Department of Labor Logo United States Department of Labor
Dot gov

The .gov means it's official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Urban and rural household spending in 2015

October 28, 2016

Living in an urban or a rural setting may influence where we work, how much we earn, and how we choose to spend on housing, transportation, food, clothing, and entertainment. In 2015, urban households on average spent $57,059 on a pre-tax income of $71,578. That compares with spending of $45,031 and income of $49,841 for rural households. Seventy-nine percent of rural households owned homes, compared with 61 percent of urban households. Housing accounted for the highest share of total spending for both urban households (33.4 percent) and rural households (26.8 percent).

Percent distribution of average annual expenditures of urban and rural households, 2015
Item Urban Rural

Owned dwellings

11.3% 8.2%

Pensions and Social Security

10.9 8.5

Food at home

7.1 8.3

Rented dwellings

7.1 2.4

Utilities, fuels, and public services

6.8 8.6

Vehicle purchases (net outlay)

6.8 11.8

Food away from home

5.4 4.8

Health insurance

5.2 6.8


5.0 6.1

Gasoline and motor oil

3.6 5.1

Apparel and services

3.4 2.6

Cash contributions

3.3 3.1

Household furnishings and equipment

3.2 3.4

Household operations

2.4 1.6


2.4 1.1

Vehicle insurance

1.9 2.2

Vehicle maintenance and repairs

1.5 1.9


1.5 1.9

Medical services

1.4 2.1

Other lodging

1.3 1.0

Public and other transportation

1.2 0.6

Personal care products and services

1.2 1.0

Housekeeping supplies

1.1 1.5

Vehicle rental, leases, licenses, and other charges

1.1 0.7

Alcoholic beverages

0.9 0.7


0.7 1.1

Tobacco products and smoking supplies

0.6 1.2

Life and other personal insurance

0.6 0.6

Vehicle finance charges

0.4 0.5

Medical supplies

0.3 0.3


0.2 0.1

Note: Due to rounding, the sum of percent distributions may not equal 100.

As a percentage of total spending in 2015, urban consumers that owned homes spent an average of 11.3 percent on those dwellings, compared with 7.1 percent for those that rented. This compared with 8.2 percent of total spending for rural households that owned dwellings versus 2.4 percent for those that rented. Rural households spent 8.6 percent of total spending on utilities, fuels, and public services, compared with 6.8 percent for urban households.

In 2015, rural households owned an average of 2.4 vehicles, compared with 1.8 for urban households. Relative to urban households, rural households spent a higher portion of their total spending on vehicle purchases, gasoline and motor oil, vehicle insurance, vehicle maintenance and repair, and vehicle finance charges. Urban consumers spent a larger share on public and other transportation as well as vehicle rental, leases, licenses, and other charges.

Rural households spent 8.3 percent of total spending on food at home, compared with 7.1 percent for urban households in 2015. Urban households spent 5.4 percent of total spending on food away from home; rural households spent 4.8 percent. Rural households spent a larger percentage of total spending on entertainment than urban households, 6.1 percent to 5.0 percent, respectively.

Urban households spent 10.9 percent of total spending on pensions and Social Security, compared with 8.5 percent for rural households.

These data are from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Consumer units 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. To learn more, refer to annual expenditure tables.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Urban and rural household spending in 2015 at (visited July 22, 2024).

Recent editions of Spotlight on Statistics