Detailed History, Uses, and Availability of REIS Data.


REIS contains the entire set of local area economic measures, 1969-89, prepared by the Regional Economic Measurement division of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Estimates are presented for the United States as a whole, for the BEA Regions and States, for Metropolitan Areas -- including Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's), Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas (CMSA's), and Primary Metropolitan Statistical Areas (PMSA's) -- and for counties. For each of these areas, this set includes estimates of personal income -- including labor and proprietors' earnings by Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) two-digit industry -- as well as supplemental series of employment by SIC division, transfer payments by major program, and major categories of farm gross income and expenses. In addition to the set of local area estimates, REIS also contains the entire set of quarterly State personal income estimates.

Estimates are prepared for States and counties; estimates for all other geographic areas are made by aggregating either the State or county estimates in the appropriate combinations. Estimates are made only for local areas that can be defined in terms of counties or county equivalents, but the MSA's, CMSA's, and PMSA's of the New England States are defined in terms of cities and towns. Therefore, the BEA metropolitan area estimates for New England are for the alternative New England county metropolitan areas (NECMA's) developed by the Office of Management and Budget.

A brief history of the estimates

BEA's work on regional income estimation began in the mid-1930's with the construction of a series of "State income payments" to individuals. State income payments were defined as the sum of (1) wages and salaries, (2) other labor income and relief, (3) entrepreneurial withdrawals, and (4) dividends, interest, and net rents and royalties. The estimates were produced as part of an effort to explain the processes and structure of the Nation's economy in the 1930's. During the 1940's and early 1950's, extensive work in locating data sources and revising methodology resulted in the production of a more comprehensive annual measure -- State personal income. State personal income differs from State income payments in five important ways:

During the 1960's, work on the development of quarterly estimates of State personal income was completed.

BEA began work on local area estimates in the mid-1950's, but the estimates were confined to a relatively small number of counties in the Mideastern and Plains States. This work was expanded in the mid-1960's and resulted in a historical personal income series for selected years of 1929-62 for Metropolitan Areas and for nonmetropolitan counties. Estimates for counties within Metropolitan Areas were developed in the early 1970's and.

BEA now prepares annual estimates of personal income and of employment for all the Metropolitan Areas and all the counties and county equivalents for which reliable source data are available. For the small independent cities of Virginia -- generally those with fewer than 100,000 residents -- and for Kalawao County, Hawaii, the Montana portion of Yellowstone National Park, and Menominee County, Wisconsin, the geographic coding of essential source data has proved to be unreliable. Accordingly, the source data for each of these areas are combined with the source data for an adjacent county, and the personal income estimates are prepared for the combined areas.

Uses of county and Metropolitan Area estimates

The county and metropolitan area estimates are widely used by both the public and private sectors to measure and track levels and types of income received by persons living or working in a county or Metropolitan Area. These estimates provide a framework for the analysis of each local area's economy, and they serve as a basis for decision making. Personal income and employment are also among the measures used in evaluating the socioeconomic impact of public- and private-sector initiatives; for example, they are widely used in preparing the environmental impact statements required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

Federal agencies use these estimates in econometric models for evaluating program needs and as a framework for economic analysis.

State governments use the estimates to measure the economic base of State planning areas and in econometric models developed for various planning purposes. They also use the estimates to project tax revenues and needs for public utilities and services.

University schools of business and economics, often working under contract for State and local governments, use the BEA local area estimates for theoretical and applied economic research. Some of these schools reproduce BEA personal income data in abstracts or similar reports. These publications are distributed to local government agencies, regional councils, private research groups, businesses, and individuals.

Businesses and labor organizations use the estimates, for example, to evaluate markets for new or established products and to determine areas for the location, expansion, and contraction of their activities. Trade associations and labor organizations use them for product and labor market analyses.

Availability of the State and local area estimates

REIS operates an information retrieval service that provides a variety of standard and specialized analytic tabulations for counties and specified combinations of counties. These tabulations are available from REIS in magnetic tape, computer printout, and microcomputer diskette forms; for further information, call (202) 254-6630. Some of the tabulations are available electronically on the Department of Commerce's Economic Bulletin Board. (The Bulletin Board is available from the National Technical Information Service; to subscribe, call (703) 487-4630.)