Skip Main Navigation Skip To Navigation Content

Newsroom Archive

Release Information


Mr. George Grandy Jr., Director
101 Marietta St., NW, Ste 3200
Atlanta, GA 30303-2700
Telephone: 404-730-3832


Census Bureau to Survey Nation's Spending Habits (Regional)

     ATLANTA — In October 2009, 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 Survey (CE) program consists of two parts:

  • The Interview Survey — During the year, about 15,000 households will be interviewed each quarter 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 12,500 households will keep two consecutive one-week diaries of smaller, more frequent purchases that may be 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 calculates and 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, our nation's most widely used measure of inflation.

     “Data from the CE enable policymakers to evaluate consumer needs, make informed decisions about the impact of policies on families and track changes in consumer spending," said George Grandy Jr., director of the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office.”

     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. Federal law ensures survey respondents' personal information and answers are kept confidential.

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

Household Expenditures for Shelter: 2006-2007

Area Average annual amount spent for shelter Percentage of total expenditures
United States $9,849 20.0
Northeast $11,335 22.4
New York 14,848 26.2
Boston 13,068 23.7
Philadelphia 10,755 22.1
South $8,056 17.8
Washington, D.C. 17,040 25.9
Miami 12,190 26.4
Baltimore 11,930 22.4
Atlanta 10,860 23.3
Houston 9,965 18.0
Dallas-Fort Worth 9,843 18.1
Midwest $8,531 18.2
Chicago 12,612 22.0
Minneapolis-St. Paul 11,559 19.2
Cleveland 9,719 20.3
Detroit 9,568 19.8
West $12,806 22.4
San Francisco 19,519 28.1
San Diego 16,174 29.6
Los Angeles 15,271 25.1
Seattle 13,530 22.8
Phoenix 10,615 18.4

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014