Consumer Price Index Shows That Consumers Like Eating Out, Gasoline

The New York Times made a pretty cool graph out of the Consumer Price Index, which tracks changes in prices for many consumer goods over the past year. Turns out, gas prices went up.

The Times graph, a form of Voronoi Treemap, divides consumer spending into numerous categories and subcategories, allowing you to see what percentage of an average consumer’s spending is used for food versus transportation, or on citrus fruit versus tires. Some interesting highlights:

  • Electronics took the biggest dip in prices. From March 2007 to March 2008, TVs dropped 18.3% and computers dropped 12%.
  • Not surprisingly, the biggest price increases were in fuel: Gas went up 26%, propane and firewood went up 23.4%, and fuel oil (for home heating) went up 48.4%.
  • The only non-fuel item that increased by more than 20% was eggs, which went up 29.9%.
  • Consumers spend the same amount on “alcohol away from home” (0.5%) as they do on health insurance.
  • We spend too much damn money on fast food. The only categories where we spend more money are rent, gas, electricity, new cars, and meals at non-fast food restaurants. Yes, this is because other categories like groceries are subdivided into produce and meat and so on, but 2.4% is still a sizable chunk of spending.

All of Inflation’s Little Parts [NYT]
(Photo: =Rah=)