For the most part, this information consists of data collected and published by the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) -- both under the Economics and Statistics Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce - -and by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor.
For company and market information (which are not included here), start with the guide Top Business Resources. For good basic strategies on findings Federal documents in the collection, see Finding Federal Documents.
The following sources provide detailed non-technical explanations of what various economic indicators -- such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or Consumer Price Index (CPI) -- measure and how the figures are determined; and, what certain terms mean (e.g., constant dollars or chained dollars vs. current dollars).
Guide to Economic Indicators, 4th ed., by Norman Frumkin.
Ref. Desk HC103 .F9 2006
This book focusses specifically on the U.S. economy, the government agencies which gather economic data, and the methods used.
The Economist Guide to Economic Indicators: Making Sense of Economics, by Richard Stutely.
Economic indicators from an international perspective, focussing on the top 15 industrial economies, including the United States.
Statistical Methods. Methods used to collect and analyze data may differ from one government agency to another, so similarly labeled data may not actually be equivalent (especially a problem when trying to cobble together long time series from multiple sources).
Consult the source's documentation. Online at the Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis, look for "methodology" sections for each economic program. Census's paper publications in paper usually have a substantial section of documentation, often including background, definitions, survey facsimiles, and other information. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a Handbook of Methods (Also in paper: Ref. U.S. L 2.3:2490) detailing their statistical concepts, definitions, sources, methods, and procedures.
Citation of sources. The sources in this handout are not listed in citation form. Please refer to the documentation available with the particular source and/or consult a standard citation manual. See also the section on Citing Sources in the Duke University Libraries Guide to Library Research.
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