This glossary is divided into four sections:
Age - The age of the reference person.
Complete income reporters -
Complete Income Reporters were the source of income data prior to the 2004
tables, at which time all missing income data for all income variables
were imputed and used in income calculations. The distinction between
complete and incomplete income reporters was based, in general, on whether
the respondent provided values for major sources of income, such as wages
and salaries, self- employment income, and Social Security income. Even
complete income reporters may not have provided a full accounting of all
income from all sources for all members of the consumer unit. Prior to
2004, across-the-board zero income reporting was designated as invalid,
and the consumer unit was categorized as an incomplete reporter. See Income Imputation Introduced With 2004
Data under Special Notices on CE home page for a discussion of
improvements and changes in estimating income in the survey.
Composition of consumer unit - The
classification of interview families according to: (1) relationship of
other family members to the reference person; (2) age of the children of
the reference person; and (3) combination of relationship to the reference
person and age of the children. Stepchildren and adopted children are
included with the reference person's own children.
Consumer unit - A consumer unit
comprises either: (1) all members of a particular household who are
related by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legal arrangements; (2) a
person living alone or sharing a household with others or living as a
roomer in a private home or lodging house or in permanent living quarters
in a hotel or motel, but who is financially independent; or (3) two or
more persons living together who use their income to make joint
expenditure decisions. Financial independence is determined by the three
major expense categories: Housing, food, and other living expenses. To be
considered financially independent, at least two of the three major
expense categories have to be provided entirely, or in part, by the
Earner - A consumer unit member, 14
years of age or older, who reported having worked at least 1 week during
the 12 months prior to the interview date.
Education of reference person - The
number of years of formal education of the reference person, on the basis
of the highest grade completed. If enrolled at time of the interview, the
interviewer records the grade currently attended. Persons not reporting
the extent of their education are classified under no school or not
Housing tenure - The family's
principal place of residence during the survey. "Owner" includes families
living in their own homes, cooperatives or condominium apartments, or
townhouses. "Renter" includes families paying rent, as well as families
living rent-free in lieu of wages.
Income before taxes - The total money
earnings and selected money receipts during the 12 months prior to the
interview date. See the Income
and Personal Taxes section of this glossary for a complete definition
of the components.
Income after taxes - Income before
taxes less personal taxes, which include Federal, State, and local income
taxes and other taxes. See the Income and Personal Taxes
section of this glossary for a complete definition of the components.
Lower limit - Amount of income
before taxes of the lowest-ranked consumer unit in each quintile.
Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)
- The general concept of an MSA is one of a large population nucleus,
together with adjacent communities which have a high degree of economic
and social integration with that nucleus. The Office of Management and
Budget defines the term as a standard for Federal agencies in the
preparation and publication of statistics relating to metropolitan areas.
Number of vehicles owned or
leased - Number of automobiles, trucks, vans, campers,
motorcycles, trailers, and planes owned or leased by members of the
consumer unit, including vehicles used partially for business, but
excluding those used entirely for business.
Occupation - Refers to the
occupation in which the reference person received the most earnings during
the survey period. The occupational categories follow those of the Census
of Population. Categories shown in the reference tables include the
- Encompasses all occupational categories; the reference person is
self-employed in own business, professional practice, or farm.
- Wage and salary earners
- Managers and professionals—executives, administrators, and managers;
and professional specialties, including architects, engineers, natural
and social scientists, lawyers, teachers, writers, health diagnosis and
treatment workers, entertainers, and athletes.
- Technical, sales, and clerical workers—technicians and related
support workers; sales representatives, sales workers, cashiers, and
sales-related occupations; and administrative support, including
- Service workers—private household workers, protective services, food
preparers, health services, cleaning and building services, and personal
- Precision production, craft, and repair workers—mechanics and
repairers, construction trades, extractive occupations, and precision
- Operators, fabricators, and laborers—machine operators and
assemblers, transportation workers, handlers and laborers, and farming,
forestry, and fishery workers.
