September 30, 2012

Do College Graduates Find Jobs in their Field? - Look at Science and Engineering

In comments on a post at Get Rich Slowly, several people felt that what you major in doesn't matter since people end up in other fields or employers don't care what your major is.   As an engineering major working in the engineering field that doesn't really apply to me, but I know engineering is different than many majors in this respect.   I've previously talked about the Heldrich Center  and their data on what percent of recent grads got jobs in their field.   Here's a report from them. However they didn't cover how it looks for different majors.  

The National Science Foundation has a report Characteristics of Recent Science and Engineering Graduates: 2008

The data is from 2008 but the report is from August 2012 so its the most recent data they have. While its not very new, I doubt the overall trends have changed much other than higher unemployment during the recession.

I'm looking at just the grads with bachelors degrees which is in Table 1 of the report.   They also dissect the data other ways looking at gender, ethnicity and other factors.

Here is how it looks graphically with each major broken up by % of graduates who are either still in school (presumably grad school), employed in a science / engineering field, employed in a field other than science/engr. or who are are  unemployed:

(Click image for larger version)


I also thought it would be good to highlight the split between grads in each field who are either in school or in their field versus those who are employed in a field that isn't science or engineering or unemployed.  That split looks like this :
(Click image for larger version)

The majority of engineering grads and computer science end up in the sciences/engineering fields or back in school.   The majority of social sciences end up in other fields or unemployed.   The physical science grads are a mix with a higher percent in school again.

At the extremes you can see that 70% of sociology/anthropology majors end up in fields other than science or engineering and 77% of mechanical engineers end up in the science/engineering fields.  


Here is the data in table format :

grads in school
agricultural/food sciences 14,000 4,000
biological sciences 147,000 68,000
environmental life sciences 12,000 3,000



computer and info sciences 85,000 7,000



math and statistics 33,000 8,000



chemistry 22,000 11,000
earth, atmospheric, ocean 9,000 3,000
physics / astronomy 10,000 5,000



psychology 184,000 54,000



economics 48,000 8,000
political and related 98,000 23,000
sociology / anthropology 87,000 15,000
other social sciences 59,000 12,000



chemical engineering 8,000 2,000
civil 19,000 3,000
electrical/computer 37,000 5,000
industrial 6,000 1,000
mechanical 30,000 4,000
other engineer 26,000 7,000

and


in field other field unemployed
agricultural/food sciences 2,000 7,000 1,000
biological sciences 29,000 37,000 13,000
environmental life sciences 3,000 6,000 1,000




computer and info sciences 57,000 17,000 4,000




math and statistics 5,000 17,000 2,000




chemistry 5,000 5,000 1,000
earth, atmospheric, ocean 3,000 4,000 1,000
physics / astronomy 2,000 3,000 *




psychology 15,000 98,000 16,000




economics 6,000 32,000 2,000
political and related 5,000 62,000 7,000
sociology / anthropology 5,000 61,000 7,000
other social sciences 6,000 36,000 6,000




chemical engineering 5,000 1,000 *
civil 13,000 3,000 1,000
electrical/computer 24,000 5,000 2,000
industrial 4,000 1,000 *
mechanical 23,000 3,000 *
other engineer 12,000 5,000 2000


. --

September 28, 2012

Best of Blog Posts for Week of September 28th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week.

Planet Money argues that  It Could Be Worse (Unemployment Edition)
and shares some positive news with Surprise! There Are 386,000 More Jobs Than We Thought
and New Home Sales And (Maybe) Good News About The Housing Market, In 2 Graphs

FMF explains What is an Accredited Investor?

Apex at FMF gives us another in their real estate series Real Estate 101: Where to Start

GetRichSlowly tackles an interesting question Ask the Readers: If parents are paying for college, are any majors off limits?
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September 27, 2012

Get a MP3 for 5¢

Here's a promo deal from Amazon to get a song for 5¢.

First you go to this page at Amazon then you have to share a song you like on Facebook to claim the credit. After that you can buy any song up to $1.29 in value and it will only cost you 5¢.

