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Why Does BEA Revise GDP Estimates?

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 19:23

Each summer, the Bureau of Economic Analysis updates its Gross Domestic Product estimates to incorporate sources of data previously unavailable and make improvements in methodology – – all with the goal of providing the most accurate measure of the U.S. economy’s performance.

This year, we’ll release revised estimates for GDP and its major components on July 30. These updated figures will reflect new and revised sources of data and will incorporate the regular updates to seasonal adjustment factors as well as several statistical changes designed to reduce residual seasonality. At the same time, BEA will introduce new tools for analyzing the nation’s economy.

This annual revision process results in old estimates of GDP getting recalculated for both the quarters and years covered – from 2012 through the first quarter of 2015. BEA’s annual revisions usually cover three years. New estimates of GDP will reflect the adopted improvements.

Another improvement that will emerge from this year’s annual revision process is that the BEA – also starting on July 30 — will begin including data from a new “advance” trade report produced by the Census Bureau into our initial estimates of quarterly GDP. The data from Census’ advance trade report will mean that BEA will have actual trade data for all three months of the quarter – rather than only two months — when calculating its first estimate of quarterly GDP.

In addition to the annual revisions process, BEA also regularly updates its quarterly GDP numbers – producing three estimates for a given quarter. Each new estimate includes updated, more complete, and more accurate information as it becomes available. The first, called the “advance” estimate, typically receives the most attention and is released roughly four weeks after the end of a quarter. For example, the first estimate of GDP for this year’s January-to-March quarter came out near the end of April. The first estimate for the second quarter will come out July 30 – in concert with the annual revisions.

When BEA calculates the advance estimate, we don’t yet have complete source data, with the largest gaps in data for the third month of the quarter. In particular, the advance estimate lacks complete source data on inventories, trade, and consumer spending on services. Therefore, we must make assumptions for these missing pieces based in part on past trends. As part of this process, we publish a detailed technical note that lays out the assumptions we made for a particular estimate. With Census’ new advance trade report, BEA will be able to plug the hole on the missing trade data.

As new and more complete data become available, we incorporate that information into the second and third GDP estimates. About 45 percent of the advance estimate is based on initial, or early, estimates from various monthly and quarterly surveys that are subject to revision for various reasons, including late respondents that are eventually incorporated into the survey results. Another roughly 14 percent of the advance estimate is based on historical trends.

By the second GDP estimate, we have new data for the third month and revised data for earlier months. By the third estimate, a lot more data is available so that only 17 percent of the GDP estimate is based on information from the first set of monthly and quarterly surveys.

Once every five years, BEA produces a  “comprehensive” revision to its GDP statistics, incorporating changes to how the U.S. economy is measured as well as more complete source data all the way back to 1929.  The most recent comprehensive revision was 2013.  New data, new methodologies, changes in definitions and classifications, and changes in presentations were all incorporated into 2013’s comprehensive GDP revision.

Measuring GDP for the U.S. economy is always a work in progress. It often takes months, or even years, for the most comprehensive and accurate data to become available. Our advance estimates strike a good balance between accuracy and timeliness, given the data available at the time. Successive revisions reflect BEA’s commitment to incorporate both more complete source data when they become available and improved methods for measuring a rapidly changing economy.

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U.S. Current-Account Deficit Increases in First Quarter 2015

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 18:19

The U.S. current-account deficit – a net measure of transactions between the United States and the rest of the world in goods, services, primary income (investment income and compensation), and secondary income (current transfers) – increased to $113.3 billion (preliminary) in the first quarter of 2015 from $103.1 billion (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2014. As a percentage of U.S. GDP, the deficit increased to 2.6 percent from 2.3 percent. The previously published current-account deficit for the fourth quarter was $113.5 billion.Account balance june 18

  • The deficit on international trade in goods increased to $189.0 billion from $186.0 billion as goods exports decreased more than goods imports.
  • The surplus on international trade in services increased to $58.7 billion from $57.6 billion as services exports increased more than services imports.
  • The surplus on primary income decreased to $50.8 billion from $60.0 billion as primary income receipts decreased more than primary income payments.
  • The deficit on secondary income (current transfers) decreased to $33.8 billion from $34.8 billion as secondary income receipts increased more than secondary income payments.

Net U.S. borrowing from financial-account transactions was $47.9 billion in the first quarter, up from $47.8 billion in the fourth.

  • Net U.S. acquisition of financial assets excluding financial derivatives was $325.1 billion in the first quarter, up from $41.7 billion in the fourth.
  • Net U.S. incurrence of liabilities excluding financial derivatives was $332.8 billion in the first quarter, up from $57.7 billion in the fourth.
  • Net borrowing in financial derivatives other than reserves was $40.1 billion in the first quarter, up from $31.7 billion in the fourth.