- Retired persons who did not work either full- or part-time during
the survey period.
- All others, including not reporting
- A residual including unemployed persons; those working without pay;
those not working due to illness, going to school, or caring for others;
and those not reporting their occupational status.
Population - Total civilian
noninstitutional population of the United States, as well as that portion
of the institutional population living in the following group quarters:
Boarding houses; housing facilities for students and workers; staff units
in hospitals and homes for the aged, infirm, or needy; permanent living
quarters in hotels and motels; and mobile home parks. Excluded are
military personnel living on military bases and nursing home
Quintiles of income before taxes
- For each time period represented in the tables, complete income
reporters are ranked in ascending order, according to the level of total
before-tax income reported by the consumer unit. The ranking is then
divided into five equal groups. Incomplete income reporters are not ranked
and are shown separately.
Race - Race of the reference person
of the consumer unit. Families are included in three racial groups: Black
or African-American; Asian; and White and All Other Races. The "All Other
Races" group comprises such races as Native Americans, Alaskan Natives,
Pacific Islanders, and those reporting more than one race.
Reference person - The first member
mentioned by the respondent when asked to "Start with the name of the
person or one of the persons who owns or rents the home." It is with
respect to this person that the relationship of the other consumer unit
members is determined.
Regions - Data are presented for
four major regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Consumer units
are classified by region, according to the address at which the family was
residing during the time of their participation in the survey. The regions
comprise the following States:
- Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New
York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,
Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
- Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma,
South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
- Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Rural population - All persons
living outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area
(MSA) and within an area with a population of less than 2,500 persons.
See the definition for Urban population below.
Size of the consumer unit - The
number of persons whose usual place of residence at the time of the
interview is in the sample unit.
Urban population - The CE has two
definitions of Urban Consumer Units.
- In “Table 2400. Population size of area of residence,” Urban
Consumer Units are all persons living in Urban Areas and Urban Clusters.
The Census Bureau defines Urban Areas and Urban Clusters as
densely developed territories that contain at least 2,500 people.
- In “Table 1702. Housing tenure and type of area,” Urban Consumer
Units are all persons living in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)
(defined by the Office of Management and Budget) and in Urban Places of
2,500 or more persons (defined by the Census Bureau) outside of MSAs. Urban, defined in this
table, includes the rural populations within an MSA's boundaries.
Expenditures consist of the transaction costs, including excise and
sales taxes, of goods and services acquired during the interview or
recordkeeping period. Expenditure estimates include expenditures for
gifts, but exclude purchases or portions of purchases directly assignable
to business purposes. Periodic credit or installment payments on goods or
services already acquired are also excluded. The full cost of each
purchase is recorded, even though full payment may not have been made at
the date of purchase. The order of the expenditures listed here follows
the order of presentation in published CE tables.
The major expenditure categories are:
Food at home refers to the total expenditures
for food at grocery stores (or other food stores) and food prepared by the
consumer unit on trips. It excludes the purchase of nonfood items.
Cereals and cereal products includes
ready-to-eat and cooked cereals, pasta, flour, prepared flour mixes, and
other cereal products such as cornmeal, corn starch, and rice.
Bakery products includes bread, crackers and
cookies, biscuits and rolls, cakes, cupcakes, bread and cracker products,
pies, tarts, sweet rolls, coffeecakes, doughnuts, and frozen and
refrigerated bakery products, such as cookies, bread and cake dough, and
Beef includes ground beef, roasts, steaks,
and other cuts of beef (excluding canned beef), and veal.
Pork includes bacon, pork chops, ham
(including canned), roasts, sausage, and other cuts of pork.
Other meats includes frankfurters; lunch
meats, such as bologna, liverwurst, and salami; lamb and organ meats; and
mutton, goat, game.
Poultry includes fresh and frozen chickens
and other fresh and frozen poultry (Cornish hens, turkey, duck, etc.).
Fish and seafood includes canned fish and
seafood and fresh or frozen finfish and shellfish.
Eggs includes fresh eggs, as well as powdered
eggs and egg substitutes.
