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National income and product accounts estimates: when they are released; where they are available; how they are presented.

* When They Are Released, * Where They Are Available, * How They Are Presented THIS guide is designed to assist users in locating national income and product accounts (NIPA) estimates and to explain some of the conventions used in their presentation. The system of presentation has evolved over a number of years and has been shaped by many factors-for example, the frequency of the series (annual, quarterly, or monthly) and the extent of historical coverage. The system is best explained by beginning with a brief description of BEA's release schedule for the estimates.

Release schedule

Quarterly estimates of gross national product (GNP) are released on the following schedule: "Advance" estimates are released in the first month after the end of the quarter; as more detailed and comprehensive data become available, "preliminary" and "final" estimates are released in the second and third months, respectively. Quarterly estimates of corporate profits lag GNP by one quarter: The first estimates of profits are released with the preliminary GNP estimates, and revised estimates are released with the final GNP estimates. (The fourth-quarter estimates of profits lag by an additional month.) Monthly estimates of personal income and outlays are released each month.

Ordinarily, additional revisions are carried out each July and cover the months and quarters of the most recent calendar year and the 2 preceding years. (For example, the July 1988 revision covered periods in 1987, 1986, and 1985.) These revisions are timed to incorporate newly available major annual source data. Comprehensive revisions-often called benchmark revisions-are carried out every 5 years, timed to incorporate BEA's input-output tables, for which the quinquennial economic censuses are the major data sources. Definitional or classificational changes made to improve the NIPA's as a tool of economic analysis are usually introduced at the time of comprehensive revisions, the most recent of which was completed in December 1985. Standard presentation of the NIPA's

Organization of the NIPA tables. For the standard presentation, the NIPA tables are grouped into nine categories:

1. National Product and Income

2. Personal Income and Outlays

3. Government Receipts and Expen


4. Foreign Transactions

5. Saving and Investment

6. Product, Income, and Employment

by Industry

7. Fixed-Weighted Price Indexes and Implicit Price Deflators

8. Supplementary Tables

9. Seasonally Unadjusted Estimates

The "Supplementary Tables," the only category for which the title is not self-explanatory, include tables showing percentage changes in the major NIPA aggregates; selected per capita series; detail on rental income, dividends, and interest; imputations; and several reconciliations of NIPA measures to the source data (for example, tax return tabulations) from which they are derived.

Tables are individually numbered, both by category and within categories. The first digit indicates the category, and subsequent digits indicate the table number within that category. Changes to the numbering system are made only at the time of a comprehensive revision, although occasionally-as in this July revision-tables may be added.

The full set of NIPA tables, which consists of 132 tables and about 4,200 line items, contains annual, quarterly, and monthly estimates. The complete list of NIPA tables on pages 38 - 39 indicates the frequency of the estimates shown in each table. Annual estimates are based on source data that are typically not available on a quarterly or monthly basis. Many of the tables with only annual estimates show detailed breakdowns of components; for example, tables 5.4 and 5.5 show purchases of structures by type (in current and constant dollars, respectively).

An index is available to help users locate series. For each series, the index identifies the NIPA table (or tables) containing that line item. Commonly used terms that differ from the NIPAwording are included, with a reference to the appropriate NIPA item. This index first appeared in the July 1987 SURVEY and was later printed as a separate publication; an updated version is on pages 108-124 of this issue.

Publication of the NIPA tables.-"The National Income and Product Accounts Tables" sec tion in the SURVEY OF CURRENT BUSINESS is the primary vehicle for the standard presentation of the NIPA's. In July issues, a full set of NIPA tables presents the results of annual revisions. In months other than July, a selected set of tables presents the quarterly estimates that are released each month. The selected set comprises 54 tables from the first eight categories. (Seasonally unadjusted estimates are compiled only once a year and thus are not included in the selected set of tables.) For the users' convenience in tracking specific estimates, the numbering system established for the full set is retained in the selected set; as a result, gaps occur in the presentation of the selected tables.

The SURVEY issue for a particular month presents the estimates released during that month; for example, advance first-quarter estimates are released during the month of April and appear in the April SURVEY. A note preceding the NIPA tables indicates whether estimates are advance, preliminary, or final.

The SURVEY presents estimates only for the most recent 2-4 years. A separate volume containing historical estimates is published after comprehensive revisions. The most recent of these volumes, The National Income and Product Accounts of the United States, 1929-82: Statistical Tables, presents estimates beginning in 1929 for annual series, in 1946 or 1947 for quarterly series, and in 1959 for most monthly series. (Some detailed tables in the volume cover shorter time spans, and one table shows GNP in current and constant dollars for 190928.) In addition, tables with an "A" sufrix (for example, 6.4A) appear only in the comprehensive volume. The "A" suffix in these tables, most of which show industrial distributions for NIPA aggregates, denotes early time periods when the classifications were slightly different than those used currently. A "B" suffix denotes more recent time periods.

As of July 1988, the historical volume contains the most up-to-date estimates for the years 1929-82. The most up-to-date estimates for 1983 are in the July 1986 SURVEY, those for 1984 are in the July 1987 SURVEY, and those for 1985-87 are in the July 1988 SURVEY. Major aggregates will be shown i"Summary National Income and Product Series: Annually, 192987 and Quarterly, 1960-87," in the September 1988 SURVEY.

