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Consumer Expenditure Surveys
Bureau of Labor Statistics > Consumer Expenditure Survey > Methods > Distribution of Personal Consumption Expenditures

Distribution of Personal Consumption Expenditures

These prototype statistics measure the allocation of Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) across households. PCE estimates are produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a part of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs) and measure the value of goods and services purchased by, and on behalf of, US residents.

The PCE distributions are produced as a part of an OECD effort to produce distributional national account statistics. We produce the PCE distributional results in conjunction with the BEA who produce distributions of personal income.


PCE distributional results for 2017–2021 (last updated November 16, 2023)

Methodology overview

We create prototype distributional statistics for Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE). PCE is allocated across consumer units using data from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE). For more detail about the methodology see the methodology summary.

Summary of process for creating distribution of PCE using CE data:

    1. Map CE to PCE product categories – The product categories in the CE (called UCCs) are mapped to the corresponding categories in the PCE.
    2. Match CE diary to Interview – The CE collects spending data in separate surveys. Most spending is captured by the interview survey, but some expenditures are only captured in the diary survey. Surveyed households do not complete both, so diary survey values have to be imputed to the interview survey participants to get total spending.
    3. Impute expenditures to the CE – CE only captures out of pocket expenditures on categories like health insurance, medical goods and services, and financial services, while the PCE includes all expenditures on behalf of the household. We also apply a Pareto adjustment to the top 5% of the total spending distribution to mitigate the understatement of inequality.
    4. Scale CE estimates to match PCE by major product – Aggregate spending in the CE by category does not match the spending totals in PCE. In this step, we allocate the PCE spending unaccounted for in CE proportionally to the observed CE spending.
    5. Create adult-equivalized PCE and compute deciles and other statistics – For distributional statistics, households are ranked according to their equivalized consumer unit expenditures where the equivalence scale is the square root of consumer unit size.


Garner, T.I., Martin, R.S., Matsumoto, B. and Curtin, S. 2024 "A Distributional Approach to U.S. Personal Consumption Expenditures: An Overview (forthcoming in Business Economics)

Garner, T.I., Martin, R.S., Matsumoto, B. and Curtin, S. 2022 "Distribution of U.S. Personal Consumption Expenditures for 2019: A Prototype Based on Consumer Expenditure Survey Data." BLS Working Paper 557 -

BEA – Distribution of personal income -


Curtin, S. The Impact of COVID-19 on CE Survey Estimates for 2020 -

CE 2020 Annual Report -

Last Modified Date: November 16, 2023