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Oil boom and housing bust alter spending trends

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 5:19 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP file photo)
A crowd waits for Macy's to open in the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas in 2013. Consumer spending has recovered at a much slower pace in states with big housing busts, a stark illustration of how the housing downturn has weighed on the economy years after the recession.
Caption
(AP file photo)
A man examines a row of washers and dryers while shopping at a Sears store in Henderson, Nevada. Consumer spending has recovered at a much slower pace in states with big housing busts, a stark illustration of how the housing downturn has weighed on the economy years after the recession. Spending in Nevada rose just 3.5 percent in the first three years after the recession ended, the weakest of any state and far below the national average of 10.7 percent, according to a new annual government report.
Caption
(Dale Wetzel)
FILE - In this Dec. 21, 2011 file photo, then North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong gestures toward a pie chart detailing the distribution of North Dakota's taxable sales and purchases during July, August and September of 2011, during a news conference at the Kirkwood Ace Hardware store in Bismarck, N.D. The state's taxable sales and purchases jumped 38.6 percent during that quarter. Consumer spending jumped 28 percent in North Dakota, the largest gain nationwide, from 2010 through 2012, according to a new annual government report. (AP Photo/Dale Wetzel, File)

WASHINGTON – North Dakotans, enriched by an oil boom, stepped up their spending at triple the national pace in the three years that followed the Great Recession. In Nevada, smacked hard by the housing bust, consumers barely increased their spending.

Americans spend the most, per person, on housing in Washington, D.C., and the least in West Virginia.

Those and other figures emerged Thursday from a new annual report from the government that for the first time reveals consumer spending on a state-by-state basis. The numbers point to substantial shifts in the economy since the recession ended.

Spending jumped 28 percent in North Dakota, the largest gain nationwide, from 2009 through 2012, the latest year for which figures are available. It surged nearly 16 percent in Oklahoma. The next-largest increases were in South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia.

The changes in spending patterns in North Dakota have been particularly dramatic. Its per-capita spending in 2007, before the recession began, was $32,780. That ranked it 24th among states. By 2012, North Dakota’s per-capita spending was $44,029, fourth-highest nationwide. (The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation.)

North Dakota has boomed in large part because of a breakthrough drilling technique, known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” that has unlocked vast oil and gas reserves. The state’s per-person income soared 37.2 percent, before inflation, from 2009 through 2012, according to a separate report released this year. That’s by far the most for any state. North Dakota’s unemployment rate was a barely visible 2.7 percent in June, the lowest in the nation.

By contrast, spending eked out a scant 3.5 percent increase in Nevada, the weakest for any state and far below the 10.7 percent national average. Arizona’s 6.2 percent increase was next-weakest, followed by Hawaii’s, Florida’s and Utah’s.

When the housing bust struck in 2006, home values plummeted in Nevada, Arizona and Florida. The persistently weak consumer spending in those states underscores the lingering damage the housing bust inflicted on their economies. In the three years before the recession, spending had grown in those three states faster than the national average.

Nevada and Arizona also received the smallest income gains in the first three years after the recession ended. Salaries and other income in Nevada rose just 3.8 percent and in Arizona, 6.7 percent. The national average was 11.1 percent.

And Nevada’s unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in June, the third-highest. Arizona’s was 6.9 percent, 10th-highest.

Just a year after they had seen the worst of the Great Recession, Illinois consumers were spending more than they were before the economic downturn. New federal data show that the average Illinois resident’s consumer spending has also grown faster than the average American consumer since that 2009 low.

Data released Thursday show spending by the average Illinois consumer increased 11.3 percent between 2009 and 2012. That’s ahead of the country’s 10.7 percent growth.

People in Illinois spent, on average, $36,292 each on consumer goods in 2012. The average for all Americans was $35,498. The largest expenses were for health care and housing and utilities. Each of those two cost more than $6,000 per person in Illinois.

The report also points to wide spending disparities elsewhere in the country. Per-person spending in 2012 was highest in Washington, D.C., at $59,423, followed by Massachusetts at $47,308. The next-highest per-person spending totals were in Connecticut, North Dakota and New Jersey.

Spending was lowest that year in Mississippi, at $27,406. Arkansas was second-lowest, at $28,366.

The size of the disparities has changed little in the past decade.

The government’s new report includes figures for specific spending categories. For example, in 2012, consumers spent the most on housing and utilities in Washington, D.C., where per-capita spending reached $11,985, followed by Hawaii at $10,002. Connecticut and Maryland ranked third and fourth. Those figures largely reflect high rents in those areas.

The individual categories of spending data tend to coincide with regional cost-of-living differences. Consumers in Alaska, where food costs are generally high, spent the most on groceries, laying out $3,852 in 2012, followed by Vermont at $3,622, followed by New Hampshire, $3,616, and Hawaii, $3,615.

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Contact Chris Rugaber on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/ChrisRugaber

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