The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the 2010 data tables from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE)
. Average annual expenditures per consumer unit fell by 2.0 percent in 2010, after a decline of 2.8 percent in 2009. 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. The survey gives insight into historical consumer spending patterns since 1984.
The 2010 annual average level of expenditures, $48,109, stood lower than the 2006 figure of $48,398. Meanwhile, prices for goods and services have continued to rise, growing by 1.6 percent between 2009 and 2010, according to the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).
In 2010, consumers spent more on healthcare (up 1.0 percent) and transportation (up 0.2 percent), the only major components to increase. In contrast, spending on entertainment, food, and housing dipped by 7.0 percent, 3.8 percent, and 2.0 percent, respectively. Highlights for the three-year period from 2008 to 2010 included:
A steady decrease for food away from home, down by $193 or 7.2 percent from 2008, in addition to declines in other items such as apparel and charitable cash contributions. Those cutbacks likely reflected the 1.7 percent decrease in income before taxes during the same period, from $63,563 in 2008 to $62,481 in 2010.
Increased healthcare spending, from $2,976 in 2008 to $3,157 in 2010, fueled largely by a 10.8 percent jump in health insurance expenses.
A wide variation in expenditures on gasoline and motor oil, which dropped by 26.9 percent between 2008 and 2009, but rose by 7.4 percent by 2010, even as the yearly price of gasoline climbed by 18.4 percent.
The CE is the only federal survey to give information on the complete range of consumers’ spending, income, and demographic characteristics. Policymakers, businesses, and researchers use the CE to study consumer spending habits and trends, as well as to revise the Consumer Price Index market basket of goods and services.
The BLS News Release about the CE survey is available here