Fresh milk and cream includes fresh whole
milk and other fresh milk, such as buttermilk and fresh cream (including
table cream, whipping cream, fresh sour cream, and fresh sour cream
Other dairy products includes butter, cheese,
ice cream products, yogurt, powdered milk, condensed and evaporated milk,
liquid and powdered diet beverages, malted milk, milk shakes, chocolate
milk, and other specified dairy products.
Fresh fruits includes all fresh fruits.
Fresh vegetables includes all fresh
Processed fruits includes all frozen fruits
and fruit juices, canned and dried fruits, and canned or bottled fruit
Processed vegetables includes canned, dried,
and frozen vegetables, and vegetable juices.
Sugar and other sweets includes sugar, candy
and chewing gum; artificial sweeteners; and jams, jellies, preserves,
fruit butters, syrup, fudge mixes, icings, and other sweets.
Fats and oils includes margarine, shortening,
and salad dressings, vegetable oils, nondairy cream substitutes and
imitation milk, and peanut butter.
Miscellaneous foods includes frozen prepared
meals and other foods; canned and packaged soups; potato chips, nuts and
other snacks; condiments and seasonings, such as olives, pickles,
relishes, sauces and gravies, baking needs and other specified condiments;
and other canned and packaged prepared foods, such as salads, desserts,
baby foods, and vitamin supplements.
Nonalcoholic beverages includes diet and
nondiet carbonated drinks (cola, fruit, and other carbonated drinks);
coffee (roasted, instant, and freeze dried); tea (loose, instant, and
ready-to-drink); ice; nonalcoholic beer; and other nonalcoholic beverages,
including noncarbonated fruit drinks, breakfast substitutes, chocolate
flavored powders; others.
Food away from home includes all meals
(breakfast and brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks and nonalcoholic
beverages) including tips at fast food, take-out, delivery, concession
stands, buffet and cafeteria, at full-service restaurants, and at vending
machines and mobile vendors. Also included are board (including at
school), meals as pay, special catered affairs, such as weddings, bar
mitzvahs, and confirmations, school lunches, and meals away from home on
Alcoholic beverages includes beer and ale,
wine, whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, and other alcoholic beverages.
Owned dwellings includes interest on
mortgages, interest on home equity loans and lines of credit, property
taxes and insurance, refinancing and prepayment charges, ground rent,
expenses for property management and security, homeowners' insurance, fire
insurance and extended coverage, expenses for repairs and maintenance
contracted out, and expenses of materials for owner-performed repairs and
maintenance for dwellings used or maintained by the consumer unit.
Mortgage principal repayments are payments of loans and are shown in Other financial
Rented dwellings includes rent paid for
dwellings, rent received as pay, parking fees, maintenance, and other
Other lodging includes all expenses for
vacation homes, school, college, hotels, motels, and other lodging while
out of town.
Utilities, fuels, and public services
includes natural gas; electricity; fuel oil and other fuels, such as wood,
kerosene, coal, and bottled gas; water and other public services, such as
garbage and trash collection, sewerage maintenance, septic tank cleaning;
and telephone charges.
Personal services includes baby-sitting; day
care, nursery school, and preschool tuition; care of the elderly, invalids
and handicapped; adult day care; and domestic and other duties.
Other household expenses includes
housekeeping services, gardening and lawn care services, coin-operated
laundry and dry-cleaning (non-clothing), termite and pest control products
and services, home security systems service fees, moving, storage, and
freight expenses, repair of household appliances and other household
equipment, repair of computer systems for home use, computer information
services, reupholstering and furniture repair, rental and repair of lawn
and gardening tools, and rental of other household equipment.
Housekeeping supplies includes laundry and
cleaning supplies, cleaning and toilet tissues, stationery supplies,
postage, delivery services, miscellaneous household products, and lawn and
Household textiles includes bathroom,
bedroom, kitchen and dining room, other linens, curtains and drapes,
slipcovers and decorative pillows, and sewing materials.
