America Becoming a Nation of Renters?

Home ownership, long a central pillar of the American dream, seems increasingly unattainable for a growing numbers of households.

Yet old views die hard, and nine out of 10 Americans still consider homeownership "an important part of the American dream," according to a June poll by The New York Times/CBS News.

Indeed, there are signs of slight improvement in the housing market. In June, work started on 629,000 new houses, a five-month high that beat economists' expectations and saw an uptick in construction in every region in the country. But that doesn't necessarily indicate that the housing market is in recovery -- because, as real estate analyst Mike Larson recently told The Washington Post, "[people] who don't have jobs don't buy houses."

And many, many people don't have jobs. Unemployment rose to 9.2 percent in June, a figure that would actually be higher than 11 percent if there were still as many people actively looking for work as there were at the start of the recession, according to The Wall Street Journal. Among those who have jobs, wages are falling and many people can only find part-time work rather than full-time.

The grim employment situation is reflected in homeownership statistics. On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley released a report showing that if delinquent borrowers are excluded, the U.S. homeownership rate is only 59.7 percent, which would be an all-time low. Leaving in the country's roughly 7.5 million delinquent borrowers, homeownership is at 66.4 percent.

Morgan Stanley housing strategist Oliver Chang told Bloomberg that given runaway foreclosures and tight credit for borrowers, America is moving "away from being an ownership society" -- President George W. Bush's vision of a country with high homeownership -- and "towards becoming a rentership society."

Read the full story on The Huffington Post.

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