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14-1961-ATL
December 18, 2014

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Consumer Expenditures for the Atlanta Metropolitan Area: 2012-2013

Consumer units in the Atlanta, Ga., metropolitan area spent an average of $50,782 per year in 2012-2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that this figure was similar to the $51,299 average expenditure level for a typical household in the United States. Although households in the Atlanta area spent about the same as the U.S. average, they allocated their dollars significantly different in 2 of the 8 major categories. For example, expenditures for healthcare, which accounted for 6.2 percent of a typical Atlanta household budget, were significantly lower than the national average of 7.0 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

 Chart 1. Percent distribution of average annual expenditures for the eight major categories in the United States and Atlanta metropolitan area, 2012-2013

Housing in the Atlanta metropolitan area averaged $16,975 annually and was the largest expenditure category, accounting for 33.4 percent of an Atlanta area household’s total budget, similar to the national average of 33.2 percent. (See tables 1 and 2.) Overall, 8 of the 18 published metropolitan areas had expenditure shares for housing significantly above the U.S. average. One area, Detroit, had a share for housing that was significantly below the U.S. average. (See chart 2.) Housing expenditure shares among the 18 areas ranged from 39.9 percent in Miami to 30.0 percent in Detroit. (See table 3.)

The majority of housing expenditures in Atlanta went toward shelter, 57.9 percent, which includes mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, and rent, among other items; nationwide, 58.6 percent of the housing budget was allocated to shelter. (See table A.) Utilities, fuels, and public services expenses accounted for 23.5 percent of the housing budget locally; nationally, it made up 21.7 percent. The rate of home ownership in Atlanta, at 62 percent, compared to the U.S. average of 64 percent.

Table A. Percent distribution of housing expenditures, United States and Atlanta, 2012-2013
Category United States Atlanta

Total housing

100.0 100.0

Shelter

58.6 57.9

Utilities, fuels, and public services

21.7 23.5

Household operations

6.8 7.0

Housekeeping supplies

3.7 3.2

Household furnishings and equipment

9.2 8.5

Note: Columns may not add to 100 due to rounding.

At 17.1 percent of the total budget, transportation was the second largest expenditure category in the Atlanta area, not significantly different than the national average of 17.5 percent. Among the 18 metropolitan areas nationwide, 6 had shares that were significantly below the U.S. average. Detroit and Houston had transportation shares that were measurably above the U.S. average. (See chart 3.)

Of the $8,682 in annual expenditures for transportation in Atlanta, 94.9 percent was spent buying and maintaining private vehicles; this compared to the national average of 94.0 percent. The remaining 5.1 percent of an Atlanta household’s transportation budget was spent on public transit, which includes fares for taxis, buses, trains, and planes; this allocation compared to the 6.0-percent average for the nation. (See table B.) The average number of vehicles per household in Atlanta was 1.7 and the national average was 1.9.

Table B. Percent distribution of transportation expenditures, United States and Atlanta, 2012-2013
Category United States Atlanta

Transportation

100.0 100.0

Vehicle purchases (net outlay)

36.0 36.8

Gasoline and motor oil

29.8 34.8

Other vehicle expenses

28.2 23.2

Public transportation

6.0 5.1

Note: Columns may not add to 100 due to rounding.

The portion of an Atlanta consumer unit’s budget spent on food, 12.6 percent, was similar to the 12.9-percent U.S. average. Among the 18 metropolitan areas, 12 had food expenditure shares that were not measurably different from the nationwide average. (See table 3.)

Households in Atlanta spent $3,826, or 60.0 percent, of their food dollars on food at home and the remaining 40.0 percent ($2,548) on food prepared away from home, such as restaurant meals, carry-out, board at school, and catered affairs. In comparison, the typical U.S. household spent 59.8 percent of its food budget on food at home and 40.2 percent on food away from home.

As noted, Atlanta is 1 of 18 metropolitan areas nationwide for which Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) data are available. Metropolitan area CE data and that for the four geographic regions of the United States are available on our Web site at http://www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm. Metropolitan area CE news releases are available at http://www.bls.gov/regions/subjects/consumer-spending.htm.

Additional Information

Data contained in this release are from the CE Survey, which is conducted on an ongoing basis by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The CE data in this release were averaged over a two-year period, 2012 and 2013. CE data are available for the nation, the 4 geographic regions of the country, and 18 metropolitan areas. The metropolitan area discussed in this release is Atlanta, Ga., which is comprised of Barrow, Bartow, Butts, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Haralson, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Pickens, Pike, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton Counties in Georgia; and Cleburne County in Alabama.

The survey consists of two components, a diary or recordkeeping survey, and an interview survey. The integrated data from the BLS Diary and Interview Surveys provide a complete accounting of consumer expenditures and income, which neither survey component alone is designed to do. Due to changes in the survey sample frame, metropolitan area data in this release are not directly comparable to those prior to 1996.

A consumer unit is defined as members of a household related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legal arrangement; a single person living alone or sharing a household with others but who is financially independent; or two or more persons living together who share responsibility for at least 2 out of 3 major types of expenses – food, housing, and other expenses. The terms household or consumer unit are used interchangeably for convenience.

