureau publishes 1- and 5-year estimates of this indicator with counties with populations of 60,000+ receiving annual estimates and smaller-population counties an annual 5-year estimate. In order to compare all Missouri counties, these maps consider the most recent 5-year estimate from 2012-2016. To understand the impact of housing-cost burdened households on Missouri’s communities, we have created six maps that consider:

  • all households,
  • rental households,
  • owner-occupied households with a mortgage,
  • owner-occupied households without a mortgage,
  • households headed by those under age 65, and
  • households headed by those age 65 and older.

Cost-Burdened Housing in Missouri, 2012-2016

Approximately 30% of all Missouri households fall into the category of housing-cost burdened, spending 30% or more of gross income on housing costs. Nearly 50% of households that rent are housing-cost burdened, whereas a quarter of owner-occupied households making a mortgage payment are similarly cost burdened.

Approximately one in five households led by householders younger than 65 are cost burdened, and approximately 7% of senior householders fall into this category.

A careful consideration of these maps provides some surprises to the conventional wisdom that housing costs tend to be greater in higher-population-density areas. It’s important to keep in mind that the housing-cost burdened indicator is measuring the ratio of household income required for shelter to what is available for other household needs. Simply, whereas housing costs and values do tend to be higher in more population-dense areas, wages tend to be too. When considering the distribution by quintiles across Missouri counties, generally, southern Missouri households are more likely to be cost burdened compared to their rural northern Missouri neighbors. As a region, the Lake of the Ozarks/Truman Lake area is the densest area of cost-burdened owner-occupied housing as well as senior housing, at least partially accounted for by the region’s desirability as a retirement and/or second home destination. For seniors, the Branson area also has a high percent of both senior and renter households paying 30% or more of their gross household income on housing costs. The I-70 corridor, including Kansas City, Columbia, and the St. Louis metropolitan area tends to be most expensive for renters and households under 65.

Map of the Month

Educational Attainment in Missouri

Levels of educational attainment play a key role in determining long-term outcomes for individuals, households, communities, and even regional economies. One’s level of education plays an important role in one’s risk for unemployment as well as bounding opportunities for earnings and income.

Educational Attainment in Missouri, 2016

The chart, Unemployment rate and earnings by educational attainment, 2016, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics captures inverse correlation between risk of unemployment and median earnings by highest level of education achieved. In short, the more education one has, the less likely one is to be unemployed as well as to earn higher median wages. Those with less than a high school diploma are approximately twice as likely or more to be unemployed as those with an associate’s degree or higher, whereas those with an associate’s degree earn a median income that is half as much or less than those with a professional or doctoral degree.

The three maps in this series provide a geographic representation of:

  • less than a high school diploma,
  • a high school diploma, some college with no degree, or an associate’s degree, and
  • a bachelor’s degree or greater

These patterns illustrate the strengths and challenges faced within regions of our state in regard to economic viability, job and employment growth, and workforce readiness.

Map of the Month

Missouri’s Registered Voters — Where Are They?

For the upcoming November 8 Election Day, this month we present a view of registered voters in Missouri.

Missouri registered voters in 2013

Looking at the map (left) of registered voters in 2013 as a percentage of total county population ages 18 and older, we see some interesting patterns. The areas around Kansas City and St. Louis represent two large blocks of registered voters, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone, because those places represent the two largest concentrations of people in the state. (The map on the right shows where Missourians aged 18 and older live.)

What about the rest of the state, though? Dade County stands out with a fairly high percentage of registered voters, but neither Boone nor Cole counties are in the top tier of voter registration. Then there are counties with lower total populations but higher registration rates: Carter, Chariton, Clark, Gentry, Reynolds, Shelby, Ste. Genevieve, and Worth are all in the highest tier of voter registration, despite not being highly populated.

What’s the point? In addition to the usual message of “every vote counts,” these two maps show that large populations do not necessarily translate to large voter populations. This will make for some interesting viewing once the returns start coming in on Election Day. Keep in mind, too, that this map of voter registration rates can be compared to a map of voter turnout to see whether these patterns remain the same. That’s a comparison for another month.

Map of the Month

What Does Half of Missouri Look Like?

According to the U.S. Census, Missouri had a population of 5,988,927 people in 2010. Where do they all live, though? What is the fewest number of counties required to represent half of the population? Or the fewest number of census blocks? Or, with 2016 being an election year, the fewest number of voter tabulation districts?

What does half of Missouri look like?In each case, it turns out that you don’t need that many. If you were collecting counties, you would need only seven — Clay, Greene, Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. Louis, and St. Louis City. That’s just 6% of Missouri’s total of 115 counties.

Voter tabulation districts tell a similar story. To get to half of Missouri’s population, you would need only 941 of the 4,813 districts in the state, or roughly 19%.

Most starkly of all, out of Missouri’s 343,565 census blocks, you would need only 5.3%, or 18,455, to represent half the state’s population.

Map of the Month

Selected Characteristics of Veterans in U.S. States

To mark Veteran’s Day this year, the U.S. Census Bureau published infographics detailing a variety of state-level statistically derived characteristics of the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The infographics covered a wide range of topics, including educational attainment, economic circumstances, health care accessibility, age, voting tendencies, and labor force statistics.

Selected characteristics of U.S. veterans, 2009-2013

Missouri appeared in the middle range in the majority of the featured national statistics when compared to the other states. Specifically, Missouri had 479,828 veterans, with over 35% of those serving in the Vietnam Era. Nearly 50,000 of these veterans owned their own business, and 5.7% were unemployed. The median household income for veterans in Missouri was $54,311.

Although only four maps are presented here, the complete set of U.S. Census infographics and the data used to create them are available at U.S. Census Veteran’s Day report.