Furniture includes living room; dining room;
kitchen; bedroom; nursery; porch, lawn, and other outdoor furniture.
Floor coverings includes new and replacement
wall-to-wall carpets, room-size rugs, and other non-permanent floor
Major appliances includes refrigerators and
freezers, dishwashers and garbage disposals, stoves and ovens, vacuum
cleaners, microwaves, air-conditioners, sewing machines, washing machines
and dryers, and floor cleaning equipment.
Small appliances/miscellaneous housewares
includes small electrical kitchen appliances, portable heating and cooling
equipment, china and other dinnerware, flatware, glassware, silver and
other serving pieces, nonelectric cookware, and plastic dinnerware
(excludes personal care appliances).
Miscellaneous household equipment includes
typewriters, luggage, lamps and light fixtures, window coverings, clocks,
lawnmowers and gardening equipment, other hand and power tools, telephone
answering devices, telephones and accessories, computers and computer
hardware for home use, computer software and accessories for home use,
calculators, business equipment for home use, floral arrangements and
house plants, rental of furniture, closet and storage items, other
household decorative items, infants' equipment, outdoor equipment, smoke
alarms, other household appliances, and other small miscellaneous
Men's and boys' apparel includes coats and
jackets, sweaters and vests, sportcoats and tailored jackets, trousers and
slacks, shorts and short sets, sportswear, shirts, underwear, nightwear,
hosiery, uniforms, and other accessories.
Women's and girls' apparel includes coats and
jackets, furs, sportcoats and tailored jackets, sweaters and vests,
blouses and shirts, dresses, jeans, culottes, slacks, shorts, sportswear,
underwear, nightwear, uniforms, hosiery, and other accessories.
Apparel for children under age 2 includes
coats, jackets, and snowsuits; underwear; diapers; dresses; crawlers and
other sleeping garments; hosiery; footwear; and accessories.
Footwear includes articles such as shoes,
slippers, boots, and other similar items. It excludes footwear for
children under age 2 and special footwear used for sports such as bowling
or golf shoes.
Other apparel products and services includes
material for making clothes, shoe repair, alterations and repairs, sewing
patterns and notions, clothing rental, clothing storage, dry cleaning and
sent-out laundry, watches, jewelry, and repairs to watches and
Vehicle purchases (net outlay) includes the
net outlay (purchase price minus trade-in value) on new and used domestic
and imported cars and trucks and other vehicles, including motorcycles and
Vehicle finance charges includes the dollar
amount of interest paid for a loan contracted for the purchase of vehicles
Gasoline and motor oil includes gasoline,
diesel fuel, and motor oil.
Maintenance and repairs includes tires,
batteries, tubes, lubrication, filters, coolant, additives, brake and
transmission fluids, oil change, brake work including adjustment,
front-end alignment, wheel balancing, steering repair, shock absorber
replacement, clutch and transmission repair, electrical system repair,
exhaust system repair, body work and painting, motor repair, repair to
cooling system, drive train repair, drive shaft and rear-end repair, tire
repair, audio equipment, other maintenance and services, and auto repair
Vehicle insurance includes the premium paid
for insuring cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
Public transportation includes fares for mass
transit, buses, trains, airlines, taxis, school buses for which a fee is
charged, and boats.
Vehicle rental, leases, licenses, and other
charges includes leased and rented cars, trucks,
motorcycles, and aircraft; inspection fees; State and local registration;
driver's license fees; parking fees; towing charges; tolls; and automobile
Health insurance includes traditional
fee-for-service health plans, preferred-provider health plans, health
maintenance organizations (HMO's), commercial Medicare supplements, and
other health insurance.
Medical services includes hospital room and
services, physicians' services, service by a professional other than a
physician, eye and dental care, lab tests and X-rays, medical care in a
retirement community, care in convalescent or nursing home, and other
medical care service.
Drugs includes nonprescription drugs and
vitamins and prescription drugs.
