hold Interview Survey) that comprise separate samples and cannot be linked at the individual respondent level. It would be very useful to consider designs that provide more complete reporting of expenditures for individual families in the sample. Also, it would be useful to explore designs that follow family members over time, so that complete expenditure patterns are obtained on an annual basis. Currently, families that move are not followed; instead, interviews are conducted with the new residents.

The kinds of changes to the CEX that could improve its usefulness for poverty measurement and other analysis purposes would not be easy to implement and would likely be expensive (particularly in the case of an increased sample size); however, the potential benefits could be great. A useful first step would be for BLS to conduct or commission a study that evaluates the CEX and assesses the costs and benefits of changes to the survey that could make it more useful for poverty measurement and other purposes. We urge prompt undertaking of such a study. Furthermore, we hope that improvements to the survey that stem from the review can be implemented in time to provide useful input to the next 10-year review of the poverty measure.

RECOMMENDATION 5.6. The Bureau of Labor Statistics should undertake a comprehensive review of the Consumer Expenditure Survey to assess the costs and benefits of changes to the survey design, questionnaire, sample size, and other features that could improve the quality and usefulness of the data. The review should consider ways to improve the CEX for the purpose of developing poverty thresholds, for making it possible at a future date to measure poverty on the basis of a consumption or expenditure concept of family resources, and for other analytic purposes related to the measurement of consumption, income, and savings.

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