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News Release Information

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Contacts Technical information: Media contact:

Consumer Expenditures for the Baltimore Metropolitan Area: 2014-15

Households in the Baltimore, Md., metropolitan area spent an average of $68,441 per year in 2014–15, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Sheila Watkins noted that this figure was significantly higher than the $54,715 average expenditure level for households in the United States. Baltimore-area households allocated their dollars similarly to the nation among five of the eight major categories, with three differing significantly from the U.S. average. For example, the share of expenditures for healthcare, which accounted for 6.8 percent of the average household’s budget in the Baltimore area, was significantly lower than the national average of 7.9 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

  Chart 1. Percent distribution of average annual expenditures for eight major categories in the United States and Baltimore metropolitan area, 2014–15

Highlights of the Baltimore area’s 2014–15 spending patterns:

  • Housing: This was the largest expenditure category for Baltimore-area households and averaged $23,908. Housing accounted for 34.9 percent of the area’s household budget, not significantly different from the 33.1-percent U.S. average. (See table 1.) Among 16 metropolitan areas nationwide for which data were available, Baltimore was 1 of 7 areas to have a housing expenditure that was similar to the national average; only Detroit (30.3 percent) had  a significantly lower-than-average share. Housing expenditures among the 16 published areas ranged from 39.6 percent in New York to 30.3 percent in Detroit. (See table 2.)
  • Transportation: A Baltimore-area household spent 15.8 percent of its budget on transportation, not significantly different from the national average of 17.0 percent. Of the $10,783 in annual transportation expenditures in Baltimore, 92.2 percent was spent buying and maintaining private vehicles; this compared to the national average of 93.3 percent.
  • Personal insurance and pensions: Baltimore households spent $9,953 or 14.5 percent of their annual budget on personal insurance and pensions, making this the third-largest expenditure category for the area’s consumer units. The portion a local-area household spent on personal insurance and pensions was significantly above the national average of 11.0 percent.
  • Food: The portion of a Baltimore household’s budget spent on food, 11.4 percent, was not significantly different from the 12.6-percent U.S. average. Baltimore-area households spent $4,502 or 57.9 percent, of their food dollars on food at home and $3,278 (42.1 percent) on food away from home. The average U.S. household also spent 57.9 percent of its food budget on food at home and 42.1 percent on food away from home.

Additional Information

Data in this release are from the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE), which the U.S. Census Bureau conducts for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data in this release were averaged over a 2-year period, 2014 and 2015.

A household in the CE survey is defined as a consumer unit which consists of members 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.

Differences in spending among metropolitan areas may reflect differences in the cost of living, but they also may reflect other causes. Spending differences may result from different consumer preferences or variations in demographic characteristics, such as household size, age, or income levels. However, expenditure shares, or the percentage of a household’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.

For additional technical and related information, see Data for the nation, the four geographic regions of the U.S., and 16 metropolitan areas nationwide are available at The metropolitan area discussed in this release is the Baltimore, Md. MSA, which comprises Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard, and Queen Anne’s Counties and Baltimore City in Maryland. Metropolitan area news releases for the Consumer Expenditure Survey are available at

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.


Changes to Consumer Expenditures Survey Data

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) underwent a sample change in 2015. Estimates for the Cleveland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) will not longer be produced, as the population for the MSA was below the threshold necessary to qualify as a publishable MSA. The geographical boundaries of the Boston MSA have changed significantly such that estimates are not comparable to estimates for 2014. Thus, both Cleveland and Boston are not represented in the 2014-2015 tables. Boston will return in the 2015-2016 tables when two years of data based on the new boundaries become available.

Table 1. Average annual expenditures, characteristics and percent distribution, United States and Baltimore metropolitan area, 2014-15
Category United States Baltimore
Consumer unit characteristics:    

Income before taxes

$68,316 $91,242

Age of reference person

50.4 52.5

Average number in consumer unit:



2.5 2.4

Children under 18

0.6 0.6

Adults 65 and older

0.4 0.4


1.3 1.4


1.9 2.0

Percent homeowner

63 73

Average annual expenditures

$54,715 $68,441*
Percent distribution    


100.0 100.0


12.6 11.4

Alcoholic beverages

0.9 0.8


33.1 34.9

Apparel and services

3.3 2.9


17.0 15.8


7.9 6.8*


5.1 3.8*

Personal care products and services

1.2 1.3


0.2 0.4


2.3 2.3

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

0.6 0.2*


1.5 1.6

Cash contributions

3.3 3.3

Personal insurance and pensions

11.0 14.5*

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

Table 2. Percent share of average annual expenditures for housing, transportation, and food, United States and 16 metropolitan areas, 2014-15
Area Housing Transportation Food

United States

33.1 17.0 12.6


33.2 16.1 11.1*


34.9 15.8 11.4


34.5* 15.6 12.4


32.8 17.7 12.9


30.3* 18.8 12.2


32.3 20.0* 12.5

Los Angeles

37.4* 15.1* 12.4


36.2* 18.1 13.8


32.2 16.7 11.2*

New York

39.6* 12.7* 11.0*


35.0* 15.9 11.2*


33.3 16.3 13.0

San Diego

35.8* 15.5 10.5*

San Francisco

37.1* 13.9* 12.1


34.4 14.2* 12.9


36.6* 15.7 9.6*

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


Last Modified Date: Tuesday, November 08, 2016