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Household spending increases to $51,442 in 2012, surpassing prerecession levels

September 12, 2013

Average expenditures per consumer unit in 2012 were $51,442, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2011 levels. The 2012 level surpassed the spending peak recorded in 2008, after which the effects of the 2007–2009 recession led to a low of $48,109 in 2010. 

Average annual expenditures per consumer unit, 2002–2012
YearExpenditures

2002

$40,677

2003

40,817

2004

43,395

2005

46,409

2006

48,398

2007

49,638

2008

50,486

2009

49,067

2010

48,109

2011

49,705

2012

51,442

Since overall expenditures began to increase again in 2011, cash contributions, transportation, and health care have had the largest percentage increases of all the major expenditure items. All but one of the other major components of household spending also increased in 2012, with apparel and services being the lone exception.

Average annual expenditures in 2012 and 2011–2012 percent change, by expenditure category
CategoryExpendituresPercent change

Total

$51,4423.5%

Apparel and services

1,736-0.2

Housing

16,8870.5

Entertainment

2,6051.3

Food

6,5992.2

Personal insurance and pensions

5,5913.1

Health care

3,5567.3

Transportation

8,9988.5

Cash contributions

1,91311.2

All other expenditures

3,5575.2

The 11.2-percent rise in cash contributions (which includes payments for support of college students, alimony and child support, and giving to charities and religious organizations) was the largest percentage increase among all major components; average cash contributions totaled $1,913 in 2012. The increase in cash contributions since 2011 can largely be attributed to an increase in cash contributions to churches and religious organizations.

Overall spending on transportation ($8,998) and health care ($3,556) rose significantly (+8.5 percent and +7.3 percent, respectively) in 2012, while spending on housing ($16,887) and entertainment ($2,605) only increased modestly (+0.5 percent and +1.3 percent, respectively). 

Expenditures on food increased 2.2 percent (to $6,599), while spending on personal insurance and pensions increased 3.1 percent increase (to $5,591).

These data come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. To learn more, see "Consumer Expenditures — 2012" (HTML) (PDF), news release USDL-13-1833. 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.

SUGGESTED CITATION

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Editor's Desk, Household spending increases to $51,442 in 2012, surpassing prerecession levels on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2013/ted_20130912.htm (visited August 23, 2014).

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