Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2013: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files (ICPSR 36237)

Version Date: Nov 25, 2015 View help for published

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United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics


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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 is comprised of two separate components, each with its own questionnaire and independent sample: (1) the quarterly Interview Survey, and (2) the Diary Survey. This data collection contains the quarterly Interview Survey data, which was designed to collect data on major items of expense which respondents could be expected to recall for 3 months or longer. Items include relatively large expenditures, such as those for property, automobiles, and major durable goods, and those that occurred 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 2013 Interview Survey contains eight groups of Interview data files (FMLI, MEMI, MTBI, ITBI, ITII, NTAXI, FPAR, and MCHI), forty-three Detailed Expenditure (EXPN) files, and processing files. The FMLI, MEMI, MTBI, ITBI, ITII, and NTAXI files are organized by the calendar quarter of the year in which the data were collected. There are five quarterly datasets for each of these files, running from the first quarter of 2013 through the first quarter of 2014 (with NTAXI files starting the second quarter of 2013). The FMLI file contains consumer unit (CU) characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures; the MEMI file contains member characteristics and income data; the MTBI file contains expenditures organized on a monthly basis at the Universal Classification Code (UCC) level; the ITBI file contains income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs; and the ITII file contains the five imputation variants of the income data converted to a monthly time frame and assigned to UCCs. The NTAXI file contains federal and state tax information for each tax unit within the CU.

The FPAR and MCHI datasets are grouped as 2-year datasets (2012 and 2013), plus the first quarter of 2014, and contain paradata about the Interview survey. The FPAR file contains CU level data about the Interview survey, including timing and record use. 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.

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. Each of the 43 EXPN files contains five quarters of 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. There are two types of processing files: (1) aggregation scheme files used in the published consumer expenditure survey interview tables and integrated tables (ISTUB and INTSTUB), and (2) a vehicle make file (CAPIVEHI). The processing files are further explained in the Interview Survey Users' Guide, Section III.H.9. "Processing Files." In addition to the primary users' guide, the Users' Guide to Income Imputation provides information on how to appropriately use the imputed income data.

Demographic and family characteristics data include age, sex, race, marital status, and CU relationships for each CU member. Income information was also collected, 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.

The unpublished integrated CE data tables produced by the BLS are available to download through NADAC (click on "Other" in the Dataset(s) section). 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 BLS unpublished integrated CE data tables are provided as an easy-to-use tool for obtaining 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 leisure and art-related categories) may be unreliable due to so few reports of expenditures for those items.

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2013: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-11-25.

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Primary Sampling Unit

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
2012 -- 2014
2013 (First Quarter through Fourth Quarter), 2014 (First Quarter)

This collection has been minimally processed. ICPSR has extracted variable label and value label information from the Interview Data Dictionary (contained within the ICPSR Codebook) and applied these labels to the corresponding data files. Additionally, UCC item codes have been applied for each UCC variable.

The Interview Survey User Guide 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.

Variable NEWID (CU's unique identification number) can be used to link records across the data files.

A related data collection, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2013: Diary Survey Files, is available as ICPSR 36275. Please refer to the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey Web page for additional information about this data series.

National probability sample of households designed to represent the total United States non-institutionalized civilian population.

Longitudinal: Trend / Repeated Cross-section

Eligible population includes all civilian non-institutional persons.

Consumer Unit
survey data


2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2013: Interview Survey and Detailed Expenditure Files. ICPSR36237-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-11-25.

2015-11-25 The unpublished integrated CE data tables have been added to the collection.

2015-10-28 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.

The data are not weighted. However, the data files feature various weights variables that users may wish to apply during analyses. Please refer to the Interview Survey User Guide for a detailed explanation of the weighting procedures.


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

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. Please see version history for more details.
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