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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 January 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 (CE) Survey program consists of two parts:

  • The Interview Survey - Throughout the year, about 43,000 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 9,200 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.

   “Findings from the Consumer Expenditure Survey permit policymakers to assess the impact of governmental policy changes on spending patterns of different socioeconomic groups,” said George Grandy Jr., director of the Census Bureau’s Atlanta Regional Office. “These data also help business owners track consumer spending trends, so they can better respond to the needs of their customers.”

   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 housing are an example of CE results. Housing spending includes shelter; utilities, fuels and public services; household operations; housekeeping supplies; and household furnishings and equipment.

Area Average annual amount spend for housing Percentage of total expenditures
United States $16,684 33.9
Northeast $18,408 36.3
New York 22,295 39.3
Boston 20,174 36.6
Philadelphia 18,411 37.8
South $14,719 32.5
Washington, D.C. 25,525 38.7
Baltimore 19,123 35.9
Miami 18,708 40.5
Dallas-Fort Worth 18,169 33.4
Houston 17,752 32.1
Atlanta 17,716 37.9
Midwest $15,067 32.2
Minneapolis-St. Paul 20,819 34.7
Chicago 20,238 35.3
Cleveland 16,602 34.7
Detroit 15,995 33.1
West $20,024 35.1
San Francisco 27,310 39.3
San Diego 22,670 41.5
Los Angeles 22,336 36.7
Seattle 20,671 34.8
Phoenix 18,591 32.2
Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014