Consumer Expenditure Survey

Public-Use Microdata

Beginning in 2012, the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) was given clearance to make CE public-use microdata (PUMD) available for free electronic download. In the past, PUMD was only available from the CE for purchase. All new PUMD releases will solely be available online, beginning with the 2011 data release on September 25, 2012. Prior releases dating back to the 1996 PUMD release will be posted online incrementally as resources become available.

On This Page

About CE PUMD

The CE provides a continuous and comprehensive flow of data on the buying habits of American consumers. These data are used widely in economic research and analysis, and in support of revisions of the Consumer Price Index. To meet the needs of users, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces population estimates for consumer units (CUs) of average expenditures in news releases, reports, quarterly web articles, Monthly Labor Review articles, and annual tabulated CE data.

The population estimates used in the reports and tables mentioned above were derived using CE microdata. CE microdata are at the CU level. To produce the public-use version of CE microdata, the CE undertakes a yearly process that strips the data of any potential respondent identifying information.

The PUMD files present detailed demographic, income, and expenditure data from the Interview and Diary components of the CE. Also, beginning in 2009, the PUMD includes paradata files. CE paradata is data on the survey collection process for the Interview Survey.

The PUMD files are grouped into 3 sections: Interview, Interview EXPN, and Diary.

The Interview survey collects data on monthly expenditures for housing, apparel and services, transportation, health care, entertainment, personal care, reading, education, food, tobacco, cash contributions, and personal insurance and pensions, as well as income and characteristics data. The Interview survey PUMD are organized into seven major data files for each quarter1:

1. FMLI -a file with characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures for the household
2. MEMI -a file with characteristics and income for each member in the household
3. MTBI -a detailed monthly expenditure file categorized by Universal Classification Code (UCC)
4. ITBI -a household monthly income file categorized by UCC
5. ITII -a household monthly imputed income file categorized by UCC2
6. FPAR -paradata for each interview at the household level3
7. MCHI -paradata for each interview at the contact attempt level3

The Interview EXPN files contain expenditure and non-expenditure information collected directly from all of the major sections of the quarterly Interview survey. These files are more detailed than the other Interview survey files alone. Roughly 50 EXPN datasets are available for each data release.

The Diary survey collects data on weekly expenditures of frequently purchased items such as food at home, food away from home, alcoholic beverages, smoking supplies, personal care products and services, and nonprescription drugs, as well as income and characteristics data. The Diary survey PUMD are organized into five major data files for each quarter:

1. FMLD -a file with characteristics, income, and summary level expenditures for the household
2. MEMD -a file with characteristics and income for each member in the household
3. EXPD -a detailed weekly expenditure file categorized by UCC
4. DTBD -a detailed annual income file categorized by UCC
5. DTID -a household imputed income file categorized by UCC2

1 Paradata files are typically compiled of nine quarters of data.
2 Available beginning in 2004.
3 Available beginning in 2009.

Most Recent PUMD Release

The 2012 PUMD were originally released to the public for free electronic download on September 10, 2013. The zip files below contain the most recent version of the 2012 PUMD. The data files are available in multiple file formats, SAS, SPSS, STATA, and ASCII Comma-Delimited, to facilitate use. The documentation zip file contains user guides and documentation, data dictionaries, parameter files, and sample programs. For more information on the 2012 files, see 2012 public-use microdata.

Please see Instructions for Downloading Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) Microdata and Documentation to learn how to download the PUMD files. Also, a 'Getting Started' guide (PDF) is available to those who are new to CE PUMD.

Note: Because of the complexity and size of the microdata files, a thorough knowledge of a statistical software package such as SAS, SPSS, STATA, etc., is required to work with the files. You must have the appropriate statistical software loaded on your computer for the files to open.

To be notified when the next year’s PUMD is released, please sign up for the CEX e-mail Updates.

2012 datasets

2012 sample programs and documentation

If the information is not accessible to you due to a disability, please contact us via email. Please provide the location of the requested information, the desired format, and a mailing address in case we have to mail the information to you.

Archived PUMD Online

The data releases are to be made available online in reverse chronological order until the 1996 data release is posted. Post-1995 data releases will remain available on USB flash drive for purchase until posted online. Please see PUMD on USB Flash Drive for ordering information.

Pre-1996 PUMD will continue to only be available on USB flash drive for purchase. Plans for a future project to make pre-1996 data available online are in the works, but no timetable has been set for its release.

For information and downloading of past PUMD releases, please visit the links below. Please see Instructions for Downloading Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) Microdata and Documentation for information on downloading the files.

PUMD on USB Flash Drive

PUMD that are not available online must be purchased through the Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Financial Planning and Management. To purchase USB flash drives by check or charge, print and complete the order form (PDF) and return it with payment to: Bureau of Labor Statistics Division of Financial Planning and Management, Room 4135, 2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20212-0001. Phone (202) 691-7794, Fax (202) 691-7796.

PUMD Documentation and Errata

The PUMD documentation for the Diary and Interview surveys provide details on the available variables in the microdata, estimation procedures, and data changes from the previous year. Documentation and errata from 1996 through 2012 are available online. Beginning in 2007, the Interview and Diary data dictionaries have been separated from the rest of the documentation. The data dictionaries for each survey include variable names, detailed variable descriptions, formats, and start positions for the survey variables.

Other Useful Resources

To be notified on errata (affecting past and current microdata), please sign up for the CEX e-mail Updates.

We welcome and encourage any and all comments and suggestions regarding this page and its contents. Our ultimate goal is to provide the PUMD to as many users as possible, while always striving to increase ease of use. Please contact us with comments, suggestions, or questions.

Last Modified Date: March 5, 2014

Recommend this page using: