Economic News Release


For release: 10:00 a.m. (EDT), Thursday, September 3, 2015 USDL-15-1696

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

                    CONSUMER EXPENDITURES--2014

Average expenditures per consumer unit in 2014 were $53,495, a 4.7-percent 
increase from 2013 levels, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
During the same period, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) rose 1.6 percent(1). 
In 2013, spending decreased 0.7 percent. Average pre-tax income per consumer 
unit increased at about the same pace as expenditures, up 4.8 percent from 

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.

Most major components of household spending increased in 2014, as shown in 
table A. Many of the categories with large percentage increases in 
expenditures rebounded from declines in spending in 2013. The rise in 
healthcare expenditures was one of the largest increases among the major 
components. The subcomponent for health insurance expenditures increased 
primarily due to an improvement in the survey questionnaire. Because of 
the questionnaire change for health insurance, these estimates are not 
strictly comparable to prior years.

|                       Note on health insurance                                |
|                                                                               | 
|More consumer units reported expenditures for health insurance in 2014         |
|than in 2013, and because of an improvement in interview collection methods,   |
|higher expenditures were reported. The percent of households reporting         |
|quarterly expenditures on health insurance increased from 65.5 percent in 2013 |
|to 68.0 percent in 2014. The insurance questions were revised from 3-month     |
|recall questions to questions about the amount of the last payment and the     |
|payment period.                                                                |
|                                                                               |
|The new estimates are more accurate because the respondent does not have to    |
|calculate a quarterly estimate—instead the estimate is calculated by BLS,      |
|using the amount of the last payment which respondents are more likely to know.| 
|On the basis of cognitive testing of these questions, BLS concluded that these |
|new questions produce better estimates. For those consumer units whose time    |
|in sample encompassed reporting health insurance expenditures using both the   |
|old questions and the new questions, the mean expenditure using the new        |
|questions increased by 26.2 percent compared to the old questions. In the 2014 |
|tables, some of the over-the-year change in the healthcare expenditure data,   | 
|especially in the health insurance subcomponent, is due to these improvements  |
|to the survey questionnaire                                                    |  

Table A. Average annual expenditures and characteristics of all consumer units
and percent changes, 2012-14	
                                                               Percent change
          Item                     2012     2013     2014    2012-2013 2013-2014
Average income before taxes     $65,596  $63,784  $66,877         -2.8       4.8
Average annual expenditures     $51,442  $51,100  $53,495         -0.7       4.7
  Food                            6,599    6,602    6,759          0.0       2.4
    Food at home                  3,921    3,977    3,971          1.4      -0.2
    Food away from home           2,678    2,625    2,787         -2.0       6.2
  Housing                        16,887   17,148   17,798          1.5       3.8
    Shelter                       9,891   10,080   10,491          1.9       4.1
      Owned dwellings             6,056    6,108    6,149          0.9       0.7
      Rented dwellings            3,186    3,324    3,631          4.3       9.2
  Apparel and services            1,736    1,604    1,786         -7.6      11.3
  Transportation                  8,998    9,004    9,073          0.1       0.8
    Gasoline and motor oil        2,756    2,611    2,468         -5.3      -5.5
    Vehicle insurance             1,018    1,013    1,112         -0.5       9.8
  Healthcare                      3,556    3,631    4,290          2.1       n/a
    Health insurance              2,061    2,229    2,868          8.2       n/a
  Entertainment                   2,605    2,482    2,728         -4.7       9.9
  Cash contributions              1,913    1,834    1,788         -4.1      -2.5
  Personal insurance              5,591    5,528    5,726         -1.1       3.6
   and pensions                                                           
  All other expenditures          3,557    3,267    3,548         -8.2       8.6

n/a - Because of the questionnaire change for health insurance, the 2013-14 
percent change is not strictly comparable to prior years.                                                                          

Spending patterns, 2013-14

One of the largest increases was in the apparel and services category, up 11.3 
percent, rebounding from a decline in 2013. 

Food expenditures rose 2.4 percent in 2014, propelled by an increase of 6.2 percent
in spending on food away from home. Food at home expenditures were virtually 
unchanged in 2014. 

Transportation expenditures rose a modest 0.8 percent. Gasoline and motor oil 
expenditures continued to decline, decreasing by 5.5 percent to $2,468, mirroring a
drop in gasoline prices, which fell 3.9 percent according to the CPI-U(2). Vehicle
insurance expenditures, however, rose 9.8 percent.

Cash contributions dropped for the second straight year in 2014, falling by 2.4 

Spending by composition of consumer unit

Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data measure how consumers allocate their 
spending among the various components of average annual expenditures. Table B 
compares the shares allocated to selected major expenditure categories by 
composition of consumer unit in 2014. One parent households with at least one child 
under 18 allocated over one-half of their total spending to food and housing; they 
reported the highest shares of spending on the individual items among the groups 
studied. Over 10 percent of total spending went to healthcare for married couple 
only households, over twice as large a share as reported by one parent households 
(5.1 percent). The average age of the reference person of married couple only 
households was twenty years older than that of single person households 
(59.1 years old vs. 39.1 years old). Married couple with children households 
allocated the highest share of all groups to personal insurance and pensions 
(12.5 percent), while other married couple households (those with married couples 
and persons other than children living in the consumer unit) allocated the highest 
share to transportation (18.6 percent). 

