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June 7 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Invites public comments by July 7, 2021 on a proposal to modify the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Surveys and to test a self-administered Diary.
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 CPI 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.
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 is requesting clearance to test a self-administered Diary.  In lieu of the production procedures for an in-person interview in which FRs place the diaries and train respondents on how to record the household’s daily expenditures, the Self-Administered Diary test will entail Diary placement and collection of sample unit, demographics, income, and select expenditure data through the Household Screener Survey.  Additionally, instead of the CED paper Diary, respondents will use an Online Diary.  

The purpose of the Self-Administered Diary test is to determine the sampling and measurement error by comparing the sample composition of those that complete an online diary to that of the BLS CE diary production sample to determine the differences in representativeness for various population subgroups.  Additionally, response and cooperation rates, as well as deviations in data quality will be evaluated.  The test will be administered from October through December, 2021.

The CE requests clearance to remove several point of purchase questions from the CEQ CAPI instrument that are no longer needed by CPI and to add point of purchase questions for gasoline on trips including the name of the gas station or store and the location (city and state) where gasoline on a trip was purchased.  

The CE is also seeking clearance to add a ‘consent request’ question to the CEQ.  The consent request question will ask respondents for permission to record the interview for quality control purposes.  This question will be added to test the impact of the consent request question on respondent behavior, as well as rates of consent, and overall interview duration. The question will be administered to half of the CUs in their fourth wave production interview between October and December 2021. Respondents in this test group will be asked the consent request question. However, no recordings of the interview will actually take place.  The results of this Consent Request test will inform CE regarding plans to incorporate Computer Assisted Recording Instrument (CARI) technology into CE for quality control and research purposes.  (See testing plans in Supporting Statement part B for additional details on the Computer Assisted Recording Instrument (CARI) technology test.)  

The BLS-approved contractor (Ipsos) will use a national online panel that is representative of the U.S. adult population with recruitment to the panel via address-based sampling. KnowledgePanel® (KP) includes about 60,000 US residents (age 18 and older) representing 247,431,811 adults (age 18 and older) in the overall universe.  

The Household Characteristics Survey and Consumer Expenditure Online Diary will be administered to a nationally representative sample of 2,000 persons (age 18 and older), with surveys conducted in English.  Weighting the entire KP to U.S. Census Bureau benchmarks secured from the latest American Community Survey (ACS) and the most recent March supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS) along several dimensions including gender, age, race/Hispanic origin, education, Census Region, income, home ownership status, household size, and metropolitan area will be done.   

CE website: https://www.bls.gov/cex/
CE proposal to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202105-1220-001 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation
FR notice inviting public comments: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/02/11/2021-02808/information-collection-activities-comment-request
Point of contact: David Swanson (BLS) (202) 691-6917 Swanson.David@bls.gov
For AEA members wishing to provide comments to OMB, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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