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CB10-R.46

Contact:  NEW YORK REGIONAL OFFICE
U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
Mr. Lester A. Farthing, Director
395 Hudson St., Ste 800
New York, NY 10014-7451
Telephone: 212-584-3400

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2010

Census Bureau to Survey Nation's Spending Habits

NEW YORK — In July 2010, U.S. Census Bureau field representatives will begin collecting 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) is not to be confused with the 2010 Census. The decennial census operations are scheduled to conclude at the end of July, whereas the CE is an ongoing survey.

The CE 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 those expenditures that occur on a regular basis (such as rent and utilities).
  • The Diary Survey — During the year, another 12,500 households will be asked to 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.

“The Consumer Price Index,” said Lester A. Farthing, director of the Census Bureau's New York Regional Office, “helps businesses around the country keep wages, salaries and pensions in line with increases in the cost of living.”

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 conducting the CE interviews must display an official photo identification before proceeding with the interview. Federal law ensures survey respondents' personal information and answers are kept confidential.

Household Expenditures for Housing: 2007-2008

Area
Average annual
amount spent
for housing
Percentage of total
expenditures
     
United States
$17,015
34.0
     
Northeast
$19,305
36.2
New York
23,441
39.6
Philadelphia
20,870
37.5
Boston
20,677
37.0
     
South
$15,095
32.7
Washington, D.C.
26,128
37.0
Baltimore
20,255
38.5
Miami
18,459
39.2
Houston
18,059
32.4
Dallas-Fort Worth
17,737
33.5
Atlanta
17,275
37.0
     
Midwest
$15,466
32.3
Chicago
20,830
36.0
Minneapolis-St. Paul
19,842
34.1
Cleveland
16,933
34.9
Detroit
15,866
33.0
     
West
$19,784
35.4
San Francisco
26,111
37.9
Los Angeles
22,645
38.3
San Diego
22,562
44.1
Seattle
21,515
33.8
Phoenix
19,492
34.3

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: September 01, 2014