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Fewer Americans are now homeowners

Fewer Americans are now homeowners.

Fewer Americans are now homeowners.

New data from the Commerce Department shows that the struggling economy and rapid foreclosures have driven many Americans away from homeownership in recent months.

According to the report, the national homeownership rate of 66.9 percent was down 0.7 percent from the third quarter of last year, and has now dropped by roughly 2.1 percent compared to its peak in the first quarter of 2005. That decrease represents a reduction of almost 3 million Americans since that high point.

Analysts say that foreclosures and housing struggles have driven many people to avoid homeownership, and led to them moving in with friends and family as a more affordable relocation option.

"There's not a lot of households being formed," Pat Newport, an analyst with IHS Global Insight, told CNN. "People are doubling up in the same house, immigration has dropped and young folks are living with four or five roommates instead of two or three."

That drop in households has also played a major role in the bloated inventory of available homes, which has remained well above normal levels. Data from the National Association of Realtors last month said that there was a 10.7-month supply of existing homes for sale, which is well above the six months seen in a balanced housing market.