I heard about this one on Slickdeals


 - - This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

Suze Orman Backtracking on Gold

Last year Suze Orman was bullish on gold.    Today she appears to have forgotten her optimistic prediction for golds value and is no longer in favor of buying the shiny metal.    I recently caught an episode of her program where she told a viewer that gold would be the last place to put money behind housing and mutual funds.  

The episode aired Sept. 22nd.  The bit in question is around the 33 minute mark of the video.   The viewer asked "What is a better investment option: house, mutual funds or gold?"

Suze said first "all of those 3 things : fabulous investments over the long run".   Then Suze said that
"gold at this point really would be my last option, I have to tell you the truth".    She did go on to say that she thinks you could / should invest in all 3 assets for the long run in some portion.

Still it seems that gold is not her favorite investment of the three therefore she must assume housing and stocks will perform better than gold.   Yet late last year she was predicting ~20-25% increase in the value of gold within the 12 month period.

Here was her previous prediction which I talked about before

Gold prediction by Suze Orman -- Forecast : $2100 by 11/2012.  

Money reported a tweet from Suze Orman she made in Oct. 2011 where she predicted that gold will be "$2100 by 11/2012"    and recommended having 10% of your portfolio in the shiny stuff.   I found her reiterate the $2100 target on Nov. 10th last year    Gold started the year 2012 about $1600 and hit a high of $1781 in February.    

 Today gold is trading around $1750 an ounce.   If you'd followed Ormans advice and bought gold in Oct. 2011 then you would have paid somewhere between $1617 and $1741.  Depending on when you bought you'd be up 0.5% to 8%.   By comparison in the past 12 months the S&P 500 is up over 20%.

So to sum up :
Suze Orman in Oct. 2011 : predicts $2100 price of gold
Gold hits $1750 in Sept 2012.
Suze Orman in Sept. 2012 says gold "would be my last option" versus housing and stocks.

--

September 26, 2012

FREE - Museum Admission this Saturday

This Saturday is free museum day organized by the Smithsonian.

You'll need to get a ticket in advance (via email). Find a list of participating museums here and then get a ticket here.

I'm passing along the news from Bargaineering at Smithsonian Magazine Sponsors Free Museum Day

--

September 25, 2012

Updown Performance : June 2012 to August 2012

Practice invest


Its been a few months since I last updated my Updown  performance.  I didn't do any active trading on the account this summer so it was on autopilot with my existing holdings.

Here is my performance on a monthly basis compared to the S&P 500 so far for 2012:



Freeby50 S&P 500 diff.
Jan-12 2.8% 4.4% -1.6%
Feb-12 2.4% 4.1% -1.7%
Mar-12 2% 3.10% -1.1%
Apr-12 -0.4% -0.8% 0.4%
May-12 -1.60% -6.30% 4.7%
Jun-12 3.90% 4% -0.1%
Jul-12 4.40% 1.30% 3.1%
Aug-12 -1.3%* 2% -3.3%

* Adjusted to reflect split in KO not reflected on Updown.

For the year to date my portfolio is up 12.8% while the S&P 500 is up 11.9%.   In the past 3 months June to August, my holdings grew 7.2% while the S&P 500 rose 7.5%.    Since I started trading in March 2008 I'm up 44.8% while the S&P 500 is up 9.9%.

What UPdown shows
Updown didn't give me credit in shares for the 2:1 split in  Coca-Cola (KO).   Their data shows me -3% in August which is pretty awful versus the +2% that the S&P 500 had.  I went to find out why and noticed my KO was down drastically.    KO split in August and Updown didn't give me the extra shares.  So as far as Updown shows my KO lost 50% of its value.

I don't see any way to get customer support at UPdown.   Its a free service so their help staff may be limited or non existent.   If they don't fix it then I may just need to reset the portfolio and rebuild it based on the extra KO shares.

--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

September 24, 2012

Average Miles Driven, Total Miles, Number of Drivers : 1980 to 2010

The other day I shared a table showing the average number of miles driven by age and sex.   Now lets look at the average miles driven over the past 3 decades.

I got the data from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway Administration's highway statistics series for 2010   Specifically the number of drivers and the total miles driven.

