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5 things to know about Georgia spending

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ATLANTA (AP) — Five things to know about new federal data on Georgia households' spending patterns, which reveals consumer spending on a state-by-state basis for the first time:

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1. STEADY GROWTH

Total consumer spending in Georgia grew three years in a row starting in 2010. The increase between 2011 and 2012 was about 3.1 percent per capita — slightly lower than the national rate — but lags fast-growing states including North Carolina, Texas and North Dakota.

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2. MIDDLE OF THE PACK

In the Southeast, Georgia's consumer spending growth in 2012 was in the middle of the pack. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia all reported lower growth. The region's fastest growing state was North Carolina. The region as a whole tied for the slowest regional growth rate with New England and the Mideast.

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CONSUMER SPENDING SOARS THEN FALLS

3. Consumer spending in Georgia boomed from 1997 to 2008, rising to around $281 million before falling in 2009. Per capita spending followed that rise and fall, with a peak of about $29,647 in 2007 before falling to $28,466 per Georgian two years later.

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4. USEFUL FOR BUSINESS

Economic development officials say Georgia companies can use the information to learn more about their existing and potential customers. The data provides new information on spending patterns that could be useful for companies deciding on locations and state or local officials trying to win them over.

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5. HOUSING BIGGEST EXPENSE

Housing and utilities have seen the slowest growth in consumer spending since the recession, around 4 percent. But Georgians per capita spent the most on housing and utilities — about $5,336 out of $31,219 total expenses in 2012— compared to food and beverages, gasoline or health care.

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