Alternative media. -NIPA estimates are also available in forms more convenient for computer users. Many of the estimates are available on computer tape and on diskettes. To give the general public access to the estimates within minutes of their official release, BEA makes them available electronically through the Economic Bulletin Board maintained by the Department of Commerce. BEA also provides recorded telephone messages giving summaries of current estimates-for GNP, call (202) 898-2451; for personal income and outlays, call (202) 898-2452.

A User's Guide to BEA Information describes these alternative ways of obtaining NIPA estimates and includes a selected listing of information services; to receive a copy, write to Current Business Analysis Division, BE53, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, or call (202) 523-0777. A complete listing of NIPA information services is available from the National Income and Wealth Division, BE-54, Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, or call (202) 5230669.

Additional presentations of NIPA estimates

Certain NIPA estimates also appear in other parts of the SURVEY and in other BEA publications. These presentations show estimates or analyses that do not fit neatly into the system or publication schedule for the standard presentation.

Survey of Current Business.-The "Reconciliation and Other Special Tables" section regularly shows tables that reconcile NIPA estimates to related series and tables that present analytically useful extensions of NIPA estimates. At present, tables in this section show the reconciliation of NIPA net exports and the balance of payments accounts balance on goods and services; the reconciliation of BEA compensation and Bureau of Labor &atistics earnings; and cyclically adjusted Federal receipts, expenditures, and surplus or deficit (and debt).

The "Constant-Dollar Inventories, Sales, and Inventory-Sales Ratios for Manufacturing and Trade" section (in March, June, September, and December) shows quarterly and monthly estimates for the series indicated. Also shown are quarterly fixed-weighted inventory-sales ratios (using sales as weights) and quarterly and monthly inventories for manufacturing by stage of fabrication. The currentdollar sales figures are from the Census Bureau and are deflated by BEA; the inventory estimates are from the NIPA's.

The "Current Business Statistics" section (the "blue" or "S" pages) shows monthly estimates for personal income by source and for the disposition of personal income, including personal consumption expenditures (PCE). (These monthly estimates are also shown in the full set of NIPA tables.) The section also shows monthly aggregates for the manufacturing and trade series described in the preceding paragraph.

Other BEA publications.-For the monthly series shown regularly in the "blue" pages of the SURVEY (described earlier), historical estimates are published in Business Statistics, a biennial supplement to the SURVEY. A group of quarterly NIPA series-GNP and its major components-are shown in an appendix of Business Statistics and in Business Conditions Digest (BCD), BEA's monthly periodical that focuses primarily on business cycle indicators. Business Statistics shows historical estimates for 25-30 years, but because its publication does not always immediately follow a comprehensive revision of the NIPA's, this reference may at times be outdated. BCD has estimates for the most recent 2-4 years and charts spanning 25 years; an appendix shows, on a rotating basis, historical estimates covering about 30 years.

Statistical conventions used for NIPA estimates

Most of the estimates are presented in billions of dollars. The major exceptions are certain current-dollar annual estimates, which are presented in millions of dollars, and estimates presented as index numbers. Current-dollar estimates are valued in the prices of the period in which the transaction takes place. Constantdollar estimates are valued in the prices of a period designated the base period (at present, 1982), thus removing price change from any period-toperiod movement in the series. The designation of 1982 as the base period also means that price levels in 1982 are set equal to 100 in calculating price indexes and implicit price deflators.

For quarters and months, the estimates (except price indexes) are presented at annual rates. Annual rates show values for a quarter or a month at their annual equivalent (that is, the value that would be registered i the rate of activity measured for month or a quarter were maintaine for a full year). Annual rates make easier to compare values for time periods of different lengths-for example, quarters and years.

The percent changes shown in table 8.1 are also at annual rates and are calculated from the published quarterly estimates, which are rounded to the nearest one-tenth of a billion dollars. The annual rates for quarterly percent changes are calculated with the formula:

r = [((Q.sub.t /Q.sub.t - 1).sup.4) - 1] times 100, where r = the percent change at an annual rate, and Q.sub.t and Q.sub.t-1 = the quarterly estimates for a quarter and the preceding quarter, respectively.

Quarterly and monthly NIPA estimates are seasonally adjusted, if necessary. Seasonal adjustment removes from the time series the average impact of variations that normally occur at about the same time and in about the same magnitude each year-for example, weather, holidays, and tax payment dates. The statistical procedures used are based on historical experience; the Census Bureau's X-11 program is widely used. After seasonal adjustment, cyclical and other short-term changes in the economy stand out more clearly.

Methodology used for NIPA estimates

The conceptual framework of the NIPA's and up-to-date methodologies used to prepare the estimates are being described in a series of papers. To date, four papers are available. The most recent, GNP: An Overview of Source Data and Estimating Methods, provides an overview of the estimation of GNP, the most widely used measure of the Nation's production. (Tables 2 and 3 of this overview, which describe the methodology used in preparing current-dollar and constant-dollar estimates of GNP, have been updated to reflect the methodological changes made in July 1988; see pages 22 - 33 of this issue.) An Introduction to National Economic Accounting describes the conceptual framework of the NIPA's by showing how the major branches of economic accounting in the United States are derived from conventional accounting statements. Corporate Profits., Profits Before Tax, Profits Tax Liability, and Dividends and Foreign Transactions are representative of the papers that will cover the principal NIPA components. A fifth paper, Government Transactions, is forthcoming. See the inside back cover of the SURVEY for information on how to order these papers.
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Publication:Survey of Current Business
Date:Jul 1, 1988
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