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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 25, 2012 USDL-12-1937

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

                    CONSUMER EXPENDITURES--2011

Average annual expenditures per consumer unit(1) rose 3.3 percent in 2011 
following a decrease of 2.0 percent in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics reported today. The rise in spending in 2011 barely outpaced the 
3.2-percent increase in prices for goods and services from 2010 to 2011, as 
measured by the average annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). 
This was the first yearly increase in spending since the 1.7-percent rise from 
2007 to 2008, as expenditures had declined in both 2009 and 2010. 

All major components of household spending increased in 2011, as shown in table 
A. The 8.0-percent rise in transportation spending was the largest percentage 
increase among all major components. Overall spending on food and cash 
contributions (including payments for support of college students, alimony and 
child support, and giving to charities and religious organizations) both 
increased by 5.4 percent. Other spending highlights include a 4.9-percent rise 
in health care spending, and modest increases in housing (+1.5 percent), 
apparel and services (+2.4 percent), entertainment (+2.7 percent), and 
personal insurance and pensions (+0.9 percent).	  

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, 2009-2011
                                                          Percent change
Item                         2009     2010     2011    2009-2010 2010-2011
Number of consumer
 units (000’s)            120,847  121,107  122,287

Average age of
 reference person            49.4     49.4     49.7

Average number in
 consumer unit:
  Persons                     2.5      2.5  	2.5
  Earners                     1.3      1.3	1.3
  Vehicles                    2.0      1.9	1.9
Percent homeowner              66  	66	 65

Income before taxes       $62,857  $62,481  $63,685 	    -0.6       1.9
Average annual
 expenditures              49,067   48,109   49,705         -2.0       3.3
  Food                      6,372    6,129    6,458         -3.8       5.4
    At home                 3,753    3,624    3,838         -3.4       5.9
    Away from home          2,619    2,505    2,620         -4.4       4.6
  Housing                  16,895   16,557   16,803         -2.0       1.5
  Apparel and services      1,725    1,700    1,740         -1.4       2.4
  Transportation            7,658    7,677    8,293          0.2       8.0
  Health care               3,126    3,157    3,313          1.0       4.9
  Entertainment             2,693    2,504    2,572         -7.0       2.7
  Cash contributions        1,723    1,633    1,721         -5.2       5.4
  Personal insurance		      
   and pensions             5,471    5,373    5,424         -1.8       0.9
  All other expenditures    3,404    3,379    3,381         -0.7       0.1

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.

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 B compares the share allocated to selected expenditures by income 
quintiles. The lowest income quintile allocated more money to food and 
housing than the other quintile groups. The highest income group allocated 
more money to personal insurance and pensions (including payments for life 
insurance, other nonhealth insurance, pensions, and Social Security) than 
any other group. No clear trend existed for the share allocated to 
transportation and health care among the income quintile groups.

Table B. Shares of average annual expenditures on selected major components by 
income quintiles, 2011
                               Lowest    Second    Third    Fourth    Highest      
            Item                 20        20        20       20        20
                              percent   percent   percent   percent   percent
Food			         16.1      14.5      13.3      13.0      11.6          
Housing	                         39.9	   37.8	     35.2      32.8	 31.0
Transportation			 14.8	   16.0	     17.9      17.8	 16.1     
Health care			  6.8	    8.1	      7.8	7.0	  5.4	      
Personal insurance & pensions     1.9	    5.3	      8.3      11.2	 15.9       		      

Spending patterns, 2009-2011

Table C shows amounts spent for selected expenditure components 
over the 3-year period from 2009 to 2011. Spending changes included:

•    Mortgage interest and charges for owned homes, a subcomponent of housing, 
     fell from $3,594 in 2009 to $3,184 in 2011.
•    Natural gas expenditures fell from $483 in 2009 to $420 in 2011, a 
     13.0-percent decrease.
•    Expenditures on gasoline and motor oil increased 33.7 percent during the 
     period, with a 24.5-percent increase from 2010 to 2011. The spending 
     increase can partly be explained by the yearly rise in the price of 
     gasoline during 2010 (+18.4 percent) and 2011 (+26.4 percent), as 
     measured by the CPI-U.
•    Health care spending rose from $3,126 in 2009 to $3,313 in 2011. 
     The overall increase in health care spending was driven by a 7.7-percent 
     increase in health insurance spending during the period. The level of 
     spending for  health care has increased every year  starting in 1996, 
     while the level of spending for health insurance has increased every year 
     starting in 1997. 
•    Cash contributions fell 5.2 percent from 2009 to 2010, then rose almost 
     by the same margin from 2010 to 2011 (+5.4 percent). 
Table C. Average annual consumer expenditures for selected components, 
Item                                           2009      2010      2011
Mortgage interest and charges	             $3,594    $3,351    $3,184
Natural gas                                     483       440       420
Gasoline and motor oil			      1,986	2,132     2,655  
Health care				      3,126     3,157     3,313    
Cash contributions            		      1,723     1,633     1,721    

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 2011 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. Standard error tables are available for most of the demographic 
breakouts. 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.

Other available data

A forthcoming Annual Report will include a brief discussion of expenditure 
changes in 2011 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 2011 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 
Methodological and analytical articles using CE data will be published in 
2013. All data published in the Annual Report and posted to the website are 
integrated from the two CE components—the quarterly Interview Survey and 
weekly Diary Survey.  

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 2011 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: MTAB 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 MTAB 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 
electronic download. The 2010 release is 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 for download, 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 electronic 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.

Last Modified Date: September 25, 2012