Skip to content

Consumer Expenditure Survey (USA)


Data description

NLSThe Consumer Expenditure Survey, undertaken by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, provides observations on American household spending on goods and services. The survey consists of two parts:

The Interview Survey is conducted with each consumer unit every three months over five calendar quarters. Interviews are designed to capture detailed data on an estimated 60% to 70% of total family expenditures. Estimates of an additional 20% to 25% of total expenditures are obtained for food and other items. Expenses reported in the Interview Survey are relatively large, such as property, automobiles and major appliances - or are expenses occuring on a regular basis, such as rent, utility bills and insurance premiums.

The Diary Survey is completed by the respondent family for two consecutive one-week periods. The Diary Survey collects detailed data on small, frequently-purchased items "which may be difficult to remember." These items include detailed expenditures for food and beverages, housekeeping supplies and services, non-prescription drugs and personal care products and services.


Time Period

Waves 1996-2022 are accessible via the Consumer Expenditure LABSTAT Database. Download instructions are at this link.

Earlier waves are accessible via the ICPSR data archive (see below under 'How to Access Data'). Download of ICPSR CES files is by EUI Library administrator only.


Support links

A Consumer Expenditure Survey glossary is on this Bureau of Labour Statistics page.

See also the EUI Library page for the Survey of Consumer Finances (US Federal Reserve).


How to access data 

Waves 1996-2022 of the Consumer Expenditure Survey are accessible via the Bureau of Labor Statistics site.

Earlier waves are accessible via the ICPSR data archive:

  • Locate the required Consumer Expenditure Survey in the ICPSR data catalogue
  • Send the Study Number(s) by email to [email protected] indicating the format in which the data is required (eg. Stata)
  • Medium-sized sets are sent via email attachment. Larger sets are placed on OneDrive, with link by e-mail.

Users should consult the ICT page on compressed / zipped files.

Consumer Expenditure Survey data is mainly composed of ASCII files, compatible with Stata. Consult this tutorial on loading and using data on Windows.

See also the EUI Library resource page for the Survey of Consumer Finances.


Data homepage

Contact: [email protected]


Page last updated on 14 February 2024

Go back to top of the page