Are millennials (born 1980 to 2000) turning the U.S. into a nation of renters? That is a hotly debated question in the housing industry.
As the U.S. Census chart below shows, home ownership rates peaked just before the start of the Great Recession and has been falling since.
Most housing analysts expect it to continue falling.
At the same time, the nation is seeing an increase in the number of apartments being built.
The chart below, from the New York Times article Housing is Recovering. Single-Family Homes Aren't shows the steady growth of multifamily housing starts.
Most housing analysts lay much of the blame for this shift to apartments at the feet of millennials. This large generation, which is roughly equal in numbers to baby boomers, so far is not buying homes at the rate of prior generations.
There are many reasons for this. Lack of savings, less-than-perfect credit and stifling loads of student-loan debt are keeping millennials from home ownership.
Millennials are also waiting longer to get married and have children, life events that often spur home purchases. And they also tend to like to live in cities, where renting is often cheaper and more accessible than owning.
Most surveys show millennials want to own their home. But they also question whether they will be able to afford to do so.
Housing is an important economic sector, contributing a bit over 15% of total U.S. GDP in 2013. So what millennials do about housing going forward will have a major impact on the economy.