This page provides links to the methodologies used to prepare BEA's National, Industry, Regional, and International accounts data.
Note: These methodologies are periodically refined to incorporate new and better source data and improved estimating procedures. The refinements are described in articles in BEA's monthly Survey of Current Business (SCB) that present annual or comprehensive revisions to the estimates.
The national income and product accounts (NIPAs) provide a timely, comprehensive, and accurate picture of the condition of the U.S. economy. The two featured measures, gross domestic product (GDP) and gross domestic income (GDI), are measures of the same concept of total activity in the U.S. economy. GDP measures activity as the sum of all final expenditures in the economy; it is detailed on the product side of the domestic income and product account. GDI measures activity as the sum of all incomes generated in production; it is detailed on the income side of the account.
This article analyzes the source data used to prepare the GDP estimates and the GDI estimates according to a set of criteria that reflects the quality, the availability, and the use of the data. This analysis allows for a better understanding of the differences between the source data that underlie the GDP estimates and those that underlie the GDI estimates and illustrates how the incorporation of the increasingly detailed and comprehensive source data leads to revisions to the GDP estimates and to the GDI estimates.
This article discusses the advantages of chain-weighted indexes and the challenges posed by chained dollars, outlines further steps that BEA will be taking to address these issues in the 2003 comprehensive revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPAs), and provides suggestions for using chained dollars in ways that reduce biases and errors in forecasting and other applications where components need to be aggregated. Highlights of this article include the following:
One major improvement in the upcoming NIPA revision will be the introduction of new featured measures of real output and prices. These measures, which will be chain-type indexes, will provide a more accurate picture of economic activity by allowing for changes in relative prices and in the composition of output over time. To facilitate sectoral trend and current-period analysis, BEA will expand the presentations of its estimates to include the contributions of major components to the growth in real GDP and dollar-denominated series that are calculated from the featured output indexes.
This article presents quarterly estimates of the alternative measures of change in real output and prices that BEA introduced in April 1992.l It also updates the annual estimates for 1988-90 to incorporate the results of the annual revision of the national income and product accounts (NIPA's) in July 1992 and extends the annual estimates to 1991.2 The alternative measures, which supplement BEA's featured fixed-weighted measures, are especially useful for studies of long-term economic growth, for comparisons of business cycles, and for gauging the effect of changes in the economy's relative
This article and the one that follows it, "Economic Theory and BEA 's Alternative Quantity and Price Indexes," present results of BEA's work on alternative measures of production and prices. These measures, which are designed to supplement BEA's featured fixed weighted measures, were first described in "Alternative Measures of Real GNP" in the April 1989 Survey of Current Business; in that article, BEA stated that it would develop the alternative measures as part of the next comprehensive revision of the national income and product accounts.
This volume provides a description of the major concepts and estimation methods used for the preparation of the U.S. international economic accounts.
Worldwide Activities of U.S. Multinational Enterprises: Revised Results From the 2014 Benchmark Survey
This publication presents the final results of the 2014 Benchmark Survey of U.S. Direct Investment Abroad (USDIA) that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Benchmark surveys are BEA’s most comprehensive surveys, in terms of both the number of companies covered and the amount of information gathered. The 2014 survey covered the universe of U.S. direct investment abroad, which consists of all foreign business enterprises owned 10 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by a U.S. investor.
This volume presents the results of the 2012 Benchmark Survey of Foreign Direct Investment that was conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Benchmark surveys are BEA’s most comprehensive surveys—in terms of both the number of companies covered and the amount of information gathered. The 2012 survey covered the foreign direct investment universe, which consists of all U.S. business enterprises owned 10 percent or more, directly or indirectly, by a foreign person. The last benchmark survey covered 2007.
This catalog summarizes the major statistical and methodological improvements to the U.S. international accounts for 1976-2008. Detailed discussions of these improvements were previously presented at the time of the annual revisions, but the discussions appear over many issues of the Survey of Current Business (SCB) for thirty years. This listing by year and subject matter provides an index of these improvements in one location.
This paper introduces new users to the basics of the U.S. industry economic accounts. It provides an overview of each of BEA’s industry accounts and how they may be used to answer a variety of questions about the U.S. economy, industry activity, and the flow of goods and services throughout the economy.
The Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA) measures the size of the outdoor recreation economy and the link between outdoor recreation and the broader United States economy. Like other satellite accounts, the ORSA was built on BEA’s comprehensive supply-use framework. The supply-use tables provide a detailed look at the relationships among industries and how each industry contributes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In practice, the ORSA is a rearrangement of the published supply-use tables that isolates outdoor recreation spending and production.
This paper details the methodology for the inaugural outdoor recreation satellite account (ORSA) statistics released September 2018. The statistics include 2012-2016 estimates of the outdoor recreation economy’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), gross output, compensation, and employment. To explain the national accounting concepts used to develop the official federal statistics from which the ORSA statistics originate, the first section of this paper is derived from the existing methodology papers, "Concepts and Methods of the U.S.
The release of the following estimates marks the completion of the most recent comprehensive revision of the NIPA’s: Revised NIPA estimates for 1929–58, revised estimates of reproducible tangible wealth for 1929–95, and revised and newly available NIPA estimates of selected series for 1959–96 that reflect the work undertaken to complete the 1929–58 NIPA and 1929–95 wealth estimates.