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THE BUSINESS WEEK

NUMBERS
017

PERSONAL CONSUMPTION
EXPENDITURES

Reconsidering consumers’
SHARE TRILLIONS OF
OF GDP DOLLARS*
RELIGIOUS, SOCIAL SERVICE,
2% 0.3
$ SOCIAL ADVOCACY, POLITICAL,

impact on the U.S. economy


AND OTHER SIMILAR ACTIVITIES

10% $ 1.5
IMPUTED
By Michael Mandel/Charts by David Foster SERVICES

We often hear consumer spending is 70% of economic


activity since “personal consumption expenditures”
total $10 trillion out of $14 trillion in GDP. But this over-
states the importance of consumers to the U.S. econ-
12% $ 1.8
omy. PCE includes imported goods such as consumer IMPORT-
INTENSIVE
electronics, which mainly stimulate foreign production. GOODS

It also includes nonconsumer items, such as spending


by religious groups. All told, household “out-of-pocket”
spending drives roughly 40% of U.S. economic activity.
15%
2.1
$

What it includes: Operating expenses of religious groups and


HEALTH-CARE GOODS
other nonprofit institutions in excess of sales of goods and services. AND SERVICES

Consequence: Most of this spending is controlled by nonprofit


boards or government funders rather than households.

What it includes: Items like “rental of owner-occupied nonfarm


housing”—what you theoretically pay yourself to live in your own
home. Imputed services do not represent household cash outlays.
31%
$
4.4
Consequence: Does not directly support U.S. economic activity.

What it includes: Clothes, electronics, motor vehicles and parts,


gasoline, and other goods with significant import components.
Consequence: Supports both foreign and U.S. production. DOMESTICALLY PRODUCED
GOODS AND SERVICES**

What it includes: Almost all health-care outlays by consumers,


employer health plans, and government programs like Medicare.
Consequence: Only about 15% of this category comes directly
from households. Third-party providers control the rest. NOTE: The direct impact of
household spending on the U.S.
economy is estimated as outlays on
domestically produced goods and
services, plus half of import-intensive
What it includes: Everything from food to haircuts to legal goods, plus 15% of health-care
fees—any consumer good or service produced mainly in the U.S. goods and services
*Average of four quarters
Consequence: Feeds directly into domestic economic activity.
TOTAL: $10.1
ending second quarter 2009
**Not elsewhere counted
Data: BEA, BusinessWeek

SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 l BUSINESSWEEK