2010); Data User Needs Forum (June 2010); and CE Methods Workshop (December 2010). More information can be found about these events, plus copies of papers presented at them, on the BLS website (see http://www.bls.gov/cex/geminimaterials.htm). Additionally, BLS has conducted internal research in support of the Gemini mission and has contracted targeted research from the private sector.

The panel commends BLS on its multiyear, systematic review of the methodology used in the CE.

Building on the work of the Gemini Project, the panel investigated the opportunities and drawbacks related to the CE. As described in this chapter, their additional investigation included feedback from CE data users, panel members’ reactions when they assumed the role of survey respondents, and a workshop to learn more about other large-scale household surveys. Redesign options developed by two outside groups in response to a Request for Proposal also formed an important part of the panel’s investigations, and the chapter concludes with some of the main points and discussions elicited by these two options.


The panel was diligent in reaching out to data users and trying to understand the many uses of the CE. Many of those uses are outlined in Chapter 2, including input into calculation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), development of government programs, and as the basis for research and analysis. Several panel members are themselves regular users of the CE microdata. The panel reviewed a broad set of published research that used the CE as a source of information. As noted above, members studied the papers from the BLS 2010 Data User Needs Forum. They also attended conferences held by the National Bureau of Economic Research and held a session with microdata users at the 2011 CE Microdata Users’ Conference. Finally, the panel spoke one-on-one with many users of the CE data.

The panel studied the complexities of the CPI program and how the CE supports those important indices. Considerable detail on this topic is provided in Chapter 2, in the section “CE Data Provide Critical Input for Calculating the Consumer Price Index.” From their investigation, the panel made the following two conclusions.

Conclusion 4-1: The CPI is a critical program for BLS and the nation. This program requires an extensive amount of detail on expenditures, at both the geographic and product level, in order to create its various indices. The CPI is the current driver for the CE program with regard for the level of detail it collects. The CPI uses over 800 different expenditure items to create budget shares. The current CE supplies data for

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement