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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, 2019							USDL-19-1593

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


Average expenditures per consumer unit(1) for 2018 were $61,224, a 1.9-percent increase from 2017 levels, the U.S. 
Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. During the same period the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) rose 2.4 percent 
and average pretax income increased by 6.9 percent.

Nine of the 10 largest components of household spending increased during 2018. (See table A.) The 7.8-percent rise 
in personal insurance and pensions expenditures was the largest percentage increase among all major components, 
followed by a 2.5-percent rise in food. The only decrease among the largest components was a 5.6-percent drop in 
education spending.  

Selected spending patterns, 2018
      --Personal insurance and pensions spending increased 7.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 0.9 percent in 
      	2017. This was driven by a 7.5-percent increase in contributions to pensions and Social Security.  

      --Spending on food increased 2.5 percent. The increase was driven by both food at home spending, up 2.3 
      	percent, and food away from home spending, up 2.8 percent.

      --Transportation expenditures were up 1.9 percent. Gasoline, other fuels, and motor oil expenditures were up 
      	7.2 percent. Vehicle purchases declined 1.9 percent, following an increase of 11.6 percent in 2017. 
      --Housing expenditures increased 1.0 percent. Expenditures on rented dwellings were up 2.0 percent; however, 
      	expenditures on owned dwellings were down 3.9 percent. The owned dwellings category includes interest on 
      	mortgages, interest on home equity loans, property taxes and insurance, refinancing charges, homeowners' 
      	insurance, and expenses for maintenance and repairs. 
      --Healthcare expenditures were up a modest 0.8 percent, following a 6.9-percent increase in 2017. The largest 
      	component of healthcare, health insurance, was down 0.3 percent, following a 8.0-percent increase in the 
      	preceding year. 
      --Cash contributions were up a modest 0.8 percent after a 10.0-percent decrease in 2017.  
      --Expenditures on education were down by 5.6 percent after an increase of 12.2 percent in 2017. 
Pretax income rose 6.9 percent in 2018, after dropping 1.5 percent in 2017. All income quintiles with the exception 
of the lowest income quintile had increases in pretax income. The highest quintile increased by 9.0 percent in 2018. 
Income quintile is defined based on the pretax income reported by the consumer unit. Consumer units are divided into 
five equal groups. In 2018, the lower bounds for each quintile were $21,293 for the second quintile, $41,490 for the 
third quintile, $70,367 for the fourth quintile, and $116,625 for the highest quintile. 

Spending by composition of consumer unit, 2018

Data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE) measure how consumers allocate their spending among the various 
components of total expenditures. Table B compares the shares allocated to selected expenditures by composition of 
consumer units. Over 10 percent of total spending for married-couple-only consumer units went to healthcare, almost 
twice as large a share as reported by one-parent consumer units (5.7 percent). Married-couple-with-children consumer 
units allocated the highest share of all groups to personal insurance and pensions (14.0 percent), while 
other-married-couple consumer units (those with married couples and persons other than children living in the 
consumer unit) allocated the highest share to transportation (17.6 percent).

Spending by income quintile, 2018 

Table C shows the percent change for expenditures by income quintile. Overall spending increased in all five quintiles, 
ranging from 1.5 percent in the lowest and highest quintile to 2.5 percent in the third quintile. Transportation rose 
for all five quintiles. Food at home, housing, apparel and services, entertainment, and personal insurance and pensions 
rose in four of five quintiles. Food away from home and healthcare rose in three of five quintiles. Cash contributions 
fell in four of five quintiles. 

Table A. Average income and expenditures of all consumer units, 2016-18	
                                                                 Percent change
	Item                       2016     2017     2018      2016-17   2017-18
Average income before taxes     $74,664  $73,573  $78,635         -1.5       6.9
Average annual expenditures      57,311   60,060   61,224          4.8       1.9
  Food                            7,203    7,729    7,923          7.3       2.5
    Food at home                  4,049    4,363    4,464          7.8       2.3
    Food away from home           3,154    3,365    3,459          6.7       2.8
  Housing                        18,886   19,884   20,091          5.3       1.0
    Shelter                      11,128   11,895   11,747          6.9      -1.2
      Owned dwellings             6,295    6,947    6,678         10.4      -3.9
      Rented dwellings            4,035    4,167    4,249          3.3       2.0
  Apparel and services            1,803    1,833    1,866          1.7       1.8
  Transportation                  9,049    9,576    9,761          5.8       1.9
    Vehicle purchases             3,634    4,054    3,975         11.6      -1.9
    Gasoline, other fuels,
     and motor oil 		  1,909    1,968    2,109          3.1       7.2
  Healthcare                      4,612    4,928    4,968          6.9       0.8
    Health insurance              3,160    3,414    3,405          8.0      -0.3
  Entertainment                   2,913    3,203    3,226         10.0       0.7
  Personal care products
    and services	            707      762      768          7.8       0.8
  Education                       1,329    1,491    1,407         12.2      -5.6
  Cash contributions              2,081    1,873    1,888        -10.0       0.8
  Personal insurance              6,831    6,771    7,296         -0.9       7.8
   and pensions                                                       
    Pensions and Social         
     Security                     6,509    6,353    6,831         -2.4       7.5
  All other expenditures          1,897    2,010    2,030          6.0       0.0

Note: Subcategories do not sum to their respective major item category.

