What is Economic Statistics?

Nicole Long

Economic statistics are statistics which indicate current and trending economic conditions. Specifically, economic statistics provide a glimpse into the prosperity and direction of local, regional, national, and global economies. Some common economic statistics include gross domestic product (GDP), personal income, unemployment, and various industry and pricing indexes.

Economic statistics are compiled to provide information on how well a specific industry is performing.
Economic statistics are compiled to provide information on how well a specific industry is performing.

Gross domestic product (GDP) provides an important indicator of the overall health of an economy. It measures the total production of a country over a specific period of time within the borders of that country, including the production of foreign corporations operating within the country. Economists arrive at this number by adding up total consumer, government, and investment spending. GDP also includes the value of exports less the value of imports.

In comparison, another statistic known as gross national product (GNP) accounts for all goods and services produced by a specific country’s producers. For instance, when calculating the GNP of the United States it would include production by American firms operating overseas. GNP does not include the amount of production achieved by foreign firms operating within the specific country.

A key indicator of the wealth of individuals within an economy is personal income. Personal income includes income received from wages and other sources. Per capita income, the income of an entire economy, is an aggregate of all personal incomes within the specified economy.

Unemployment measures the percentage of a population unemployed during a specified time period. The data is released on a monthly basis. Unemployment attempts to provide an accurate measure by using information gathered from household surveys and unemployment claim filings. The number does not include those that are underemployed or have stopped looking for work.

Economic statistics are also compiled to provide information on how well a specific industry is performing. Statistics, including manufacturing and trade inventories as well as sales and construction spending, can give a glimpse into the trends occurring in those industries. Other industry economic statistics include retail sales and new home sales.

Consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of the amount consumers are paying for consumer products, housing, recreation, and other services and goods. Over time, comparisons of current and previous CPI numbers can provide important data related to possible inflation and changes in personal expenditures. Analyzing these trends can provide economists with a picture of where the economy is heading.

Within economics, a field known as econometrics utilizes these various statistics to test economic theories and models. In addition, those specializing in econometrics use real world date, such as CPI and GDP, to attempt to correlate current events and trends. This can include providing the reasoning behind a jump in producer prices or the effect of war on an economy.

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