Finance for Dummies – BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey


Finance for Dummies is a series about personal finance topics for those without a PhD in Finance!

What is the Consumer Expenditure Survey?

The Consumer Expenditure Survey or CE, consists of two surveys,  the Diary Survey and the Quarterly Interview Survey which provides information about the buying habits of the American Consumer.  Survey Data is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Why is the Consumer Expenditure Survey Important?

The Consumer Expenditure Survey is important because it is the only Federal Survey that provides information about consumer spending and income.

Who uses this information?

Economic policymakers,  businesses and academic researchers who study consumer spending habits and trends, by other Federal agencies, and most importantly, to regularly revise the Consumer Price Index market basket of goods and services and their relative importance.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics or BLS, uses survey data to select new components for the market baskets of goods and services for the CPI, to determine the relative importance of CPI components, and to derive new cost weightings for the market basket of goods.  Another user of CE information is Marketing Researchers who use the data to study the spending behavior of different family types, trends in expenditures on different spending components such as new types of goods and services, gift-giving behavior, consumption studies, and historical spending trends.

For the most recent published Consumer Expenditure Report click here.

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4 Responses to Finance for Dummies – BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey

  1. Shaun @ Money Cactus 01/11/2012 at 6:07 am #

    I love a quick lesson. Thanks for another one, I’m feeling smarter already!

  2. Amanda L Grossman 01/12/2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Oooohhhh I love the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Thanks for reminding me that a new one has probably been out since last I looked!

  3. Wayne @ Young Family Finance 01/15/2012 at 6:55 pm #

    There is so much financial information on government websites that is helpful. I like using the consumer expenditure survey to assess my budget. Obviously, because of averages and locations, things don’t always match as I’d hope. Still, it’s good to see how my families line items match up to the average household.

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