Table B. Shares of average expenditures on selected major components by 
composition of consumer unit, 2018  
	Item 		            All       Married    Married 
				    consumer  couple     couple  
				    units     only       with    
Housing                             32.8      30.2       31.3    
Transportation                      15.9      15.6       17.1    
Food                                12.9      12.4       13.2   
Personal insurance and pensions     11.9      11.7       14.0    
Healthcare			     8.1      10.2        7.0    
Apparel and services		     3.0       2.7	  3.2	

	Item                        Other     One        Single 
				    married   parent,    person 
				    couple    at least   and other 
				    consumer  one child  consumer          
                                    units     under 18   units 
Housing   	                    31.1      35.8       36.5  
Transportation                      17.6      16.1       14.8 
Food                      	    14.1      14.0       12.8 
Personal insurance and pensions     12.2      10.2       10.1 
Healthcare     			     8.6       5.7        7.7             
Apparel and services		     3.3       3.9	  3.0


Table C. Change in average annual expenditures of major components by income quintile, 
	Item				 Lowest Quintile Second Quintile Third Quintile
					     Over-the-	     Over-the-	     Over-the-
					     year	     year	     year
					     change	     change	     change
					 Dollar Percent  Dollar	Percent	 Dollar	Percent	
Total				          $380	  1.5     $668	  1.7    $1,259	  2.5    
 Food					    39	  1.0	   169	  3.0	   -103	 -1.5	
  At home				   127	  4.9	    -2	 -0.1	     43	  1.1    
  Away from home			   -88	 -5.9	   171	  8.3	   -146	 -4.8	
 Housing				   140	  1.3	   198	  1.4	    398	  2.3	 
 Apparel and services			  -129  -14.7	    28	  2.2	    171	 12.7	
 Transportation				   221    6.3      189    2.9       104   1.2	  
 Healthcare                                -17   -0.7      108    2.8        -5	 -0.1    
 Entertainment				    99    7.8	   310   16.6	     25	  1.0	
 Cash contributions			   -17   -2.6	   -83	 -7.0	   -158	-10.6	
 Personal insurance and pensions	    61	  9.3	  -367	-15.2       611	 14.1    
 All other expenditures			   -17   -0.8	   116    5.0	    216	  7.0	

	Item				Fourth Quintile  Highest Quintile	
					    Over-the-	     Over-the-	     
					    year	     year	     
					    change	     change	     
					Dollar	Percent	 Dollar	 Percent	
Total					$1,527	  2.3    $1,793	   1.5
 Food					   596	  6.8       269	   2.1
  At home			           188	  3.8	    150	   2.2 
  Away from home			   409	 10.6	    120	   1.9
 Housing				   -27	 -0.1       267	   0.8
 Apparel and services		            51	  2.5	     47	   1.3
 Transportation				   189    1.7       197	   1.1
 Healthcare                                102    1.8         8    0.1 
 Entertainment				    24	  0.7	   -357	  -5.2
 Cash contributions			   -16   -0.9       335	   8.0
 Personal insurance and pensions	   403	  4.9     1,859	  10.2
 All other expenditures			   205	  5.0	   -832   -8.6

Additional information

Data Products

Consumer Expenditure (CE) 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 2018 CE data by standard classifications that include income quintile, income decile, 
income class, age of reference person, generation of reference person, size of consumer unit, number of earners, 
composition of consumer unit, Census region of residence, Census division of residence, housing tenure, type of 
area (urban-rural), race, Hispanic origin, occupation, and highest education level of any member. These annual 
tables include means, shares, and standard errors. 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 selected metropolitan area tabulations are also available. 

Standard CE midyear tables, which are similar to the annual tables but cover the third quarter of a given year 
through the second quarter of the next year, are available at Data tables with the 
most detailed subcategories of expenditures by demographic can be obtained by sending a request to

The CE LABSTAT database provides tools to access CE data and can be found at Documentation 
on how to use the CE LABSTAT database is available at 

The 1996 through 2018 CE public-use microdata, including Interview Survey data, Diary Survey data, and paradata 
(information about the data collection process), are available on the CE website for free electronic download at The Interview Survey files contain expenditure data in two different formats: MTBI 
files that present monthly values in an item-coding framework based on the Consumer Price Index (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. For releases prior to 
1996, users can continue to purchase USB flash drives using the link to the public-use microdata order form at

Documentation of the CE public-use microdata, its conventions, files, sample code, and methodology can be found at


Recent CE-specific articles in the BLS Beyond the Numbers web report series provide analyses of topical economic 
issues and long term spending trends, as well as comparisons of CE data to other data series at and Additional methodological and analytical 
articles using CE data will be published in 2020. 

The 2018 Data Quality Profile, which reports quality metrics and indicators for the Interview and Diary Surveys 
regarding measurement, nonresponse, and processing error, will be available shortly after this release. 

The 2018 Annual Report, which includes more detailed information on spending patterns, will be published in early 

Survey Forms

Also available are the Diary Survey questionnaire and a modified version of the computer assisted personal interview 
(CAPI) instrument used to collect the Interview Survey data at


The change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) cited in the text was calculated as the percentage change between the 
12-month average CPI-U for all items from January to December 2017 (245.120) and the 12-month average CPI-U for all 
items from January to December 2018 (251.107).

Composition of the consumer unit is the classification of interview families according to: (1) relationship of other 
family members to the reference person; (2) age of the children of the reference person; and (3) combination of 
relationship to the reference person and age of the children. Stepchildren and adopted children are included with the 
reference person's own children. Definitions of CE terms are in the CE glossary at 

Information on the methodology used to calculate and collect CE data is available at General articles and research papers using CE data are in the CE research library 

Contact Information

For further information, contact the Division of Consumer Expenditure Surveys, Office of Prices and Living Conditions 
at (202) 691-6900 or by email at 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 major expenses.

Last Modified Date: September 10, 2019