Want to know how much manufacturing contributed to U.S. economic growth in a given quarter? How about educational services?
For the first time, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) will soon start producing on a regular basis quarterly estimates of economic activity generated by 22 industries.
The first quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) by industry report will be released April 25 and will provide information on how these industries fared in the fourth quarter of 2013 as well as how they performed in previous quarters back to the first quarter of 2005. The report will also provide annual statistics for 2013. Previously, BEA published GDP by industry statistics only on an annual basis, so businesses and policymakers had a much longer wait for such information.
The new quarterly statistics will provide a different look at quarterly economic growth. For instance, on March 27, BEA reported that the U.S. economy grew at a 2.6 percent pace in the fourth quarter of 2013. While that GDP report provides a lot of crucial information, the new quarterly GDP by industry report will shed light on whether most industries contributed to the nation’s economic growth or whether just a handful of industries accounted for most of it.
The new quarterly statistics also will serve as a better barometer for potential turning points in the U.S. economy and give businesses and policymakers a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the overall economy. For instance, in 2005—during the run up to the great recession—the U.S. economy grew 3.4 percent. Finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing accounted for 1.3 percentage points of that growth—more than a third. Providing regular, timely updates on how economic growth is distributed across the industries can help policymakers and business leaders identify potential trouble spots in the economy.
BEA officials discussed these new GDP by industry statistics at a data user conference March 11 at BEA.
These new estimates are just one way that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy. This year, BEA also will introduce real (inflation-adjusted) estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas, along with prototype estimates of quarterly GDP by state and annual consumer spending by state. Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these is a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”