Advance Trade Data Aim to Improve First Estimate of Quarterly GDP

The Census Bureau’s plans to produce an advance monthly report on international trade in goods will allow the Bureau of Economic Analysis to incorporate three months of official trade data into its first estimate of quarterly Gross Domestic Product, helping to improve the accuracy of this major economic measure.

BEA Director Brian Moyer praised the move as an example of cross-agency collaboration.

“Accelerating trade data so they are included in our initial estimates of Gross Domestic Product represents a significant improvement in our ability to measure the U.S. economy accurately,” said BEA Director Moyer. “The work between BEA and the Census Bureau to make this happen underscores how interagency collaboration and innovation result in a payoff for taxpayers and our data customers.”

The first GDP report incorporating Census’ “advance” trade data will be released Thursday, July 30 with BEA’s advance estimate of second-quarter GDP.

“We expect Census’ advance trade data report to improve the accuracy of our initial, or advance,  estimates of quarterly Gross Domestic Product and reduce revisions by filling in a data gap with actual trade data for the third month of the quarter,” said BEA Associate Director for National Economic Accounts Brent Moulton. “This improvement will make our advance GDP estimates more useful to businesses, policymakers and the American public.  In calculating the advance estimate, BEA does have actual trade data for two months of a quarter but is missing data for the third month and has to rely on assumptions to fill that gap. Those assumptions have been an important source of revisions to our GDP estimates.  The inclusion of actual trade data for the third month of the quarter is the latest effort by the Commerce Department to produce the best possible measure of the U.S. economy.”

For more information, read this FAQ. Click here for the trade report. (Announcement found on page 3 of report.)


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