BEA developed a regional classification of the states and the District of Columbia in the mid-1950s. The eight regional classifications, Far West, Great Lakes, Mideast, New England, Plains, Rocky Mountain, Southeast, and Southwest, are based on the homogeneity of the states in terms of economic characteristics, such as the industrial composition of the labor force, and in terms of demographic, social, and cultural characteristics.

For a brief description of the regional classification of states used by BEA, see U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Geographic Areas Reference Manual, Washington, DC, U.S. Government Printing Office, November 1994, pp. 6-18;6-19.

See list of BEA Regions and their component states.