Current Key Economic Indicators

Inflation

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers decreased 0.2 percent in March after increasing 0.7 percent in February. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in March after rising 0.2 percent in February. Lesson »

Employment and Unemployment

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 165,000 in April, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 7.5 percent. Employment increased in professional and business services, food services and drinking places, retail trade, and health care. Lesson »

Real GDP

Real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.5 percent in the first quarter of 2013 (that is, from the fourth quarter to the first quarter), according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter, real GDP increased 0.4 percent. Lesson »

Federal Reserve

To support continued progress toward maximum employment and price stability, the Committee expects that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the asset purchase program ends and the economic recovery strengthens. In particular, the Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0 to 1/4 percent and currently anticipates that this exceptionally low range for the federal funds rate will be appropriate at least as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6-1/2 percent... Lesson »



Nominal GDP

Data link: http://www.bea.gov/bea/newsrel/gdpnewsrelease.htm

This is the Bureau of Economic Analysis; National Accounts Data; Data from the Latest GDP News Release. Data are in various forms, including changes in levels from previous period, percentage change, levels, etc. Includes breakdown of GDP by expenditure category as well as several other categories. Table 2 provides recent information on real and nominal GDP levels as well as percentage changes.

Charts:
Historical nominal GDP data can be found at the site of the Economic Report of the President at ( http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/).

How data are calculated:
www.bea.gov/bea/ARTICLES/NATIONAL/NIPA/Methpap/nipavol.pdf
This is a rather technical discussion of National Income and Product Accounts methodologies on the BEA's WWW . Be sure to visit www.economy.com/ This site is just excellent. It has sections on GDP titled: @ a Glance, What to Look For, Strengths of the Series, Weaknesses of the Series, and a Brief Description.


Real GDP

Data Link: www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea/economic-indicators

This is the Economic Statistics Briefing Room; Output Link. It provides current quarterly real GDP estimates and charts quarterly real GDP since 1991. To also get information on recent percentage changes (as well as absolute changes) in real GDP, go to the WWW site referred to in the nominal GDP section: www.bea.gov/bea/dn1.htm.

Charts:
The real GDP chart can be found at the Economics Statistics Briefing Room www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/.

How data are calculated:
The econPort site is the way to go www.econport.org/content/handbook/NatIncAccount/CalculatingGDP.html.


Real GDP Per Capita

This series really only comes out on an annual frequency in the Economic Report of the President (EROP). To be sure, real GDP data come out quarterly and the Census Bureau reports population data each month, but they do not appear to contemporaneously report the population numbers on a quarterly basis. Indeed it appears that in the EROP statistical tables, quarterly population estimates are calculated from monthly calendar year averages. It is really not too much of a surprise that these data have a lesser frequency than the other - after all, they do use numbers compiled from two separate agencies.

Annual per capita real GDP (note that this table does break down recent estimates into quarterly series): (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/) Go to Table B-31 of the statistical appendix. These data are available in spreadsheet form so one may consider making their own graphs.

How data are calculated:
( www.census.gov/population/estimates/nation/intfile1-2.txt). This provides an explanation of "Population Universe Definitions" that are used in the population calculations.


Unemployment, Labor Force Demographics, and Real Wages

Data Link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea/economic-indicators

This is the Economic Statistics Briefing Room; Employment Link. It includes data and graphs for unemployment, unemployment rate, civilian work force, employees on nonfarm payrolls, average weekly hours, average hourly earnings, etc.. The following are the primary source links for the series mentioned:

Unemployment, Unemployment Rate, Civilian Labor Force: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t01.htm
This is Table A-1 of the recently released employment situation (from the household survey) and does not contain historical data series. Use seasonally adjusted data.

Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t11.htm
This is Table B-1 of the recently released employment situation (from the establishment survey) and does not contain historical data series. Use seasonally adjusted data.

Average Weekly Earnings: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/realer.pdf
The Bureau of Labor Statistics page shows change in real earnings including the average hourly and weekly earnings in current and constant (1982) dollars.

Average Weekly Hours: http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm
This is Table B-2 of the recently released employment situation (from the establishment survey) and does not contain historical data series. Use seasonally adjusted data. Recently released data (for the past 12 months) can also be found, along with graphs, at Economy at a Glance at (http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.us.htm).


