Five National Economics Business Stories Using BEA Data

by July 13, 2016

From consumer spending to international economic data, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides data and information on a range of topics from the regional to the international level. At all levels, including national, analysts and other experts take economic accounts to measure the economic activity. Below are different national economic accounts to look at and story ideas that could come from each one.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The GDP of a country shows the total value of good produced and services provided in one year. By looking at the components of the GDP, you can see how specific parts of the economy are performing. To localize this data, find the total value of goods and services produced in your region or state in a year. Investigate the following questions:

  • What percentage of the national GDP does your area produce?
  • How has the local GDP changed over the past few years in comparison to the national GDP?
  • Is the state’s produce and service output on par with the change in the overall economy?

The BEA also keeps track of the percent change from the preceding period — a good number to keep in mind as you analyze periodic trends in the U.S.

Personal Income and Outlays

Personal income and outlays show monthly statistics of all income received by individuals within the U.S. This number is broken up into the money they spend and the money they save. This data gives insight to how much money people are actually spending from their paychecks. Over time, this data can show trends on how frugal people are.

Corporate Profits

Corporate profits data shows comprehensive statistics on corporate earnings. These statistics are especially helpful for businesses and individuals when judging corporate earnings. Corporate profits data is released quarterly, and these numbers nicely indicate how well the corporations of America are doing. This data set goes hand-in-hand with GDP. If corporations are doing well and increasing profits, chances are the GDP is going up as well.

Fixed Assets

Fixed assets show the U.S. wealth including capital stocks, depreciation and consumer durable goods.  The stats are used in analyzing the effect of wealth on investment, economic growth and consumer spending. Fixed-asset statistics are available by industry and asset type among other categorizations. These stats reach back decades and raise great questions for reporters including:

  • How have fixed assets fluctuated by industry over the past few decades?
  • What does that change mean for that industry?
  • Is there a pattern that could help predict the future of the industry?
  • How important is this industry in your state?
  • What can fixed-asset numbers say about that industry in your area?

Integrated Macroeconomic Accounts for the U.S.

These accounts link production and income to changes in net worth for the U.S. economy. They track assets and liabilities of all major sectors of the U.S. economy as well as detail the sources and uses of funds made available for capital formation and net lending. Annual, quarterly and monthly data is available. Net national income, net disposable income, net value added and other stats are tracked in the current total economy account. The chart shows the numbers for decades, allowing users to select the years they want to analyze. What do these numbers say about the past, present and future of the U.S. account and economy?

For more national data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, click here.

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