Here is the chart for the total number of miles and the number of drivers over time :



And from those 2 figures we can derive the average number of miles driven per driver. 


--

September 23, 2012

Average Miles Driven Annually by Age and Sex

I've been using 12,000 miles as a estimate of the number of miles people drive annually.    Thats roughly what its been in the recent past but it tends to go up gradually over time.   The Dept. of Transportation Federal Highway administration has data on the amount of miles people drive. 

Here are the numbers :


Age Male Female Total
16-19 8,206 6,873 7,624
20-34 17,976 12,004 15,098
35-54 18,858 11,464 15,291
55-64 15,859 7,780 11,972
65+ 10,304 4,785 7,646
Average 16,550 10,142 13,476

These numbers were updated as of April 2011.

The average miles driven annually across the entire population is 13,476.  

It is notable that the amount of miles drives varies significantly across age groups and between the genders.   For all age groups women dirve a less than men and sometimes a lot less.   Overall women drive around 38% less than men do.

Teens and seniors drive less than middle age adults.  The amount people drive peaks in the 20 to 34 and 35-54 age groups which makes sense because thats the prime working years so you've got more miles driven commuting to work.

Of course the national averages don't really mean too much to individuals.   Each of us drives a different amount given out own circumstances.   There are undoubtedly some women out their in their 60's who drive 20,000 miles a year and men in their 30's who don't even clock 1,000 miles.

--

September 21, 2012

Best of Blog Posts for Week of September 21st

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week.

Planet Money gives us The 47 Percent, In One Graphic

FMF asks What Are You Doing to Make Millions More?

Apex at FMF writes Real Estate 101: The Benefits of Investing in Real Estate


HighGear warns us of Five new 2012 hybrid cars to consider steering clear of
and Popular Mechanics lists 9 electric cars you can actually buy in 2012


--

September 20, 2012

I've Made $272.24 via Ebates

Ebates is an easy way to get some money back when you shop online.   I've been using them since 2008 and so far I've made  $272.24 from them.  

Here's my current report :


Now, $272.24 over 4 years is not a ton of money.   But its simple and easy to earn so as far as bang for the buck, its a pretty good deal.   For me most of the money I've made from rebates has been via online travel reservations.   When I book a hotel or flight I go through Ebates and typically earn 3-4% or so cash back.  So if I spend $300 on a hotel room I can stand to get ~$9 cash back.

To get the cash back you need to be signed up with Ebates.  Then simply go to Ebates to get the referral to the the store before you do your shopping.  I also get a referral bonus if you use my links to sign up with Ebates.


--This article may contain referral links which pay this site a commission for purchases made at the sites.

September 19, 2012

10% of Businesses Employ 80% of the Workers

You'll hear a lot of talk about the role of small businesses in the U.S. economy.  It is true that 50% of people work at "small" businesses.    I put small in quotes there because the definition of small business used by government statistics is under 500 people.  I don't really consider a business with 100 to 499 people to be very 'small'.

The reality is the vast majority of the jobs in the US are at a small % of the businesses.

I got data from  the Statistics about Business Size (including Small Business) from the U.S. Census Bureau  their data only goes up to 2008 but its the most recent available.

As of 2008 only 10.7% of the employer firms employed over 20 people.    Business of 20+ employed 82.2% of the total.    
 
This does not count the nonemployer firms that do not have employees.  There are approximately 21 million nonemployer firms most of which are sole proprietors.



- -

September 18, 2012

Social Security Disability Beneficiaries : 1957 to 2011


I've heard people say that 'millions' of people have signed up for Social Security disability since the recession and this is one way people have opted out of the workforce.  

I wrote about the 2% drop in the labor force last month.   One point I touched on then was the number of disabled workers and how that impacted labor participation   But when I did that i looked at the BLS data on disabled workers.    However thats not the same as the number of people receiving disability benefits from the Social Security administration.

I found data for the number of beneficiaries receiving Social Security disability from 1957 to 2011 in the Table 5.A17 of the 2012 Annual Statistical Supplement for Social Security

Here are the numbers over time :



To see the percent of workers on SS disability versus the adult population I calculated the SS disability beneficiary # / Civilian noninstitutional population over 16 years old.   I got the population from the BLS labor force statistics I think this is a better way to look at the figures since it is in relation to the adult working age population.




In general it seems the upward trend has been ongoing for around 20 years.   Theres no big spike in the numbers around the recession.

I find the long term trend interesting.   The numbers went up progressively from the 50's to the 70's.   But then they dropped and slowed considerably from around 1975 to 1990.    Then in the 1990's and onward they started growing again at the same rate they were growing in the 50's and 60's.   I have no idea what caused the long term changes in the growth rate.   I would suspect there were changes in policy in the 70's or 80's or maybe changes in demographics impacted it as well.

- -

September 17, 2012

Transitioning to More Passive Investments in my Roth IRA

I recently sold off four of the individual stocks that I held in my Roth IRA account.   I had shares of Verizon, AT&T, Merck and Johnson & Johnson.   All but JNJ had performed pretty well overall.   The V and T were up >10% annually during the time I held them, so not bad.  

A bigger reason that I'm selling is that I haven't spent much time managing and actively watching my Roth IRA investments.    It takes time to keep track of stocks and I haven't been dedicating any time to my Roth IRA investments.  So for now at least I think it makes more sense to invest in board index funds if I'm going to set it on 'auto pilot'.  

Overall this year my Roth IRA is up about 15.4%.  Thats not bad at all, but if I'd bought the S&P 500 index (VOO) I'd be up 17.9% in the same period.   So my +15.4% didn't beat a basic index. 

I did have one setback when my shares in the BP oil trust (BPT) dropped significantly.   From what I gather the Wall Street Journal ran an article pointing out that oil trusts are depleting resources and that caused the trust to drop significantly.  Apparently many investors weren't really aware of what they'd bought.   Right now BPT is pretty fairly valued, so I'm holding it for the moment.  Its still paying a healthy dividend and its a good hedge against oil prices.

- -

September 16, 2012

Private vs Government vs Non Working Population : 1962 vs 2012

I recently looked at the change in government employment over the years.   I thought it would be interesting to look at a 'now and then' comparison of the labor force from 50 years ago in 1962 versus today.  

Most of the employment numbers I got from the BLS CES page.  I used the 'multi-screen data search' to get historical figures for government and non-government employment.   I also used the numbers for uniformed military and Dept. of Defense civilian employees from my previous article and then added those to get the total military personnel.   I used BLS site to find the labor force participation rate for people over 65 then figured the number of retired workers by multiplying the labor force participation rate of people over 65 versus the total population over 65.   The total population, and how it breaks down by age is off Census sites including the American factfinder.   I used 2010 numbers for age % and I used the 2007 military numbers.   So both those details are a bit off from the actual 2012 numbers but close enough.

First off lets look at who works and who doesn't:


and


Wow, less than 1/3 of the population worked back in 1962.    A lot of that is due to more 1 job families then as well as more children.   A lot more people work now.

Lets further break down the entire population including sub sections of working and non working populations :


and


Private employment and government employment have increased but the military employment has dropped.   Among the non working population there are fewer children and more retirees and fewer portion of the adult age population is non working.

If we just look at the working population and then break down the government versus private jobs :

and



More of the labor force is in private industry and we have fewer people in the military.

Breaking down the sub sections of government employment further :

and


Military dropped significantly from '62 till today.  The USPS was cut in half.  Federal jobs excluding military and USPS dropped a little.  Other state government jobs were flat as a % of all jobs and local government jobs were up a bit.   Educational jobs at the state and local level both grew significantly.   In 1962 we had about 2.9 million jobs in state / local education representing 5.1% of the workforce but by 2012 it had grown to 10.2 million workers which is 7.7% of all jobs.   This bit of information seems noteworthy and I will likely dig into this further in another article to try and see exactly why there are so many more education jobs.

Lastly for reference, here are a couple tables giving the raw figures I used for actual employment numbers (in thousands)


1962 2012
all employees 54891 132461
all with military 57731 133888
Military 3910 2078
non government 46040 110470
government 7781 21340
non government 47110 111121
dod 1070 651
fed 2433 2831
USPS 587.5 619.3
fed non USPS 775.5 1560.7
state 1624 5052
state edu 487.8 2389.9
state other 1136.2 2662.1
local 4794 14108
local edu 2470.6 7858.4
local other 2323.4 6249.6

and



1962 2012
total population 186537 312708
Military 3910 2078
non government 46040 110470
government 7781 21340
non working 128806 178820
under 15 57904 61916
over 65 17457 40965
% work >65 19.4% 18.40%
retired 14070 33427
kids 57904 61916
non worker adults 56832 83477
Military 3910 2078
private industry 46040 110470
government 7781 21340
Workers 57731 133888
Non Workers 128806 178820

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September 14, 2012

Best of Blog Posts for Week of September 14th

Every Friday afternoon I share some of the more interesting or notable posts that I have seen in the personal finance blogs and other sources for the past week.

DQYDJ poses the question  How Much of the Bad Employment Situation Can Be Blamed On Baby Boomers?

PlanetMoney shares  Where The Bailouts Stand, In 1 Graphic

Apex guest writes at FMF : Real Estate 101: Why You Should NOT Invest In Real Estate


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September 13, 2012

Would Gas Savings Alone Pay for a Chevy Volt Lease?

I just read that Chevy has been offering $199 monthly leases on the Volt for 24 month periods.  I checked the Chevy website and I see a 24 month lease at $289 per month for the 2012 Volt and a 36 month lease for $299 a month.

My first thought was that if you drive a lot then the fuel savings alone could warrant the monthly lease charge.   But of course leases have mileage limits so that effectively blows that idea.    The lease term only allows 1000 miles per month and if you go over you have to spend 18¢ or 20¢ per mile for the 2013 or 2012 models respectively.    So the first 1000 miles would cost you 28.9¢ or 29.9¢ per mile and the additional miles would be 18¢ or 20¢.    If your current car gets 20 MPG and gas costs $3.70 per gallon then you are spending about 19¢ per mile on gas.   Even if the Volt had $0 fuel costs you wouldn't come out ahead with just fuel savings.     But the Volt does cost money to operate of course.   The battery is 16k.5Wh and gives you 38 miles.  If you spend 11¢ per kWh on your electricity then it would cost $1.81 to charge the battery and it would cost you 4.8¢ per mile in electricity.    Therefore with a Volt lease you'd be spending at least 18¢ per mile for the lease plus almost 5¢ for electricity.

Lets say you drive a Hummer H3 entirely in the city and get 13 MPG.  Thats 28¢ per mile for gas.   If you gave that hummer away and leased a Volt you'd have to drive 1650 miles a month to break even.    Thats almost 20,000 miles a year.   BUT you can't actually drive a Volt 1650 miles a month on just electricity because the battery only gives you 38 miles a charge.  If you charge the car every night then the most you can get in an average month is 1155 miles.  That means you'd have to buy gas for the additional 500 miles a month.  The volt gets about 36 MPG when using gas so that cost is more like 10¢ per mile.    That means that the miles you drive over 1155 per month would cost 10¢ for electricity and 18¢ for the lease charge which would be equivalent to the 28¢ you spend on gas for the Hummer.
If you add the lease charge to the cost of fuel for the Volt it will always be more expensive than the fuel costs alone for a Hummer H3.    This is still assuming a cost of $3.70 per gallon of gasoline.  If fuel goes up then paying the lease on a Volt might beat the cost of gas for a Hummer.

Most people don't drive Hummers and if you do there are a lot of other options to save on gas costs.

A typical car gets 20 or 25 MPG.   That would make the cost of gasoline alone around 14.8-18.5¢ per gallon.    The cost of leasing a Volt is already higher than that per mile plus you have electricity and gas costs for the Volt as well.  

Bottom Line :   Leasing a Volt will not pay for itself in just gasoline cost savings.

- -

September 12, 2012

Federal Government Employees by Group, Military vs Civilian - 1962 to 2007

The other day I talked about how federal government and government employment in general has been on the decline recently.   I showed the trend for federal, state and local government jobs from the BLS data.   At the time I wasn't sure how much of the federal government employees were related to the military.  I figured at least some were given the big jumps in employment around the 40's and 60's.  

I found numbers for federal government employees broken down into some categories.   The more recent budgets only show numbers starting in 1981.   The 2009 budget figures have the data going back to 1962.  I wanted a longer history so I am using the 2009 budget data.

First here is the federal government employment split into different categories:


The 'Military' section is for uniformed military while the 'DoD' is for civilian employment within the Dept. of Defense.  

Here's another look at the same data that make it a little easier to see the number of employees and trends for each category :


As you can see there the size of our uniformed military is mostly the cause of decrease in total federal employment.   The other lines generally trend flat over the decades (more or less).   I'll also point out that from 1962 to 2007 the population of the U.S. increased about 60% from around about 189M to 304M.

Lastly I broke it into military & DoD versus all the other employees:

This graph more clearly illustrates the impact that total military related employment has had on the general trend in federal government employee total.

Here is a table with select years :


Year Military Leg/Jud DoD Exec USPS SUM
1962 2840 30 1070 827 589 5354
1965 2687 32 1034 867 595 5215
1970 3104 38 1219 983 741 6085
1975 2164 49 1042 1107 699 5061
1980 2090 55 960 1201 660 4965
1985 2190 58 1107 1145 756 5256
1990 2106 61 1034 1216 817 5234
1995 1555 62 802 1210 846 4475
2000 1426 63 651 1127 861 4129
2005 1436 65 649 1224 764 4138
2006 1432 63 653 1227 757 4133
2007 1427 63 651 1237 748 4127

Those numbers are in thousands.

--

September 10, 2012

Loss of Government Jobs Equates to about 0.7% to 1% of Unemployment

You may or may not be surprised to know that the number of government jobs  has dropped by about 1 million in the past couple years.    In May of 2010 the government sector employed 22.997 million people.   As of July 2012 there were 21.928M government jobs.   Thats a reduction of 1.069M government jobs.     You can get the specifics on employment by industry in the BLS CES database

Currently the labor force is at 155.013M.   Therefore the contraction of 1.069M government jobs equates to 0.7% of the labor force.   One could conclude that these lost jobs add to the rolls of the unemployed.  

If you consider population growth the impact is higher.   From May 2010 to July 2012 the population grew about 2%.    If government employment had grown along with the population then it would be at 22.997M x 1.02 = 23.45694M.    Thats 1.52894M fewer jobs than we have currently.   This amount is about 1% of the labor force.  

I am not trying to draw any conclusions from this and I don't have a point here.   I just thought it was interesting that the number of government jobs has shrunk that much in the past couple years.  I'm not sure of the exact cause but I'd assume its belt tightening but could also be due to some demographic shifts.

Here are some charts showing the trend in government employment broken down by the various government levels:

All governments:

Notice that big spike in jobs in 2010?   Yeah that sticks out.   Its about 500k leap there in jobs for just a short period.   Odd huh?   I'll discuss that more after looking at the rest of the charts.

Federal government: 
Overall the number of federal jobs has not changed radically since 2010.

But you can see that spike is again shown here in the federal government employment rolls.   Federal jobs went up about 600k briefly in 2010.

You might be interested to know that there were actually more federal government employees in the 1940's and 1960s than there are today.   Here's the longer term trend :
 I suspect that this is large part due to employment in the military.   Particularly given the huge spike in jobs in the 1940's.

From that longer term graph of federal jobs you can also notice those short term spikes in employment every 10 years.   I assume those spokes in employment including the jump in 2010 is due to the US Census hiring temporary workers every 10 years to conduct the Decennial Census.

US Postal Service:
The USPS has been shedding workers pretty quickly for a few years now.   Total employment at USPS peaked at about 900k in April 1999 and has dropped about 1/3 to 609k as of July 2012.   Thats about a -3% annual drop over 13 years.   They've lost about 18% in just the past 4 years.

State governments:
State governments as a whole have shed about 150k jobs, just a 2.8% drop.

Local governments:


Local governments have lost about 500k jobs since 2009 which is about 3.5% cut.


--

September 9, 2012

Expected Repair and Maintenance Costs by Car Brand

I've previously discussed the idea of looking at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a car instead of focusing on just price.  TCO looks at a few costs like fuel cost, depreciation, interest expense from financing, etc.   One of the bigger functions of your ongoing costs for a car could be the repair and maintenance bills.  Using TCO is great but sometimes the numbers aren't availalbe for certain years of used cars.   So I wanted to get a sense of the maintenance costs.  Less reliable brands or makes could have higher repair bills and some cars are more expensive to maintain than others. I wanted to try and get an idea of how different brands of cars compare as far as repair and maintenance costs.  


To get an idea of repair and maintenance costs per brand I'm going to rely on the TCO data from Edmunds as a guide.  I decided to look up some mid size sedans for each brands as examples.   I picked one model car for each brand for starters.  I got all of the repair and maintenance costs I'll look at today from the Edmunds TCO data.   I looked up each car and noted the expected purchase price and the total repair and maintenance costs for the 5 year period.   I chose to look at cars from 2008 so they would be a bit old and start to show some wear.  Brand new cars won't have much in the way of repair bills and are still under warranty so comparing new cars won't be as meaningful.  I picked 2008 since it was a few years ago and Edmunds had data for that year.

A few notes :  The repair and maintenance costs are just forecasted estimates from Edmunds.   They base it off reported repair rates and costs from customers of the cars.   The numbers assume that current trends will continue.   We're only looking at one year here and car reliability for brands changes over time so a specific brand car from 2013 or 2002 may be more or less reliable and that would impact the repair and maintenance costs.    Lastly, of course these are just meant as average costs and everyones individual experiences will vary.   Your car may be a lemon and cost you more or more often people will not see as high of repair costs.  I assume that individual repair costs are often $0 and its the unlucky individuals with high repair bills that account for most of the costs in the averages.  In other words a $4,000 repair bill is not typical, but its the average from a couple people one who has $200 in repairs and the other with $7800.  (thats just an illustrative example, I don't know what the distribution is like).   Again, these are just forecasted expectations from Edmunds and not actual observed costs.  They're' trying to put a guess on how much people will spend moving forward based on the best data they have.   The maintenance cost may be easier to predict since it is probably based on the manufacturer maintenance schedule and known average costs for service.  Ok, enough explaining...

Here are the numbers for the sample  models that I picked for each brand :


Brand Model Price Repair Maint
Acura  TL $17,491 $2,945 $4,691
Audi A4 2.0T $15,649 $6,564 $5,810
BMW 328i $20,119 $7,743 $7,997
Buick Lacrosse $10,290 $2,554 $3,813
Cadillac CTS $19,486 $5,496 $6,293
Chevy Malibu $9,999 $3,975 $2,424
Chrysler 300 C $17,419 $2,763 $4,379
Dodge Charger $11,279 $2,554 $5,692
Ford Fusion $9,477 $2,526 $4,685
Honda Accord EX $13,319 $2,203 $4,356
Hyundai Sonata $8,890 $2,091 $3,683
Infiniti G35 $16,804 $3,396 $4,782
Jaguar S type $19,199 $13,605 $6,154
Kia Optima $9,290 $2,091 $3,426
Lexus IS 350 $20,143 $3,056 $5,935
Lincoln MKZ $14,426 $2,945 $6,208
Mazda 6-touring $10,620 $2,439 $4,523
Mercedes C300 $18,298 $8,222 $5,893
Mercury Milan $9,656 $2,754 $5,393
MINI Cooper $13,986 $3,373 $6,350
Mitsubishi Galant $7,689 $2,263 $4,341
Nissan Maxima $14,621 $2,203 $3,580
Pontiac G6 $8,709 $2,424 $3,223
Saab 9-3 $10,604 $6,915 $5,533
Saturn  Aura $8,851 $2,424 $3,207
Scion tC $10,842 $2,203 $5,259
Subaru Impreza $10,257 $2,693 $4,909
Suzuki SX4 $8,204 $1,888 $4,162
Toyota Camry $10,308 $2,203 $5,178
VW Jetta $9,052 $2,803 $5,258
Volvo S40 $11,638 $5,168 $6,695

Bottom line is the combined cost of repair and maintenance for each car.  Here are the cars sorted by total repair and maintenance cost over the 5 years :


Brand Combined
Kia $5,517
Saturn  $5,631
Pontiac $5,647
Hyundai $5,774
Nissan $5,783
Suzuki $6,050
Buick $6,367
Chevy $6,399
Honda $6,559
Mitsubishi $6,604
Mazda $6,962
Chrysler $7,142
Ford $7,211
Toyota $7,381
Scion $7,462
Subaru $7,602
Acura  $7,636
VW $8,061
Mercury $8,147
Infiniti $8,178
Dodge $8,246
Lexus $8,991
Lincoln $9,153
MINI $9,723
Cadillac $11,789
Volvo $11,863
Audi $12,374
Saab $12,448
Mercedes $14,115
BMW $15,740
Jaguar $19,759


One thing to consider is that it will cost more to repair a more expensive car.   More expensive cars have more expensive parts.    This would at least in part explain why luxury cars like Mercedes may cost more to repair.   However we also see that more expensive cars like the Lexus or Infiniti cost substantially less to repair and maintain. 

Now lets look at variations within a specific brand.  

Here are a few Chrysler 2008 models :


Model Price Repair Maint Total
300 C $17,419 $2,763 $4,379 $7,142
Pacifica $11,091 $2,554 $5,226 $7,780
TC Minivan $9,690 $2,554 $4,287 $6,841
Crossfire $16,768 $2,554 $5,779 $8,333
Sebring $7,691 $2,554 $4,373 $6,927


You can see theres about $1400 difference between total repair and maintenance costs across the different Chrysler models here.   Notice that the repair bills are mostly the same across the models at $2,554 for 4 different cars with only the 300C costing a couple hundred more.   This makes sense because mostly repair costs are related to powertrain failures and the cars would use common powertrains.  For example if a Pacifica and a Crossfire have the same 3.6L engine in them then the likelihood of engine repairs would be the same and the cost would be the same.   Across these Chryslers the average total repair and maintenance is $7,405 and the high of $8,333 for the Crossfire is 13% more and the T&C minivan is 8% less.  So for the Chrysler models I've looked at here the sum cost of repair and maintenance is $7,405 plus or minus 13%.

By comparison lets now look at one of the more pricey brands and compare some BMW models.


Model Price Repair Maint Total
528i $20,964 $7,743 $9,961 $17,704
M3 $33,468 $7,743 $8,843 $16,586
328i $20,119 $7,743 $7,997 $15,740
750Li $33,700 $7,743 $8,999 $16,742
Z4 $19,069 $7,743 $7,482 $15,225


For these BMW's the average total cost is $16,399.   The range is +8% at $17,704 for the 528i and -7% less at $15,225 for the Z4.    You'll notice that the repair costs are flat at $7,743 for all the BMW's that I looked at.

Lastly I'll look at the Kia brand which had the lowest combined cost across the brands I sampled initially.   For 5 different Kias we get :


Model Price Repair Maint Total
Optima $9,290 $2,091 $3,426 $5,517
Amanti $11,555 $2,091 $4,559 $6,650
Rio $5,415 $2,091 $4,633 $6,724
Spectra $7,021 $2,091 $3,728 $5,819
Sedona $9,410 $2,091 $3,794 $5,885

The average is $6,119 and it varies +/-10% between the high of $6,724 for the Rio and a low of $5,517 for the Optima.

So thats 3 different brands I looked at several models from, the Chryslers, BMW and Kia.   For each brand the repair costs are the same across all models for the brand.   I guess this is due to Edmunds assuming that repairs will be based on the engine design and quality which is generally the same across models for a brand.     Overall the total costs for repair and maintenance of a particular model car tend to vary about +/-10% from the average for the brand.

Now I've only looked at 3 brands in more detail here, and there could be some other brands that have wider variance in the expected repair and maintenance costs.   But I think its a fairly safe bet that most if not all brands follow this trend of having about +/-10% variation between models.
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