Table B. Shares of average annual expenditures on selected major components 
by composition of consumer unit, 2014
             Item                  Married    Married     Other
				   couple     couple     married
				    only       with      couple
				             children   consumer
Food                                11.8      12.9       14.5
Housing                             30.5      31.8       30.5 
Transporation                       17.5      17.3       18.6
Healthcare                          10.3       7.3        7.8 
Personal insurance and pensions     11.1      12.5       11.6
Item                                 One       Single
				   parent,     person
				   at least,  and other
				   one child  consumer         
                                   under 18    units
Food                                14.8      12.4 
Housing                             38.0      36.7
Transporation                       17.0      15.9
Healthcare                           5.1       7.3 
Personal insurance and pensions      7.5       8.9       

Spending by income quintile

Table C shows the percent change for expenditures by income quintile. 
Overall spending increased in all quintiles. Spending on food at home and 
transportation was a mix of increases and decreases among the quintiles. 
Spending on housing, entertainment, and food away from home increased for all 
quintiles in 2014. 

Table C. Dollar change and percent change in average annual expenditures on 
selected major components by income quintile, 2013-14
					Lowest		Second		Third	
Item					Dollar Percent	Dollar	Percent	Dollar	
Average annual expenditure change:										
Total				      $1,320	 5.9	$987	 3.0   $2,900	
 Food					  12	 0.3	 -27	-0.6	  264	
  At home				  -8	-0.3	 -83	-2.6	   64	
  Away from home			  20	 1.8	  55	 3.5	  200	
 Housing				 680	 7.6	 514	 4.3	  640	 
 Apparel and services			  62	 8.6	  82	 7.9	  202	
 Transportation				 228     6.9    -160    -2.7      404 	  
 Entertainment				 106	10.6	 150    10.6	  368
 Cash contributions			 -71   -12.3	  80	 7.6	  115	
 Personal insurance and pensions	  38	 8.2	 -59	-3.6	   57
 All other expenditures			 186	 9.8	   7     0.4	  199	

					Third	Fourth		Highest	

Item					Percent	Dollar	Percent	Dollar	Percent	
Average annual expenditure change:										
Total					 6.8    $1,575	  2.7  $5,126	  5.2
 Food					 4.6	   124	  1.6     411	  3.7
  At home				 1.8	    19	  0.4	  -19	 -0.3 
  Away from home			 9.4	   104	  3.3	  430	  8.4
 Housing				 4.3	   484	  2.5     911	  2.9
 Apparel and services			15.2	    -9	 -0.5	  569	 18.6
 Transportation				 5.0	   -64	 -0.6	  -72	 -0.4
 Entertainment				18.4	   102	  3.6	  496	  9.7
 Cash contributions			 8.8	  -182	 -8.7    -177	 -4.3
 Personal insurance and pensions	 1.6	   152	  2.3	  789	  5.1
 All other expenditures			 8.3	   273	  8.1	  733    10.8

Tables and data

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 2014 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 highest education level of any member. 
These annual tables include means, shares, and standard errors. New to the 
annual tables this year is the Deciles of Income table, dividing the sample 
into 10 equal sections by income range. 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.

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 
2014 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 

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 2014 CE public-use microdata, including Interview Survey data, Diary 
Survey data, and paradata (information about the survey process), are 
available on the CE website for free electronic download. The Interview files 
contain expenditure data in two different formats: MTBI 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 
MTBI files. The public-use microdata for 2014 also includes the new estimates 
of state and federal tax liabilities. The CE introduced these estimates to 
improve the quality of the tax data. The tax data collected directly from 
consumer units during the Interview survey will be available in the 2014 
public use microdata, after which they will no longer be collected. CE 
public-use microdata from 1996 to 2013 are also available on the CE website 
for free download. For releases prior to 1996, users can continue to 
purchase USB flash drives using the public-use microdata order form 
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 or call (202) 691-6900; Information in this release is available to sensory 
impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-691-5200; 
Federal Relay Service: 1 (800) 877-8339.

1 This is calculated as the percentage change between the annual average CPI-U 
  for all items for 2014 (236.736) and the annual average CPI-U for all items 
  for 2013 (232.957). See CPI Detailed Report, Data for January 2015, Table 1A. 
2 This is calculated as the percentage change between the annual average CPI-U 
  for gasoline for 2014 (290.889) and the annual average CPI-U for gasoline for 
  2013 (302.577). See CPI Detailed Report, Data for January 2015, Table 1A. 

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Last Modified Date: September 03, 2015
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