2.5 million households briefly disappeared during the pandemic

There were many stories during the first few months of the pandemic about the financial hardships that had forced young adults to move back home with family. Census data shows it was an historic shift in the number of U.S. households.

“By mid-summer of 2020, there were 2 and a half million fewer households than there were before the pandemic,” said Chris Salviati at Apartment List, which researched the pandemic’s effect on household formation. “This is really unprecedented.”



The report said at one point in 2020, more than 75% of Gen Z adults were living with a parent.

But the vanishing of millions of households didn’t last.

“By the end of 2020, there were roughly the same number of households that there were before the pandemic. And then going past that, for all of 2021 and into this year, what we have seen is additional households continuing to form,” Salviati said.

Household formation has returned perhaps too fast. The number of households in the U.S. now exceeds pre-pandemic levels by 2.3 million, with young adults moving back out on their own and roommate households breaking apart.

That overheated demand is largely to blame for the historic strain on the nation’s housing supply, which has driven up the price of rent by an average 14% in the past year, and homeownership an average 20%.

Apartment List’s full report on household trends is available online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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