Points of View

What ACS Data Shows about Housing in West Michigan

Ryan Gimarc

We’ve talked on this blog before about the American Community Survey (ACS), the annual collection of demographic, social, and economic information that is made available on the national, state, county, tract, and even ZIP code level. Now, we’re going to take a look at a subject we haven’t covered yet, but has ample data: housing.

   

What’s included?

Many of the indicators found in this dataset have to do with either the structures themselves, or the individuals/households living inside of them. For example, the ACS has data around the age of the housing stock in a particular area. By analyzing this information for the right counties and grouping a few categories, we can see below that housing structures in West Michigan tend to skew slightly younger than for the state as a whole, with well over half of housing units in the region (57.8%) having been built since 1970.

When it comes to filling these housing units, an interesting overall statistic would be the percentage of housing units that are detached single-unit structures. We can see that of the almost 664,600 housing units in the West Michigan region, over 471,700 units, are detached single-units, or about 71.0 percent of all units. This runs relatively close to the proportion of 72.1 percent seen across Michigan.

    

Homeownership

In a future blog post, we’ll take a look at the rental market in West Michigan along with costs and rental vacancies. Here, we look at the subset of West Michigan housing units that are owned by their residents. In 2016, 427,200 housing units are owner-occupied, or nearly three-quarters of all units. Of these, 62.8 percent of owners have a mortgage that they are paying off.

 

For those homeowners who still have a mortgage, nearly half (49.1 percent) are spending less than 20 percent of their income on housing costs. This is a slightly higher rate than is seen across Michigan, and is a touted benefit of homeownership. However, it is important to note that 17.6 percent of homeowners in West Michigan with a mortgage pay more than 35 percent of their household income on housing costs, an amount many analysts consider unsustainable.

 

More about the data

These data are derived from American Fact Finder Table DP04, Selected Housing Characteristics. Want to learn more or analyze the data yourself? Check it out at American Fact Finder.

 

Future Data Topics

Have you been enjoying these “Data Points” blogs? Are you interested in other data? Let us know what topics you’d like to know more about on our Twitter @WMTalent2025! We’d like to crunch some numbers that you’re interested in.