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Apr 7 -- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) invites comments to OMB by May 9, 2022 concerning proposed revisions in the Consumer Expenditure Surveys: The Quarterly Interview and the Diary.
This Information Collection Review (ICR) seeks to obtain clearance for a revision of the Consumer Expenditure (CE) Surveys. This request is seeking continuation of the CE Surveys and the approval to make modifications to the Diary, both paper and online, and to fully implement the online Diary beginning in July 2022. Minor modifications are being made to the CE Quarterly Survey which are described below. These modifications will be implemented in July, 2022.

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. 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.

The continuing CE Surveys provide a constant measurement of changes in consumer expenditure patterns for economic analysis and obtain data for future CPI revisions. Office of Management and Budget clearance is being sought for the proposed revision of the Consumer Expenditure Surveys: The Quarterly Interview (CEQ) and the Diary (CED).

The CE requests clearance to add point of purchase questions for electrical vehicle charging including the location (street intersection or location such as the name of the shopping center, the city and state), company, and method of payment where electric charging services were obtained.    

The CE is also seeking clearance to implement Computer Assisted Recording Instrument (CARI) technology into CE for quality control and research purposes.  CARI is a tool available during data collection to capture audio along with response data. With the respondent’s consent, a portion of each interview is recorded unobtrusively.  The respondent’s consent will be obtained through a consent request question asking for the respondent’s permission to record the interview for quality control purposes.  The recordings will stay within Census’ firewall.

Lastly, the questions on armed forces will be asked prior to the question on veteran status and individuals who indicate they are in the armed forces will no longer be asked if they are a veteran.

The CED Diary collects information on CU expenditures by asking each selected sample unit to keep two one-week diaries of all expenditures.  The Diary is necessary to collect expenditures that respondents may not be able to recall in a retrospective interview.  Several changes will be made to the Diary, both the online and the paper version.  First the column “Mark (X) if purchased for someone not on your list” will be removed.  Second, the specific type of alcohol purchased will no longer be collected and the question will be updated to “Were alcoholic beverages included in total cost?”; the columns for “wine”, “beer”, and “other” columns will be replaced with “yes” and “no” columns; and “Enter the total cost of the alcohol” will be replaced with “If YES – How much?” Third, the column “Mark (X) one that best describes the type of meal” will be deleted as the meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack/drink) is no longer needed. Fourth, instruction on the Diary flap on ‘How to Fill Out Your Diary’ will be updated to reflect the above changes.  The Diary flap instructions will also be updated to indicate that food trucks should be included in ‘Mobile Vendor’ establishments.

CE website: https://www.bls.gov/cex/
CE submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202202-1220-001 Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this site.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-07365

For AEA members wishing to submit comments to OMB, the AEA Committee on Economic Statistics offers "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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