Census Bureau to Survey Nation’s Spending Habits

OAK BROOK, Ill., March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In April 2008, U.S. Census Bureau field representatives will collect information about how much Americans spend for groceries, clothing, transportation, housing, health care and other items from a sample of households across the country.

The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Survey program consists of two parts:

— The Interview Survey — About 15,000 households will be interviewed once every three months over five calendar quarters to obtain data on relatively large expenditures and also for those expenditures that occur on a regular basis (such as rent and utilities).

— The Diary Survey — During the year, another 12,000 households will keep two consecutive one-week diaries of smaller, more frequent purchases that may be more difficult for respondents to recall later (such as a fast-food purchase at a drive-through window, a soda or candy bar from a vending machine, or a carton of eggs from the supermarket).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics then publishes integrated data from the two surveys — providing a snapshot of our nation’s economy and spending habits. Government economists use the survey results to update a “market basket” of goods and services for the Consumer Price Index (CPI), our nation’s most widely used measure of inflation.

“The findings are invaluable to businesses and policymakers in our communities,” said Stanley D. Moore, director of the Census Bureau’s Chicago Regional Office. “They use the data to evaluate consumer needs and track changes in consumer spending.”

Before the CE interviews begin, households will receive a letter from the Census Bureau director informing them of their selection to participate in the survey. Census Bureau field representatives will visit these households to conduct the interview. The field representative must display an official photo identification before proceeding with the interview. The law ensures survey respondents’ personal information and answers are kept confidential.

The following data on the amount spent on shelter are an example of CE results. The shelter component includes spending on own dwellings, rented dwellings and other lodging.

  Household Expenditures for Shelter: 2005-2006

Average annual amount Percentage of total
Area spent for shelter expenditures

United States $9,253 19.5

Northeast $10,572 21.8
New York 13,848 25.1
Boston 12,256 22.8
Philadelphia 9,722 21.2

South $7,529 17.3
Washington, D.C. 15,976 27.4
Baltimore 10,813 22.8
Miami 10,053 23.7
Dallas-Fort Worth 9,883 18.5
Atlanta 9,539 21.8
Houston 9,427 16.8

Midwest $8,067 17.9
Chicago 11,755 21.5
Minneapolis-St. Paul 11,650 19.0
Detroit 9,899 19.7
Cleveland 8,546 19.6

West $12,134 22.0
San Francisco 18,845 28.4
San Diego 15,654 25.1
Los Angeles 14,312 24.5
Seattle 12,279 22.1
Phoenix 9,279 17.3

Mr. Stanley D. Moore, Director
1111 W. 22nd St., Ste 400
Oak Brook, IL 60523-1918
Telephone: 630-288-9200

First Call Analyst:
FCMN Contact:

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

CONTACT: Stanley D. Moore, Director of Chicago Regional Office of the
U.S. Census Bureau, +1-630-288-9200

Web Site: http://www.census.gov/