People in the United States are drinking more, and some are spending a bigger share of their income on alcohol.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the percentage of Americans consuming alcohol annually increased from 65.4% in 2001-2002 to 72.7% in 2012-2013. The number of people who reported alcohol use disorder, a disease characterized by excessive alcohol intake, was up by almost 50%. Those who have started drinking more are women, older adults, minorities, the less educated, and people with low incomes.
The average amount Americans are spending on alcohol has gone up by $100 since 2007, while the average increase in the price of beer, wine and other liquor was only about $11.
To determine which cities in the United States spend the most on alcohol, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2017 expenditure data for metropolitan areas from the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is a national study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics every year to observe how people spend their money. For context, we included how much people spend on other everyday items, such as tobacco and gas.
The biggest drinkers appear to live in the West. Four of the cities in the top five list are located in that region. Although three metropolitan areas actually spent less on alcohol than the previous year, they are still on top of the list. San Francisco spent almost a quarter less on beer, wine and liquor than in 2016. In Minneapolis-St. Paul spending fell about 13%, and in Washington, D.C. 1.8%.
About 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the country – after smoking and poor diet and physical inactivity. Globally, that number is 3 million, or 5.1% of all deaths.
5. Anchorage, Alaska
> Average amount a person spent on alcohol: $788
> Average amount a person spent on gas: $2,307
> Average amount a person spent on tobacco products: $482
The annual income before taxes has fallen in Anchorage by about $8,000 between 2016 and 2017. Alcohol is the one of two items people have actually spent more on — going up from $712 in 2016 to $788 in 2017. Insurance and housing are the only expenses that have remained relatively steady; people are saving on almost everything else.
4. Boston, Massachusetts
> Average amount a person spent on alcohol: $823
> Average amount a person spent on gas: $1,746
> Average amount a person spent on tobacco products: $344
While the average alcohol expenditure in the entire Northeast region has gone down by $4 since 2016, the increase in the average a person in Boston will spend on beer, wine and other liquor is a lot more significant – jumping $118 in one year.
3. San Francisco, California
> Average amount a person spent on alcohol: $875
> Average amount a person spent on gas: $1,927
> Average amount a person spent on tobacco products: $82
Residents of San Francisco make about $25,000 more a year than San Diegans, although both spend about $79,000 a year on everything from food to transportation and entertainment. People in Frisco spend less on the same, except housing, personal insurance and pensions.
2. Seattle, Washington
> Average amount a person spent on alcohol: $986
> Average amount a person spent on gas: $2,032
> Average amount a person spent on tobacco products: $257
The average amount a person in Seattle spent on alcohol has gone up by more than a quarter — from $713 in 2016 to $986 in 2017. Even though that number has increased significantly, locals still spent more on most other things.
1. San Diego, California
> Average amount a person spent on alcohol: $1,112
> Average amount a person spent on gas: $2,432
> Average amount a person spent on tobacco products: $189
The average San Diegan spent more on alcohol than anyone else in the United States. And that amount has been steadily increasing every year since 2014, when it was $681. In comparison, the average amount a resident of “America’s Finest City” spent on fruits and vegetables was $997.
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