Archive for the 'BEA News' Category

More Time to Weigh in on New Project Measuring Outdoor Recreation’s Economic Impact

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We Want to Hear from You

We are providing more time for members of the public, private industry, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and other interested parties to provide feedback on the development of a new set of statistics that will provide information on economic activity associated with the outdoor recreation segment of the United States economy.

Interested parties may now submit comments through June 30.

The Federal Recreation Council (FRC) and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) are collaborating on the new data project. BEA is one of the U.S. government’s premier producers of official economic statistics, and the seven agencies that make up the FRC are prominent stewards of federal public lands and waters for outdoor recreation. Those agencies are the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

About the Project

The new data project, known as the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), will provide a first-of- its-kind look at the outdoor recreation economy. While BEA’s current gross domestic product (GDP) statistics already embed economic activity associated with outdoor recreation, the new satellite account will allow these activities to be separately identified and highlighted in a way not possible with current statistics. Ultimately, creation of the ORSA will provide detailed data that will deepen the public’s understanding of the economic impact of outdoor recreation, inform decision making, and improve governance and long-term management of public lands and waters.

The first major step in this effort is to define the range of activities encompassed by the outdoor recreation economy. In evaluating potential definitions, BEA and FRC will consider public comment as well as input from subject matter experts from the field of outdoor economics. The ORSA research team will initially develop two or three potential definitions ranging in scope from narrow to broad. This is a crucial and challenging task because the range of activities in each definition will determine which industries and detailed goods and services measured by BEA will be classified as in scope, out of scope, or partially in scope for the outdoor recreation economy.

Once these initial definitions have been established, the second major step will be to review the list of partially-in-scope goods and services, and identify data and methodologies by which the in-scope share of these “partial” items can be estimated. Finally, using the information collected in the first two steps, prototype national-level estimates of economic activity will be developed that could include measures of output, value added, compensation of employees, and employment in the outdoor recreation economy. With national-level estimates in place, the account could then be extended to include a regional dimension.

Tentative Timeline for Major Milestones

  • Define outdoor recreation
    • Jan-Mar 2017: Independent development of a range of definitions, and review of goods and services by experts in field of outdoor recreation
    • Apr-Jun 2017: Reconciliation of independent reviews, incorporation of public comments, and consolidation into 2-3 potential definitions
  • Prepare prototype estimates
    • Jul-Nov 2017: Identify data sources and methodologies to estimate partially-in-scope goods and services
    • Dec 2017-Jan 2018: Prepare and release prototype statistics based on the 2-3 potential definitions being evaluated
  • Gather feedback on prototype statistics and finalize the definition, data sources and methodology to be used for the national-level statistics

o  2018

How to Provide Comments on the Project

Comments and suggestions are welcome. In particular, we are interested in feedback regarding:

  • which recreation-related activities should be considered as in scope for the ORSA;
  • the types of statistics that potential users of the ORSA would like to see presented in the account in addition to output, value added, employment, and compensation;
  • information about datasets that could supplement BEA’s core statistics in estimating shares for partially-in-scope goods and services; and
  • information on datasets that could be used for possible future regionalization of the account.

All comments must be submitted no later than June 30, 2017, and should be submitted directly to BEA through the following email address:

GDP Increases in First Quarter

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The growth rate was 0.5 percentage points higher than the “advance” estimate released in April. In the fourth quarter of 2016, real GDP rose 2.1 percent.

First quarter GDP highlights Q2Q May 26
The increase in real GDP was accounted for by increases in business investment, housing investment, consumer spending on services, and exports. These increases were partly offset by decreases in inventory investment, and government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction from GDP, increased.

The upward revision to the second estimate of GDP growth reflected upward revisions in business investment, consumer spending in services, and state and local government spending. These upward revisions were partly offset by a downward revision to inventory investment. For more information, see the technical note.

Corporate Profits
Corporate profits decreased 1.9 percent at a quarterly rate in the first quarter of 2017 after increasing 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016.Corporate Profits May 26

  • Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased 1.4 percent after
    decreasing 4.9 percent.
  • Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased 5.5 percent after increasing 5.4 percent.
  • Profits from the rest of the world increased 1.4 percent after increasing 11.0 percent.

Over the last 4 quarters, corporate profits increased 3.7 percent.

For more information, read the full report.

Picking the Right Health Care Price Index

Researchers studying the hot topic of rising health care costs face a complicated choice:
which price index to use.

There’s an array of government inflation indexes that differ in scope, formula and data sources. Choosing the right one can be critical to your research findings.

To help researchers make the best decision, BEA’s Abe Dunn compared the properties of major price indexes. No single index is the gold standard, because the best choice depends on your research question, according to Dunn and his co-authors, Scott D. Grosse of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Samuel H. Zuvekas of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualtity.

Their review offers guidance for researchers studying health care costs or spending.

When adjusting for general inflation throughout the economy, the authors recommend using either BEA’s Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index or its broader gross domestic product (GDP) chain-type price index. The two indexes track each other closely. Another useful tool is BEA’s price index for gross domestic purchases, which differs from GDP by including imported goods and services, while excluding exports.

When adjusting for inflation in overall medical spending, the authors suggest using the PCE health-by-function price index from BEA or the Personal Health Care (PHC) deflator calculated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Although there are minor differences in the way these two indexes measure health care consumption, they show nearly identical inflation rates.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index has an overall medical care component, referred to as the MCPI, that is valuable for focusing on consumers’ out-of-pocket expenses. Because the MCPI excludes major types of payers, such as Medicaid, it varies significantly from the track of BEA’s PCE health-by-function price index and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ PHC price index.


As part of BEA’s Health Care Satellite Account,  BEA developed a new experimental  health care price index called the Medical Care Expenditure (MCE).  This index looks at the costs of treating patients for specific diseases or medical conditions. That’s in contrast to traditional price indexes that measure the prices of goods and services, such as prescription drugs or doctor’s office visits. The MCE price index also may be used by researchers who are interested in tracking the overall costs of treating patients.

Dunn offers this guidance in selecting the right price index for your project:

  • When adjusting for general inflation, BEA’s PCE price index is more suitable if you are focused on consumers. Use BEA’s  GDP chain-type price index when you need to capture broader spending, including that by businesses and government.
  • For medical price changes, use either BEA’s PCE health-by-function price index or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ PHC deflator.
  • To convert average consumer out-of-pocket health care expenditures from one year to another, consider the medical care component of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (MCPI).
  • Since some payers are excluded from the MCPI, it may be inappropriate for inflation adjustment if you’re studying all types of payers. Payments by employers, Medicaid and Medicare Part A aren’t included in the MCPI.
  • To adjust estimates of costs of inpatient services from different years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index for inpatient services appears to be the best option.
  • BEA’s Medical Care Expenditure price index provides a measure of the average cost per patient, rather than the average cost for specific services. Whether the MCE price index is the more appropriate deflator depends on your particular research application.

For more detail about the various price indexes and their uses for health research, see the paper, “Adjusting Health Expenditures for Inflation: A Review of Measures for Health Services Research in the United States,” on


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