Spending Trends By Generation

Generational Spending By The American Consumer

(The 2016 Consumer Expenditure Survey From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ( posted by the American Consumers Newsletter by Cheryl Russell, Editorial Director)

  • New Generations Spending Table   This generation, defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as people born in 1927 or earlier, heads fewer than 2% of the nation's households. Despite its small size, the BLS has revealed its characteristics and spending patterns, along with those of younger generations.
  • World War II generation (1927 or earlier):  The average householder in this generation is 91 years old. Two-thirds are women. 58% own a vehicle. They spent $35,344 in 2016, including $1,095 on eating out and $1,223 on entertainment. 
  • Silent generation (1928 to 1945): With an average age of 77, households headed by a member of the Silent generation spent $41,763 in 2016. The 58% majority of Silent generation householders are women, and 84% own a vehicle. They spend slightly more on cell phone than landline service, and they are the biggest spenders on reading material. 
  • Baby-boom generation (1946 to 1964): Boomers are still the largest generation of householders, accounting for 35% of the total. The average Boomer householder is 60 years old and owns an average of 2.1 vehicles. 40% are homeowners with a mortgage, and another 36% own their home free and clear. Boomer households spent an average of $61,204 in 2016.
  • Generation X (1965 to 1980): Gen Xers, with an average age of 43, are the biggest spenders. The average Gen X household spent $68,532 in 2016. Gen Xers spend more on mortgage interest than any other generation, $4,526 per year, nearly 7% of their total spending. They are also the biggest spenders on education because many have children in college and some are still paying off student loans.
  • Millennials (1981 or later): The 30 million households headed by Millennials, with an average age of 28, account for 23% of total households, less than Generation X's 27% share. Only 33% of Millennial households own their home. This generation is less likely to own a vehicle (83%) than the Silent generation (84%). On average, Millennial households spent $48,576 in 2016. Nearly half of their food spending (47%) is devoted to eating out. In 2016, they spent $1,110 on cell phone service and just $64 on reading material. 


These are a sampling of posts published in the past few weeks in Cheryl Russell's Demo Memo blog. Please send questions or comments here  


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