We spend more on transporation than any other metro area. Here’s why.

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.

People spend more of their money on transportation in South Florida than anywhere else in the nation’s largest metro areas, a new analysis has found.

Among the reasons: We make less money here. We drive more. Our insurance costs are higher.

And with prices for vehicles and gasoline increasing faster than incomes this year, what we spend getting ourselves where we need to go can only go up.

The average household in the Miami metropolitan statistical area, which includes Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, devotes 19% of its total spending on transportation, according to an analysis by CoPilot, a smartphone app that helps car shoppers compare prices.

Nationally, the average household spends just 16.8%, and the percentage is lower in dense urban areas with good public transportation systems and shorter commutes, CoPilot noted.

The analysis looked at data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Consumer Expenditure Survey, which was based on responses from households questioned in 2018 and 2019.

Miami-area households spend more of their money for transportation because, among other reasons, consumers here make less money on average.

Average household spending in Miami was $57,452 — lowest among the nation’s 22 largest metros. Rounding out the bottom five were Tampa ($59,193), Honolulu ($63,481), Atlanta ($64,103) and St. Louis ($64,777).

Without access to robust public transportation systems, households in lower-income cities tend to rely on cars more and spend a larger percentage on transportation than in higher-wage, densely packed areas like New York, San Diego and Denver.

For example, the highest per-household transportation bill, $13,646, was in Washington D.C., but it accounted for just 14.3% of the $95,441 that households in that metro area spent on necessities such as housing, food, clothing and medical care.

Plus, higher home prices in northeastern and western states require a larger portion of household spending, said William Luther, an economist at Florida Atlantic University. People who spend more on housing may have to compensate by spending less on other needs, such as transportation, he said.

Housing costs are not as high in South Florida, “so people can afford to live in Miami on smaller incomes,” he said. Because there’s no snow, roads tend to be in better shape. Nicer roads mean residents can drive a little farther and have a bigger house farther from their workplaces, he said.

The average South Florida household spent $10,915 on transportation costs, which included vehicle purchases ($3,108), fuel and motor oil ($2,421), public and other transportation ($759), and other vehicle expenses ($4,626), a category that includes insurance, finance charges rentals, leases and maintenance.

After South Florida, the second-highest percentage of transportation spending per household was in Phoenix (18.8%), followed by Tampa (18.1%), Anchorage, Alaska, and Detroit (tied at 17.3%).

Four of the five cities with the lowest transportation spending levels — Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Minneapolis-St. Paul — have strong public transportation systems. In all five, households spent more than $1,000 a year on public transportation. By comparison, households spent $759 on public transportation in South Florida and $743 in Tampa.

Breaking News Alerts Newsletter

As it happens

Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.

In addition, auto insurance costs in South Florida are consistently ranked among the highest in the nation. A recent ranking of data from insurance price aggregator TheZebra.com shows the Miami metro area as the third-most-expensive region for insurance — with households paying an average $3,075, just under Detroit ($6,280) and New Orleans ($3,735).

Still another factor that propelled Miami to the top of the transportation spending list is that residents here simply drive more than in other cities.

South Florida households spend an average $2,421 on fuel and motor oil, third behind Los Angeles and San Diego, cities where the price of gas is far more expensive.

“Miami is built for driving,” Luther said. “Anyone who’s been on Interstate 95 in the early morning and evening knows we drive a lot here — probably more than we want to.”

Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, by email at rhurtibise@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @ronhurtibise.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

VIP Societe
Cocktails & Coworkers
Jackets Required
MILF Society
The List