Value of the Consumer Expenditure Survey

The information provided by the Consumer Expenditure (CE) survey is invaluable. Although the main use is to update the Consumer Price Index, it is also used in many other important ways.

Government and private agencies use the data to look at spending patterns of specific groups of people, such as those over 65, or low-income households. This information is used to make important decisions affecting these groups.

Policymakers use the data to study the impact of policy changes on different socioeconomic groups.

Researchers use the Consumer Expenditure data to look at a wide range of topics. Some of these research studies look at spending behavior of different types of families, spending on various products (including newly-introduced goods and services), and gift-giving behavior. Market researchers find the data useful in analyzing consumer or business interest in groups of goods and services.

Some Uses of CE Data

  • Consumer Expenditure Survey data are used to update the Consumer Price Index, the most widely used measure of inflation.
  • Consumer Expenditure Survey data are used to determine poverty thresholds for the U.S. Government’s Supplemental Poverty Measure. Find out more at: www.bls.gov/pir/spmhome.htm.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture uses Consumer Expenditure Survey data to estimate the cost of raising a child. Policies on foster care and child support are based on the amounts parents spend on health care, education, transportation and other expenses for their children.
  • The Department of Defense uses Consumer Expenditure Survey data to update cost of living adjustments for military families.
  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services uses Consumer Expenditure Survey data to estimate American spending on health care. The Consumer Expenditure Survey measures out-of-pocket expenses for hospital care and is one of the few sources of this important information.
  • The Bureau of Economic Analysis uses information from home owners to measure personal spending for the Gross Domestic Product.

 

Last Modified Date: August 26, 2014