For more information, read the full report.

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Preview of the 2015 Annual Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 06/18/2015 - 01:09

SCB logo

On July 30, the Bureau of Economic Analysis will release its annual update of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs) in conjunction with the advance estimate for the second quarter of 2015. As is usual for annual NIPA revisions, the revised estimates will incorporate newly available source data that are more complete, more detailed, and otherwise more reliable than those that were previously incorporated.

This year’s annual revision will introduce the following:

  • An improved treatment of federal refundable tax credits in the personal income and outlays account and the government receipts and expenditures account.
  • Two new aggregates—the average of gross domestic product (GDP) and gross domestic income (GDI) and final sales to private domestic purchasers—that will facilitate the analysis of macroeconomic trends.
  • Improvements to the seasonal adjustment of GDP components, including federal defense spending on services, and of the source data underlying several other NIPA components.
  • An expanded presentation of payments and receipts of transfers and taxes between the United States and the “rest of world” that will harmonize the NIPA presentation of these transactions with the presentation in BEA’s international transactions accounts (ITAs).
  • An improved presentation of exports and imports that provides detail on exports of petroleum and products that will align the NIPA presentation of trade in industrial supplies and materials with the presentation in the ITAs.

Read the entire article in the June Survey of Current Business.

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A Snapshot of the Seasonal Adjustment Process for GDP

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 19:10

A lot of work goes into measuring a $17 trillion economy. And, at the Bureau of Economic Analysis it’s a process that never really stops.

In addition to calculating Gross Domestic Product, a key economic indicator of how the U.S. economy is faring, BEA also produces thousands of related data points each month that flow from our GDP reports and give us rich detail about consumer spending, business investment and government activity.

The vast majority of data that feeds into BEA’s calculation of GDP is based on data collected by other sources – a mix of government agencies and some private entities. Just to give you a flavor, BEA’s data sources include 190 surveys or administrative data sources provided by 38 federal agencies as well as data from more than 100 private companies that help fill in some of the data gaps.

These source data represent a mix of frequencies – monthly, quarterly, annual, and in some cases, once every five years. Some of the data are seasonally adjusted by the source agencies and some aren’t.  For some components of GDP, monthly or quarterly source data aren’t available, and BEA must extrapolate the estimates based on trends or on indirect indicators.  (More information on BEA’s data sources can be found here.)

Against that backdrop, how does BEA go about seasonally adjusting GDP?

The approach that BEA uses is described as an “indirect” approach.  All the pieces that make up GDP are first seasonally adjusted and then aggregated to arrive at a seasonally adjusted, topline GDP number.

Here’s a snapshot of how BEA’s indirect process works:

  • Detailed components of GDP are estimated from seasonally adjusted source data. Whenever possible, BEA uses source data have been seasonally adjusted by the source agency, in effect applying the same seasonal adjustments made by the source agencies.  A majority of the source data for quarterly estimates of nominal GDP come from Census Bureau surveys that have been seasonally adjusted by Census.
  • In cases where the source data are not available on a seasonally adjusted basis from the source agency, BEA performs its own seasonal adjustment.
  • The components of GDP are then estimated from the seasonally adjusted source data. BEA reviews and checks the resulting estimates for seasonality.
  • The components are then aggregated to calculate GDP and other higher level aggregates. For values measured in current dollars, the aggregation is simple addition. Estimates of real (inflation adjusted) GDP are based on the chained Fisher quantity index formula.

The main rationale for using this indirect approach is that it allows users to decompose GDP and trace the estimates of the components back to the source data – without having to deal directly with not seasonally adjusted data. Having the ability to move easily from seasonally adjusted source data to GDP components to GDP itself is an important element of providing transparency to our users.  Many users have told us that they find it valuable to maintain that consistency between the GDP estimates and the seasonally adjusted source data.

A potential drawback of this indirect approach is that it raises the risk of residual seasonality. That’s because seasonally adjusting the individual components might not necessarily remove all seasonality from the aggregates. As a result, BEA is working to improve its estimates of GDP by identifying and mitigating potential sources of residual seasonality

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Broad Growth Across States in 2014

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 06/10/2015 - 18:12

gsp0615_fax

  • Real GDP increased in 48 states and the District of Columbia in 2014. Leading industry contributors were professional, scientific, and technical services; nondurable goods manufacturing; and real estate and rental and leasing.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services was the largest contributor to U.S. real GDP by state growth in 2014. This industry contributed to real GDP growth in 46 states and the District of Columbia. It was a large contributor to growth in three states – California, Massachusetts, and Utah.
  • Nondurable goods manufacturing was the leading contributor to growth in the Great Lakes region and made a substantial contribution to growth in Louisiana and Montana.
  • Real estate and rental and leasing contributed to real GDP growth in 32 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Mining was the leading contributor to growth in the five fastest growing states – North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado.
  • In contrast, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting subtracted from real GDP growth in six of eight BEA regions and 39 states in 2014.
  • Real GDP decreased in Alaska and Mississippi in 2014. Alaska’s decrease was primarily due to a decline in mining while the decrease in Mississippi was mainly due to a decline in construction.
  • Per capita real GDP ranged from a high of $66,160 in Alaska to a low of $31,551 in Mississippi. Per capita real GDP for the U.S. was $49,649.