Historical Data for Various Series: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/
The easiest set of historical data to use is from the Economic Report of the President. While EROP reports annual data for all series, monthly data are reported for the most recent years. The following series can be found in the corresponding tables:
Unemployment - Table B-36 - Civilian Employment and Unemployment by Sex and Age
Unemployment Rate - Table B-42 - Civillian Unemployment Rate
Civilian Labor Force - Table B-35 - Civiliation Population and Labor Force
Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls - Table B-46 - Employees on Nonagricultural Payrolls, By Major Industry
Average Weekly Hours, Average Hourly Earnings - Table B-47 - Hours and Earnings in Private Nonagricultural Industries.

Charts:

Unemployment statistics
Graphical Display Link: www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/employment.html

This is the employment link at the Economic Statistics Briefing Room. All series have graphical displays over the 1988-1998 time series. Original WWW sources for the series are as follows:

Civilian Labor Force: http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=LN_cpsbref1

Unemployment: http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=LN_cpsbref2

Unemployment Rate: http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=LN_cpsbref3

Employees on Nonfarm Payrolls:
http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=CE_cesbref1

Average Weekly Hours: http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=CE_cesbref2

Average Hourly Earnings: http://data.bls.gov/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?request_action=wh&graph_name=CE_cesbref3

How data are calculated: Your best bet for understanding how these series of data are calculated is probably, How the Government Measures Unemployment at http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm while What Kind of Hours and Earnings Data are Available? can be found at http://www.bls.gov/dolfaq/bls_ques11.htm as well as What is the CES Definition of Employment? at www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#employed . Bureau of Labor Statistics explanation of who is counted as employed.


CPI

Data Link: www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/prices.html

This site leads you to the primary source site at the BLS (http://stats.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm) in which in Table A provides seasonally adjusted percentage change data for the CPI-Urban Consumers series. These data are reported on a month-to-month as well as a year-over-year basis.

Historical Series: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/Research/data/us/calc/hist1913.cfm

This provides all monthly CPI index numbers since 1913. One can turn to the EROP for historical annual series (and perhaps use the spreadsheet to create graphs). This can be found in Table B-60 titled CPI for major expenditure classes at ( http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/).

Charts: www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/prices.html The Economic Statistics Briefing Room graphs the 12-month changes in the CPI and the CPI less food and energy since 1987.

How data are calculated:
http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpifaq.htmThis is the frequently asked questions about the CPI link at the BLS. It does a sufficient job of addressing how the series is calculated. Alternatively, refer to the excellent CPI description at "The Dismal Scientist" website. This can be found at (http://www.economy.com/dismal/ind_landing.asp).


Federal Budget

Data Link: http://www.truthandpolitics.org/budget-numbers-intro.php

This site offers detailed numbers of the federal budget and explains what these numbers mean. For contemporaneous monthly budget data, try: www.cbo.gov/showdoc.cfm?index=364&sequence=0∓from=7

This is the Monthly Budget Review from the CBO. It provides a number of things including estimated deficit/surplus for the current month, the actual numbers for the most recent month, a comparison to the previous fiscal year, and fiscal year to date budget numbers.

Historical Series:
EROP, Table B-78, Federal Receipts, Outlays, Surplus, or Deficit, and Debt at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/

There is a nice link to the office of public debt that keeps a day-to-day record of the total public debt outstanding. It can be found at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np

Charts:
Recall that the EROP data are in spreadsheet format. The OMB has some wonderful tables and charts at the following site: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy01/pdf/guide.pdf

This is A Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget - Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2001 - List of Charts and Tables. There are several charts and tables listed here and they all tell their own story.This is a nice site because it also helps describe how the data are collected.

How data are calculated:
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy01/guidetoc.html

This is the Table of Contents of A Citizen's Guide to the Federal Budget : Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2001. It has numerous useful links such as What is the Budget, How Does the Govt. Create a Budget, Deficits and Debt, etc. Also try: www.treas.gov/opc/opc0037.html This site is Frequently Asked Questions About the Budget of the U.S. Govt. and the National Debt. Be sure to visit The Dismal Scientist at: http://www.economy.com/dismal/


Leading Economic Indicators

Data Link: http://www.economagic.com/popular.htm

This is the Conference Board's latest release of the Index of Leading Economic Indicators including recent months and a breakdown including the contribution of each of the components to the index itself.

Historical Data: http://www.economagic.com/popular.htm
This is the monthly time series of the leading indicators data dating back to 1959. Use GOM910 series.

Charts:
A downloadable spreadsheet version of the historical data is available at: http://www.tcb-indicators.org

How data are calculated:
This is a little tricky since the index is a composite of 12 separate series. Therefore, I would simply suggest that readers refer to the following: http://www.nscb.gov.ph/technotes/lei/lei_tech.asp which is a simple overview of what the LEI (as well as other series) are. It is not very comprehensive.


