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News Release Information

Monday, October 31, 2022

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Consumer Expenditures in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area — 2020-21

Households in the St. Louis, MO-IL, metropolitan area spent an average of $67,032 per year in 2020-21, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Regional Commissioner Michael Hirniak noted that this figure was not significantly different from the $64,187 average expenditure level for households in the United States. St. Louis-area households allocated their dollars similarly to the nation in 6 of the 8 largest major components. Two of the largest components in the local area differed significantly from their respective U.S. averages. For example, the share of expenditures for housing, which accounted for 30.7 percent of the average household’s budget in the St. Louis area, was lower than the national average of 34.3 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

Highlights of the St. Louis area’s 2020-21 spending patterns:
  • Housing: This was the largest expenditure component for St. Louis-area households and averaged $20,162. Housing accounted for 30.7 percent of the area’s household budget, significantly lower than the 34.3-percent U.S. average. Among the 22 metropolitan areas nationwide for which data were available, St. Louis the only area to have a housing expenditure share that was significantly lower than the national average. Housing expenditure shares among the 22 published metropolitan areas ranged from 41.9 percent in San Francisco to 30.7 percent in St. Louis. (See table 2.)
  • Transportation: St. Louis-area households spent 14.9 percent of their budget on transportation, not significantly different than the national average of 16.2 percent. Of the $10,018 in annual transportation expenditures in St. Louis, 95.4 percent was spent buying and maintaining private vehicles; this compared to the national average of 96.6 percent.
  • Food: The portion of a St. Louis household’s budget spent on food, 13.0 percent, was not significantly different from the 12.2-percent U.S. average. St. Louis-area households spent $5,251 or 60.4 percent, of their food dollars on food at home and $3,444 (39.6 percent) on food away from home. In comparison, the average U.S. household spent 65.3 percent of its food budget on food at home and 34.7 percent on food away from home.
  • Healthcare: Households in St. Louis spent an average of $6,079, or 9.1 percent of their budget on healthcare, significantly higher than the national average of 8.3 percent. Average healthcare expenditures in the Midwest region ranged from $6,426 in Minneapolis to $4,845 in Detroit.
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, 2020 and 2021.

A household in the CE survey is defined as a consumer unit which includes 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 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 component, 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.

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. A large difference between two values may not be statistically significant, while a small difference could be significant; both the sample size and the variation among the values in the sample affect the relative error of the estimates.

For additional technical and related information, see Data for the nation, the four geographic regions of the United States, and 22 metropolitan areas nationwide are available at Metropolitan definitions used in the survey are available at The metropolitan area discussed in this release is the St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolian Statistical Area which comprises Bond, Calhoun, Clinton, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe, and St. Clair Counties in Illinois and Franklin, Jefferson, Lincoln, St. Charles, St. Louis, St. Louis Clay, and Warren Counties in Missouri. Metropolitan area news releases for the Consumer Expenditure Survey are available at

Information in this release will be made available to individuals with sensory impairments upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Telecommunications Relay Service: 7-1-1.

Table 1. Average annual expenditures, characteristics, and percent distributions, United States and St. Louis metropolitan area, 2020–21
Category United
St. Louis

Consumer unit characteristics:

Income before taxes

$85,906 $85,320

Age of reference person

52 52.8

Average number in consumer unit:


2.5 2.2

Children under 18

0.6 0.5

Adults 65 and over

0.4 0.4


1.3 1.2


1.9 2

Percent homeowner

65 70

Average annual expenditures

$64,187 $67,032

Percent distribution


100.0 100.0


12.2 13.0

Alcoholic beverages

0.8 0.9


34.3 30.7*

Apparel and services

2.5 3.1


16.2 14.9


8.3 9.1*


5.1 5.8

Personal care products and services

1.1 1.4*


0.2 0.1


1.9 1.7

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

0.5 0.7*


1.5 1.8

Cash contributions

3.7 4.8

Personal insurance and pensions

11.8 11.9

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

Table 2. Percent share of average annual expenditures for housing, transportation, and food, United States and 22 metropolitan areas,
Area Housing Transportation Food

United States

34.3 16.2 12.2


34.4 12.1* 14.6*


35.9 15.4 13.9*


33.2 17.9 11.3


34.2 10.6* 12.3


37.3* 13.8 13.0

Dallas-Fort Worth

36.5 17.5 9.6*


36.2 16.3 11.2


33.0 16.4 12.3


41.2* 12.4* 15.2*


37.2* 17.7 9.3*

Los Angeles

38.0* 16.3 12.7


39.9* 16.8 12.1

Minneapolis-St. Paul

33.6 13.1* 10.4*

New York

39.6* 11.7* 12.2


34.3 11.6* 11.6


34.2 18.9 11.4

San Diego

37.0* 12.2* 11.9

San Francisco

41.9* 12.1* 11.9


36.9* 14.3 11.9

St. Louis

30.7* 14.9 13.0


36.3 18.2 11.6

Washington, DC

37.4* 10.5* 12.0

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


Last Modified Date: Monday, October 31, 2022