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The Consumer Expenditure surveys are sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are used to update the Consumer Price Index. The surveys include a Diary or Quarterly Interview component. Addresses in the Quarterly Interview sample are interviewed five times over fifteen months, with an average workload of 330 cases each month. The Diary workload tracks daily expenses for two weeks, with an average workload of 65 cases.
The Census Bureau collects information on the buying habits of American consumers from two separate studies within the Consumer Expenditure Survey: the Quarterly Interview Survey and the Diary Survey. The Quarterly Interview Survey collects data on certain types of expenditures which respondents can recall fairly accurately for periods of 3 months or longer. The Diary Survey collects information on the small, frequently-purchased items that we cannot expect respondents to recall for even relatively short periods of time. These surveys are conducted by the Census Bureau for the sponsoring agency, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The primary use of the data collected in the CE survey is to revise the Consumer Price Index (CPI). In addition, many academic scholars use the CE data for market research, economic analysis, and other studies. Federal and state legislators use the CE data as an aid in planning public assistance programs.