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Economic News Release
CE CES Program Links

Consumer Expenditures Survey (Annual) News Release

For release: 10:00 a.m. (EDT), Tuesday, October 5, 2010	USDL-10-1390

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

                    CONSUMER EXPENDITURES--2009

Average annual expenditures per consumer unit(1) fell 2.8 percent in 2009 
following an increase of 1.7 percent in 2008, according to results from the 
Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor 
Statistics. The spending decrease was larger than the 0.4-percent decrease in 
prices from 2008 to 2009 as measured by the average annual change in the 
Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). This was the first time there has been a drop in
spending from the previous year since the CE began publishing integrated data 
in 1984 from the Diary and Interview components of the CE.	

Spending on housing and transportation fell 1.3 percent and 11.0 percent, 
respectively, contributing to the overall drop in spending in 2009. Healthcare 
expenditures rose 5.0 percent, the only increase among the major components of 
spending. Among the other major components, food dropped 1.1 percent, apparel 
fell 4.2 percent, entertainment dropped 5.0 percent, and personal insurance 
and pensions fell 2.4 percent.

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2007-2009
                                                          Percent change
Item                         2007     2008     2009    2007-2008 2008-2009
Number of consumer
 units (000’s)            120,171  120,770  120,847

Income before taxes       $63,091  $63,563  $62,857   	     0.7      -1.1

Average age of
 reference person            48.8     49.1     49.4

Average number in
 consumer unit:
  Persons                     2.5      2.5      2.5  
  Earners                     1.3      1.3      1.3
  Vehicles                    1.9      2.0      2.0
Percent homeowner              67	66       66

Average annual
 expenditures             $49,638  $50,486  $49,067          1.7      -2.8
  Food                      6,133    6,443    6,372          5.1      -1.1
    At home                 3,465    3,744    3,753          8.1       0.2
    Away from home          2,668    2,698    2,619          1.1      -2.9
  Housing                  16,920   17,109   16,895          1.1      -1.3
  Apparel and services      1,881    1,801    1,725         -4.3      -4.2
  Transportation            8,758    8,604    7,658         -1.8     -11.0
  Healthcare                2,853    2,976    3,126          4.3       5.0
  Entertainment             2,698    2,835    2,693          5.1      -5.0
  Personal insurance				     
   and pensions             5,336    5,605    5,471          5.0      -2.4
  All other expenditures    5,059    5,113    5,127          1.0       0.3

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.

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 2009 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.

Spending patterns from 2007-2009

Consumer Expenditure Survey data measure how consumers allocate their spending 
among the various components of total expenditures. For example, the 2009 data 
show that the largest component of consumers’ budgets is housing, which 
accounts for about a third of overall spending. Another use of the CE data is 
to look at how spending patterns change over time. Table B shows how the 
amounts spent for selected expenditure components changed over the 3-year 
period from 2007 to 2009. Changes in total spending and many of its components 
reflected the impact the weak economy had on how consumers allocated their 
budgets. Spending changes included:

•  Mortgage interest payments and charges, a subcomponent of housing, fell 
   from $3,890 in 2007 to $3,594 in 2009, evidence of the higher than normal 
   default rate on mortgages, falling house prices, lower rates of 
   homeownership, and declining mortgage interest rates over the period.
•  While the price increase in rent of primary residence as measured by the 
   CPI-U increased 6.0 percent over the period, spending on rented dwellings 
   increased 9.9 percent over the period from 2007 to 2009. Consumer units 
   within the highest income quintile group increased expenditures for rented 
   dwellings from $1,293 in 2007 to $1,911 in 2009.
•  Gasoline and motor oil expenditures fluctuated as the price of gasoline 
   rose and fell sharply during the period. Gasoline prices for motor vehicles 
   rose 16.6 percent from 2007 to 2008 and dropped 27.4 percent from 2008 to 
   2009, as measured by the CPI-U.
•  The level of spending on healthcare continued to rise, from $2,853 in 2007 
   to $3,126 in 2009, largely due to the increase in the health insurance 
Table B. Average annual expenditures for selected components, Consumer 
Expenditure Survey, 2007-2009
Item                                           2007      2008      2009
Mortgage interest and charges	             $3,890    $3,826	 $3,594
Rented dwellings	                      2,602	2,724	  2,860
Apparel and services	                      1,881	1,801	  1,725 
Gasoline and motor oil	                      2,384	2,715     1,986
Healthcare	                              2,853     2,976     3,126		   

Other available data

A forthcoming annual report will include a brief discussion of expenditure 
changes in 2009 and tables with data classified by the standard 
characteristics included on the website. Methodological and analytical 
articles using CE data from the past several years will be included in the 
upcoming Consumer Expenditure Survey Anthology, 2010 report. 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 2009 Diary and Interview microdata are now available for purchase on 
CD-ROM. CE paradata, information about the survey process, are available for 
the first time this year. 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 beginning in 2007--STATA, SPSS, and ASCII 
comma-delimited. (See for details and ordering 
For further information, contact the Division of Consumer Expenditure Surveys, 
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; TDD 
message referral phone number: 1-800-877-8339.

Last Modified Date: October 05, 2010