Medical supplies includes topicals and
dressings, antiseptics, bandages, cotton, first aid kits, contraceptives,
syringes, ice bags, thermometers, sun lamps, vaporizers, heating pads,
medical appliances (such as braces, canes, crutches, walkers, eyeglasses,
and hearing aids), and rental and repair of medical equipment.
Fees and admissions includes fees for
participant sports; admissions to sporting events, movies, concerts, and
plays; health, swimming, tennis and country club memberships; fees for
other social, recreational, and fraternal organizations; recreational
lessons or instruction; rental of movies, and recreation expenses on
Television, radio, and sound equipment
includes television sets, video recorders, video cassettes, tapes, discs,
disc players, video game hardware, video game cartridges, cable TV,
radios, phonographs, tape recorders and players, sound components,
records, compact discs, and tapes (including records, compact discs, and
tapes purchased through mail order clubs), musical instruments, and rental
and repair of TV and sound equipment.
Pets, toys, hobbies, and playground equipment
includes pets, pet food, pet services, veterinary expenses, etc.; toys,
games, hobbies, and tricycles; and playground equipment.
Other entertainment equipment and services
includes indoor exercise equipment, athletic shoes, bicycles, trailers,
purchase and rental of motorized campers and other recreational vehicles,
camping equipment, hunting and fishing equipment, sports equipment
(winter, water, and other), boats, boat motors and boat trailers, rental
of boats, landing and docking fees, rental and repair of sports equipment,
photographic equipment and supplies (film and film processing),
photographer fees, repair and rental of photo equipment, fireworks, and
pinball and electronic video games.
Personal care products and services includes
products for the hair, oral hygiene products, shaving needs, cosmetics and
bath products, electric personal care appliances, other personal care
products, and personal care services for males and females.
Reading includes subscriptions for newspapers
and magazines; books through book clubs; e-books and digital reading
material; and the purchase of single-copy newspapers, magazines,
newsletters, books, and encyclopedias and other reference books.
Education includes tuition; fees; and
textbooks, supplies, and equipment for public and private nursery schools,
elementary and high schools, colleges and universities, and other
Tobacco products and smoking supplies
includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, snuff, loose smoking tobacco,
chewing tobacco, and smoking accessories (such as cigarette or cigar
holders, pipes, flints, lighters, and pipe cleaners).
Miscellaneous includes safety deposit box
rental, checking account fees and other bank service charges, credit card
memberships, legal fees, accounting fees, funerals, cemetery lots, union
dues, occupational expenses, expenses for other properties, and finance
charges other than those for mortgages and vehicles.
Cash contributions includes cash contributed
to persons or organizations outside the consumer unit, including alimony
and child support payments; care of students away from home; and
contributions to religious, educational, charitable, or political
Life, endowment, annuities, and other personal
insurance includes premiums for whole life and term
insurance; endowments; income and other life insurance; mortgage guarantee
insurance; mortgage life insurance; premiums for personal liability,
accident and disability, and other nonhealth insurance other than for
homes and vehicles.
Retirement, pensions, and Social Security
includes all Social Security contributions paid by employees; employee
contributions to railroad retirement, government retirement, and private
pension programs; and retirement programs for the self-employed.
INCOME AND PERSONAL TAXES
Income is the combined income of all consumer unit members (14 years of
age or over) during the 12 months preceding the interview. Components of
income are described below. The order of the definitions of income and
personal taxes follows the order of presentation in the published
For a definition of Complete income reporters
or Quintiles of
income, see the Characteristics section at the beginning of the
Money income before taxes is the total money
earnings and selected money receipts during the 12 months prior to the
interview date. Money income includes the following components:
Wages and salaries includes total money earnings for
all consumer unit members (14 years of age and over) from all jobs,
including civilian wages and salaries; Armed Forces pay and allowances;
piece-rate payments; commissions; tips; National Guard or Reserve pay
(received for training periods); and cash bonuses before deductions for
taxes, pensions, union dues, etc.
