Determining Within‐PSU Sample Sizes for the Consumer Expenditure Survey

Sylvia Johnson-Herring, Sharon Krieger, and David Swanson


The Consumer Expenditure Survey is a nationwide survey of households conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Bureau of the Census to find out how Americans spend their money. The survey's random sample of households is designed to minimize the variance of its nationwide expenditure estimates. However, the survey has a competing goal of also obtaining accurate local area survey estimates to allow them to be published. This paper describes a method of sample allocation that minimizes the variance of the survey's nationwide expenditure estimates, while also providing sufficiently large sample sizes within each local area to support the publication of local area expenditure estimates.