Box: Examples of Source Data and Methods Used To Prepare the Economic Accounts—Continued

Example estimate from the regional accounts: Wage and salary disbursements

Wage and salary disbursements makes up about 57 percent of personal income. The estimates are prepared by industry. As shown in the table that follows, there are two major sources of data: (1) The monthly survey of more than 400,000 nonagricultural establishments conducted by the State employment security agencies and coordinated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (the BLS-790 series) and (2) the tabulations (sometimes called the ES-202 series) of the wages and salaries reported by employers on their quarterly unemployment insurance (UI) tax returns to the State employment security agencies.

The State-level BLS-790 series is used as the extrapolator for the preliminary quarterly estimates. The State-level UI series is used as the extrapolator for the second quarterly estimates, as the principal basis for the revised annual State estimates (which incorporate more detailed and more reliable data), and as the interpolator of the annual estimates used to prepare the revised quarterly State estimates.

The preliminary, second, and revised quarterly State estimates and the revised annual State estimates of wages and salaries are all controlled to the totals in the NIPA's. The quarterly and monthly national estimates of wages and salaries are based mainly on the BLS-790 series; the annual estimates are based mainly on the UI series.

In the context of the discussion of sources and methods, there are several points of interest.

Sequence of revisions: The UI data, which become available only in time for the second quarterly estimates (7 months after the quarter to which the data refer), include the wages and salaries of all employees, whereas the BLS-790 wage data for States are confined to the wages of production and nonsupervisory workers in the manufacturing industries. The UI wage data include bonus payments, which are not reflected in the BLS-790 data.

Relation of State and national estimates: Until the preliminary annual State estimates for 1989 (published in April 1990), BEA had automatically controlled the annual estimates for the most current year to the BLS-790-based U.S. totals for wages and salaries in the NIPA's. Now, if the national total of the UI wage data for the first three quarters of a year differs substantially from the BLS-790-based estimates for those quarters, the U.S. total for wages and salaries that is used for the preliminary annual State estimates is based on the UI wage data. This change reduces the revisions between the preliminary and final annual State estimates of wages and salaries and personal income.

Source: Table H in the methodology text in State Personal Income, 1929–93 (forthcoming).