Self-employment income includes net business and
farm income, which consists of net income (gross receipts minus
operating expenses) from a profession or unincorporated business or from
the operation of a farm by an owner, tenant, or sharecropper. If the
business or farm is a partnership, only an appropriate share of net
income is recorded. Losses are also recorded.
Social Security, private and government retirement
includes the following: (1) payments by the Federal Government made
under retirement, survivors', and disability insurance programs to
retired persons, dependents of deceased insured workers, or disabled
workers and (2) private pensions or retirement benefits received by
retired persons (or their survivors), either directly or through an
Interest, dividends, rental income, and other property
income includes interest income on savings or bonds; payments
made by a corporation to its stockholders; periodic receipts from
estates or trust funds; net income or loss from the rental of property,
real estate, or farms; and net income or loss from roomers or
Unemployment and workers' compensation and veterans'
benefits includes income from unemployment compensation and
workers' compensation and veterans' payments, including educational
benefits but excluding military retirement.
Public assistance, supplemental security income, and Food
stamps includes public assistance or welfare, including money
received from job training grants; supplemental security income paid by
Federal, State, and local welfare agencies to low-income persons who are
age 65 or over, blind, or disabled; and the value of Food stamps
Regular contributions for support includes alimony
and child support, as well as any regular contributions from persons
outside the consumer unit.
Other income includes money income from care of
foster children, cash scholarships, fellowships, or stipends not based
on working and meals and rent as pay.
Federal income taxes beginning with the 2013 data are
estimated based on the consumer unit's and members' income and characteristics,
and calculated using the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) TaxSim
program. Prior to 2013, they were based on reported Federal income taxes
withheld in the survey year to pay for income earned in that survey year,
plus additioanal taxes paid in the survey year reported by the consumer unit
to cover any underpayment or underwithholding of taxes in the year prior
to the survey.
State and local income taxes beginning with the 2013
data are estimated using the NBER TaxSim program. Prior to 2013 they were based
on the reported amount withheld in the survey year, plus additional taxes
paid in the survey year to cover any underpayment or withholding of taxes
in the year prior to the survey.
Other taxes includes personal property and other
personal taxes paid
OTHER FINANCIAL INFORMATION
These items are not part of expenditures or income. They are provided
for additional information.
Net change in assets includes changes in savings and
checking accounts; purchases of securities (stocks, bonds, or mutual
funds) in the year which they were held to the end of the year; sales of
securities which were purchased in a prior year; changes in the balances
of money owed to the consumer unit; sales and purchases and repairs and
improvements to own dwelling occupied by the consumer unit, vacation home,
recreational property, unimproved land and other property owned by the
consumer unit; changes in investments in unincorporated family businesses
and farms; amounts received or reimbursements from the sale of vehicles;
principal amounts of trust held on own dwelling, vacation home, and other
properties owned by the consumer unit; and surrender of insurance
policies. (This value has a positive or negative sign to indicate
increases or decreases in assets.)
Net change in liabilities includes changes in mortgage
principal on own dwelling occupied by the consumer unit, vacation home,
recreational property, unimproved land and other property owned by the
consumer unit; payments of mortgage interest due before either survey year
of the survey period; money owed on purchases of cars, trucks, and other
vehicles; and money owed to other creditors, such as department stores,
banks, credit unions, finance companies, insurance companies, doctors,
dentists, and other medical practitioners. (This value has a positive or
negative sign to indicate increases or decreases in liabilities.)
Other money receipts includes lump-sum payment from
estates or trusts, insurance, money from sale of house furnishings,
refunds from overpayment on Social Security, refunds from insurance
policies, and refunds from property taxes.
Mortgage principal paid on owned property includes the
reduction of mortgage principal on a mortgage or home equity loan for a
home or any other property. (This is not included in homeowner costs but
is repayment of a loan.)
Gifts of goods and services includes gift expenditures
for persons outside of the consumer unit. These items have already been
defined in the expenditures
section above. Their values are given, so they can be subtracted from
the expenditure totals, if the value of consumption within the household
Last Modified Date: February 13, 2015