The top chart above displays the share of monthly consumer expenditures that is spent on "energy goods and services," on a monthly basis back to January 1959 (BEA data here). The energy share of consumer spending fell to an all-time record low in February of this year at slightly less than 3.7%. During the Great Recession, when oil, gasoline, and natural gas prices were spiking, the energy share of spending peaked at 6.8% in July 2008, nearly double the energy share in February. And back during the 1979-1980 energy crisis/oil shock, the energy share of consumer spending exceeded 9% in 18 of the months between March 1980 and March 1982.
The bottom chart above displays the monthly CPI series for gasoline and natural gas between January 2000 and February 2016, and helps explain why the energy share of consumer spending reached an all-time low in February. The CPI for natural gas was lower in January and February than in any months going back to early 2003, and the CPI for gasoline was the lowest in February in 12 years, except for a few months in late 2008 when it was slightly lower.
Bottom Line: With the energy share of consumer spending falling to a new all-time low in February, we can recognize and celebrate another important energy milestone that was made possible by what is arguably the most remarkable energy success story in US history - America's amazing shale revolution. For the most affordable energy in modern US history, American consumers can acknowledge and thank America's oil & gas industry (especially independent operators), the revolutionary "Made-in-the-USA" drilling and extraction technologies of hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling, and America's petropreneurs, who have brought to us this newfound energy abundance of shale oil and shale gas that led to the most affordable energy in history. Carpe oleum.