Hristina Byrnes, 24/7 Wall Street
Oct. 31, 2018
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 percent in 2001-2002 to 72.7 percent in 2012-2013. The number of people who reported alcohol use disorder, a disease characterized by excessive alcohol intake, was up by almost 50 percent. 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 Street 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 percent, and in Washington, D.C. 1.8 percent.
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 percent of all deaths.