The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index. To meet the needs of users, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces population estimates for consumer units (CUs) of average expenditures in news releases, reports, issues, and articles in the Monthly Labor Review. Tabulated CE data are also available on the Internet and by facsimile transmission (See Section XV. APPENDIX 4). The microdata are available online at http://www/bls.gov/cex/pumdhome.htm.
These microdata files present detailed expenditure and income data from the Interview component of the CE for 2003 and the first quarter of 2004. The Interview survey collects data on up to 95 percent of total household expenditures. In addition to the FMLI, MEMI, MTBI, and ITBI files, the microdata include files created directly from the expenditure sections of the Interview survey (EXPN files). The EXPN files contain expenditure data and ancillary descriptive information, often not available on the FMLI or MTBI files, in a format similar to the Interview questionnaire. In addition to the extra information available on the EXPN files, users can identify distinct spending categories easily and reduce processing time due to the organization of the files by type of expenditure.
Estimates of average expenditures in 2003 from the Interview Survey, integrated with data from the Diary Survey, will be published in the report Consumer Expenditures in 2003. A list of recent publications containing data from the CE appears at the end of this documentation.
The microdata files are in the public domain and, with appropriate credit, may be reproduced without permission. A suggested citation is: "U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, Interview Survey, 2003."
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Unit of Analysis
Producers and sponsors
Authoring entity/Primary investigators
United States Census Bureau
Samples for the CE are national probability samples of households designed to be representative of the total U. S. civilian population. Eligible population includes all civilian non-institutionalized persons.
The first step in sampling is the selection of primary sampling units (PSUs), which consist of counties (or parts thereof) or groups of counties. The set of sample PSUs used for the 2003 and 2004 samples is composed of 105 areas. The design classifies the PSUs into four categories:
• 31 "A" certainty PSUs are Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) with a population greater than 1.5 million.
• 46 "B" PSUs, are medium-sized MSA's.
• 10 "C" PSUs are nonmetropolitan areas that are included in the CPI.
• 18 "D" PSUs are nonmetropolitan areas where only the urban population data will be included in the CPI.
The sampling frame (that is, the list from which housing units were chosen) for the 2003 and 2004 surveys is generated from the 1990 Census of Population 100-percent-detail file. The sampling frame is augmented by new construction permits and by techniques used to eliminate recognized deficiencies in census coverage. All Enumeration Districts (EDs) from the Census that fail to meet the criterion for good addresses for new construction, and all EDs in non-permit-issuing areas are grouped into the area segment frame. Interviewers are then assigned to list these areas before a sample is drawn.
To the extent possible, an unclustered sample of units is selected within each PSU. This lack of clustering is desirable because the sample size of the Diary Survey is small relative to other surveys, while the intraclass correlations for expenditure characteristics are relatively large. This suggests that any clustering of the sample units could result in an unacceptable increase in the within-PSU variance and, as a result, the total variance.
The Interview Survey is a panel rotation survey. Each panel is interviewed for five consecutive quarters and then dropped from the survey. As one panel leaves the survey, a new panel is introduced. Approximately 20 percent of the addresses are new to the survey each month.
Each CU included in the CE represents a given number of CUs in the U.S. population, which is considered to be the universe. The translation of sample families into the universe of families is known as weighting. However, since the unit of analysis for the CE is a CU, the weighting is performed at the CU level. Several factors are involved in determining the weight for each CU for which an interview is obtained. There are four steps in the weighting procedure:
1) The basic weight is assigned to an address and is the inverse of the probability of selection of the housing unit.
2) A weight control factor is applied to each interview if subsampling is performed in the field.
3) A noninterview adjustment is made for units where data could not be collected from occupied housing units. The adjustment is performed as a function of region, housing tenure, family size and race.
4) A final adjustment is performed to adjust the sample estimates to national population controls derived from the Current Population Survey. The adjustments are made based on both the CU's Member composition and the CU as a whole. The weight for the CU is adjusted for individuals within the CU to meet the controls for 14 age/race categories, 4 regions, and 4 region/urban categories. The CU weight is also adjusted to meet the control for total number of CUs and total number of CUs who own their living quarters. The weighting procedure uses an iterative process to ensure that the sample estimates meet all the population controls.
NOTE: The weight for a consumer unit (CU) can be different for each quarter in which the CU participates in the survey, as the CU may represent a different number of CUs with similar characteristics.
Dates of Data Collection (YYYY/MM/DD)
Mode of data collection
Computer Assisted Personal Interview [capi]
Use of the dataset must be acknowledged using a citation which would include:
- the Identification of the Primary Investigator
- the title of the survey (including country, acronym and year of implementation)
- the survey reference number
- the source and date of download
United States Census Bureau. United States Consumer Expenditure Interview Survey (CES-IS) 2003. Ref. USA_2003_CES-IS_v01_M. Dataset downloaded from [URL] on [date].
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
International Labour organization
Date of Production
Version 02 (September 2016): Edited version based on Version 01 DDI (DDI_USA_2003_CES_IS_V01_M) that was done by International Labour Organisation.