Federal Funds Rate, 30 Year Bond Rate

Data Link: www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/money.html

This again is the Economic Statistics Briefing Room which links to the primary sources listed below. The primary source link is: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/Current/ This site from the Federal Reserve Board provides daily, weekly, and monthly updates of the FFR and the 30-year bond rate.

Historical Data: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/data.htm All historical interest rate data (in series of various frequencies) are available in a zip file at this URL. We also may take a look at the EROP for annual historical data (and this may be useful for creating graphics). For this information, see Table B-73, Bond Yields and Interest Rates at: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/index.html

Charts:
Curious Cat Investing provides a graph which dates back to January 2000, this gives you the FFR and 30 year T-Bond.

How data are calculated:
http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/sec/secfaq.htm : Frequently asked questions about T-bills, notes, and bonds. The Washington Post has a definition of Treasury Bond at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/longterm/glossary/n_z/us_treasury_bond.htm As well as a link to the term "bond" at the following URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/longterm/glossary/a_m/bond.htm Also, for Treasury Financing try: http://www.ustreas.gov/offices/domestic-finance/debt-management/qrc/2004/2004-q3-charts.pdf. Finally, a glossary of FRB-San Francisco's publication U.S. Monetary Policy: An Introduction has a definition of the federal funds rate (along with several other definitions). It can be found at: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/federalreserve/monetary/index.html Note that the main body of this piece also includes a section titled, What is the Federal Funds Market? This can be found by linking to: http://www.frbsf.org/publications/federalreserve/monetary/index.html.


Money Supply

Data link: www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/money.html

This again is the Economic Statistics Briefing Room which links to the primary sources listed below. The primary source link is: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/Current/ which gives M1, M2, and M3 data in weekly, monthly, and annual frequencies in both levels and growth rates for the past several months.

Historical data: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/hist/h6hist1.txt which are monthly historical data (in levels) for M1, M2, and M3 since 1959.

Charts:
A money supply chart can be found at http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2005/11/chart_of_the_we_2.html and shows the growth of M1, M2 and M3 since 1959. Also try the EROP by going to Table B-69, Money Stock, Liquid Assets, and Debt Measures and use the spreadsheet to convert data to graphical form. M1, M2, and M3 levels and growth rates are found at annual frequency at this WWW site: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/

How data are calculated:
http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/about.htm a brief description of M1, M2, and M3. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/Current/: the footnotes tell it all. http://www.frbsf.org/publications/federalreserve/monetary/glossary.htmlthe FRB-San Francisco piece has definitions for M1, M2, and M3 in the glossary.


Exchange Rates

Data Link: http://www.bloomberg.com/markets and http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/currencies/fxc.html

This Bloomberg Website, Key Cross Currency Rates, is a current source of exchange rate data for the dollar versus many international currencies. Historical data: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/ Again, the EROP, Table B-110, Foreign Exchange Rates is a good source of annual historical data.

Charts:
The Economist:http://www.economist.com/MARKETS/currency/graphs.cfm provides a "Display customised graphs of historical exchange rates (back to 1990) for any of 164 currencies". Click on the graph to modify dates and information.

How data are calculated:
Exchange rates are determined in highly competitive foreign exchange markets; they depend on the supply of and demand for a currency (relative to others) and fluctuate constantly.


Balance of Trade, Trade Deficits/Surpluses

Data Link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/international.html

The Economic Statistics Briefing Room maintains current information on the current account balance, the balance on the international trade of goods and services, as well as other important international statistics. The primary source for these data is:
For the current account balance: http://www.whitehouse.gov/fsbr/international.html

For the trade deficit: http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/Press-Release/current_press_release/exh1.txt
Monthly levels of imports, exports, and the trade balance for the past two years.

From the Census Bureau.
Historical Data: http://www.gpoaccess.gov/eop/ EROP Table B-103 U.S. International Transactions has annual historical data on the balance on current account, on goods and services, imports, exports etc.

Charts:
For the trade deficit/surplus: http://www.census.gov/ftp/pub/indicator/www/ustrade.html Census Bureau site that graphically illustrates each month's trade deficit over a recent time series. Includes current export and import numbers in the narrative.

How data are calculated:
The dismal scientist gives brief explanations of what is meant by the current account and the trade balance. In http://www.dismal.com/dismal/affiliates/usa_today/gen_definition.asp?r=usa_trade they tell a story about business implications and analysis of our growing trade deficit.M