Mark Dolliver: Austerity as Myth

Americans routinely tell pollsters they’re cutting back on spending. The latest Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics serves as a reminder that such claims ought not to be taken as gospel. Average spending per household rose 4.3 percent in 2006—not as big a gain as 2005’s 6.9 percent, but scarcely a decline. There was a dip in spending in the discretion-ary category of “entertainment,” but by just 0.5 percent. Outlays on food “away from home” were up 2.3 percent, not-withstanding consumers’ claims that they had cut back drastically on eating out.