The End of the American Dream? The Increasing Difficulty of Buying a Home and How This Relates to the Workforce

HomeThe End of the American Dream? The Increasing Difficulty of Buying a Home and How This Relates to the Workforce

The End of the American Dream? The Increasing Difficulty of Buying a Home and How This Relates to the Workforce

The End of the American Dream?

The Increasing Difficulty of Buying a Home and How This Relates to the Workforce

Homeownership in the U.S. has long been a cornerstone of wealth building, driven by the appreciation of property values and the steady accumulation of equity. For American families, homeownership has been the primary source of wealth, a critical tool for upward mobility, and what many consider, part of the “American Dream”.

84% of Americans say owning a home is part of their dream.

In recognition of June as National Homeownership Month, we will discuss some of the metrics illustrating the increasing difficulty of purchasing a home in Mecklenburg County and explore how this relates to the workforce.

Homeownership in Mecklenburg County Becoming More Difficult

It’s evident to anyone paying attention that purchasing a home has become harder. Consider these statistics:

  1. The median home value* in Mecklenburg County rose from $278,500 in 2019 to $407,500 in 2022. Using these values and assuming a 20% downpayment, the annual income needed to be approved for a home loan almost doubles from $47,600 in 2019 to $90,000 in 2022.
  2. Average mortgage interest rates increased from 3.94% in 2019 to 6.81% in 2022. Using the median home values and assuming a 20% downpayment, monthly mortgage payments have more than doubled since 2019, from $1,056/month to $2,149/month.
  3. Renters in Mecklenburg County spent 9% of their income on housing costs* in 2019, this increased to 31.6% in 2022.












As home values and interest rates climb, the required amount for purchasing and maintaining a home also increases. A 20% down payment on a median-priced home in 2019 was $55,700, which jumped to $81,500 by 2022. Concurrently, rising rent consumes more of people’s income, leaving less to save for a down payment. This situation makes the dream of homeownership feel unattainable for many. But what does this have to do with the workforce?

51% of Americans worry they will never be able to own a home.

How Does This Relate to the Workforce?

A recent study by JW Surety Bonds highlights the importance of these benefits to workers:

Employee Views:

  • 1 in 4 would switch jobs for housing benefits.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 value housing benefits over a raise.
  • More than 2 in 5 would switch career fields for housing benefits.
  • More than 2 in 5 would give up some PTO for housing benefits, with over 1 in 4 willing to give up 10 to 15 days.

Employer Views:

Employees aren’t the only people thinking of homeowner assistance benefits. Of the employers surveyed, 1 in 4 are considering offering housing benefits. These are the top reasons they are considering it:

  1. Enhancing employee well-being
  2. Attracting new talent
  3. Retaining talent
  4. Supporting employee financial stability
  5. Increasing employee productivity

How Are Employers Helping?

Because there are many aspects to purchasing a home, there are different ways employers can assist. Some of the tools employers are using to assist their employees are:

  • Credit counseling
  • Downpayment assistance
  • Assistance finding and paying for real estate professionals
  • Homeowner education counseling

Final Thoughts

Purchasing a home is becoming increasingly difficult due to rising home values and interest rates, compounded by higher rental costs consuming a larger share of income. Many employees strongly desire employer-provided home assistance benefits, with a significant number willing to switch jobs or career fields for such support. Recognizing this need, some employers are already offering or considering offering home-buying assistance benefits, highlighting the potential for these programs to enhance employee retention and satisfaction. In this evolving economic landscape, considering homeowner benefits among the various options provided can be a creative approach to attracting and retaining talent.



*Source: 2019 and 2022 American Community Survey


Ryan Nelson

Data Analyst

Charlotte Works

Sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop on local workforce initiatives!

Leading the development of a skilled and in-demand workforce by engaging businesses, aligning community partners, empowering and connecting job seekers to meaningful employment, and fostering inclusive economic growth.