Consumer Expenditure Survey Summary Tables (ICPSR 36170)

Published: Oct 25, 2017

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

Version V5

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program consists of two surveys: the quarterly Interview survey and the annual Diary survey. Combined, these two surveys provide information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics. The survey data are collected for the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by the U.S. Census Bureau. The CE collects all on all spending components including food, housing, apparel and services, transportation, entertainment, and out-of-pocket health care costs.

The CE features several arts-related spending categories, including the following items:

Spending on Admissions

  • Plays, theater, opera, and concerts
  • Movies, parks, and museums

Spending on Reading

  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Books
  • Digital book readers

Spending on Other Arts-Related Items

  • Musical instruments
  • Photographic equipment
  • Audio-visual equipment
  • Toys, games, arts and crafts

The CE is important because it is the only Federal survey to provide information on the complete range of consumers' expenditures and incomes, as well as the characteristics of those consumers. It is used by economic policymakers examining the impact of policy changes on economic groups, by the Census Bureau as the source of thresholds for the Supplemental Poverty Measure, by businesses and academic researchers studying consumers' spending habits and trends, by other Federal agencies, and, perhaps most importantly, to regularly revise the Consumer Price Index market basket of goods and services and their relative importance.

The most recent data tables are for 2016, and were made available on August 29, 2017. The unpublished integrated CE data tables produced by the BLS are available to download through NADAC (click on "Other" in the Dataset(s) section). Also, see Featured CE Tables and Economic News Releases sections on the CE home page for current data tables and news release. The 2016 public-use microdata is the most recent and was released on August 29, 2017.

United States. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey Summary Tables. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2017-10-25.

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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

The full data collection is not available from NADAC. Users should consult the Consumer Expenditure Survey Web site for details on obtaining the data and other resources.

Unpublished Consumer Expenditure Data Tables from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

In addition to providing links to CE microdata, NADAC includes unpublished integrated CE data tables produced by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (click on "Other" in the Dataset(s) section). Currently, these tables provide data for the year 2016. The tables show average and percentile expenditures for detailed items, as well as the standard error and coefficient of variation (CV) for each spending estimate.

The unpublished tables show, for example, that United States consumers spent an average of $55.32 on admissions to plays, theater, opera, and concerts in 2016. However, that spending ranged from a low of $14.45 in the lowest spending percentile (the lowest 20 percent) to a high of $155.69 in the highest spending percentile (the highest 20 percent).

The BLS unpublished integrated CE data tables are provided by NADAC as an easy-to-use tool for obtaining arts-related spending estimates. However, users are cautioned to read the BLS explanatory letter accompanying the tables. The letter explains that estimates of average expenditures on detailed spending items (such as the arts-related spending items listed above) may be unreliable due to so few reports of expenditures for those items.

BLS CE Contact Information

For more information about the BLS unpublished CE tables, please contact BLS CE staff at



2017-10-25 The collection has been updated with the infographic and data tables from the most recent time period (2016).

2017-02-20 The collection has been updated with the infographic and data tables from the most recent time period (2015).

2016-09-30 The title has been updated to indicate that a collection of data tables are provided with this project. Also, at least one infographic has been added to this collection.

2016-02-05 The data tables have been updated with data from the most recent time period, which is 2014.


  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

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This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture (NADAC). NADAC is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.