Is consumer spending growing faster in North Dakota or North Carolina? How do consumers in different regions respond to economic downturns? Which state has the fastest growing consumer market for motor vehicles?
Some Fortune 500 companies have research departments to help answer these questions, but new BEA data on consumer spending broken out by state – released in August – provide startups and entrepreneurs with crucial insight into consumer behavior at the state level. In December 2015, we are planning to release a fresh batch of consumer spending by state statistics that will cover the year 2014 as well as some earlier years.
The prototype Personal Consumption Expenditure by state statistics are designed to be used in conjunction with other macroeconomic and regional data we produce, like statistics on Gross Domestic Product by State and State Personal Income. This suite of statistics can offer entrepreneurs a better understanding of what’s driving or restraining economic activity at the state level, and thus inform their decisions about things like investing, financing, locating and hiring.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ experimental consumer spending by state statistics were released on Aug. 7 and covered the years from 1997 to 2012. So the fresh batch of statistics that will be out next year will be more up to date.
The state data on consumer spending use the same product definitions as our national statistics on consumer spending, making them consistent. Given the limited availability of source data at the regional level, the new consumer spending by state statistics do not provide the same level of category detail that BEA currently makes available at the national level.
The new statistics also use the same residency concepts that we use in our state income data, allowing entrepreneurs and other users to compare people’s income and spending in each state.
These new estimates are just one way that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy. In April, we introduced real (inflation-adjusted) estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas as well as new quarterly statistics on GDP broken out by industry. On August 20, we released prototype estimates of quarterly GDP by state, which also breaks out GDP by Industry. Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these is a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”