Joint owner/renter monthly housing cost calculation

Hi ACS Users,

We are considering combining responses from table B25095 (Household income by selected monthly owner costs as a percentage of household income in the past 12 months) and table B25074 (Household income by gross rent as a percentage of household income in the past 12 months) to create a joint owner/renter monthly housing cost burden calculation. Does anyone know of any potential issues with combining these tables?

The tables have different universes (owner-occupied vs renter-occupied housing units) but we plan on using table value B25003_001 (Total occupied housing units) as the denominator since that includes both universes. Also, the percentage of household income groupings match across both tables. I have looked through the subject definitions and found nothing that explicitly suggests or discourages this comparison.

Any thoughts or advice would be most welcome!


  • Hi, Lauren -- this is done often and seems totally fine to me. Just a couple things to be aware of:

    • The Census Bureau doesn't calculate cost burden for some households (cells 10, 19, etc. in these tables) -- those with no income or negative income as well as those who occupy their unit without paying rent. Accordingly, we typically don't include these households in denominators for cost burden measures. Since you're looking at cost burden by income categories, this wouldn't affect you much except for the lowest income category, which includes households with no/negative income (both B25074 and B25095), and the small number of households in other income categories who don't pay rent (only in B25074). That said, I could see a rationale for including the latter in cost burden calculations:
      • Households who don't pay rent have housing costs are nonexistent unless they pay for utilities, so they almost certainly wouldn't be cost-burdened.
      • Households with no income are cost-burdened by definition, but they can't be separated in these ACS tables from households with negative income, who seem qualitatively different to me because they had business or investment losses that were greater than income they received from other sources.
    • This doesn't have anything to do with the ACS, but in case you look farther back (2000 Census or before) to compare cost burden rates over time, there's a comparability issue: the universe for housing costs did not include certain kinds of housing (like condominiums or homes on 10+ acres).

    Good luck!

  • Hi Matt. Thanks for your detailed notes! This is helpful for thinking through handling the "not computed" values.

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