Data from the Census Bureau’s advance report on exports and imports of goods will be incorporated in BEA’s “advance” GDP estimate starting with the advance estimate for the second quarter of 2015, scheduled for release on July 30. These data should significantly improve BEA’s initial estimates of net exports and GDP.
The advance GDP estimate is released approximately one month after the end of the reference quarter (i.e., the advance GDP estimate for the first quarter is released in April, the second-quarter estimate is released in July, the third-quarter estimate is released in October, and the fourth-quarter estimate is released in January). BEA revises its initial GDP estimate in the month following the advance estimate—this report is called the “second” estimate.
Currently, BEA’s advance GDP estimate reflects Census Bureau data on exports and imports of goods for the first and second months of the reference quarter and a BEA projection for the third month. Replacement of these projections with reported Census trade data is often a significant contributor to revisions in GDP from the advance to second estimate.
In support of improving the advance GDP estimate, the Census Bureau has agreed to provide data from the advance trade report to BEA in time for incorporation into BEA’s advance GDP estimate. Because the advance trade report will only include high level, one-digit, end-use aggregates, BEA will make projections below this level of detail that will control to the Census reported aggregates in order to calculate the quarterly weights for export and import prices. BEA will apply its regular adjustments that transform the Census-basis estimates to a NIPA basis and will continue making third-month projections for services exports and imports.
Incorporating the Census advance trade report data into the advance GDP estimate should result in improved early estimates of GDP and smaller revisions from the advance to second estimate.
More information on the advance trade report can be found at www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/notices/20150405_advrelease.html.