For more information, read the full report.

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2014 GDP by State Statistics to be Released June 10

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 06/09/2015 - 00:05

Statistics on the 2014 economic performance of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, will be released Wednesday, June 10 at 8:30 a.m. EDT by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The statistics in this report, including revised data for 1997-2013, are the state counterparts of the U.S. gross domestic product, BEA’s featured measure of national economic activity. On March 27, BEA announced that real gross domestic product in the United States grew 2.4 percent in 2014. The GDP by state statistics in this report will show which states grew fastest and which industrial sectors contributed to overall growth in each state.

On September 2, BEA will begin releasing these GDP by state statistics on a quarterly basis, starting with quarterly statistics for the first quarter of 2015, back to the first quarter of 2005. In the future, annual state GDP data will be released concurrently with fourth quarter data.

Reporters and editors can use this report to analyze regional impacts of national economic trends and to identify the fastest growing industrial sectors in a state.

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April 2015 Trade Gap is $40.9 Billion

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 06/03/2015 - 18:26

The U.S monthly international trade deficit decreased in April 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit decreased from $50.6 billion in March (revised) to $40.9 billion in April, as exports increased and imports decreased. The previously published March deficit was $51.4 billion. The goods deficit decreased $9.3 billion from March to $60.7 billion in April. The services surplus increased $0.4 billion from March to $19.8 billion in April.

Trade Gap Jun 3

Exports
Exports of goods and services increased $1.9 billion, or 1.0 percent, in April to $189.9 billion. Exports of goods increased $1.9 billion and exports of services increased less than $0.1 billion.

  • The increase in exports of goods mainly reflected increases in capital goods ($2.1 billion) and in industrial supplies and materials ($0.6 billion). A decrease in other goods ($0.5 billion) was partly offsetting.
  • The increase in exports of services mainly reflected an increase in other business services ($0.1 billion) and increases in several categories of services of less than $0.1 billion. A decrease in transport ($0.2 billion), which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, was partly offsetting.

Imports
Imports of goods and services decreased $7.8 billion, or 3.3 percent, in April to $230.8 billion. Imports of goods decreased $7.4 billion and imports of services decreased $0.4 billion.

  • The decrease in imports of goods mainly reflected decreases in consumer goods ($4.9 billion) and in other goods ($1.0 billion).
  • The decrease in imports of services was more than accounted for by a decrease in transport ($0.5 billion). Am increase in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.1 billion) was partly offsetting.

Goods by geographic area (seasonally adjusted, Census basis)

  • The goods deficit with China decreased from $38.9 billion in March to $27.5 billion in April. Exports increased $0.9 billion to $10.3 billion and imports decreased $10.5 billion to $37.7 billion.
  • The goods deficit with Mexico decreased from $5.0 billion in March to $4.2 billion in April. Exports increased $1.0 billion to $20.0 billion and imports increased $0.2 billion to $24.2 billion.
  • The goods deficit with the European Union increased from $10.9 billion in March to $11.9 billion in April. Exports increased $0.9 billion to $23.6 billion and imports increased $1.9 billion to $35.6 billion.

For more information, read the full report.

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Disposable Income Rises in April

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 06/01/2015 - 18:18

Personal income increased 0.4 percent in April after increasing less than 0.1 percent in March. Wages and salaries, the largestPersonal Income and Outlays June1 component of personal income, rose 0.2 percent in April after rising 0.1 percent in March.

Current-dollar disposable personal income (DPI), after-tax income, increased 0.4 percent in April after rising less than 0.1 percent in March, reflecting increases in income receipts on assets and wages and salaries.

Real DPI, income adjusted for taxes and inflation, increased 0.3 percent in April after decreasing 0.2 percent in March.

Real consumer spending (PCE), spending adjusted for price changes, decreased less than 0.1 percent in April after increasing 0.4 percent in March. Spending on durable  goods decreased 0.8 percent in April after increasing 2.1 percent in March.

PCE prices increased less than 0.1 percent in April, after increasing 0.2 percent in March. Excluding food and energy, PCE prices increased 0.1 percent in April, the same increase an in March.

