With job growth continuing on a strong track, a growing number of housing economists anticipate a comeback in homeownership—particularly among young adults—in the months and years ahead.
However, a recent study from Freddie Mac turned up some discouraging results to throw some cold water on economists' high hopes: The job fields that are expected to grow most in the coming years happen to have some of the lowest homeownership rates.
Freddie's analysts reached that conclusion after examining homeownership data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey and comparing it to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' projections for job growth from 2012 through 2022.
"What we find is that many of America's fastest growing careers (in terms of numbers of workers) have average or below average homeownership rates," said Freddie Mac's deputy chief economist, Len Kiefer. "At the same time, the professions with higher homeownership rates are generally headed for average or subpar growth."
Kiefer explained that most of the projected openings in the next few years—about two-thirds—are in low-education jobs, which typically have lower than average wages, making it more difficult for those workers to handle housing costs.
Among the top occupations for job openings are retail and food preparation, which have homeownership rates of 55.6 percent and 27.2 percent, respectively. The current U.S. rate is 64 percent.
Other fast-growing occupations include cashiers (with a 36.8 percent homeownership rate) and waiters/waitresses (26.8 percent).
On the other hand, jobs in professions with higher homeownership rates (70 percent or more) are generally likely to see growth of 10 percent or less. That category includes engineers, lawyers, doctors, and computer and math professionals.
There were a few exceptions: Registered nurses, general and operations managers, accountants, first-line supervisors, and elementary school teachers (except special education) all have homeownership rates topping 70 percent, and all are expected to grow rapidly.
Kiefer does make a few notes regarding the findings: For one, it relies on homeownership rates remaining steady across various professions. It also assumes that there won't be any surprises in the job market when it comes to payrolls and wages.
Unless there is a significant change, though, "the current jobs outlook does not suggest a major uptick in domestic homebuying power going into the next decade," he said.
"This also suggests the debate over how best to support sustainable homeownership will continue to be important in coming years," he added.