For the first time in three years consumer spending rose by 3.3 percent in 2011*, according to a recently released report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But even with this increase, spending still remained below 2008 levels, when the housing crisis decimated the economy.
The rise in spending was probably linked to an increase in Americans’ average annual income before taxes, which rose by 1.9 percent from $62,481 in 2010 to $63,685 in 2011, according to the most recent data available. In addition, inflation has remained low, keeping prices of consumer goods within reach for many Americans.
Spending on housing, which had been on the decline since 2008, increased across all income levels except for the highest income bracket. Food expenditures increased across all income brackets, but more so for those in the lowest brackets.
Overall, the primary difference between spending patterns in households is that low-income households spend a significantly larger percentage of their income on housing. Those in the highest income brackets spend a far smaller percentage of their income not only on housing, but across most basic categories like food, transportation, health care and education.
*The most recent available data on consumer expenditures is from 2011. This data, along with analysis, was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in April 2013.
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Check out this infographic, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, that charts out how three families in three different income brackets spend their incomes:
Here is an interactive chart that compares, side-by-side, the spending patterns of the three families pictured above. Hover over any colored block for more info: