Transportation Economic Trends

Household Spending on Transportation:

Average Household Spending

The Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE) program is the only Federal survey that contains information on the complete range of expenditures for individual households, including transportation, along with select demographic, geographic, and socio-economic characteristics. This page presents average household spending from the CE. Data and discussion on total national household spending on transportation are also available.

2022 Year-in-Review

  • Households spent an average of $12,295 on transportation in 2022—the second largest household expenditure category after housing when spending on behalf of households, such as healthcare benefits, is excluded. Transportation expenditures grew by the second largest amount (12.2 percent) from 2021 to 2022, just behind food (12.7 percent).
  • Households in the lowest income quintile spent the least on transportation ($4,928 vs $22,926 by households in the highest income quintile) but faced a larger transportation cost burden, spending 30.2 percent of their after-tax income on transportation compared to 11.6 percent by the highest income quintile in 2022.
  • The lowest income quintile spent more of their after-tax income on transportation in 2022 than in 2021, rising just over 3 percentage points. Contrastingly, households in the highest income quintile spent just over 1 percentage point more of their after-tax income on transportation in 2022 than in 2021. Households in the second lowest income quintile spent less of their after-tax income on transportation in 2022 than in 2021, because their average income increased more than their transportation expenditures. Households in the third and fourth income quintile spent nearly the same share of their after-tax income on transportation in 2022 as in 2021. See the Household Expenditures by Income Level table for before-tax statistics.
  • Rural households spent slightly more on transportation ($13,217) and spent slightly more of their after-tax income on transportation (15.9 percent) than urban households ($12,078 and 14.5 percent, respectively) in 2022. See the Household Expenditures in Urban and Rural Areas table for before-tax statistics.

Average Household Transportation Expenditures: Consumer Expenditure Survey



The CE, administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), measures individual household spending in the United States, including transportation. It counts out-of-pocket spending and does not count spending on behalf of households, e.g., healthcare payments by insurance companies. For this reason, transportation accounts for a larger portion of all household spending than total national household spending.

Over time, transportation as a percent of all household spending has declined slightly.
Of the transportation items purchased, the average household devotes most of its transportation budget to purchasing, operating, and maintaining private vehicles (see table below).

Transportation Expenditures and Income

Households spend similar percentages on transportation across all income categories except for the bottom income quintile, or the bottom fifth of households by income. Higher-income households spend more on transportation because they are more likely to own vehicles and own more of them.

Average Household Expenditures | Household Expenditures by Income Level | Household Expenditures in Urban and Rural Areas

Household Expenditures in Urban and Rural Areas

Rural households tend to spend more on transportation than urban households in part because rural households have higher rates of vehicle ownership.

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Recommended citation
U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Transportation Economic Trends, available at www.bts.gov/product/transportation-economic-trends.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation.
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