Skip to main content

The FRED® Blog

Sectoral trends in activity

Exploring FRED release tables for GDP by industry

The graph above shows the value added to the U.S. economy for select industries since 2005. The period covers the run-up to the last recession, the recession itself (gray area), and the prolonged recovery since then. While a dozen years is a short economic history in which to see major sectoral changes, we can still see some here. A striking detail is that the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector was hit hard by the recession, but has since continued its upward trend. Construction, however, is still struggling to get closer to pre-recession levels, while manufacturing is almost there. Finally, the federal government registered a slight bump after the recession, while state and local governments are on a slow but continuous rise. FRED has much more on activity by sector, so feel free to explore from the handy release tables.

How this graph was created: Start from the release table for GDP by industry, choose which measure you want, then check the sectors and click “Add to Graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: RVAC, RVAF, RVAFIRL, RVAMA, RVASL

On the importance of consumer durables

Consumption over the business cycle

Consumption is the largest part in a household’s expenses and, for that matter, the nation’s expenses as well. Therefore it’s natural that the movements of consumption through the business cycle are of particular interest: first, because it accounts for over half of GDP; second, because it’s an essential part of the well-being of households. But not all components of consumption have the same characteristics. The consumption of government services is typically left unmeasured and may in fact be unmeasurable. As for private consumption, we like to divide it into three buckets: services (such as hair cuts, movie tickets, and medical visits), non-durable goods (such as food, newspapers, and medication), and durable goods (such as cars, televisions sets, and bathtubs). As the graph shows, these three components typically fluctuate in the same direction, but not at the sample amplitude. Indeed, if a recession hits, households usually can postpone the purchase of a new refrigerator but not daily essentials. When the economy booms again, they can afford to catch up on all the durables.

The graph above shows this as a percentage change for each component. The graph below shows the change in dollars, and the three types of consumption seem to look much more similar. The reason is that durable purchases are on average smaller than the other two, but proportionally more variable. In absolute terms, the variability of the three happens to be similar, at least for the United States. The difference here is that the average growth of services is higher than the growth for goods.

How these graphs were created: For the first, search for “Real Consumption Per Capita,” check the three series, and add them to the graph. From the “Edit Graph” tab, change units to “Percentage Change from Year Ago” and apply to all. For the second graph, change all units to “Change from Year Ago.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: A795RX0Q048SBEA, A796RX0Q048SBEA, A797RX0Q048SBEA

Subscribe to the FRED newsletter

Follow us

Twitter logo Google Plus logo Facebook logo YouTube logo LinkedIn logo
Back to Top