What the Latest Census Data Says About Housing in Wyoming | Wyoming News
Wyoming doesn’t have much housing data to go around.
The state does not collect detailed information on evictions, homelessness, or the quality of its housing and rentals, for example.
Housing data released by the US Census Bureau fills in some of these blanks.
The agency’s American Community Survey polls residents in every corner of the United States. Its goal is to provide reliable and detailed information about American communities, the people who live there and their quality of life.
In March, the Census Bureau released the results of the American Community Survey for 2020. (The coronavirus pandemic delayed its debut by several months.)
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For more than a year, the information cannot tell us much about the current state of housing.
The scope of the survey was also narrower than in previous years. Typically, the US Census Bureau releases two sets of American Community Survey data: one-year estimates and five-year estimates.
As the name suggests, one-year estimates only use survey results from the last 12 months. They are better able to capture sudden changes in data, although they may be less precise than five-year estimates, especially for rural areas.
Due to the pandemic, the Census Bureau was only able to release the five-year estimates for 2020. (The agency released experimental data for the one-year version, but the dataset is unofficial .)
Still, the survey provides the latest information on some of Wyoming’s most pressing housing issues: Does the state have enough homes for everyone? How affordable are they? How many have basic amenities like electricity, indoor plumbing and a full kitchen?
Here’s just a quick look at the data.
The onset of the pandemic caused the housing market to plummet.
Layoffs, pay cuts and lockdowns have prompted many Americans to flee the wealthier and more densely populated parts of the country.
In the communities they left behind, vacancy rates soared and housing prices plummeted.
Data from Wyoming’s 2020 survey hints at some of that boost.
Sublette County — a rural but expensive corner of the state — reported a whopping 41.7% vacancy rate. Similarly, Teton County reported a vacancy rate of 28.5%.
Laramie County had the lowest proportion of job vacancies, at just 8.3%. Natrona County’s was 11.5%.
However, the housing market appears to have rebounded from the 2020 crash. Many Wyoming cities are reporting rising rents and tight markets — proving difficult for renters still under economic pressure due to COVID- 19.
Percentage of rentals
In 2020, rentals made up about 20% to 35% of the housing stock in most of Wyoming, according to the American Community Survey.
Albany County had the highest percentage of rentals at 48%. Second was Teton County at 44.1%.
Sublette and Weston counties had the lowest percentage of rental units – 16.9% and 16.1%, respectively.
Natrona County reported 29.4% rentals and Laramie County 27.4%.
Tenants are considered “cost burdened” if they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. When so much of every paycheck is spent on housing, it can be difficult to afford even the basic necessities. Unforeseen costs – like medical bills – can lead to housing instability.
In Natrona County in 2020, for example, about 44% of tenants were cost overburdened. About 28% spent less than a quarter of their income on rent.
Age and Household Amenities
The survey also asks people about the quality of their housing.
This is largely due to the age of the housing stock in each community. Data from 2020 indicates that about 70% of housing in Natrona County was built before the 1990s, for example.
This also affects household appliances.
In 2020, 1% of homes in Natrona County lacked a full kitchen, according to the survey. According to the Census Bureau, a full kitchen should have a sink and faucet, a stove or stove and a refrigerator.
Another 0.3% of homes in the county lacked full plumbing, requiring hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, and a tub or shower.
About 1.1% of Natrona County households did not have access to phone services, according to the survey.
Where to find more
In total, the American Community Survey collects information on hundreds of housing-related data points. The survey also covers demographic, employment, education and health care trends, among other topics.
To access the full dataset and for tutorials on how to view and analyze it, visit the Census Bureau website.