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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 27, 2011 USDL-11-1395

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

                    CONSUMER EXPENDITURES--2010

Average annual expenditures per consumer unit(1) fell 2.0 percent in 2010 
following a decrease of 2.8 percent in 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics reported today. While spending fell in 2010, prices for goods and 
services increased 1.6 percent from 2009 to 2010, as measured by the average 
annual change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). This was the second 
consecutive year that there has been a drop in spending. The 2010 level of 
average annual expenditures, $48,109, was lower than the 2006 amount of 

Spending on food and housing fell 3.8 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively, 
contributing to the overall drop in spending in 2010. Healthcare 
(+1.0 percent) and transportation (+0.2 percent) were the only major 
components of spending to increase. Among the other major components, 
entertainment fell 7.0 percent, cash contributions dropped 5.2 percent, 
personal insurance and pensions decreased 1.8 percent, and apparel and 
services fell 1.4 percent.   

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, 2008-2010
                                                          Percent change
Item                         2008     2009     2010    2008-2009 2009-2010
Number of consumer
 units (000s)            120,770  120,847  121,107

Income before taxes       $63,563  $62,857  $62,481 	    -1.1      -0.6

Average age of
 reference person            49.1     49.4     49.4

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

Average annual
 expenditures             $50,486  $49,067  $48,109         -2.8      -2.0
  Food                      6,443    6,372    6,129         -1.1      -3.8
    At home                 3,744    3,753    3,624          0.2      -3.4
    Away from home          2,698    2,619    2,505         -2.9      -4.4
  Housing                  17,109   16,895   16,557         -1.3      -2.0
  Apparel and services      1,801    1,725    1,700         -4.2      -1.4
  Transportation            8,604    7,658    7,677        -11.0       0.2
  Healthcare                2,976    3,126    3,157          5.0       1.0
  Entertainment             2,835    2,693    2,504         -5.0      -7.0
  Cash contributions        1,737    1,723    1,633         -0.8      -5.2
  Personal insurance			     
   and pensions             5,605    5,471    5,373         -2.4      -1.8
  All other expenditures    3,376    3,404    3,379          0.8      -0.7

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 patterns, 2008-2010

Table B shows amounts spent for selected expenditure components over 
the 3-year period from 2008 to 2010. Spending changes included:

    Food away from home spending steadily decreased from $2,698 in 2008 to 
     $2,505 in 2010.
    Mortgage interest and charges for owned homes, a subcomponent of housing, 
     fell from $3,826 in 2008 to $3,351 in 2010.
    Expenditures on gasoline and motor oil varied widely during the period, 
     decreasing 26.9 percent from 2008 to 2009, then increasing 7.4 percent 
     from 2009 to 2010. The fluctuations can partly be explained by the yearly
     price of gasoline falling in 2009 (-27.4 percent) and then rising again 
     in 2010 (+18.4 percent), as measured by the CPI-U.
    The increase in healthcare spending, from $2,976 in 2008 to $3,157 in 
     2010, was driven by the 10.8-percent increase in health insurance 
     spending over the period, although the increase in health insurance from 
     2009 to 2010 was small (+2.6 percent). The level of spending for both 
     healthcare and health insurance has increased on a year-to-year basis for 
     well over a decade.
    Cash contributions, which includes payments to charities and religious 
     organizations, fell 6.0 percent from 2008 to 2010.
Table B. Average annual consumer expenditures for selected components, 
Item                                           2008      2009      2010
Food away from home			     $2,698    $2,619    $2,505
Mortgage interest and charges	              3,826     3,594     3,351
Gasoline and motor oil			      2,715	1,986     2,132
Healthcare				      2,976     3,126     3,157
Cash contributions            		      1,737     1,723     1,633

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 2010 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 2010 and tables with data classified by the standard 
characteristics that are included on the website. An article in the BLS Focus 
on Prices and Spending web report series, which highlights recent trends in 
prices and spending in the U.S. economy, will feature 2010 CE data. Recent 
CE-specific Focus 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 from the past several years are included in
the recently released Consumer Expenditure Survey Anthology, 2011 report 
(see 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 2010 CE public-use microdata, including Interview Survey data, Diary 
Survey data, and paradata (information about the survey process), are now 
available for purchase on CD-ROM. 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. The CE 
microdata files are available on CD-ROM back to 1990 and for selected earlier 
years. In addition to the standard ASCII and PC SAS formats offered in the 
past, three additional formats are available--STATA, SPSS, and ASCII 
comma-delimited. Historical data from 1996 forward are also now available in 
these data types (See for details and ordering 
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 27, 2011