Archive for the 'Industry' Category

Travel and Tourism Spending Increases

Inflation-adjusted spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 3.4 percent in the first three months of this year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reports. It had increased at a rate of 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.  The slightly slower pace in the first quarter mostly reflected less spending on air travel and on lodging.

Still, travel and tourism spending has grown faster than the U.S. economy in both of the last two quarters. Gross domestic product rose 1.9 percent in the first quarter and 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter.Tourism spending

Meanwhile, overall growth in prices for travel and tourism goods and services turned up, increasing at a pace of 6.0 percent in the first quarter. That followed a 1.7 percent annualized decline in the fourth quarter. The upturn reflected higher prices for fuel and lodging.

Total travel and tourism employment increased at a 2.7 percent annualized pace to 7.6 million jobs in the first quarter. That followed a 1.3 percent growth rate in the final three months of last year. By comparison, overall U.S. employment increased 2.1 percent in the first quarter, after rising 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

Of the total 7.6 million travel and tourism jobs at the start of this year,  5.4 million jobs involved producing goods and services sold “directly” to visitors such as hotel workers, airline pilots and souvenir sellers. Another 2.2 million jobs involved people “indirectly” employed, like those who make toiletries for hotel guests and the plastic used to produce souvenir key chains.

Spending on air transportation slowed, increasing 1.8 percent in the first quarter, after registering a 3.2 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter. Spending on lodging also slowed, increasing at a 4.8 percent pace in the first quarter, following a 7.4 percent growth rate in the fourth quarter. Business spending on lodging increased while leisure spending was flat.

Prices for passenger air transportation accelerated, rising at an 11.9 percent rate in the first quarter after increasing at a 6.5 percent pace in the fourth quarter. Airlines continued to increase fares in the first quarter to cover rising fuel costs. Prices for lodging also turned up, increasing 6.3 percent in the first quarter after falling at an 8.3 percent pace in the fourth quarter. To learn more about travel and tourism spending read the full report.

What is the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis?

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the federal agency responsible for measuring the U.S. economy, or as some say, BEA is the nation’s accountant. It is responsible for measuring what is produced, what is earned, and how it is spent.  BEA is well known as one of the world’s premier economic statistical agencies, producing some of the most closely watched economic indicators and leading the way in cutting-edge macroeconomic measurement.

Each month, the Bureau pulls together a wealth of data from the public and private sector to provide a comprehensive and consistent picture of economic activity for the nation as a whole and for its various sectors. In addition, the Bureau produces data on U.S. economic interactions with the rest of the world, such as trade and international investment.  These data are considered among the most timely, relevant, and accurate in the world.

BEA is somewhat unique among federal agencies in that it is made up of, and lead by, an entirely career staff; it employs no political appointees. This is done, in part, to ensure the integrity and the perception of the integrity of the nation’s key economic indicators.

The data that BEA produces allow businesses, agencies, researchers, and the American people to better understand what is going on in the U.S. economy. That information is used by people to make financial decisions like whether to buy a home, while businesses rely on the data to make decisions about capital investments and hiring.
BEA produces a wide variety of economic statistics through its national, international, regional, and industry accounts. Probably the most common and one of the most important is gross domestic product, or GDP.  GDP is the measure of the total value of all final goods and services produced within the United States during a given period of time. It looks at the activity of consumers, businesses, government agencies, and imports and exports. It is the primary measure of growth in the economy. In the first quarter of 2012, GDP exceeded $15 trillion. (Adjusted for inflation, GDP topped $13.5 trillion.)  
GDP and the related BEA accounts are used for a wide variety of economic policy purposes. 

For example:

  • GDP accounts are used by the Administration and Congress to prepare the federal budget projections.  
  • GDP accounts are used by the Federal Reserve Board to formulate monetary policy. Two of the most important variables guiding monetary policy are real GDP growth and inflation as measured by BEA’s personal consumption expenditures price index.
  • BEA regional data are used to distribute more than $327 billion in federal funds for Medicaid, Title I Education Grants, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and other programs to state and local governments.

In addition to GDP, BEA produces other economic indicators and posts them on its Web site.  You can explore these statistics through the interactive data tables or through the archive of the Survey of Current Business, the Bureau’s monthly journal.