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Economic News Release
CE CES Program Links

Consumer Expenditures (Annual) News Release

For release: 10:00 a.m. (EDT), Tuesday, September 10, 2013 USDL-13-1833

Technical Information:	(202) 691-6900
Media Contact :	        (202) 691-5902

                    CONSUMER EXPENDITURES--2012

Average expenditures per consumer unit (1) in 2012 were $51,442, an increase
of 3.5 percent from 2011 levels, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported
today. This surpassed the spending peak recorded in 2008, after which the
effects of the recession led to a low of $48,109 in 2010. The 2012 calendar
year increase in spending outpaced the 2.1-percent increase in prices for
goods and services during the same period, as measured by the Consumer Price
Index (CPI-U). This contrasts with 2010-2011, when the increase in average
expenditures mirrored the increase in prices. 
Most of the major components of household spending increased in 2012, with
apparel being the lone exception, as shown in table A. The 11.2-percent rise
in cash contributions (including payments for support of college students,
alimony and child support, and giving to charities and religious organizations)
was the largest percentage increase among all major components. Overall
spending on transportation (+8.5 percent) and health care (+7.3 percent) rose
significantly, while spending on housing (+0.5 percent) and entertainment
(+1.3 percent) only increased modestly. Other highlights include a 2.2-percent
increase in food and a 3.1-percent increase in personal insurance and pensions.

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, 2010-2012	
                                                          Percent change
Item                         2010     2011     2012    2010-2011 2011-2012
Average annual expenditures:
Total                     $48,109  $49,705  $51,442          3.3       3.5
  Food                      6,129    6,458    6,599          5.4       2.2
    At home                 3,624    3,838    3,921          5.9       2.2
    Away from home          2,505    2,620    2,678          4.6       2.2
  Housing                  16,557   16,803   16,887          1.5       0.5
  Apparel and services      1,700    1,740    1,736          2.4      -0.2
  Transportation            7,677    8,293    8,998          8.0       8.5
  Health care               3,157    3,313    3,556          4.9       7.3
  Entertainment             2,504    2,572    2,605          2.7       1.3
  Cash contributions        1,633    1,721    1,913          5.4      11.2
  Personal insurance        5,373    5,424    5,591          0.9       3.1
   and pensions                                                           
  All other expenditures    3,379    3,382    3,557          0.1       5.2
Consumer unit characteristics:                                            
Number of consumer        121,107  122,187  124,416                       
 units (000s)                                                            
Average age of               49.4     49.7     50.0                       
 reference person                                                         
Average number in                                                         
 consumer unit:                                                           
  Persons                     2.5      2.5      2.5                       
  Earners                     1.3      1.3      1.3                       
  Vehicles                    1.9      1.9      1.9                       
Percent homeowner              66       65       64                       
Income before taxes       $62,481  $63,685  $65,596          1.9       3.0

Spending patterns, 2010-2012

Since overall expenditures began to increase again in 2011, cash
contributions, health care, and transportation have had the largest
percentage increases of all the major expenditure items. Table B shows some
of the more prominent components of these categories from 2010 to 2012.
Spending changes included:

    The 11.2-percent increase in cash contributions since 2011 can largely
     be attributed to a 13.1-percent increase in cash contributions to
     churches and religious organizations over that same time period. This
     increase is amplified due to expenditures in this category falling in
    Health insurance routinely consumes nearly 60 percent of overall health
     care expenditures. The 12.6-percent increase in health insurance since
     2010 was the driving force behind the increased expenditures on overall
     health care.
    Gasoline expenditures (largely dependent on gasoline prices) rose 29.6
     percent from 2010 to 2012, but the majority of that was due to a 24.7
     percent increase in 2011. In 2012 gasoline expenditures increased 4.0
    Despite gasoline expenditures remaining relatively stable in 2012,
     overall expenditures on transportation continued to rise (+17.2 percent
     since 2010). This can be traced to a 20.3-percent increase in
     expenditures on vehicle purchases from 2011 to 2012.

