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Housing expenses rise, remain biggest cost for U.S. households

Housing accounted for 33 percent of total spending last year by the average U.S. household, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Housing costs, which are a household’s biggest expense, also increased by 2.6 percent, rising to $18,886. Household spending overall rose an average of 2.4 percent from 2015, coming in at $57,311.

Renters, meanwhile, faced steeper increases in housing costs than homeowners, according to the BLS. Costs tied to rental units increased by 6.1 percent, while expenses for owned homes went up by 1.4 percent.

Average pre-tax income rose last year by 7.2 percent to $74,664.

The BLS defines households as “consumer units” that can include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share expenses.

Restaurants are among the places where people are spending more.

Households spent more than $3,100 last year on dining out, an increase of 4.9 percent from 2015. They spent more than $4,000 on food at home, which was up less than 1 percent.

People also shelled out more on entertainment (up 2.5 percent) and less on clothing and services (down 2.3 percent).

Transportation costs, which were second to housing costs, continue to go down, thanks in part to lower fuel prices. Fuel expenses have declined each year since 2012, according to the BLS.

Transportation costs averaged $9,049 last year, according to the BLS. That was down about 5 percent overall but included a 9 percent drop in spending on vehicle purchases. Fuel costs also were down about 9 percent from 2015. 

Health care spending rose for U.S. households. Average expenses increased by more than 6 percent last year to $4,612. And personal insurance and retirement expenses shot up by nearly 8 percent.

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