What Are Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) and How Are They Measured?

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Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCEs): What Are They?

The U.S. government compiles an estimated total of personal consumption expenditures (PCEs) each month to gauge and monitor changes in the costs of consumer products over time. Household expenses are PCEs.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Personal Income and Outlays report includes PCEs, personal income information, and the PCE Price Index.

Personal consumption expenditures provide the data that the PCE Price Index, which tracks changes in the cost of consumer goods and services traded in the U.S. economy, uses to produce its findings.

Key points

  • The measurement of consumer spending is personal consumption expenditures.
  • In the Personal Income and Outlays report, the Bureau of Economic Analysis includes PCEs, personal income, and the PCE Price Index.
  • The amount spent on both durable and nondurable items, as well as services, are included in PCEs.
  • The Federal Reserve measures inflation by using the PCE Price Index.
  • Prices from all families, businesses, and governments are used to calculate the PCEPI and data on the gross domestic product (GDP).

Recognizing Individual Consumption Expenditures (PCEs)

One of the three components of the Personal Income and Outlays report is personal consumption expenditures. Consumers’ income is the amount of money they make. Their outlays, or the amount consumers spend, are personal consumption expenditures.

The PCE Price Index is derived from the Personal Income and Outlays report’s personal consumption expenditures component. This is the third essential part of Personal Income and Outlays, demonstrating whether prices are rising or falling.

Since 2012, the BEA has published personal consumption expenditures in current and chained dollars. The PCE Price Index is reported based on personal consumption expenditures.

Both thoroughly utilize all PCE categories and eliminate food and energy given for the index. The Core PCE Price Index is the name of the latter.

The U.S. Federal Reserve used the PCE Price Index as its main inflation gauge in 2012 to determine its monetary policy. It is comparable to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which similarly concentrates on consumer costs.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) and the GDP Price Index are two additional inflation indices that economists keep track of.

How to Measure Personal Consumption Expenditures

The PCEs are divided into consumer goods and services, like other economic breakdowns. Each month, the BEA releases data on the total amount of consumer spending overall. Services, nondurable products, durable goods, and items are separate from this.

Durable products are more expensive things with a three-year lifespan. Automobiles, electronics, home furnishings, and appliances are among the examples. The life expectancy of nondurable products is less than three years. These consist of goods like clothes, fuel, and cosmetics.

Monitoring the Data

The PCE Price Index is calculated using the PCEs’ most recent dollar value by the BEA. This indicator displays any price growth or declines from one period to the next.

Like other price indices, the PCE Price Index uses actual values plus a deflator (the PCE deflator) to calculate the amount of periodic price change.

The PCE Price Index and the Core PCE Price Index, which do not include food and energy costs, demonstrate how much the prices of personal consumption expenditures have fluctuated over time. The PCE Price Index is broken down by category, showing PCE inflation and deflation.

Comparing the Consumer Price Index with the PCE Price Index (CPI)

The media pays the most attention to the CPI since it is the most well-known economic statistic. However, the Federal Reserve prefers to utilize the PCE Price Index to assess inflation and the country’s overall financial stability.

The Producer Price Index and the GDP Price Index are used to gauge inflation.

The Fed prefers the PCE Price Index; why? This measure includes a wide variety of expenses. Data collected through business surveys, which are often more trustworthy than the consumer surveys used by the CPI, are also weighted into the PCE Price Index.

On the other hand, the CPI’s monthly reporting offers more detailed information. When analyzing the data, economists may quickly identify categories like cereal, fruit, clothing, and automobiles.

The PCE Price Index utilizes a methodology that considers short-term changes in consumer behavior, which is another distinction between the PCE Price Index and CPI. The CPI calculation does not account for these modifications.

A complete gauge of inflation is produced as a result of these elements. Because even a small amount of inflation may be viewed as a sign of a developing and healthy economy, the Federal Reserve depends on the subtleties of the PCE Price Index.

Personal Consumption Expenditures: Benefits and Drawbacks (PCEs)

Data on personal consumption expenditures offer a picture of the state of the economy. People are typically more likely to spend freely when the economy performs well. Spending reductions indicate issues with the general condition of the economy.


  • Compared to the CPI, the PCE Price Index is less widely recognized by the general public. The PCE PI is far more inclusive, whereas the CPI relies on household surveys produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to assess price trends. This is because it incorporates GDP and uses data from businesses and enterprises.
  • The PCEPI considers a broader range of products and services, particularly those bought by all families in the nation. Only urban households are included in the CPI.
  • The CPI, affected by significant price changes in some items like gasoline, is far more volatile than the personal consumption expenditures price index. The PCEPI tames any significant fluctuations.


  • The PCEPI has some apparent flaws even though it is the Fed’s favored measurement. The first considers GDP, which is only calculated and reported every quarter. However, the BEA releases a report on the PCE each month. Every month, the agency must use retail sales to close the difference.
  • The PCEPI’s excessive breadth is another drawback. It uses data from individuals and other organizations, including companies, governments, and charities. On the other hand, the CPI gives information that consumers directly report. 


  1. The PCE Price Index combines GDP with pricing information from companies and enterprises.
  2. For the PCEPI, a larger population is observed, encompassing all homes and organizations.
  3. The PCEPI is less erratic than the CPI since it isn’t affected by significant price changes.


  1. Although the GDP is released quarterly, the PCEPI is published monthly.
  2. The PCEPI incorporates data from additional sources and data directly collected from consumers, unlike the CPI.

An example of personal consumption spending (PCE)

Service is anything a company offers to a customer that they cannot accomplish on their own. For instance, banks receive compensation for providing financial services, including loans, bill payments, and bank accounts. People pay a landscaping business to maintain their gardens.

The two kinds of goods are durable and nondurable. Anything that has a long shelf life and often costs more to acquire falls under the category of durable goods. This covers furniture, appliances, and cars. Nondurable items usually last fewer than three years, are less expensive, and don’t endure as long. Examples include groceries, wellness items, and apparel.

What Is the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) Number Important For?

The Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) figure depicts Americans’ total amount of money. It may be followed monthly to get a sense of how the economy is doing overall.

It also plays a significant role in the PCE Price Index, which measures the rate of change in consumer price inflation or deflation over time.

Which Is Better: Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) or the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles the CPI each month based on a survey of urban households. It gauges the cost of a “basket” of services and items most people typically purchase for their homes. 11 Its changes from month to month demonstrate whether and by how much consumer prices are increasing or decreasing.

The PCE, which the Bureau of Economic Analysis produces every month, keeps track of changes in a basket of commodities prices over time. It has a broader reach since it considers price fluctuations for the entire economy’s production and out-of-pocket expenses.

What Do the Latest PCEs Data Show Us?

According to PCEs statistics for the 12 months ending in April 2022, personal consumption expenditures increased steadily, from about $15,6 billion to over $17.0 billion. These figures helped to produce an overall PCE inflation rate of 6.3% throughout the period.

The Conclusion

Individuals, businesses, and economists may determine how well the economy is doing each month by tracking personal consumption expenditures. This is because it serves as a gauge for consumer spending.

It also demonstrates how consumers’ purchasing patterns may alter as costs fluctuate. This gives insight into how much demand there is for goods and services.

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