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The booms, blips, and dips of dot-com, telecom, and cultural transmissions

Employment in the information sector

Some call the past few decades a new industrial revolution, given the dynamic emergence of the information economy. The graph above shows employment in information services, and, indeed, there’s strong growth in the sector, especially up to the dot-com crash in 2000. But since then, the sector doesn’t seem to have expanded its payrolls much. In fact, once you take out the boom, current data seem to follow the previous trend.

Now, the employment classification for information services includes more than just jobs related to the internet. NAICS code 51 encompasses anything related to the diffusion of information. So, it’s also phone companies, movie makers, broadcasting, newspapers, and software. Clearly, some of these sub-sectors have suffered from the rise of the internet economy. Thus, the long trend hides a considerable amount of churn within the sector itself.

Also, notice that there are some downticks. For employment data, this is usually due to strikes. The big downtick in August 1983 is due to a 22-day strike of close to 700,000 workers across the phone industry.

How this graph was created: Search for and select “employment information services.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: USINFO

Where in the world are banks profitable?

World Bank data on ROA for 173 economies

There are many indicators to help us evaluate the U.S. economy, but international data are a little more limited. Which is why FRED is fortunate to have World Bank data to compare economic conditions across countries. Today, we look at how well banks are doing—according to their return on assets—all over the world. Measuring banks’ ROA is relatively simple: Aggregate the net income of all commercial banks in a country and divide this sum by their total assets.

The graph above shows three countries with contrasting fortunes. The most dramatic is Greece, whose banks have been struggling with bad debt. Then there’s Kenya, whose banks are doing surprisingly well, at least under this dimension. Finally, the United States is in the middle, with a noticeable dip during the financial crisis and lower returns since that crisis.

FRED has regional data that you can map using GeoFRED. And that’s exactly what we have in the map below: The world’s most profitable banks (darker colors) tend to be in the Global South, with Moldova, Belarus, and Iceland also doing very well.

How these graphs were created: For the graph, search for “bank return on assets,” select the countries you want displayed, and click “Add to Graph.” For the map, scroll down to the related links for the series, click on one of the suggested GeoFRED maps, and zoom out to see the whole world. (Click on each country to see the name and its data value; use the “Edit Labels” tab to hide or reveal the countries’ names on the map.)

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: DDEI05GRA156NWDB, DDEI05KEA156NWDB, DDEI05USA156NWDB

Uneven fortunes in U.S. industry

Tracking types of industrial production

This FRED graph shows three very different stories for three different types of goods production in the U.S. The clothing sector dominated the other two for about 60 of the 70 years shown in this sample, only to collapse in the first decade of the millennium and slowly decline thereafter. This shift is a direct consequence of cheaper manufacturing opportunities abroad. The automotive products sector has been steadily increasing its output, except for some hard times during the financial crisis, when car manufacturers were struggling. Occasionally, short dips occurred during strikes in the car industry. Finally, the electronics sector comes out of nowhere in the 1990s to establish itself as a core component of American industry.

How this graph was created: Search for the release table for the Industrial Production index by market and industry group, select the series shown here (or those you’d like to see), and click “Add to Graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.

View on FRED, series used in this post: IPB51110S, IPB51121S, IPB51212S


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