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Housing Vacancy Rates In The U.S. from 1983 to 2012

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The total number of vacant units usually stands around 7.04 million or 7.5 percent of all housing units, but in 2010 15 million units (11.4 percent) were vacant. Of those units, seasonal and migratory vacancy accounts for 1.84 million units, or about 2 percent of 93.5 million units in 1983, but 4,649 million units, or about 3.5% of 131.7 million units in 2010. Rental units are 6.5 percent vacant and owned homes are 1.7 percent vacant. (Source: Comparing 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates of Occupancy Status, Vacancy Status, and Household Size with the 2010 Census - Preliminary Results, U.S. Census Bureau.)

In 2006, the American Community Survey began including samples of the population living in group quarters (e.g., jails, college dormitories, and nursing homes) for the first time, which explains seeming discrepancies. Housing units aren't the same as homeowner units, so when rental units are 6.5 percent vacant and owned homes are 1.7 percent vacant, every other type of housing unit make up 3.2% of vacancies, for a total of 11.4%.

Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools
Surveys are great marketing, sociological, and demographic research tools