Last spring, BEA for the first time began producing on a regular basis quarterly statistics that provide information on the amount of economic activity generated by individual industries, making it easy to spot when and how fast these industries began to recover.
Before these new data were made available last April, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported on industries’ economic performance only on an annual basis. The quarterly statistics serve as a barometer for potential turning points in the U.S. economy and give businesses and policymakers more timely detail on how different industries are contributing to the U.S. economy’s recovery.
BEA’s quarterly industry breakdown of economic activity shows that manufacturers of durable goods – like cars and washing machines – entered into a recovery in the third quarter of 2009 – the same quarter the overall economy did. In addition, durable goods manufacturers surpassed their pre-recession high in terms of economic output in the fourth quarter of 2011. On the other hand, the construction industry has yet to get back to its pre-recession peak.
The timing of recoveries for other industries differs. The information sector, which includes broadcasting and telecommunications, climbed back to its previous peak in the third quarter of 2010. Mining (which includes oil and gas extraction) surpassed its previous peak in the third quarter of 2012.
BEA’s most recent quarterly industry report, shows that the finance and insurance industries grew 21.2 percent in the third quarter of 2014, after increasing 6 percent in the second quarter. Mining rose 25.6 percent, after rising 11.5 percent. And, real estate and rental and leasing increased 4.4 percent, after growing 0.9 percent.
These quarterly industry-by-industry statistics are just one way that BEA is innovating to better measure the 21st Century economy. Last year, BEA also introduced real (inflation-adjusted) estimates of personal income for states and metropolitan areas. This year, BEA will begin regular production of quarterly statistics on how state economies are faring as well as new annual statistics on how much consumers spend – and what they buy — in each state. Providing businesses and individuals with new data tools like these is a priority of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.”