In a historic low, U.S. consumers spent 8.6% of their disposable income on food last year, a 10.1% decrease from 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Between 1960 and 2000, the percentage of disposable income — the amount of money consumers have left after paying taxes — spent on food dropped from 17% to 9.9%. But for the last 20 years, the percentage had been steady, remaining around 10%.
Consumers in 2019 spent an average of 9.58% of their income on food, with 4.94% going towards food cooked at home and 4.65% towards dining out. In 2020, Americans spent 1.4% more of their incomes on food at home and spent 22.2% less on eating out.
An analysis by the USDA’s Environmental Research Service attributes the changes in food spending, in part, to coronavirus-related closures and restrictions, and to the largest annual increase in disposable personal income in 20 years due to additional government financial aid during the pandemic.
Amanda Perez Pintado is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.