On July 28, 2016, at 8:30 A.M., the U.S. Census Bureau introduced a new release, the “Advance Economic Indicators Report” that presents economic indicator data for wholesale and retail trade inventories. (See the notice “New U.S. Census Bureau Report on Advance Economic Indicators” on the Census Bureau’s Web site.)
The new report includes data for wholesale and retail trade inventories that were incorporated in BEA’s “advance” GDP estimate, beginning with the advance estimate for the second quarter of 2016, released on July 29.
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. The data included in the new Census report should improve BEA’s initial estimates of the change in private inventories and is expected to reduce revisions between the “advance” and “second” GDP estimate.
Prior to the availability of this new Census release, BEA’s advance GDP estimate reflected Census Bureau data on wholesale and retail trade inventories for the first and second months of the reference quarter and a BEA assumption for the third month. Replacement of the third month assumption with reported Census inventories data was often a significant contributor to revisions in GDP from the advance to second estimate.
The release of the inventory data continues Census’s collaboration with BEA to improve the advance GDP estimate and follows the introduction of Census’s Advance Report: U.S. International Trade in Goods in July 2015. As with the advance international trade data, Census will provide the inventories data from the advance report to BEA in time for incorporation into BEA’s advance GDP estimate. Because the advance report for wholesale and retail trade inventories present only sector-level NAICS inventory aggregates, BEA will make projections below this level of detail that will control to the Census reported aggregates. BEA’s lower-level projections will be used to calculate the weights for the quarterly price and quantity estimates of inventories and the change in inventories.