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5 to follow: Government economic data on Twitter

August 24, 2016

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Developing daily story ideas on the business beat isn’t always easy. But thanks to Twitter, finding stories and reliable data is a lot easier for today’s business reporters. Whether you’ve just set up your account or are a long-time user hoping to build a better stream of useful information, here are five Twitter accounts that are rich sources of business data.

Bureau of Economic Analysis | @BEA_News

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis provides excellent economic statistics that are useful in stories and at great at illuminating trends you might see on your beat. The bureau breaks down vital information like gross domestic product, personal income and trade in goods and services. These numbers are constantly watched by officials in government, businesses and non-profits. Finding information on the bureau’s website is fairly easy, but its Twitter account offers a robust stream of interesting and useful facts that can spark day turns or larger investigations. And while the national data is superb, it can be even more useful when localized. Take a look at this recent tweet on Regional Price Parities:

How do prices in your area compare to those nearby? In your state? Across the country? https://t.co/fK46WHBtJH (1/2) pic.twitter.com/9v6FPNGTOl

— BEA News (@BEA_News) August 16, 2016

The bureau doesn’t tweet as regularly as other agencies, but having these great statistics in your feed can spark some great local angles.

Census Bureau | @uscensusbureau

Yes, the Census Bureau’s main focus is on measuring the population. If you follow its account, you’ll certainly get a lot of information on U.S. demographics. But the bureau also focuses on developing economic data and sends a lot of it out through Twitter. Just look at this recent tweet on the sales of new single family houses:

Sales of new single-fam houses in July 2016 were 654k (SAAR) up 12.4% (+/- 12.7%)* from June https://t.co/zGaVaQAlZs pic.twitter.com/eq7Ct2Yfpv

— U.S. Census Bureau (@uscensusbureau) August 23, 2016

The bureau is very active on Twitter, which means you’ll have economic stats and business story ideas coming through your feed almost daily.

Energy Information Administration | @EIAgov

If there’s one thing that affects almost every country around the world, it’s energy prices. From what drivers pay at the pump to production of different energy industries, readers want to know what’s happening with energy and how it affects them. The Energy Information Administration uses its Twitter account to provide that information and uses a lot useful charts that can help you add context to stories. Here’s one that shows U.S. shale gas production since 2005 and its projection to 2040:

U.S. shale gas production (2005-40) https://t.co/xvY3CqQAWs#EIAGraphspic.twitter.com/eleHOy6sLg

— EIA (@EIAgov) August 22, 2016

Follow the EIA’s account to track average fuel prices and, if your beat includes the energy industry, to keep an eye out for nuanced stories ideas.

Data.gov | @usdatagov

Data.gov is the federal government’s public data portal. It organizes data from different agencies and bureaus into one central location on the internet. While that includes other agencies listed in this post, Data.gov can be very useful when you need additional statistics to bolster your stories not strictly about business or the economy. Take this tweet looking at the number of California firefighters:

Did you know that California employs 33,100 firefighters, the most of any state? https://t.co/FWh47SH5ON#OpenDatapic.twitter.com/UEGYtd4jA5

— Data.gov (@usdatagov) May 9, 2016

Following Data.gov on Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on other data sources that might lead to and bolster business stories.

Bureau of Labor Statistics | @BLS_gov

As they say in their Twitter bio, the Bureau of Labor Statistics “has a stat for that.” Whether it’s jobs, earnings or consumer food prices, the BLS Twitter feed will give you a wide range of statistics on the labor force. If you need it, they’ll have it and, thankfully, post a lot of interesting data on Twitter regularly. Here’s a recent post on jobs in New York:

New York added 37,500 jobs in July 2016 https://t.co/8tEOmtCaYV #BLSdata pic.twitter.com/MYMHgvNrWr

— BLS-Labor Statistics (@BLS_gov) August 23, 2016

You can’t go wrong as a business reporter following the BLS. If you’re looking for a quick story to turn, chances are you’ll find one scrolling through its feed.

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