Chart of the Day: Percent of Income Dedicated to Rent, 2009 – 2016

In case you missed the chart debate that broke out on Twitter yesterday, here are two highlights.

The first is this chart, shared by Tony Damiano, (allegedly) showing a growing divergence between real wages and rents over the last two decades in the Twin Cities metro:

Median Income Median Rent Divergence


It’s a chart that looks familiar to me, mirroring some troubling data about declining real wages that has been popping up again and again in the conversation around affordable housing.

The second is a chart that was shared in a string of tweets from Nick Hannula about how Damiano’s chart was misleading.

Nick’s point was that the wage numbers for Damiano’s analysis are not correct. He writes that “the tweet shows a trend line indicating that median income decreased from 2010 to 2016. This is completely untrue. Median household income (inflation-adjusted) rose from $65,181 to $70,915 over that time period, an increase of 8.8%.”

Instead, Hannula uses a chart that shows percentage of income devoted to rent over time.

Percent Of Hh Income To Rent

Are real wages keeping up with housing costs? If not, by how much, and for whom?

At the very least, for the many people at the bottom end of the wage scale, rising rents and falling wages are a huge problem.

8 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Percent of Income Dedicated to Rent, 2009 – 2016

  1. Peter Bajurny

    This is so lazy. One of these charts is correct and the other is not. You’re doing everyone a disservice by posting them both and framing it as some kind of disagreement of opinion and letting the reader decide which is correct.

    This is just a microcosm of the media at large’s inability to probably call out Trump’s nonsense out of some strange duty of “neutrality” to always present both sides, no matter
    how unequal in truth and facts the two are.

    1. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke Post author

      True! It is lazy because I am lazy. I do this for zero dollars of course in my spare time.

      Other than Nick’s tweet, I have not seen the actual data behind why one chart is wrong and the other right. Why is Tony’s chart so skewed? If you have those numbers, please share!

      PS The way I framed it was meant to not equivocate but to emphasize Nick’s chart, which seems to be the one with better data.

          1. Peter Bajurny

            One of the charts is right, and one of them is wrong. This isn’t an area for debate (and notice I’m not saying which is right and which is wrong, that’s not the point!). You’ve posted them both here, as if they if it’s a matter of opinion, that there can be a debate about which is right and which is wrong, that people can be convinced one way or the other.

            By the mere act of posting them both you’ve given them both legitimacy. This post should, quite frankly, be deleted. It has no purpose on a site that seeks to inform, other than to generate clicks and acrimony. I expect this kind of garbage from the Star Tribune. I don’t expect it from Have some integrity and delete this post.

            1. Tim

              I personally appreciated this post and thing it’s against the mission to shout ‘fake news’ at things that challenge our worldview.

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