Thursday, October 29, 2009

Unemployment and GDP Numbers

To make up for our nice afternoon off here at CU-Boulder, this morning I thought I would tackle some numbers on this cold snowy morning. The Department of Labor and Department of Commerce both released some big data figures in the past two days.

I'll start with today's encouraging numbers from the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 3.5% in the third quarter of 2009 (see the press release). This is the first increase since the second quarter of 2008 and is a good sign that the economy is turning around. The big caveat is that much of the spending was driven by government programs, including "Cash for Clunkers."

Now, let's test our knowledge further, how many people have heard of the National Economic Accounts? The GDP is one of the factors in these accounts, which serve as indicators to help answer questions about how the national economy is faring and changing over time. Want to get a quick primer on how all these numbers interact? Well, the BEA has created a 23-page document that talks about the various numbers used in these accounts and what they can tell anyone studying the economy.

Have I scared you off yet? No, well, then let us take a look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) release on unemployment numbers. This is the bad news of the equation on the economy, of the 372 metropolitan areas studied by the BLS, only 1 had an unemployment rate lower then that of a year ago. Rather then scare you with definitions on this set, I just wanted to point out that you can get local unemployment numbers for your state by month off the data page.

Still here? Why not check out the library's guide to business and economic data.

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