The Federal Reserve Bank of New York works to promote sound and well-functioning financial systems and markets through its provision of industry and payment services, advancement of infrastructure reform in key markets and training and educational support to international institutions.
The Outreach and Education function engages, empowers and educates the Second District communities that the Bank serves, especially civic leaders, students, educators, small business owners, policymakers and the general public. It furthers the Bank's commitment to the region by listening to the communities we serve and leveraging our unique attributes to positively impact school and university programs, as well as analysis and research.
Providing for shelter represents a large portion of the typical household budget. Accordingly, rent, paid either to a landlord or to oneself as an owner-occupant, has a large weight in the CPI and in the personal consumption expenditures deflator, resulting in substantial scrutiny of how tenant rent and owners’ equivalent rent are measured in these price indexes. In this paper, we describe how the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates tenant rent and owners’ equivalent rent. We then estimate alternative inflation rates for tenant rent and owners’ equivalent rent based on American Housing Survey data, following BLS methodology as closely as possible. Our alternative tenant rent inflation series is generally consistent with the corresponding BLS series. However, our alternative owners’ equivalent rent inflation series is consistently lower than the corresponding BLS series by an amount large enough to have a significant effect on the overall inflation rate. This result is driven by the inverse relationship between rent inflation and the level of monthly housing cost evident in the American Housing Survey data.