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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 2010, 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 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.

     “Findings from this survey help business and community leaders make sound decisions, particularly in these trying economic times," said George Grandy Jr., director of the Census Bureau's Atlanta Regional Office. "Business owners get the information they need to help respond better to consumer needs, as do government officials planning public services.”

     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 food at home are an example of CE results:

Household Expenditures for Food at Home: 2007-2008

Area Average annual amount spent for food at home Percentage of total expenditures
United States $3,605 7.2
Northeast $3,806 7.1
Boston 4,629 8.3
New York 3,892 6.6
Philadelphia 3,422 6.1
South $3,404 7.4
Washington, D.C. 4,214 6.0
Miami 3,796 8.1
Dallas-Fort Worth 3,516 6.6
Houston 3,515 6.3
Baltimore 3,257 6.2
Atlanta 3,006 6.4
$3,389 7.1
Minneapolis-St. Paul 4,144 7.1
Detroit 4,119 8.6
Chicago 4,099 7.1
Cleveland 3,607 7.4
West $3,982 7.1
San Francisco 4,323 6.3
Seattle 4,313 6.8
Los Angeles 4,298 7.3
Phoenix 3,715 6.5
San Diego 3,087 6.0

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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