Report: The Impact of Airbnb on Middle Class Income Stagnation

A report authored for Airbnb, by one of the most respected economists in the United States, outlines how beneficial home sharing can be in closing the middle class income gap and helping so many working families get by just a little easier.

For countless middle class families, Airbnb is an economic lifeline, making it possible to pay the bills and make ends meet. Since our founding in 2008, Airbnb has empowered millions of micro-entrepreneurs to monetize their most valuable asset — housing — to help them pay the bills and stay in their homes. In the United States alone, our community of hosts have earned more than $3.2 billion over the past seven years.

Millions of participants in the sharing economy already knew how helpful this extra income could be, but we wanted to understand the issue better so we asked former White House National Economic Advisor and Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling to study the specific impacts of home sharing on the middle class. In a new report released today — The Impact of Airbnb on Middle Class Income Stagnation — Mr. Sperling finds the supplemental money earned by our hosts essentially represents a 14 percent annual raise for middle class families on our platform.

As Sperling points out, there is wide consensus that overcoming middle-class income stagnation is one of our nation’s great economic imperatives. Policy solutions for income stagnation are complex and involve a range of efforts in a wide range of areas.

Among other things, the report shows:

  • The majority of Airbnb hosts are working families who rent out their primary residence for an average of 66 days a year.
  • Those hosts make approximately $7,530 in supplementary income per year with just a single property.
  • This money is the equivalent of real household income growing 0.5% over inflation for the past 15 years, instead of shrinking.

For many families, the income earned sharing their home is the difference between being able to weather a period between jobs, an unexpected medical issue, or even just being able to afford to stay in their homes. While our platform does not replace the need for smart policies addressing middle class income stagnation, it does offer an important and accessible way for families to to earn supplemental income without taking risks to their long-term financial health.

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