Provo renters most cost-burdened of Utah’s largest metros

Image courtesy Apartment List.

Despite nearly a decade of continuous economic expansion, America’s current prosperity is not benefiting a large portion of the country.   Stagnate wages combined with rising housing costs have contributed to a national housing crisis with nearly half of all households nationally spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their incomes on rent.

In a new report, Apartment List, an online rental marketplace, analyzed new data from the Census American Community Survey to identify key trends among the millions of households who struggle with housing costs. The data shows that locally, residents are slightly less likely to be cost-burdened than other large metros, but the local rate is rising while nationally, the share of renters who are cost-burdened has remained relatively unchanged since the start of the Great Recession in 2007.

According to the Apartment List report, 44 percent of Salt Lake Metro renter households were cost-burdened in 2017.  That represents a slight improvement from 2016 when an estimated 45.3 percent of residents were considered cost-burdened.  But the rate is up 1.1 percent, or 6,895 households, since 2007 and in that same time frame, the median rent has increased 16.1 percent while the median income has risen just 5.2 percent.

Nationally, since 2007 the median income has risen 6.5 percent while the median rent has risen 8.5 percent.  In 2017 one out of every four households nationally were severely cost-burdened, meaning they spend over 50 percent of their monthly income on rent.  Another one out of every four households are moderately cost burdened, meaning they spend between 30 to 50 percent of their monthly income on rent.

In Salt Lake, renter households fare slightly better than the national rate with nearly one of every five Salt Lake Metro households severely cost-burdened.  Salt Lake’s rate of moderately cost-burdened renter households is nearly identical to the national rate.

Despite the growing disparity between housing costs and incomes, as of 2017, the Salt Lake Metro has the fourteenth lowest rate of cost-burdened renters of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas.

Of Utah’s three largest metros, Provo has the highest rate of cost-burdened renter households.  In the Provo Metro, 48.1 percent of renter households are cost-burdened with 28.5 percent of households moderately cost-burdened and 19.5 percent severely cost-burdened.  While Provo’s cost-burdened rate is slightly lower than the national rate, the region’s amount of cost-burdened renter households has increased by 7.0 percent since 2017.  Since 2007,  the region’s median income has risen 10.1 percent while the median rent has risen 18.7 percent.

Only the Ogden Metro has seen the rate of cost-burdened renter households remain relatively unchanged since 2007, by increasing 1.5 percent in the past decade.  In 2017, 39.4 percent of Odgen Metro renter households were cost-burdened with 24.3 percent of renters moderately cost-burdened and 15.1 percent severely cost-burdened.  Despite having the lowest rate of cost-burdened renters, the region’s housing costs have risen over five times the rate of incomes since 2007 with the median income growing 3.2 percent while the median rent grew 16.3 percent.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at