Fed launching consumer finance survey in March (running through December)

A statistical study of household finances aimed at providing policymakers with “important insight” into the economic condition of a broad cross-section of American families will get underway in March, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

The central bank’s “Survey of Consumer Finances,” it said in a release, is undertaken every three years for the past 36 years; the 2019 survey will be conducted by NORC, a social science research organization at the University of Chicago. The survey will run through December, the Fed said.

The 2019 survey, the Fed said, will gather information on what Americans own (from houses and cars to stocks and bonds), how and how much they borrow, and how they receive financial services. Participants in the study are chosen at random from 128 areas, including metropolitan areas and rural counties across the United States, using a scientific sampling procedure, the Fed said.

A representative of the survey firm contacts each potential participant personally to explain the study and request time for an interview, according to the Fed.

Past study results, the Fed said, have contributed to policy discussions about the recovery of households from the Great Recession, changes in the use of credit, the use of tax-preferred retirement savings accounts, “and a broad range of other issues.”

Summary results for the 2019 study are expected to be published in late 2020, the Fed said, after all data from the survey have been assessed and analyzed.

Federal Reserve Board begins 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances