A lot has changed since the 1950s, including the way Americans spend their money.

An article on NPR’s website recently compared spending by Americans in December 1949 to December 2011. The article was based on a report on consumer spending from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The side-by-side comparison revealed Americans once spent the majority of their paychecks on food (40% in 1949 vs. 15.3% in 2011). But 50 years later, Americans spend the bulk of their income on housing (26.1% in 1949 vs. 41.1% in 2011).

We’ll compare additional spending patterns later, but the article says the major drop in spending on food has to do with the simple fact that productivity increases in agriculture and manufacturing have made food cheaper to buy than it was then.

As for housing, the article says a factor in the increase of spending on housing is because people on average are now buying and renting homes that are much larger than they were in the 1950s. It said that in 1950, the average new house was less than 1,000 square feet; in 2000, the average new house was larger than 2,000 square feet.

The amount Americans spend on transportation has also jumped from 7.3% of income in 1949 to 16.9% of income in 2011. This rise was driven by the spread of cars, the article said. In 1950, there were only three vehicles for every 10 Americans. By 2000, that had risen to eight vehicles for every 10 Americans.










Looking at the dramatic swing in the amount Americans spend on housing is certainly a hot button at SC Community Loan Fund. Here, we’re focused on trying to ensure affordable housing options for residents in our region. We’re working to bridge the gap between governments and developers; developers and non-profits; and families and the need for affordable housing.

To learn more about financing for an affordable housing development in South Carolina, visit http://www.sccommunityloanfund.org/.