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New York State consumers drive less, buy more, data shows

Residents of New York State spent almost $600

Residents of New York State spent almost $600 more on clothing and shoes in 2012 than the national average, federal statistics show. This is the Westfield South Shore mall in Bay Shore on July 17, 2014. Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

New York State residents spent more on clothing, shoes, health care and foreign travel in 2012 than the national average, but less on gasoline and automobiles, according to federal statistics.

The federal Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released its first estimate of personal consumption expenditures by state, which measures out-of-pocket spending by consumers plus government or employer spending for medical care and other services used by consumers.

Per capita consumption in New York State was $42,043 in 2012 compared with $35,498 nationwide, the most recent statistics available.

A Newsday analysis of the data found big disparities in some spending categories between the state and country.

For example, New Yorkers' spending on motor vehicles and parts averaged $952 in 2012, compared with $1,280 nationally. Per capita spending on gasoline and other energy goods was $919, versus $1,328 nationally.

"The lower figures for New York State may be because more of our population lives in urban areas such as New York City, and many people use mass transit rather than drive or own one car instead of two," said Richard Vogel, an economist and dean of Farmingdale State College's business school.

He also said the prevalence of apartments, condominiums and other "high-density housing" in New York City has meant less energy usage in New York State than the equivalent number of single-family houses elsewhere.

Per capita spending on clothing and shoes in the state was $1,722, or almost $600 more than the national average.

Vogel attributed this difference to more luxury and high-priced merchandise being sold in New York State and a business environment in the city that generally favors suits and ties over less expensive khakis and polo shirts.

He said the state's aging population and higher costs of medical care and insurance were why health care consumption averaged $7,303 in New York and only $5,886 in the country.

The federal statistics also showed the importance of vacation spending by New York State residents abroad and foreigners here in 2012.

International visitors spent, on average, $2,062 in New York compared with $521 in the United States. State residents spent $990 in foreign travel compared with $350 for all U.S. residents.

Vogel said, "The large immigrant population in the New York metro region explains some of this. . . . People here have maintained ties to the countries they, their parents or grandparents originally came from."

He and other economists were excited about the federal data, saying it would provide a clearer picture of the differences between the economies of states and the nation. Also, businesses can use the numbers to determine where certain goods and services are in greatest demand.

"These numbers reflect which goods and services are important to us . . . and how people are living," Vogel said. "They also reflect the cultural and social background of each state."

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