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Va. consumer spending higher than pre-recession

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Local,Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Consumer spending in Virginia is higher than it was before the Great Recession but is lagging behind the national average in spending growth.

Figures released Thursday by the federal government for the first time show how much, or how little, consumer spending rose across the country, from the time the recession officially ended in June 2009 through 2012.

Overall, the figures show consumer spending has soared since the recession ended five years ago in U.S. states with oil and gas drilling booms, and has lagged in states hit especially hard by the housing bust.

While Virginia's spending growth isn't stellar, the state's diverse economy has helped to keep those trends stable, said Tim Kestner, an economist with the Virginia Employment Commission.

Here's a breakdown of Virginia's numbers:

HOW MUCH ARE VIRGINIANS SPENDING?

On average, each Virginian spent $38,133 on consumer goods and services in 2012, the most recent year figures are available. That's more than the national per capita or per-person spending of $35,498.

Virginia's per capita consumer spending in 2012 grew 2.9 percent over the previous year, weaker than the 3.3 percent growth in per capita consumer spending by the entire nation in 2012.

HOW ARE VIRGINIANS SPENDING THEIR MONEY?

Of the money spent on consumer goods and services in 2012, Virginians doled out $7,775 for housing and utilities and nearly $5,250 was spent on health care. Virginians on average each spent $2,855 on groceries and paid out nearly $1,380 for gasoline and other energy goods. All other consumer spending — which includes things like clothing, motor vehicles, and food, financial and transportation services — totaled $20,876.

The numbers in Virginia are higher than the national per capita figures in every category except health care, which topped $5,885 on average nationally.

WHAT HAPPENED TO SPENDING IN VIRGINIA DURING THE RECESSION?

After total consumer spending gains of 4.1 percent between 2006 and 2007, Virginia's spending growth slowed to 3.1 percent between 2007 and 2008 and then fell nearly 1 percent from 2008 to 2009. Between 2007 and 2008, per capita spending in Virginia grew about $700 to $35,439 before falling to $34,721 in 2009. Comparatively, national spending dipped by 1.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, falling $821 to $32,064 on a per capita basis.

HOW HAS VIRGINIA FARED SINCE THE RECESSION?

From 2009 to 2012, total consumer spending in Virginia rose 13.4 percent to $312 billion, on pace with national consumer spending, which topped $11.14 trillion. During that same time, Virginia's per capita consumer spending rose nearly 10 percent, while national per capita consumer spending rose 10.7 percent.

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Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum .

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