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18-1983-SAN
Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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Consumer Expenditures for the San Francisco Area: 2016–17

Households in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., metropolitan area spent an average of $79,291 per year in 2016–17, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Assistant Commissioner for Regional Operations Richard Holden noted that this figure was significantly higher than the $58,681 average expenditure level for households in the United States. San Francisco-area households allocated their dollars differently from the U.S. average in six of the eight major expenditure categories. For example, the share of expenditures for healthcare, which accounted for 6.3 percent of the average household’s budget in the San Francisco area, was significantly lower than the national average of 8.1 percent. (See chart 1 and table 1.)

Highlights of the San Francisco area’s 2016–17 spending patterns:

Housing:  This was the largest expenditure category for San Francisco-area households and averaged $32,656. Housing accounted for 41.2 percent of the area’s household budget, significantly higher than the 33.0-percent U.S. average. (See table 1.) Housing expenditure shares among the 22 areas nationwide for which data were available ranged from 41.2 percent in San Francisco to 31.2 percent in Detroit. (See table 2.)

Transportation: San Francisco-area households spent 10.1 percent of their budgets on transportation, significantly lower than the national average of 15.9 percent. Of the $7,994 in annual transportation expenditures in San Francisco, 79.7 percent was spent buying and maintaining private vehicles; this compared to the national average of 92.8 percent.

Food: The portion of a San Francisco household’s budget spent on food, 11.2 percent, was significantly lower than the 12.7-percent U.S. average. San Francisco-area households spent $4,487, or 50.3 percent, of their food dollars on food at home and $4,431 (49.7 percent) on food away from home. In comparison, the average U.S. household spent 56.3 percent of its food budget on food at home and 43.7 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, 2016 and 2017.

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 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.

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 www.bls.gov/opub/hom/homch16.htm. Data for the nation, the four geographic regions of the U.S., and 22 metropolitan areas nationwide are available at www.bls.gov/cex/tables.htm. Metropolitan definitions used in the survey are available at www.bls.gov/cex/ce_msa_201516.htm. The metropolitan area discussed in this release is San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. Metropolitan Statistical Area which comprises Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties in California. Metropolitan area news releases for the Consumer Expenditure Survey are available at www.bls.gov/regions/subjects/consumer-spending.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. Average annual expenditures, characteristics, and percent distributions, United States and San Francisco metropolitan area, 2016–17
Category United
States
San Francisco

Consumer unit characteristics:

Income before taxes

$74,118 $124,002

Age of reference person

50.9 49.6

Average number in consumer unit:

People

2.5 2.5

Children under 18

0.6 0.5

Adults 65 and over

0.4 0.4

Earners

1.3 1.4

Vehicles

1.9 1.8

Percent homeowner

63 55

Average annual expenditures

$58,681 $79,291*

Percent distribution

Total

100.0 100.0

Food

12.7 11.2*

Alcoholic beverages

0.9 1.1

Housing

33.0 41.2*

Apparel and services

3.1 2.4

Transportation

15.9 10.1*

Healthcare

8.1 6.3*

Entertainment

5.2 4.3*

Personal care products and services

1.3 1.2

Reading

0.2 0.3

Education

2.4 4.1

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

0.6 0.1*

Miscellaneous

1.7 1.7

Cash contributions

3.4 3.0

Personal insurance and pensions

11.6 13.0*

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, 2016–17
Area Housing Transportation Food

United States

33.0 15.9 12.7

Anchorage

32.2 17.4 11.6

Atlanta

33.7 18.9* 10.7*

Baltimore

33.6 16.0 13.0

Boston

39.0* 11.4* 11.1*

Chicago

35.1* 12.7* 13.5

Dallas-Fort Worth

35.4* 16.6 10.4*

Denver

33.8 16.0 12.0

Detroit

31.2* 17.3 12.3

Honolulu

37.4* 11.4* 15.4*

Houston

32.4 18.2 13.6

Los Angeles

36.3* 14.5* 13.0

Miami

37.7* 13.3* 11.7

Minneapolis-St. Paul

32.3 13.3* 12.2

New York

38.5* 11.7* 11.3*

Philadelphia

32.0 14.5 12.5

Phoenix

31.4 16.1 11.0*

San Diego

35.9* 13.3* 12.5

San Francisco

41.2* 10.1* 11.2*

Seattle

32.2 15.3 13.1

St. Louis

32.3 16.0 11.7

Tampa

35.2 17.1 12.9

Washington, D.C.

36.4* 13.4* 11.5*

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

 

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, December 18, 2018