In the City That Never Sleeps, Neither Do Rent Prices

According to Zillow, rent prices have outpaced wages in nearly nine out of 10 major metropolitan areas since 2019 and nowhere is that more apparent than The Big Apple where rents grew more than seven times faster than wages last year, the largest such gap recorded in the country. 

It’s no secret that rent prices have surged in recent years and wages have not kept pace. Last year was an outlier where wages grew faster than rents on a nationwide basis in almost half of major U.S. metropolitan areas, the opposite was true in New York City where the nation’s largest wage versus rent gap emerged. 

Since 2019, U.S. rents have grown 1.5 times faster than wages, according to a new analysis of rental data from Zillow and StreetEasy, along with wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Demand for rentals from the large millennial generation—many of whose members have remained renters longer than previous cohorts—and Gen Z adults has run headlong into the country’s housing shortage, causing rents to quickly rise. 

That trend cooled last year, as national rent growth (3.4%) was outpaced by wage growth (4.3%). Strong multifamily construction has helped absorb demand for apartments, keeping rent growth in check in much of the country. 

However, rent grew at a rate seven times faster than any other large city in the five boroughs of New York City—the gap between rent growth in the City (8.6%) and wage growth (1.2%) is notable. 

“It is encouraging to see much of the country making even modest progress in the rental affordability crisis. Unfortunately, New York City is heading in the opposite direction,” said StreetEasy Senior Economist Kenny Lee. “Despite a strong job market in the city, and in some ways because of it, the gap between what a typical renter can afford and the price of rentals on the market is growing. New multifamily buildings coming online has eased competitive pressure in many markets, but in New York City, construction just simply can’t keep up with demand.” 

Moderating rent growth across the country has given wages a chance to catch up, providing a reprieve for renters in many markets. Rents dipped in three markets last year — Austin; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco — while wages continued to grow. In 20 other metros, rents grew, but wages grew faster, giving renters some breathing room. 

Click here to see the report in its entirety. 

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Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for MortgagePoint. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at
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