Learn How BEA’s Regional Statistics are Used to Distribute Federal Funds to State and Local Governments

medicaidDid you know that each year BEA regional economic statistics, such as annual personal income and per capita personal income are used to allocate billions of dollars in federal funds to states and local governments?  In fiscal year 2015, nearly $400 billion in federal funds were distributed under programs using BEA statistics in federal funding formulas.

Each year BEA gathers information on the amounts distributed by federal programs using BEA regional economic statistics.  BEA recently released materials detailing the amounts distributed in fiscal year 2015.  The information can be found on BEA’s Web site at http://www.bea.gov/regional/about.cfm under “Uses of the Regional Program Estimates.”

The use of BEA regional economic statistics in federal funding formulas is just one example of the important role of these data and underscores why the accuracy and timeliness of these statistics are so crucial.


Expanded Geographic Detail on International Trade in Services Coming Soon

How much do U.S. residents spend on travel to Greece? How much does the U.S. export in movies and television programming to Vietnam? You can answer these questions next week when the Bureau of Economic Analysis expands the geographic detail it publishes on U.S. imports and exports of services. On October 24, we will publish annual statistics on international trade in services with 90 countries and areas, up from 49.

Previously, BEA included services trade with these countries in its overall trade statistics but did not publish country-by-country detail for them. Russia, Austria, Nigeria, and Colombia are among the countries that will soon be available. Also included are all countries that have free trade agreements either in force or under negotiation with the United States. A full list can be found here.expandedcountrymap-anedit

The new geographic detail released this month will include statistics for 2013 through 2015.

The expanded geographic detail comes on the heels of the release of new data on trade in information and communications technology services and in services that could be delivered using those technologies (sometimes referred to as digitally-enabled services). These statistics were first presented in the May 2016 issue of Survey of Current Business.

To present this additional detail, changes are coming to the structure of several International Services accounts tables. Tables 2.2 and 2.3, which provide statistics on U.S. services trade by country and by type of service, are being expanded to incorporate the additional country detail. Tables 3.1 to 3.3 are new tables for the statistics on services trade related to information and communications technology. The structure of former tables 3.1 to 4.3, which provide statistics on services supplied through affiliates, will not change, but they will be renumbered to 4.1 to 5.3. Drafts of the new table presentations can be previewed in BEA’s Interactive Data Application.

County GDP Stats Would Give a Closer Look at Local Economies


Anyone interested in economic growth in, let’s say, West Virginia can check state GDP data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Want to zoom in on a metro area, such as Charleston, W.Va., and its surroundings? BEA has gross domestic product by metropolitan areas, too.

But what if you’re interested in the Marcellus Shale natural gas field that stretches beneath West Virginia and into several other states?  The Marcellus doesn’t follow state lines, or stick to metropolitan areas. How to measure its economic footprint?

BEA is exploring an idea that would be a big help: county-by-county GDP.

A recent study by BEA economists concluded that producing statistics on the performance of the nation’s more than 3,000 counties would provide a much fuller picture of U.S. economic activity. That’s because the experiences of many counties don’t match statewide economic patterns or what’s happening in the nearest cities.

In the case of the Marcellus Shale, county GDP statistics could enable data users to map the natural resources and mining industry in that region by combining data from selected counties in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and surrounding states.blog-county-map-marcellus-3

Other potential benefits of producing county GDP include:

  • Aiding efforts to attract jobs and investment. Officials who plan local economic development efforts currently rely on BEA’s county-level personal income statistics. Adding a measure of the value of the goods and services produced in each county would give policymakers a much more complete picture of a county’s needs and its economic strengths and weaknesses.
  • Capturing the local impact of industries. That could mean charting the growing value of housing services during a tourism boom in Teton County, Wyo., for example, or seeing the economic differences between Texas counties with lots of manufacturing and those that rely more on oil and gas.
  • Revealing long-term trends. Studying county GDP data over time could show how well an incentive program has worked to draw in new businesses, or document how the economic structure of Lincoln County, Mont., changed as the population aged.
  • Improving other BEA statistics. The new methodologies and data needed to produce reliable county statistics also would provide better detail for state and metro area GDP.

BEA economists are researching the data acquisition, methodologies and modeling techniques that could be used to add counties to the agency’s stable of national, state and metro GDP statistics.  For more about this effort, see the paper titled “A Research Agenda for Measuring GDP at the County Level” on BEA’s website or read the summary in the Survey of Current Business.

BEA wants to hear what data users think about the proposed methodologies and other issues surrounding development of GDP by county. Email your comments or questions to gdpbycounty@bea.gov.

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