Table B. Average annual consumer expenditures for selected components,
Item                                           2010      2011      2012
Cash contributions to church,                  $661      $649      $734
 religious organizations                                               
Health insurance                              1,831     1,922     2,061
Gasoline                                      1,966     2,451     2,549
Vehicle purchases, net outlay (2)             2,588     2,669     3,210

Spending by selected demographics

Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data measure how consumers allocate their
spending among the various components of total expenditures. For example,
table C compares the share allocated to selected expenditures by ethnicity
and race. Hispanic consumer units (CUs) allocated more money to transportation
and food than the non-Hispanic groups. Black, non-Hispanic CUs allocated more
money to housing than any other group, and white, non-Hispanic CUs allocated
more money to health care and entertainment than other CUs. Share of spending
on cash contributions, the category with the largest percentage increase for
all CUs in 2012 was varied, with Hispanics devoting a smaller portion than
their non-Hispanic counterparts.

Table C. Shares of average annual expenditures on selected major components by
ethnicity and race, 2012
                               Hispanic        Black or        White and all
            Item                  or       African-American,    other races,
                                Latino       non-Hispanic       non-Hispanic
Housing                          35.6               37.3               32.0
Transportation                   19.7               17.5               17.2
Food                             15.5               12.1               12.6
Health care                       4.5                5.2                7.4
Entertainment                     3.8                4.0                5.4
Cash contributions                1.9                3.5                4.0

Tables and data

Consumer Expenditure Survey data include the expenditures and income of
consumers, as well as the demographic characteristics of those consumers.
Tables with more expenditure detail are available at
Published tables provide 2012 CE data by standard classifications that include
income quintile, income class, age of reference person, size of consumer unit,
number of earners, composition of consumer unit, region of residence, housing
tenure, type of area (urban-rural), race, Hispanic origin, occupation, and
education. New to the annual tables this year is the adjustment of the
education table; where previously it was broken out by the education level of
the reference person, it is now broken out by the highest level of education
within the CU. As of this release, these annual tables include means, shares,
and standard errors, as opposed to the prior format which separated these
statistics into three different tables. Other tables available on the website
include expenditures by age, region, size, or gender cross-tabulated by income
before taxes and other demographic variables. Historical tables back to 1984
and tabulations for selected metropolitan areas are also available.

A forthcoming Annual Report will include a brief discussion of expenditure
changes in 2012 and tables with data classified by the standard characteristics
that are included on the website. Future articles in the BLS Beyond the Numbers
web report series will highlight recent trends in prices and spending in the
U.S. economy, and will feature 2012 CE data. Recent CE-specific Beyond the
Numbers articles provide analyses of topical economic issues and long term
spending trends, as well as comparisons of CE data to other data series (see

Other survey information available on the internet includes answers to
frequently asked questions, a glossary, order forms for survey products, and
analytical articles that use CE data. Also available are the Diary Survey
questionnaire form and a modified version of the computer assisted personal
interview (CAPI) instrument used to collect the Interview Survey data.
The 2012 CE public-use microdata, including Interview Survey data, Diary Survey
data, and paradata (information about the survey process), are now available on
the CE website for free electronic download. The Interview files contain
expenditure data in two different formats: MTBI files that present monthly
values in an item-coding framework based on the CPI pricing scheme, and EXPN
files that organize expenditures by the section of the Interview questionnaire
in which they are collected. Expenditure values on EXPN files cover different
time periods depending on the specific questions asked, and the files also
contain relevant non-expenditure information not found on the MTBI files. Past
releases of CE public-use microdata that were previously only available on CD-ROM
for purchase will become available on the CE website for free download. The 2007
to 2011 releases are already available online. Prior releases will be posted
incrementally online in reverse chronological order through the 1996 release.
For releases prior to 1996 and those not yet available online, users can continue
to purchase CDs using the public-use microdata order form (see All future releases of public-use microdata
will solely be available online for free download.
For further information, contact the Division of Consumer Expenditure Survey,
Office of Prices and Living Conditions, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
2 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, DC  20212-0001 or call (202) 691-6900;
E-mail: Information in this release will be made available to
sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; Federal
Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339.

1 Consumer units include families, single persons living alone or sharing a
  household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons
  living together who share expenses.

2 Net outlays subtract the value of any vehicle trade-ins, in order to capture the
  out-of-pocket expenditures on vehicles.

Last Modified Date: September 10, 2013