Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Resource Center

Driven to Spend: Pumping Dollars Out of Our Households and Communities

Since at least 1984, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation has been the number two expense for households, second only to housing. Transportation costs in 2003 claimed 19.1 percent of all household expenditures, the second highest level in a 20-year period. Importantly, this expenditure level predates more recent hikes in gas prices, suggesting that current and future transportation costs are headed even higher. As recently as the early 1960s, when the U.S. was already turning to the automobile for a greater share of all transportation trips, yet still had more compact communities and higher levels of public transit use and walking, families spent about one out of every ten dollars for transportation, as compared to nearly one out of every five dollars in 2003.