BEA director: County-by-county GDP to roll out this fall  

Posted By Student Newsroom

By Roxanne (Yanchun) Liu
Medill News Service

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said it plans to develop county-by-county gross domestic product data and expects to have prototype statistics available by this fall, Director Brian Moyer said on Friday.

The GDP statistics will cover more than 3,000 counties in the U.S. and may include breakouts by major industry sector for each county, Moyer said in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C., with the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing.

“If you want to make decisions at the local level, you really need this information to gauge policy [and] return on investment,” Moyer said.

Brian Moyer, center, talks about the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ county-level GDP project at a session during the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing’s spring conference.

The BEA has been collecting localized statistics by working with private-sector companies that provide credit card transaction data and real estate data. Such information requires thorough data processing before it becomes part of the accurate GDP number, said Tara Sinclair, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University.

“This information doesn’t come to [BEA] cleanly, so it takes a lot of effort on their part to be able to translate the information they are feeding in into a measure that matches GDP,” Sinclair said.

Whether the locally collected data aggregates up to the national level is an important question, Sinclair said.

“This isn’t going to be just a pure counting exercise,” she said. “There’s no way that they could count at the county level and do a different count at the national level and have that match up exactly without some kind of adjustment.”

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