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June 11 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites public comment on its intention to ask OMB to approve a series of revisions to two Consumer Expenditure Surveys (CE):  the Quarterly Interview (CEQ) and the Diary (CED). Economists are welcome to provide comments on any aspect of CEQ and CED design and methodology, including but not limited to the proposed revisions. BLS has provided the draft supporting statement to AEA for member review. Comments are due by August 10, 2020.
 
Proposed revisions to CEQ and CED:    

In the CEQ, BLS proposes to make the following changes: A question will be added on the number of members covered by Tricare; the term Keoghs will be removed from the question on retirement accounts and replaced with more commonly used terms; Virginia will be added to the drop down list of states on the Medicaid questions; e-scooters will be added as an example to bike-share; audio and video expenditure item codes will be consolidated; school books will be separated from school supplies and equipment item codes; several detailed clothing items will be converted to global questions and the remaining clothing item codes will be reorganized.

The CEQ added questions regarding stimulus payments paid by the Federal government. This clearance expires on November 30, 2020. CE plans to continue asking these questions through December of 2020 and seeks clearance with this request to retain until this date. If it is determined the questions are needed beyond December a nonsubstantive change request will be submitted to retain them for a longer period.   

The CED uses both a CAPI instrument and the paper Diary CE-801, Record of Your Daily Expenses. In the CED CAPI instruments, the term Keoghs will be removed from the question on retirement accounts and replaced with more commonly used terms. In the Diary, in order to accommodate CPI's need for point of purchase collection, a column will be added to the clothing section to collect the store name or website where the item was purchased. Additionally, in order to avoid anticipated data collection issues, minor changes will be made to the sample.
 
CE Background:
 
The Consumer Expenditure (CE) Surveys collect data on consumer expenditures, demographic information, and related data needed by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and other public and private data users. The continuing surveys provide a constant measurement of changes in consumer expenditure patterns for economic analysis and to obtain data for future Start Printed Page 35666CPI revisions. The CE Surveys have been ongoing since 1979.

The data from the CE Surveys are used (1) for CPI revisions, (2) to provide a continuous flow of data on income and expenditure patterns for use in economic analysis and policy formulation, and (3) to provide a flexible consumer survey vehicle that is available for use by other Federal Government agencies. Public and private users of price statistics, including Congress and the economic policymaking agencies of the Executive branch, rely on data collected in the CPI in their day-to-day activities. Hence, data users and policymakers widely accept the need to improve the process used for revising the CPI. If the CE Surveys were not conducted on a continuing basis, current information necessary for more timely, as well as more accurate, updating of the CPI would not be available. In addition, data would not be available to respond to the continuing demand from the public and private sectors for current information on consumer spending.

In the Quarterly Interview Survey, each consumer unit (CU) in the sample is interviewed every three months over four calendar quarters. The sample for each quarter is divided into three panels, with CUs being interviewed every three months in the same panel of every quarter. The Quarterly Interview Survey is designed to collect data on the types of expenditures that respondents can be expected to recall for a period of three months or longer. In general the expenses reported in the Interview Survey are either relatively large, such as property, automobiles, or major appliances, or are expenses which occur on a fairly regular basis, such as rent, utility bills, or insurance premiums.

The Diary (or recordkeeping) Survey is completed at home by the respondent family for two consecutive one-week periods. The primary objective of the Diary Survey is to obtain expenditure data on small, frequently purchased items which normally are difficult to recall over longer periods of time.
 
CE website:  https://www.bls.gov/cex/   
Current and past versions of CEQ and CED: https://www.bls.gov/cex/csxsurveyforms.htm
Federal Register notice summarizing proposed changes and inviting comment:  https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/06/11/2020-12629/information-collection-activities-comment-request
Draft Supporting Statement Part A (purpose, uses, publication plans and data availability): https://www.dropbox.com/s/timoy42j799rwgh/Supporting%20Statement%20%281220-0050%29%20CE%20Part%20A%206-11-2020%20.docx?dl=0       
Draft Supporting Statement Part B (sampling method, collection method): https://www.dropbox.com/s/uu0gltw1zq9fc9t/OMB%20Supporting%20Statement%20Part%20B%20-%20June%2011.docx?dl=0
Any attachment referenced in supporting statement can be obtained on request to Nora Kincaid  Kincaid.Nora@bls.gov

Points of contact:  
Sample design -- David Swanson    202-691-6917   Swanson.David@bls.gov
Data collection -- Janel Brattland  202-691-5427   Brattland.janel@bls.gov

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