Economists examine housing, labor markets after recession

UMSL economists William Rogers and Anne Winkler recently completed the study “On the Effect of the Foreclosure Crisis on Family’s Living Arrangements,” which was published in the latest issue of the Monthly Labor Review. (Photo by Jen Hatton)

The housing and labor market crises of the late 2000s affected the economy in big ways. But did they impact living arrangements and cause more people to “double up?”

University of Missouri–St. Louis economists Anne Winkler and William Rogers recently completed a study which used data on more than 350 metropolitan areas for the years 2005 to 2011. Winkler, professor of economics and public policy administration at UMSL, and Rogers, associate professor of economics at UMSL, began the study “On the Effect of the Foreclosure Crisis on Family’s Living Arrangements” in 2011 after receiving funding from the University of Missouri Research Board.

“We were looking at changes in household and how sensitive people are to downturns in the housing market and the labor market. Nationally you have a peak of housing prices in about 2007 and the peak of employment shortly after that in 2008,” Rogers said. “The idea is the housing market got into trouble before the employment market and that’s a pretty well-known story. So what we wanted to do was look at individual  metropolitan areas to see how they were affected.”

The results were published in the latest issue of the Monthly Labor Review.  The researchers found that, surprisingly, in a slight majority of metro areas, the timing of the crises differed from the nation as a whole (employment declined first). And, did “doubling up” or living with others surge in all areas, or in some areas more than others?

“We didn’t find really strong results at the metro level in respect to changes in housing size in areas where the housing market declined first or employment declined first, which is in line with other literature and suggests that people were not really all that sensitive to changes in either market in respect to living arrangements,” Rogers said.

These findings will now lead into the pair’s next project in which they are examining how metro area housing and labor market conditions affected individual-level decisions to double-up, particularly those of young adults, who are likely to be most sensitive. A third related project will look at the relationship between homelessness and foreclosures.


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