Personal Expenditures of Americans on Transportation: 2016 versus 1989

This study was designed to examine recent changes in personal expenditures of Americans on transportation. The data came from the Consumer Expenditure Survey, performed by the Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Comparisons were made for expenditures in 2016 and 1989 (the earliest year with available compatible data). Expenditures for all households were examined, as well as those for households at the two extremes of income. The following are the key findings: (1) In 2016, total transportation expenditures corresponded to 15.8% of all personal expenditures, down from 18.9% in 1989. Analogous trends were present for the lowest and highest quintiles of income. (2) Relative expenditures for gasoline and motor oil were higher for the lowest quintile of income than for the highest quintile of income. (3) Overall, transportation accounted for the second largest budget category in both 2016 and 1989, with only housing having larger expenditures. (4) Transportation expenditures relative to the expenditures for housing and food decreased from 1989 to 2016. (5) Transportation expenditures for the lowest quintile of income were lower than food expenditures in both 2016 and 1989. In contrast, transportation expenditures for the highest quintile of income were higher than food expenditures in both years. (6) Absolute expenditures for transportation, adjusted for inflation, decreased by 11.3% from 1989 to 2016.


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Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Research Report
  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 9p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01661004
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: SWT-2017-15
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 14 2018 10:21AM