Rising housing costs outpaced household median income, average wages – NH Business Review

First published in NH Business Review, June 7, 2024

Rising housing costs, combined with diminished inventory, create barriers to accessing adequate housing for residents across the Granite State. According to the NH Association of Realtors, the median price of a single-family house has increased rapidly in the last six years, rising by 80.3% between the first four months of 2018 and that of 2024 from $269,000 to $485,000. These increases are driven in part by a decline in the inventory of available single-family houses.

Challenges facing New Hampshire’s potential homeowners also generate negative impacts for renters. According to U.S. Census Bureau data collected from 2018 to 2022, nearly half of New Hampshire renters are cost-burdened.

Among Granite State renters who make less than $35,000 a year, or about 33% of all renters across the state, about three out of every four pay more than 30% of their income towards rent and utilities, while approximately half pay 50%. These renters with lower incomes are more likely to be cost burdened by increased prices and less likely to be able to transition to the market for purchasing a home. As of 2022, the median household income for renters was about $56,000 while homeowner median income was approximately $108,000. Increased rental prices leave less income for other necessary expenses and can negatively impact New Hampshire’s workforce and economy.

New Hampshire’s median household income and average wages have not kept up with rising housing costs across the state. The median household income in New Hampshire was about $90,000 in 2022, which was an increase of 20% from the median household income of about $75,000 in 2018, unadjusted for inflation. The median price of a single-family house grew faster during this time period, from $283,000 in 2018 to $440,000 in 2022, a 55.5% increase. Additionally, the average private-sector hourly wage in New Hampshire grew by 28.7%, while the median monthly cost of rent and utilities for a two-bedroom apartment increased 36.1% between 2018 and 2023. With rising housing costs continuing to outpace income, a larger number of Granite State homeowners and renters will struggle to find affordable housing.

Jess Williams is a policy analyst with the Fiscal Policy Institute. The NHFPI is a partnership of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute and NH Business Review.