CE CAPI Frequently Asked Questions
The Consumer Expenditure Survey collects information from the Nation's households and families on their buying habits (expenditures), income, and characteristics. The strength of the survey is that it allows data users to relate the expenditure and income of consumers to the characteristics of those consumers.
Data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey are used in a number of different ways by a
variety of users. An important use of the survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is for
the periodic revisions of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Survey results are used to
select new market basket of goods and services for the CPI, to determine the relative
importance of CPI components and to derive new cost weights for the market basket.
Data collection is carried out by the Bureau of the Census. In the Interview Survey, each consumer unit is interviewed every 3 months over 5 calendar quarters. In the initial interview, information is collected on demographic and family characteristics and on the inventory of major durable goods of the consumer unit. Expenditure information is collected in the second through fifth interview using uniform questionnaires. In the fifth interview, a supplement is used to account for changes in assets and liabilities.
The information that respondents provide is used solely for statistical purposes. All Census Bureau data collectors take an oath of confidentiality and are subject to fines and imprisonment for improperly disclosing information provided by respondents. Names and addresses are removed from all forms and that information is not released as part of any statistical data.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducts the Consumer Expenditure Survey under the
authority of Title 29 of the U.S. Code. Congress authorizes the financial support for the
CE survey through Public Laws 94-439 and 95-205.
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Last Modified Date: December 01, 2005