The United States is a nation of great diversity. Large houses and big red barns are found on the open farmlands of the Midwest while apartments and coffee shops occupy rs of busy city streets. The varying landscapes shape the lives, customs, and spending habits of Americans. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE), this BEYOND THE NUMBERS article examines demographic characteristics and spending habits of urban and rural households in the United States in 2011. In total, approximately 92 percent of households were urban and 8 percent were rural. The following data highlight important differences between consumer expenditures by rural and urban households in 2011:
- Urban households spent $7,808 (18 percent) more than rural households.
- Urban households received $15,779 (32 percent) more in yearly income than rural households.
- Higher housing expenditures by urban consumers accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in overall spending between urban and rural households.
- Rural households spent 32 percent more on prescription and nonprescription drugs than urban households.
- Urban households spent 28 percent more on food away from home and 5 percent less on food at home than rural households. Overall, urban households spent 7 percent more on food than rural households.
- Rural households spent more on gasoline and motor oil, and spent a higher percentage of their car and truck budgets on used vehicles. In the transportation spending category, urban households spent more on airline fares.
- Although rural and urban households spent about the same on entertainment, rural households spent more on pets, and urban households spent more on fees and admissions.