Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Householders Aged 75-Plus Outspend Young Adults

Average household spending peaked in 2006, just before the Great Recession. Spending then fell for years as Americans struggled with lost jobs and homes. It took until 2017 for average household spending to set a new record high. Now spending has plateaued. Average household spending in 2018 ($61,224) was not statistically different from the 2017 figure ($61,525), after adjusting for inflation, and not much higher than the old 2006 record ($60,285).

This stability in the overall median masks changes in average household spending by age of householder. The rule of thumb is this: the older the householder, the greater the increase in average household spending. Take a look...

Average household spending in 2018 (and % change since 2006; in 2018$)
Under age 25: $32,039 (–8.7%)
Aged 25 to 34: $56,457 (–4.7%)
Aged 35 to 44: $71,198 (–0.6%)
Aged 45 to 54: $75,387 (+5.1%)
Aged 55 to 64: $66,212 (+4.7%)
Aged 65-plus: $50,860 (+16.5%)
  Aged 65 to 74: $56,268 (+10.3)
  Aged 75-plus: $43,181 (+19.9%)

Average household spending was lower in 2018 than in 2006 for householders under age 45. The youngest householders saw their average spending decline by a steep 8.7 percent, after adjusting for inflation. Behind the decline is the postponement of marriage, reducing household size and spending.

Average household spending was higher in 2018 than in 2006 for householders aged 45 or older, with the biggest gains experienced by the oldest householders—a nearly 20 percent increase in average household spending for householders aged 75 or older, after adjusting for inflation. Average household spending by the oldest and youngest householders was almost identical in 2006 (in 2018 dollars)—$35,000 spent by householders under age 25 versus $36,000 spent by householders aged 75-plus. Not so in 2018. The oldest householders now outspend the younger by a whopping 35 percent—a difference in average annual spending of more than $11,000.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey

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