Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2009: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files (ICPSR 29884)

Published: Jan 3, 2011

Principal Investigator(s):
United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics


Version V2

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index.

The CE program consists of two surveys, the quarterly Interview Survey and the Diary Survey (ICPSR 29883). The quarterly Interview survey is designed to collect data on major items of expense which respondents can be expected to recall for 3 months or longer. These include relatively large expenditures, such as those for property, automobiles, and major durable goods, and those that occur on a regular basis, such as rent or utilities. The Interview survey does not collect data on expenses for housekeeping supplies, personal care products, and nonprescription drugs, which contribute about 5 to 15 percent of total expenditures.

The microdata in this collection are available as SAS, STATA, SPSS data sets or ASCII text and comma-delimited files. The 2009 Interview release contains seven groups of Interview data files (FMLY, MEMB, MTAB, ITAB, ITAB_IMPUTE, FPAR, and MCHI), 50 EXPN files, and processing files.

The FMLY, MEMB, MTAB, ITAB, and ITAB_IMPUTE files are organized by the calendar quarter of the year in which the data were collected. There are five quarterly data sets for each of these files, running from the first quarter of 2009 through the first quarter of 2010. The FMLY file contains consumer unit (CU) characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures; the MEMB file contains member characteristics and income data; the MTAB file contains expenditures organized on a monthly basis at the Universal Classification Code (UCC) level; the ITAB file contains income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs; and the ITAB_IMPUTE file contains the five imputation variants of the income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs.

The FPAR and MCHI datasets are grouped as 2-year datasets (2008 and 2009), plus the first quarter of the 2010. The FPAR file contains CU level data about the Interview survey, including paradata collected about the interview within the interview collection instrument (CAPI). This data includes information on the amount of time required to collect each interview and interview section, as well as other interviewer entered information about the resulting survey. The MCHI file contains data about each interview contact attempt, including reasons for refusal and times of contact. Both FPAR and MCHI files contain five quarters of data.

Each of the 50 EXPN files contains five quarters of data. The EXPN files contain data directly derived from their respective questionnaire sections.

The processing files enhance computer processing and tabulation of data, and provide descriptive information on item codes. The processing files are: (1) aggregation scheme files used in the published consumer expenditure survey interview tables and integrated tables (ISTUB and INTSTUB), (2) a UCC file that contains UCCs and their abbreviated titles, identifying the expenditure, income, or demographic item represented by each UCC, (3) a vehicle make file (CAPIVEHI), and (4) files containing sample programs. The processing files are further explained in the Interview User Guide, Section III.F.6. PROCESSING FILES. There is also a second user guide, "User's Guide to Income Imputation in the CE", which includes information on how to appropriately use the imputed income data.

Demographic and family characteristics data include age, sex, race, marital status, and CU relationships each CU member. Income information, such as wage, salary, unemployment compensation, child support, and alimony, as well as information on the employment of each CU member age 14 and over was also collected.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2009: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2011-01-03.

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2008 -- 2010

2008 -- 2010 (Paradata: 2008-2009 and first quarter of 2010; Expenditure Data: 2009; Interview Data: 2009 and first quarter of 2010)

These data are distributed exactly as they arrived from the data depositor. ICPSR has not processed this material. Users should consult the investigators if further information is desired via the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web page

Due to a processing error, several records in 2009Q3 in the Interview MEMB file were missing information regarding the 2009 rebate checks for social security recipients. This error affected 1,204 records and 6 variables. No expenditure or income estimates were affected by the missing information. An addendum file is included and contains the correct values for the member records in the original 2009 public-use microdata release that were missing information on the 2009 Stimulus Rebate questions. The addendum file only includes records that were missing the correct values. All other records in the original MEMI093 file are correct. The data in the addendum file can be matched back to the originally released MEMI093 file by matching on NEWID and MEMBNO.

Every record from each data file includes the variable NEWID, the CU's unique identification number, which is used to link records of one CU from several files across all quarters in which they participate.

The Interview User Guide documentation does not include an explanation of all information in the EXPN files. Users are strongly encouraged to refer to the questionnaire. Survey forms, as well as the CAPI questionnaire, are available on the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web page .

National probability sample of households designed to represent the total United States noninstitutionalized civilian population.

Eligible population includes all civilian noninstitutional persons.

survey data

computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI)

face-to-face interview

telephone interview



2011-01-03 A folder containing addendum data files (CES09_interview_addendum_files) has been added to the zipped package. The addendum files correct for a processing error that affected several records in the 2009Q3 Interview MEMB file.

Refer to the Interview User Guide documentation for a detailed explanation of the weight variables used.


  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions.

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