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Value of U.S. Assets Increased More than U.S. Liabilities in First Quarter 2015

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 18:16

The U.S. net international investment position was -$6,794.0 billion (preliminary) at the end of the first quarter of 2015 as the value of U.S. liabilities exceeded the value of U.S .assets. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2014, the net investment position -$7,019.7 billion (revised).

Intl chart june 30

  • The $225.7 billion increase in the net investment position reflected a $728.8 billion increase in the value of U.S. assets that exceeded a $503.1 billion increase in the value of U.S. liabilities.
  • The increase in the net investment position was mostly attributable to the increase in foreign equity prices that raised the value of U.S. direct and portfolio investment assets; these prices increases were partly offset by the depreciation of major foreign currencies against the U.S. dollar that lowered the value of U.S. assets in dollar terms.
  • The net investment position increased 3.2 percent in the first quarter, compared with a decrease of 13.1 percent in the fourth quarter and an average quarterly decrease of 6.9 percent from the first quarter of 2011 through the third quarter of 2014.
  • U.S. assets $25,324.4 billion at the end of the first quarter compared with $24,595.5 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.
  • U.S. liabilities were $32,118.3 billion at the end of the first quarter compared with $31,615.2 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.

For more information, read the full report.

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BEA to Release 2013 Statistics on Real Personal Income for States and Metro Areas July 1

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 20:29

The Bureau of Economic Analysis will publish real personal income statistics for the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all metropolitan areas on Wednesday, July 1 at 8:30 a.m. eastern time.

The report provides annual statistics for 2013. These statistics use regional price parities in combination with the personal consumption expenditure price index to adjust BEA’s personal income data for differences in price levels across the country and over time.

These statistics offer insight into the relative purchasing power of consumers in different states and metropolitan areas. In addition, the data can be used by businesses and households alike to inform their decision making – from deciding where to move for a new job or locate a new store to helping economic development offices chart regional marketing plans.

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Real Consumer Spending Rises in May

BEA Blog Feed - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 18:22

June_25 thursdayPersonal income increased 0.5 percent in May, the same increase as in April. Wages and salaries, the largest component of  personal income, rose 0.5 percent in May after rising 0.3 percent in April.

Current-dollar disposable personal income (DPI), after-tax income, increased 0.5 percent in May after rising 0.4 percent in April.

Real DPI, income adjusted for taxes and inflation, increased 0.2 percent in May after increasing 0.4 percent April.

Real consumer spending (PCE), spending adjusted for price changes, increased 0.6 percent in May after remaining flat in April. Spending on durable goods increased 2.3 percent in May after decreasing 0.1 percent in April.

PCE prices increased 0.3 percent in May, after remaining flat in April. Excluding food and energy, PCE prices increased 0.1 percent in May, the same increase as in April.

Personal saving rate
Personal saving as a percent of DPI was 5.1 percent in May and 5.4 percent in April.Real DPI June 25For more information, read the full report.

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First-Quarter GDP Revised Up

BEA Blog Feed - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 18:22

Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to the “third” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth rate was revised up 0.5 percentage point from the “second” estimate released in May. In the fourth quarter of 2014, real GDP increased 2.2 percent.

GDP highlights
The first-quarter decline in real GDP reflected declines in exports of goods, notably capital goods as well as autos and parts; in business investment, notably in mining exploration, shafts, and wells; and in state and local government spending.

Partly offsetting the contributions to the decline in GDP, consumer spending on services rose, notably on health care and on housing and utilities. Also, inventory investment and housing investment rose.

Revisions
The percent change in first-quarter real GDP was revised up, mainly reflecting up revisions to exports, consumer spending, inventory investment, business investment, and state and local government spending. Partly offsetting these revisions, imports was revised up.

For more information, see the technical note.

Personal income and personal saving
Real disposable personal income (DPI) – personal income adjusted for inflation and taxes – increased 5.3 percent in the first quarter, compared with 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter. Personal saving as a percentage of current-dollar DPI was 5.4 percent, compared with 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter.

GDP June 24

Corporate profits
Corporate profits decreased 5.2 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 fell 6.1 percent after rising 1.4 percent.
  • Profits of domestic financial corporations fell 0.5 percent after falling 2.7 percent.
  • Profits from the rest of the world fell 7.7 percent after falling 8.8 percent.

Over the last 4 quarters, corporate profits increased 4.5 percent.

For more information, read the full report.

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Travel and Tourism Spending Decelerated in the First Quarter of 2015

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 18:06

Real spending (output) on travel and tourism decelerated in the first quarter of 2015, increasing at an annual rate of 2.0 percent after increasing 4.9 percent (revised) in the fourth quarter of 2014.  By comparison, real gross domestic product (GDP) turned down, decreasing 0.7 percent (second estimate) in the first quarter after increasing 2.2 percent.

The leading contributors to the deceleration in the first quarter were “all other transportation-related commodities” and “food services and drinking places.” “All other transportation-related commodities” decelerated, increasing 1.9 percent in the first quarter after increasing 13.3 percent in the fourth quarter. “Food services and drinking places” also decelerated, increasing 2.0 percent after increasing 8.9 percent. Partially offsetting these decelerations, “passenger air transportation” turned up, increasing 3.9 percent in the first quarter after decreasing 2.2 percent.

TTSA_2015q1_Talking_Points_WithChart (2)

For more information, read the full report.

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First Quarter 2015 Travel and Tourism Spending Data to Be Released June 23

BEA Blog Feed - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 00:31

Statistics on what Americans and foreigners spent on travel and tourism in the United States in the first quarter of 2015 will be released Tuesday, June 23 by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

The statistics, part of BEA’s Travel and Tourism Satellite Accounts, provide a breakdown of the various components of travel and tourism spending, including lodging, meals, air travel, and shopping. The statistics will also provide data on employment in the tourism industry.

These statistics, which will be available at 8:30 a.m. eastern time on BEA’s website (www.bea.gov) and by email subscription, can be used for the following purposes:

  • To assess the effects of travel and tourism on the U.S. economy
  • To compare national trends to locally observed trends
  • To examine the relationship among the travel and tourism industries
  • To compare travel and tourism industries to other industries.
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State Personal Income: First Quarter 2015

BEA Blog Feed - Mon, 06/22/2015 - 18:12

State personal income grew 0.9 percent on average in the first quarter of 2015, after growing 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014. Personal income grew in 46 states and growth accelerated in 15 of those states. The fastest growth, 1.3 percent, was in Florida. Personal income fell in four states, with the largest decline, 1.2 percent, in Iowa. The national price index for personal consumption expenditures, fell 0.5 percent in the first quarter, after falling 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

Personal Income June 22

1st qtr june22

For more information, read the full report.

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First Quarter State Personal Income Statistics to be Released June 22

BEA Blog Feed - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 20:30

Preliminary statistics on people’s incomes by state in the first quarter of 2015 will be released Monday, June 22 by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).

These state personal income statistics will provide BEA’s first look at state economies for the January-March quarter of 2015 and serve as a basis for government and business decision making. For example:

  • Federal government agencies use state personal income statistics to allocate funds and determine matching grants to states. The statistics are also used in forecasting models to project energy and water use.
  • State governments use the statistics to project tax revenues and demand for public services.
  • Academic regional economists use the statistics for applied research.
  • Businesses, trade associations, and labor organization use the statistics for market research.
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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.

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