Consumer Expenditure Survey

Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) New Midyear Data Tables

The most recent combined expenditure, share, and standard error data tables cover average expenditures made in July 2011 through June 2012. These tables are the first midyear release of Consumer Expenditure data.

They cover expenditures made in the second half of 2011 and the first half of 2012. Expenditures from the second half of 2011 were previously included in the annual 2011 tables released in September 2012, but the expenditures from the first half of 2012 are new and have not been published before.

These tables are in a new format which combines information from three previous tables into one table. Expenditure means, expenditure shares, and standard errors (SE) and coefficients of variation (CV%) are now on the same table.

The row for expenditure Mean is the average dollar amount per consumer unit over a 12 month time period.

The Share is a percent share of total expenditures (100%) for the respective column. It describes the percent for that category. For example, the share spent on food by all consumers was about 13 percent of their total spending.

The new table format has two rows describing the sampling variability of the mean expenditure estimate – the standard error (SE) and coefficient of variation (CV). The smaller the values of SE and CV, the more reliable the mean expenditure estimates. Both SE and CV measure how much the mean expenditure estimates would vary if the survey could be repeated over-and-over using a different sample of households every time.

The SE is an absolute measure of variability, and the CV is a relative measure of variability. As a result, SEs are expressed in dollars and CVs are expressed in percents. The CV is a ratio computed by dividing the standard error by the mean. SEs are often used to construct confidence intervals to determine whether differences between various expenditure estimates are statistically significant.

CVs over 25% are too variable to be considered reliable. In previous means tables insufficient data counts for given cells had been footnoted as: “Data are likely to have large sampling errors.”

Annual aggregate share tables, 2-year cross tabulation tables, MSA tables, annual numbers in the CE database, and the public-use microdata (PUMD) covering an entire calendar year will continue to be released in September, and will not be released on a rolling midyear basis.

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Last Modified Date: March 27, 2013

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