Household Spending on Transportation

Household Spending on Transportation

On average, households spent $7,681 (in chained 2000 dollars1) on transportation in 2003. This represented 20 percent of all household expenditures that year. Only housing cost households more (31 percent)2 [1].

Between 1993 and 2003, consumer spending on private transportation (mainly motor vehicles and related expenses) increased by 27 percent. On average, households spent $3,834 purchasing new and used motor vehicles in 2003, up 49 percent from $2,569 in 1993 (figure 7-1). Spending on other vehicle expenses (e.g., insurance, financing charges, maintenance, and repairs) also increased, from $1,806 to $2,216 (23 percent).

Meanwhile, gasoline and oil expenditures declined 1 percent, to $1,268 in 2003. This decline was largely because of a 7 percent drop in these expenditures between 2002 and 2003. On an annual basis, gasoline and oil expenditures declined 0.1 percent between 1993 and 2003. Other transportation, such as local transit and airplane and train trips, is the smallest category of household spending on transportation (4.7 percent of the total in 2003). On average, households spent $364 to pay for other transportation in 2003, a decrease of 1 percent between 1993 and 2003.


1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, data query, available from, as of March 2005.

1 All dollar amounts are expressed in chained 2000 dollars, unless otherwise specified. Current dollar amounts (which are available in appendix B of this report) were adjusted to eliminate the effects of inflation over time.

2 The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects these data. In its survey, BLS uses the term consumer units instead of households and public transportation rather than other transportation. There are an average of 2.5 persons in each consumer unit, according to BLS. Public transportation, according to BLS, includes both local transit, such as bus travel, and long-distance travel, such as airplane trips. (See complete definitions of these categories on figure 7-1 and table 7-1 in appendix B.)