Between 1940 and 2000, median monthly gross rent in the United States rose in every decade except the 1940s (see graph). After dropping to a low of $257 in 1950, median gross rent increased to a high of $602 in 2000, more than double the gross rent in 1950 (after adjusting for inflation). Both gross rents adjusted and unadjusted for inflation are presented. Gross rent is the monthly amount of rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water and sewer) and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). Monthly rents were computed for specified renter-occupied units paying cash rent, which exclude one-family houses on ten or more acres.
When comparing states, the District of Columbia had the highest median gross rent in both 1940 and 1950. Between 1960 and 1980, Alaska was at the top; and Hawaii was at the top from 1990 to 2000 (Both Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959.). Prior to 1980, the lowest median gross rents were generally found in southern states. For example, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas were usually at the bottom. Since 1980, Midwestern states such as South Dakota and North Dakota have joined southern states at or near the bottom.