CE metropolitan area estimates are not comparative cost of living surveys, as neither the quantity nor the quality of goods and services has been held constant among areas. Differences may result from variations in demographic characteristics such as consumer unit size, age, preferences, income levels, etc. However, expenditure shares, or the percentage of a consumer unit’s budget spent on a particular category, can be used to compare spending patterns across areas. Sample sizes for the metropolitan areas are much smaller than for the nation, so the U.S. estimates and year-to-year changes are more reliable than those for the metropolitan areas. Users should also keep in mind that prices for many goods and services have changed since the survey was conducted.

Expenditure shares for housing and transportation that are higher or lower than the national average, after testing for significance at the 95-percent confidence interval, are also identified in charts 2 and 3 for the 18 metropolitan areas surveyed.

A value that is statistically different from another does not necessarily mean that the difference has economic or practical significance. Statistical significance is concerned with our ability to make confident statements about a universe based on a sample. It is entirely possible that a large difference between two values is not significantly different statistically, while a small difference is, since both the size and heterogeneity of the sample affect the relative error of the data being tested.

For additional technical documentation and related information, see http://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch16.htm.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202)-691-5200. Federal Relay Service: (800)-877-8339.

Table 1. Percent distribution of average annual expenditures, United States and Atlanta, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2012-2013
Category United States Atlanta

Average annual expenditures

$51,299 $50,782

Percent distribution:

100.0 100.0

Food

12.9 12.6

Alcoholic beverages

0.9 0.8

Housing

33.2 33.4

Apparel and services

3.3 3.7

Transportation

17.5 17.1

Healthcare

7.0 6.2*

Entertainment

5.0 4.3

Personal care products and services

1.2 1.2

Reading

0.2 0.2*

Education

2.3 3.2

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

0.6 0.3*

Miscellaneous

1.4 1.0*

Cash contributions

3.7 3.8

Personal insurance and pensions

10.8 12.2*

Note: An asterisk (*) represents a statistically significant difference from the U.S. average at the 95-percent confidence level. Columns may not add to 100 due to rounding.  

Table 2. Consumer unit characteristics and average annual expenditures, United States and Atlanta, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2012-2013
Category United States Atlanta

Consumer unit characteristics:

 

Income before taxes

$64,686 $69,026

Age of reference person

50.1 48.0

Average number in consumer unit:

 

Persons

2.5 2.5

Children under 18

0.6 0.6

Persons 65 and over

0.3 0.2

Earners

1.3 1.3

Vehicles

2 1.7

Percent homeowners

64 62

Average annual expenditures

$51,299 $50,782

Food

6,600 6,374

Food at home

3,949 3,826

Cereals and bakery products

541 518

Meats, poultry, fish, and eggs

854 839

Dairy products

416 330

Fruits and vegetables

741 815

Other food at home

1,397 1,323

Food away from home

2,651 2,548

Alcoholic beverages

448 401

Housing

17,030 16,975

Shelter

9,986 9,828

Owned dwellings

6,082 5,745

Rented dwellings

3,255 3,478

Other lodging

649 605

Utilities, fuels, and public services

3,693 3,983

Household operations

1,152 1,187

Housekeeping supplies

627 535

Household furnishings and equipment

1,571 1,443

Apparel and services

1,677 1,856

Transportation

9,001 8,682

Vehicle purchases (net outlay)

3,241 3,193

Gasoline and motor oil

2,683 3,025

Other vehicle expenses

2,537 2,018

Public transportation

540 446

Healthcare

3,594 3,147

Entertainment

2,553 2,204

Personal care products and services

618 615

Reading

106 78

Education

1,172 1,642

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

331 175

Miscellaneous

736 514

Cash contributions

1,873 1,932

Personal insurance and pensions

5,559 6,187

Life and other personal insurance

336 350

Pensions and Social Security

5,224 5,837
Table 3. Percent share of average annual expenditures for housing, transportation, and food, United States and 18 metropolitan areas, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2012-13
Area Housing Transportation Food

United States

33.2 17.5 12.9

Atlanta

33.4 17.1 12.6

Baltimore

32.5 15.5 11.0*

Boston

32.6 15.6* 13.3

Chicago

35.4* 15.6* 12.7

Cleveland

31.6 18.2 12.8

Dallas

33.5 17.9 12.6

Detroit

30.0* 19.7* 13.5

Houston

33.1 21.0* 12.0

Los Angeles

38.2* 15.4* 13.4

Miami

39.9* 16.2 14.0

Minneapolis

32.0 18.3 11.3*

New York

39.8* 13.5* 11.9*

Philadelphia

35.4* 15.4* 13.7

Phoenix

34.8 18.9 13.6

San Diego

38.2* 15.8 11.5*

San Francisco

35.8* 13.7* 11.9*

Seattle

33.4 15.6 13.0

Washington

35.3* 16.7 10.9*

Note: An asterisk (*) represents a statistically significant difference from the U.S. average at the 95-percent confidence level.

 Chart 2. Expenditure shares spent on housing in 18 metropolitan statistical areas compared to the U.S. average, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2012-2013
 Chart 3. Expenditure shares spent on transportation in 18 metropolitan statistical areas compared to the U.S. average, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2012-2013

 

Last Modified Date: Thursday, December 18, 2014