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Five industry economic business stories using BEA Data

July 20, 2016

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The United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis provides data from the national level to the regional level, including industry-specific numbers. The industry economic accounts are usually used by businesses and policymakers to look at productivity trends, industry interactions and more. Below are some industry-specific economic accounts  to look at and story ideas that could come from each one.

GDP by Industry Accounts

Each quarter and annually the Gross Domestic Product is divided into an industry by industry breakout. This data helps analyze how an industry is contributing to inflation or economic growth. The BEA releases these data sets with graphs and facts. For example, in the second quarter of 2015, 18 out of the 22 defined industries contributed to the 3.9 percent increase in real GDP in that quarter. Finance and insurance and wholesale trade were two of the leading industries. What caused these industries to increase their contribution to economic growth? Data from the BEA can help create a graph on how an industry has changed over time either quarterly or annually. What is the real value added by industry? Which industries are on the rise and does they play a prominent role in your region or community’s economy?

Input-Output Accounts

The input-output accounts show information on the flow of goods and services to industries for use in their production processes and to final users in the country economy. The BEA provides an interactive table for input-output data, which can be used to analyze industry interactions and productivity trends. Data tables include the use of commodities by industry and the industry-by-commodity total requirements.

U.S. Travel and Tourism Accounts

This account documents the direct and indirect sales made in tourism-related industries and their role in the economy. This includes employment, spending, and prices. For the first quarter of 2016, real spending on travel and tourism increased at an annual rate of 5.2%. What factors may have contributed to this increase? In what areas are the tourism and travel industries most prominent and how has this affected them? Employment in the travel and tourism industries also accelerated, increasing 1.5 percent in the first quarter this year. How does this trend relate to overall employment trends in the first quarter of 2016?

Arts and Cultural Production Account

This account looks at statistics in arts and cultural commodities and industries including employment, output and compensation. This data reaches back to the late 1990s. The most recent data was released in February 2016 and includes the real value added for selected arts and cultural production industries as well as employment in selected industries. Broadcasting and motion pictures were the two largest employment categories. How has this changed over time, especially with the rise of different technologies?

Integrated BEA/BLS Industry-Level Production Account

This account traces the sources of national economic growth by looking at GDP industry data produced by the BEA with capital and labor input from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For more industry economic data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, click here. The BEA also provides a release schedule for industry statistics here.


  • Chloe Nordquist

    Chloe Nordquist is a national journalist for the E.W. Scripps Company. She has a passion for telling community stories and giving a voice to the voiceless. Chloe has had the opportunity to report across the world, as far as Milan and Berlin. Previous...

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