Spending on Energy in 2011 Was Lowest Since '98
1. The top chart shows that American consumers spent $460 billion (in real 2005 dollars) on "energy goods and services" in 2011, which was the lowest level of spending on energy since $454 billion in 1998, more than a decade ago.
2. On a per-capita basis (using population data here), annual real energy spending per person was lower in 2011 than in any year going back to 1995, and about 11% below 2005 when real energy spending peaked at $494 billion. Compared to the first year in the series, 1995, real spending on energy per person in 2011 was 7.5% lower.
3. The bottom chart displays energy spending as a share of total real personal consumption expenditures (in real dollars), which has fallen from slightly more than 7% in 1995 to slightly less than 5% in 2011.
MP: The reduction in real spending on energy over the last six years, and the ongoing reduction in spending on energy as a share of total consumption since 1995, could reflect increasing energy efficiency (appliances, cars, new homes, etc.), reduced driving, and lower natural gas costs. The downward trend in both series would also suggest that higher gasoline prices in 2012 would have less of an impact on consumers than in past years.
Thanks to Marmico for the link to the BEA data, and for the suggestion for the chart below using nominal dollars:
Update: The bottom chart above shows the share of spending on energy using real dollars, and the new chart below shows the share of spending on energy using nominal dollars. Adjusting for inflation, the share of energy spending goes down from 7% to 5% from 1995 to 2011, whereas the unadjusted share spent on energy goes up from 5% to 6% over the same period. I agree with Morganovich and Marmico that the unadjusted, nominal measure of energy's share of total personal consumption spending is better than the inflation-adjusted measure, and I stand corrected (and updated!).