Data Resources for Economics

In Economics, many students choose to work with data that relate to people, businesses, the economy, and related areas. Data that has been gathered or compiled is often referred to as “statistics” and this term is often used interchangeably with “data”. 

For the United States, the federal government is responsible for compiling and disseminating most of the basic data in these areas. Other data may be gathered and disseminated by research entities, companies, or even private individuals. Usually, the data that results from research is not publicly available, whether due to privacy constraints or copyright issues. 

U.S. government data, however, is taxpayer-funded and is collected and released in ways that protect individual privacy. The majority of data that is currently collected and released is freely available on the Internet. 

Economic Data 

The Bureau of Economic Analysis provides one-stop shopping for data related to the U.S. economy. GDP, consumer spending, corporate profits, trade and industry data, and other widely used measures are published on this site. 

FRED is the data archive for the Federal Reserve Bank. This is a good starting place for researching monetary and financial data. Other economic indicators are gathered and published by agencies such as the Department of Commerce. See the Economic Indicators Briefing Room

Demographics 

The U.S. Census Bureau collects data about people living in the United States. The Decennial Census is a complete count conducted every ten years, while the American Community Survey is an annual sample survey that gathers detailed demographic data. Both of these can be accessed through the Census Bureau’s American Factfinder 2

Labor and Employment 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers and publishes data on employment, payroll, prices, costs, and other topics related to the economy. Additionally, the Economic Census and other Census Bureau data products can provide vital information about businesses in the United States. Start out with American Factfinder 2

Education 

The National Center for Education Statistics is a clearinghouse developed by the Department of Education. Information available in this resource ranges from the top level down to district and individual school data. 

Energy and Health 

If you’re looking for information on fuel prices, consumption, and production, the Energy Information Administration is your best source. The main clearinghouse for U.S. health data is National Center for Health Statistics

State and Local Data 

Many states host databases to make information available on a wide range of topics. Try the State Agency Databases Wiki to get an idea of resources that may be available. These can vary greatly from state to state. 

International Data 

The World Bank’s freely accessible database, World Development Indicators, is an extensive resource for international data of all topics. Additionally, the United Nations has a data portal, called UNdata, that leads to databases from the United Nations and other IGOs and NGOs. 

Looking for Another Topic? Can’t Find What You Need? 

Try the Statistical Abstract of the U.S., or explore the links from the left-hand menu on this guide. 

Contact the Government Documents Librarian for assistance with your research.