Archive for the 'National' Category

BEA’s Industry Economic Accounts to Hit Major Milestone

Roughly every 5 years, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) releases comprehensive revisions of its major economic accounts. These revisions are generally more detailed than annual revisions, implementing changes in methods, statistics and definitions to better reflect an ever-evolving economy. In December, BEA will release the 2013 comprehensive revision of the Industry Economic Accounts (IEAs), which includes two main sets of statistics, the annual industry accounts and the benchmark input-output (I-O) accounts. That will follow the release in July of a comprehensive revision of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs), or GDP accounts.

The upcoming comprehensive IEA revision will mark a significant milestone: the full integration of the IEAs with the NIPAs, which was first suggested in a March 2004 article in the Survey of Current Business and later amplified in other articles. This enhanced integration, which has long been recommended by economists, will allow for a higher degree of consistency among these widely followed accounts, offering a more consistent view of industry dynamics within the overall economy.

A preview of the 2013 comprehensive revision of the IEAs was published in the June 2013 issue of the Survey.

GDP Growth Slows in First Quarter

Real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012 after rising 3.0 percent in the fourth quarter, according to estimates released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The first-quarter growth rate was unchanged from the second estimate released in May.

GDP highlights
Net exports increased (after decreasing in the fourth quarter), consumer spending accelerated, and residential housing investment picked up in the first quarter. These positive economic contributions, however, were more than offset by a slowdown in inventory investment.

The slowdown in inventory investment reflected a sharp downturn in the manufacturing and wholesale industries. In contrast, retail inventory investment turned up, especially by motor vehicles dealers.

Revisions to GDP
For the third estimate of first-quarter real GDP growth, upward revisions to net exports and business investment in structures were offset by downward revisions to consumer spending, inventory investment, and state and local government spending.

Disposable income and saving
Real disposable personal income—which adjusts personal income for taxes and inflation—rose 0.7 percent in the first quarter, compared with 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter. The personal saving rate—saving as a percentage of disposable personal income—was 3.7 percent, compared with 4.2 percent in the fourth quarter. The personal saving rate has declined for six quarters in a row.

Corporate profits
First-quarter corporate profits fell 0.3 percent at a quarterly rate following a 0.9 percent rise in the fourth quarter. First-quarter nonfinancial profits rose 1.4 percent after rising 2.6 percent, and financial profits rose 5.7 percent after rising 7.0 percent. Profits from the rest of the world fell 11.8 percent after declining 9.2 percent.

The first-quarter decline reflected a 2.2 percent drop in receipts from abroad and a 15.9 percent rise in payments to entities abroad.

To learn more about gross domestic product, read the full report.

What is the Value of Household Work?

The Nobel Prize winner Simon Kuznets presented an original set of estimates to Congress in 1934 that contained a number of caveats about what was omitted from the calculation of national income (and later from the calculation of gross domestic product) that made it an imperfect measure of welfare. One of the principal omissions that he cited was the “services of housewives and other members of the family.” Although the hours men contribute to “household production” have risen, while those of women have declined, it is still true that the exclusion of household production—of men or women—causes a significant understatement in the level of domestic production. Turns out, Mr. Kuznets was correct. New research by the Bureau of Economic Analysis has found that if the value of household production were included in gross domestic product (GDP), it would add approximately $3.8 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2010.

A research paper published in the May issue of the Survey of Current Business found that if “home production”—the value of the time spent cooking, cleaning, watching the kids, and so forth—were counted, it would raise the level of nominal GDP nearly 26 percent in 2010. Back in 1965, when fewer women were in the formal labor force and more were working in the nonmarket sector, GDP would have been raised by 39 percent. Because the inclusion of “home production” would add more to the level of GDP in 1965 than in 2010, factoring in the value of these nonmarket activities was found to reduce the average annual growth rate of GDP over this period.

The paper also found that in 1965, men and women spent an average of 27 hours a week involved in “home production” activities, such as housework, cooking, odds jobs, gardening, shopping, child care, and domestic travel. By 2010, they spent 22 hours a week on such activities.

The overall decline in hours occurred as the amount of time women spent on household activities fell to 26 hours a week in 2010, from 40 hours in 1965, as more and more women took jobs outside the home. While women’s hours have dramatically dropped over that period, men’s hours dedicated to household activities rose slightly to 17 hours a week, from 14, over that same period.

Interestingly, the 2007—2009 recession had little impact on the number of hours U.S. households spent on cooking, cleaning, and other home activities, despite the fact that the number of unemployed people increased during that time.

The paper also found that accounting for household production reduces income inequality because the amount of household production is fairly constant across all households. Since there is little difference in time spent on household activities between lower and higher income households, the effect of accounting for household production is that it raises the incomes of low-income households proportionally more than high-income households.

To learn more, read the full paper called “Accounting for Household Production in the National Accounts, 1965–2010.”