Personal saving rate
Personal saving as a percent of DPI was 5.6 percent in April and 5.2 percent in March.

For more information, read the full report.

Real Consumer Spending June1

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First-Quarter GDP Revised Down: “Second” Estimate of GDP

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 05/29/2015 - 18:11

Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth rate was revised down 0.9 percentage point from the “advance” estimate released in April. In the fourth quarter of 2014, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

GDP highlightsq2q real gdp may 29
The first-quarter decline in real GDP reflected declines in the following:

  • Goods exports, notably of capital goods and of autos and parts.
  • Business investment, notably in mining exploration, shafts, and wells.
  • State and local government spending.

Offsetting these contributions to the decrease in first-quarter GDP:

  • Consumer spending on services increased, notably on health care and on housing and utilities.
  • Nonfarm inventory investment also rose, notably in wholesale trade durable goods-related industries.

Revisions
The percent change in first-quarter real GDP was revised down, mainly reflecting an upward revision to imports and downward revisions to inventory investment and to consumer spending. Offsetting these revisions, residential investment was revised up. For more information, see the technical note.

Corporate profitsq2q corp may29
Corporate profits decreased 5.9 percent at a quarterly rate in the first quarter after decreasing 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014.

  • Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased 7.7 percent after increasing 1.4 percent.
  • Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased 0.6 percent after decreasing 2.7 percent.
  • Profits from the rest of the world decreased 6.0 percent after decreasing 8.8 percent.

Over the last 4 quarters, corporate profits increased 3.7 percent.

For more information, read the full report.

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BEA’s New Data Tool Provides Fast Access to Trade and Investment Stats for Countries

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 05/27/2015 - 22:44

unwieldlyA new data tool–International Trade and Investment Country Facts Application–on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website gives users a snapshot of statistics on trade and investment between the United States and another country by simply clicking on a world map.

These fast facts at your fingertips can include:

  • Total exports, imports and trade balance between the United States and the country you select.
  • The top five categories of goods and services the United States buys from and sells to that country.
  • Country level data on U.S. direct investment abroad and foreign direct investment in the United States and on the activities of multinational enterprises such as employment and sales.

The country snapshots, or factsheets, also contain charts and can be printed or downloaded to a spreadsheet. The new data tool pulls statistics from BEA’s international data sets on exports, imports, direct investment, and the activities of multinational enterprises into a single easy-to-digest resource. Similar to the BEA’s BEARFACTS regional factsheets for state and regional economic data, the new international factsheets can be used to quickly get up to speed for a business presentation, a news story, or a school research project.

Users select a country from an interactive world map or a searchable menu of countries. The tool generates a country factsheet with graphs and tables showing the latest data on U.S. trade and investment with that country. A PDF of the factsheet is available for easy printing. The tool also provides data tables containing more detailed statistics that can be downloaded in Excel format.

To access the new international data tool, visit http://bea.gov/international/factsheet/. For a video tour of the new data tool, visit https://youtu.be/xgLdKJV-g2g

This new data tool is just one of the ways that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy. Some of the trade data used in the new tool comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, another Commerce Department agency, underscoring the how agencies within Commerce work together to make data even more accessible to the American public.

Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these – not only deepens their understanding of the U.S. economy – but also fulfills a strategic goal contained in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” And, that is to make data even more accessible and easier to use.

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BEA Works to Mitigate Potential Sources of Residual Seasonality in GDP

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 05/22/2015 - 19:30

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is working on a multi-pronged action plan to improve its estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) by identifying and mitigating potential sources of “residual” seasonality. That’s when seasonal patterns remain in data even after they are adjusted for seasonal variations.

Each spring, BEA conducts an extensive review–receiving updated seasonally adjusted data from the agencies that supply us with data used in our calculation of GDP. Most of the data the feeds into GDP is seasonally adjusted by the source agency, not BEA. At the same time, BEA examines its own seasonal factors for those series that BEA seasonally adjusts itself. All that work takes place in preparation for BEA’s annual revision to GDP and its major components, which will be released on July 30.

As a result of this ongoing work, BEA is aware of the potential for residual seasonality in GDP and its components, and the agency is looking for ways to minimize this phenomenon.

• One of the areas we’re currently reviewing is possible residual seasonality in measures of federal government defense services spending. Initial research suggests that the first and fourth quarter growth rates are lower on average than those of the third and second quarters. BEA is developing methods for addressing what it has found.
 • Time frame to implement: Improvement will take place with the release of second quarter GDP on July 30. Period covered: 2012, 2013, 2014, and forward.

• BEA also will begin adjusting certain inventory investment series that currently aren’t seasonally adjusted.
 • Time frame to implement: Improvement will take place with the release of second-quarter GDP on July 30. Period covered: 2012, 2013, 2014, and forward.

• Also as part of this year’s seasonal adjustment review, BEA is planning to seasonally adjust a number of series from the Census Bureau’s quarterly services survey that now have sufficient time spans to which seasonal adjustment techniques can be applied. Currently, these series are smoothed using a four-quarter moving average to attempt to smooth out seasonal trends in the data. While BEA’s review had not identified residual seasonality in the PCE services estimates, applying statistical seasonal adjustment techniques to these indicators will improve the accuracy of the underlying trends in PCE estimates.
 • Time frame to implement:  Improvement will take place with the release of second quarter GDP on July 30.  Period covered 2012, 2013, 2014, and forward.

• BEA will review all series entering the GDP calculations to identify, and where feasible, mitigate any residual seasonality within its existing seasonal adjustment methodologies.
 • Time frame to implement: Review will take place with the release of second-quarter GDP on July 30. Period covered: 2012, 2013, 2014, and forward.

• Longer term–beyond July 30–BEA will continue looking at components of GDP to determine if there are opportunities to improve seasonal adjustment methodologies.  Should BEA identify other areas of potential residual seasonality, BEA will develop methods to address these findings. If research suggests that residual seasonality originates with already seasonally adjusted source data, BEA will work alongside its source data agencies to determine the appropriate course of action.

Additional information will be available in an upcoming article in BEA’s Survey of Current Business that’s slated to be published in mid-June.

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Transparency, Participation and Collaboration at the U.S. Census Bureau

CENSUS Directors Blog - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 23:07

Written by: John H. Thompson

The Census Bureau, as well as the rest of the Department of Commerce, is an enthusiastic proponent of open government. Since the first census in 1790, a key part of our mission has been to collect and distribute data and statistics about American people, places and economy. Our data help governments, businesses and individuals make better-informed decisions, and we’re keen for it to provide value to as many people as possible.

As part of Sunshine Week 2015, we highlighted the ways we continue to embrace the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration. Census Bureau employees, other federal agencies and the public shared many great ideas and initiatives – from new digital tools that make our data useful to new audiences to webcasting our advisory committee meetings and updates about our plans for the 2020 Census.

Of course, a big topic in our discussion about open government was the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Celebrating its 50th birthday next year, FOIA gives individuals and organizations the right to access federal agencies’ records (with a few exceptions, such as some personnel information). Did you know that you can submit a FOIA request to any agency, asking for access to records on any topic?

To ask for materials from the Census Bureau under FOIA, you can submit a written request, or use FOIAonline or email census.efoia@census.gov to submit a request electronically. The Census Bureau has a step-by-step FAQ to help guide you through the process. You can see the range of FOIA requests that the Census Bureau gets by generating a report in FOIAonline.  Additionally, you can search for FOIA requests, appeals, and previously released records stored across multiple agencies, in a central repository on FOIAonline.

The public expects and deserves to have access to even more information and data, and the Census Bureau is always seeking ways to be even more accessible, and to involve the public in our data and decision-making processes. I encourage you to visit www.census.gov for a wealth of agency information, statistics and data tools – including our FOIA Library of frequently requested documents.

Accounting for Seasonality in GDP

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 05/20/2015 - 19:30

BEA’s estimates of GDP are seasonally adjusted to remove fluctuations that normally occur at about the same time and the same magnitude each year.  Seasonal adjustment ensures that the remaining movements in GDP, or any other economic series, better reflect true patterns in economic activity.  Examples of factors that may influence seasonal patterns include weather, holidays, and production schedules. (See “Why and how are seasonal adjustments made?“)

Much of the data used by BEA to estimate GDP are seasonally adjusted by the source data agencies. For example, BEA uses seasonally-adjusted inventory and retail sales data from the U.S. Census Bureau and seasonally-adjusted consumer price indexes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. BEA does seasonally adjust some data itself, such as Treasury data used to measure federal government spending. There are also instances where BEA cannot apply seasonal adjustment statistical techniques to its source data because the time series is too short to adequately capture seasonal trends.

BEA and its source data agencies regularly review and update their seasonal adjustment procedures to account for changes in seasonal patterns that emerge over time. Despite regular reviews and updates, changes in seasonal patterns can sometimes lead to ‘residual seasonality’—that is, the manifestation of seasonal patterns in data that have already been seasonally adjusted. There are several reasons that residual seasonality might arise:

  • After the detailed, individual components of GDP are seasonally adjusted, BEA aggregates the seasonally adjusted components to obtain total GDP. In some cases, seasonal patterns may emerge in the aggregate estimates that were not apparent in the individual components.
  • In some cases, the source data may be seasonally adjusted at monthly frequency, but in aggregating to quarterly frequency, seasonal patterns may emerge that were not apparent in the monthly data. To maintain consistency with the source data, BEA does not introduce different seasonal adjustments from those used in the monthly source data.
  • In some cases, the current-dollar values and prices may be independently seasonally adjusted, then the values are deflated (divided by the price) to obtain estimates of real expenditures. Seasonal patterns sometimes emerge in the deflated estimates that were not apparent in the current-dollar values and prices.

BEA is currently examining GDP components for residual seasonality, which may lead to improved seasonal adjustment methods. For example, BEA has recently recognized the possibility of residual seasonality in its measure of federal government defense services spending. Also, BEA is testing for seasonality in a number of not-seasonally-adjusted series from the Census Bureau’s quarterly services survey that now have sufficient time spans to which seasonal adjustment techniques can be applied.  If necessary, improvements to the seasonal adjustment methods for these series will be introduced as part of the regular annual revision to the national income and product accounts, scheduled for release in July 2015.

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New FAQs Aim to Help Private Funds Determine When They Have to File a Survey to BEA for U.S. Direct Investment Abroad

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 05/19/2015 - 21:55

Gaining a detailed picture of the role the United States plays in the global market place is made easier by the wealth of international investment statistics produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.  So it’s critically important that we get the most accurate information possible from businesses, private funds, and others who fill out our BEA surveys.

To that end, BEA recently released some guidance on when private funds may need to fill out a BE-10 survey, which collects information on U.S. direct investment abroad.  The guidance is in the form of several Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

The new FAQs answer questions such as:

  • How do I contact BEA if I have specific questions about how to report my U.S. and foreign-based entities (private funds, operating companies, etc.) on the 2014 BE-10 survey?
  • Are the data reported on the BE-10 survey kept confidential?
  • Does the 2014 BE-10 reporting overlap with the Treasury International Capital (TIC) reporting for private funds?
  • How do I complete a survey for a foreign affiliate entity if it is a private fund versus an operating company? The 2014 BE-10 survey forms may have numerous questions which do not appear to apply to my domestic and foreign funds/entities. How do I proceed?
  • How do I determine which U.S.-based private fund entity or manager would be the U.S.  Reporter that is required to complete the 2014 BE-10A Report for U.S.  Reporter?
  • If it is determined that a private fund must complete the 2014 BE-10 survey, which forms are required?
  • My company/client is a private fund that has foreign investment. Am I required to submit the 2014 Benchmark Survey of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad (BE-10)?

Other resources for assisting the filing of the 2014 BE-10 survey can be found here.

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Coming in July: BEA to Launch New Tools for Analyzing Economic Growth

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 05/15/2015 - 20:27

The Bureau of Economic Analysis plans to launch two new statistics that will serve as tools to help businesses, economists, policymakers and the American public better analyze the performance of the U.S. economy. These tools will be available on July 30 and emerge from an annual BEA process where improvements and revisions to GDP data are implemented. BEA created these two new tools in response to demand from our customers.

Average of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and Gross Domestic Income (GDI)

  • BEA will launch a new series that is an average of GDP and GDI, giving users another way to track U.S. economic growth.
  • BEA will present a nominal (or current-dollar) measure of the series and an inflation-adjusted (or chained-dollar) measure of the series.
  • For current dollars, the new measure will be a simple, equally weighted average of GDP and GDI for any given quarter or year.
  • For chained dollars, the new measure will be the current-dollar value deflated by the GDP price index.
  • The new series will be available back to 1929 on an annual basis and to 1947 on a quarterly basis.
  • The new series not only provide users with another barometer on the U.S. economy but also make available series that several independent experts have recommended using in their analysis of the nation’s economic growth.
  • The new series could help account for known measurement inconsistencies between the two statistics. Those may include timing differences, gaps in underlying source data, and survey measurement errors.
  • The new statistics will be available in BEA’s interactive database as well as in the GDP news release tables.

Final Sales to Private Domestic Purchasers

  • BEA will launch a new series called “final sales to private domestic purchasers,” giving users a new tool for tracking consumer and business (or “private”) demand in the domestic economy.
  • BEA will present current-dollars, chained-dollars, quantity indexes, and price indexes for the new series.
  • The series will be derived in current dollars as the sum of consumer spending and private fixed investment, and will be derived in chained-dollars, quantity indexes, and prices indexes using BEA’s standard chain-type index calculations.
  • Statistics will be available back to 1929 on an annual basis and to 1947 on a quarterly basis.
  • Because the new series excludes the more volatile components of GDP, such as inventory investment, net exports, and government spending, it will track the more persistent movements in spending by consumers and businesses.
  • The new statistics will be available in BEA’s interactive database as well as in the GDP news release tables.

This new data tool is just one of the ways that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy and provide business and households better tools for understanding that economy. Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these is a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”

Categories: BEA Feed Category

BEA’s Brent Moulton to Receive 2015 Julius Shiskin Award

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 19:04

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Brent Moulton, Associate Director for National Economic Accounts of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), has been selected to receive the 2015 Julius Shiskin Memorial Award for Economic Statistics. The award recognizes unusually original and important contributions in the development of economic statistics or in the use of statistics in interpreting the economy.

Dr. Moulton is recognized for his leadership in implementing major innovations into the U.S. national accounts, international standards for national accounts, and expanded integration of U.S. statistical programs. He is also recognized for his work at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in developing innovations that improved the reliability of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Dr. Moulton is the 43nd recipient of the Award; he will be honored at events hosted by the three sponsors of the award: the Washington Statistical Society, the National Association for Business Economics, and the Business and Economics Section of the American Statistical Association.

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At BEA, Dr. Moulton was responsible for the incorporation of innovations into the U.S. national accounts that have kept them up-to-date to the changing U.S. economy. In these and other areas, policymakers, business economists, and academics have applauded Dr. Moulton for providing significantly more accurate and relevant information for monetary policy, tax policy and projections, fiscal policy, and business planning. The innovations incorporated into the accounts included the following:

  • Treating research and development (R&D) as an investment rather than as an expense, recognizing its increasingly important contribution to economic growth and productivity. This change added 3% to the official measure of U.S. GDP.
  • Expanding BEA’s efforts to extend the incorporation of “intangibles” into the national accounts by recognizing artistic originals as capital assets.
  • New methods for measuring the implicit services provided by the banking and insurance industries, providing more comprehensive measurement of output for these industries.
  • Quality-adjusted price measures for communications equipment and other high-tech equipment to better capture the rapid improvements in their performance and quality.

Dr. Moulton is recognized for his leadership in the developing improved international standards for national accounts. He was one of the initiators of the 2008 update of the System of National Accounts (SNA), the handbook for GDP measurement prepared by the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the World Bank, and the European Union.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

Calling All American Community Survey Data Users

CENSUS Directors Blog - Fri, 05/08/2015 - 01:58

Written by: John H. Thompson

Right now, the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting a survey to gather user feedback on American Community Survey data products. The American Community Survey is an indispensable resource that provides data about who we are and how our population is changing. We want to ensure the American Community Survey program continues to produce relevant, timely and accessible data products that the public needs.

The American Community Survey provides vital information about the American population. It is the only source of quality information about the people in all of our nation’s communities, including information on age, children, veterans, income, employment, education and so on. Not surprisingly, governments, businesses, researchers and advocates extensively use American Community Survey data to make better decisions to make our country stronger.

Most of the statistics you see about the people in our communities either come directly from the American Community Survey or are derived in part from it. There is no substitute for the American Community Survey, and the Census Bureau is committed to making it as meaningful as possible to data users and the communities they serve.

If you’re among the many users of American Community Survey data, we want to hear from you. We’re looking for feedback on the content of data products and usage of geographic areas, the coinciding documentation that’s currently provided on our website, and data product access and dissemination. 

To take the ACS Data Products Survey, please visit our website by May 29, 2015. It should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete.

For more information about the American Community Survey program, you can also sign up to receive email updates, become a member of the American Community Survey Data Users Online Community, or register to attend the second annual American Community Survey Data Users Conference on May 11-13, 2015.

BEA Continues to Explore Reliability of Successive Vintages of Real GDP Estimates

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 05/07/2015 - 19:33

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis finds that early estimates of real Gross Domestic Product are reliable, with evidence indicating only minor improvements to accuracy from advance to second to third quarterly estimates, as measured by mean absolute revisions or standard deviations (see Fixler, Greenaway-McGrevey, and Grimm, “The Revisions to GDP, GDI, and Their Major Components,” Survey of Current Business, August 2014).  BEA estimates GDP quarterly in three monthly vintages, with the “advance” estimate 30 days following the reference quarter, the “second” estimate 60 days following and the “third” estimate 90 days following. Annual revisions occur each year for a three-year period, with comprehensive revisions across the entire time series occurring in years ending in three and eight. BEA regularly tests the reliability of each successive vintage of GDP estimates.

BEA’s Alyssa Holdren (see Holdren, “Gross Domestic Product and Gross Domestic Income Revisions and Source Data,” Survey of Current Business, June 2014) illustrates that successive vintage estimates of real Gross Domestic Product contain increasing amounts of quality source data covering the components of GDP. More than three-fifths of the initial, or advance, estimate of GDP is based on trend projections or indirect indicators, and only two-fifths are based on direct indicators. With each successive quarterly vintage the portion of quality data increases, with slightly more than one-half of the second estimates and one-third of the third estimates are based on data rather than proxies.

With respect to the annual revisions, the three current annual vintages contain still greater amounts of increasingly high quality annual-frequency source data. Reflecting the better data, the correlations between the successive early vintage estimates and the latest estimates increase from 0.78 for the advance estimates to 0.96 for the third annual estimates, with reasonably smooth increments between successive vintages. This pattern indicates a gradually tightening relationship, with no apparent jumps with later vintages.

GDP 93 thru 2013

The relationship between the advance and the latest estimates may also be visualized in a scatter diagram.

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The scatter portrays a reasonably tight relationship. This suggests that the early estimates, which contain much more judgmental inputs, are not particularly less reliable than the latest estimates, which contain all available source data and thus relatively little judgment. As such, the early estimates should be viewed as generally accurate and not substantively less reliable than later vintage estimates.

The various estimates reflect a balance between timeliness of early estimates to inform policy and business investment decisions, and the accuracy accrued with the incorporation of increasingly quality source data. The relationships between the earliest estimates and the latest suggest an appropriate balance, although continuing to improve the reliability of the earliest vintages remains a priority for BEA.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

March 2015 Trade Gap is $51.4 Billion

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 18:21

The U.S. monthly international trade deficit increased in March 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. The deficit increased from $35.9 billion in February (revised) to $51.4 billion in March, as imports increased more than exports. The previously published February deficit was $35.4 billion. The goods deficit increased $14.9 billion from February to $70.6 billion in March. The services surplus decreased $0.6 billion from February to $19.2 billion in March.

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Exports
Exports of goods and services increased $1.6 billion, or 0.9 percent, in March to $187.8 billion. Exports of goods increased $1.5 billion and exports of services increased $0.2 billion.

  • The increase in exports of goods mainly reflected increases in capital goods ($1.5 billion) and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.8 billion). Decreases occurred in consumer goods ($1.7 billion) and in petroleum and products ($0.6 billion).
  • The increase in exports of services reflected an increase in transport ($0.1 billion), which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, and increases in several categories of services of less than $0.1 billion. A decrease in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.1 billion) was partly offsetting.

Imports
Imports of goods and services increased $17.1 billion, or 7.7 percent, in March to $239.2 billion. Imports of goods increased $16.4 billion and imports of services increased $0.8 billion.

  • The increase in imports of goods mainly reflected increases in consumer goods ($9.0 billion), in capital goods ($4.0 billion), and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($2.7 billion). A decrease occurred in petroleum and products ($1.1 billion).
  • The increase in imports of services mainly reflected increases in transport ($0.6 billion) and in travel (for all purposes including education) ($0.1 billion).

Goods by geographic area (seasonally adjusted, Census basis)

  • The goods deficit with China increased from $27.3 billion in February to $37.8 billion in March. Exports increased $0.4 billion to $9.3 billion and imports increased $10.9 billion to $47.1 billion.
  • The goods deficit with Japan increased from $4.3 billion in February to $6.3 billion in March. Exports increased $0.2 billion to $5.6 billion and imports increased $2.2 billion to $11.9 billion.
  • The goods deficit with Germany decreased from $6.3 billion in February to $5.6 billion in March. Exports increased $0.1 billion to $4.3 billion and imports decreased $0.5 billion to $9.9 billion.

For more information, read the full report.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

New Data Tool Provides Fast Access to Trade and Investment Stats for Countries

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 05/05/2015 - 00:34

The Bureau of Economic Analysis launched today a new data tool on its website that gives users a snapshot of statistics on trade and investment between the United States and another country by simply clicking on a world map.

These fast facts at your fingertips can include:

  • Total exports, imports and trade balance between the United States and the country you select.
  • The top five categories of goods and services the United States buys from and sells to that country.
  • Country level data on U.S. direct investment abroad and foreign direct investment in the United States and on the activities of multinational enterprises such as employment and sales.

The country snapshots, or factsheets, also contain charts and can be printed or downloaded to a spreadsheet. The new data tool pulls statistics from BEA’s international data sets on exports, imports, direct investment, and the activities of multinational enterprises into a single easy-to-digest resource. Similar to the BEA’s BEARFACTS regional factsheets for state and regional economic data, the new international factsheets can be used to quickly get up to speed for a business presentation, a news story, or a school research project.

Users select a country from an interactive world map or a searchable menu of countries. The tool generates a country factsheet with graphs and tables showing the latest data on U.S. trade and investment with that country. A PDF of the factsheet is available for easy printing. The tool also provides data tables containing more detailed statistics that can be downloaded in Excel format.

To access the new international data tool, visit http://bea.gov/international/factsheet/.

Categories: BEA Feed Category

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