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Report: State's consumer spending rebounded fast

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 11:25 p.m. CDT

CHAMPAIGN – Illinois consumers spent more in 2010, just a year after the worst of the Great Recession, than they had in the years before the economic downturn, according to new data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. And the growth of consumer spending in the state has outpaced the country since that 2009 low.

The new state-level data also included information on where consumers spend the most money – housing and utilities and health care top the list.

On average, consumer spending in Illinois increased 11.3 percent between 2009 and 2012. It rose from $32,607 a person in 2009 to $36,292 in 2012, the most recent year included in the data.

Nationally, per capita spending increased 10.7 percent.

In 2010, Illinois residents spent $33,690 annually on consumer goods, topping even the boom years in the early 2000s. That data wasn’t adjusted for inflation.

University of Illinois economist Fred Giertz said the numbers provide one measure of the degree to which the state has rebounded.

“It tells us that the economy is growing again and things are getting better, but it’s the same old story. It’s probably not growing as fast as it would have” without the recession, he said.

But Giertz also said he wasn’t surprised that consumer spending in the state has outpaced the national average since Illinois residents have larger incomes.

According to U.S. Census data, the median income in 2012 in Illinois was $51,738. The national median was $51,017.

Illinois has been slower to bounce back from the recession than the country as a whole by many measures, among them unemployment. Though the rate fell in recent months, unemployment runs about a percentage point higher than the national rate. Unemployment was at 7.1 percent in Illinois in June while the national jobless rate was 6.1 percent.

Consumer spending in Illinois and the Great Lakes region has grown by identical 11.3 percent rates since 2009. The region is made up of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The new data also broke down consumer spending by category. Illinois residents spend more on the combination of housing and utilities than anything else – $6,143 per person in 2012, or 16.9 percent of their annual consumer spending. Health care is a close second at $6,028, or 16.6 percent.

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