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Consumer Expenditure Surveys


This program consists of two surveys—the quarterly Interview survey and the Diary survey—that provide information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics.

Current releases

Data available

  • Annual income and expenditures integrated from the Interview and Diary surveys in varying detail, classified by income, age, consumer unit size, and other demographic characteristics of consumer units, since 1984.
  • Annual income and expenditures from the Interview and Diary surveys by selected consumer unit characteristics, since 1980.


  • The surveys target the total noninstitutionalized population (urban and rural) of the United States in 1980, 1984 and thereafter. The surveys targeted the urban noninstitutionalized population in 1981 through 1983.
  • The data are collected in independent quarterly Interview and weekly Diary surveys of approximately 7,000 sample households (5,000 prior to 1999 and 7,500 from 1999 to 2005). Each survey has its own independent sample, and each collects data on household income and socioeconomic characteristics.
  • The Interview survey includes monthly out-of-pocket expenditures such as housing, apparel, transportation, health care, insurance, and entertainment.
  • The Diary survey includes weekly expenditures of frequently purchased items such as food and beverages, tobacco, personal care products, and nonprescription drugs and supplies.

Reference period

  • Calendar year—integrated Interview and Diary survey data.

Forms of publication

  • Annual report, two-year report, anthology, and news releases.
  • Articles in the Monthly Labor Review, and Issues in Labor Statistics.
  • Public-Use Microdata on CD-ROMs.
  • Tables on the Internet and LABSTAT.


  • Basic source of data for revising the items and weights in the market basket of consumer purchases to be priced for the Consumer Price Index.
  • Cost of raising a child, produced by the USDA.
  • Construction of statistical measures of consumption.
  • Analysis of expenditure patterns by characteristics.
  • Market research studies.
  • Economic research.
  • Consumer guidance materials.

Major research in progress

  • Testing of alternative diary instruments for differences in response rates and quality of information.
  • Examining the use of global-type questions and respondent aids to improve the recall of expenditures.
  • Analysis of seasonality in the expenditure data.
  • Ongoing analysis of trends in expenditures, including expenditures by different age groups, a comparison of expenditures by homeowners and renters, expenditures by rental-assisted renters, and expenditures on new products and services.
  • Testing methods for improving the quality of the income data reported in the survey.


Last Modified Date: August 30, 2016