By Grant Hannis
- For information on upcoming statistical releases (you can arrange to receive email alerts here, too): National Bureau of Economic Research: (www.nber.org/releases/)
- The most comprehensive site for data and explanatory commentary on economic indicators is the Bureau of Labor Statistics website: (www.bls.gov)
- Another excellent site for economic data is the U.S. Census Bureau: (www.census.gov)
- For data on gross domestic product (GDP) at federal and state level, and balance of payments data, Bureau of Economic Analysis: (www.bea.gov)
- For information on the construction sector and retail sales (and more besides), U.S. Census Bureau Economic Indicators: (www.census.gov/cgi-bin/briefroom/BriefRm)
- For detailed employment data at the state level, check out, U.S. Census Bureau County Business Patterns: (www.census.gov/econ/cbp/index.html)
- For consumer confidence data, The Conference Board Inc.: (www.conference-board.org/)
- For exchange-rate data, Federal Reserve Statistical Release Foreign Exchange Rates: (www.federalreserve.gov/releases/H10/Summary/)
- For details on the federal budget (similar sites exist on state government websites for state budgets), GPO Access: (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/)
- To read the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book (use the links at the bottom of the page to go to other years, including 2011), The Federal Reserve Current Economic Conditions: www.federalreserve.gov/FOMC/BeigeBook/2010/
- For information on monetary conditions (you can also click on “Economic Research and Data” at the top of the page for more financial data), Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System: (http://www.federalreserve.gov/)
- To find international comparative data, OECD: (www.oecd.org) and International Monetary Fund: (www.imf.org)
With all government agencies and other organizations that produce economic data, follow them and their top officials on any social media sites they run. Also, set up email alerts or RSS feeds from the agencies.
GUIDANCE ON WORKING THE ECONOMICS BEAT
- Journalist’s Resource on reading economic-data releases.
- Tipsheet from Sarah Cohen — Duke University professor, former database editor at the Washington Post and an economist by training — on five big ideas on how to cover economics. Beware: It’s a Word document, and it’s from 2004, but much of the info is still valuable.
- Tipsheet from Sarah Cohen on sources for state and local economic data. Same caveats apply.
- How to be an economics reporter by Greg Ip, U.S. economics editor for The Economist
- Levitt, Steven D. and Dubner, Stephen J. (2009) SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers.
- Roush, Chris. (2010). Show Me the Money: Writing Business and Economics Stories for Mass Communication. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.
- Tatge, Mark. (Ed). (2011). The New York Times Reader: Business and Economics. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press.
Follow leading economics writers on Twitter, such as David Wessel at The Wall Street Journal (@davidmwessel), David Leonhardt at The New York Times (@DLeonhardt), and Ezra Klein at The Washington Post (@ezraklein). More can be found in the Business and Finance part of Muck Rack.TWITTER
Grant Hannis has taught business and economics reporting at universities in the United States and New Zealand. He is head of the journalism program at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand. His doctorate is in economics, and he spent 14 years as a senior financial journalist at Consumer magazine (the New Zealand equivalent of Consumer Reports).