May 21, 2004
Shelter costs rose 2.2 percent in 2003, the lowest calendar-year increase since 1965. The consumer price index for shelter rose 3.1 percent in 2002.
Over the past 2 years, increases in the indexes for both rent of primary residence and owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence have been decelerating. The rent of primary residence index increased 2.7 percent in 2003, the lowest calendar-year rise since 1995, following a 3.1-percent increase in 2002. The owners’ equivalent rent index rose 2.0 percent in 2003, the lowest December-to-December increase since BLS began keeping records in 1983, following a 3.3-percent rise in 2002.
Since 2001, both residential rental vacancy rates and new housing starts for structures with five units or more have risen sharply. Since 2000, the supply of single unit houses has increased dramatically.
These data are from the BLS Consumer Price Index program. Annual percent changes are December-to-December changes. Details on the calculation of rent of primary residence and of owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence are in Consumer Price Indexes for Rent and Rental Equivalence. For additional information on consumer price changes in 2003, see "Consumer prices during 2003," by Todd Wilson, Monthly Labor Review, April 2004.