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Punching Above Its Weight? Celebrating the First Anniversary of the Advance Quarterly Services Report

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February 2018 marks one year since the U.S. Census Bureau rolled out the Advance Quarterly Services Report, which provides estimates of revenue for selected aggregate service industries. The new report is a significant improvement over its predecessor, providing a snapshot of the U.S. service economy’s performance three weeks earlier than the Quarterly Services Report. This snapshot feeds directly into the second estimate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Indeed, the footprint of the Quarterly Services Survey (QSS) has been growing steadily, with estimates showing that the share of the survey’s impact on GDP more than doubled since its inception, rising from 9 percent to more than 20 percent.

The Advance Quarterly Services Report enables the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which produces GDP, to accelerate incorporation of the Census Bureau’s estimates of service revenue from the third to the second estimate of GDP. The GDP is a quarterly indicator that is revised twice following the initial release. The first estimate is also known as the advance, the second as the preliminary, and the third as the final. The acceleration of incorporating the Census Bureau's data from the third to the second estimate results in a more accurate measure. Importantly, third estimate revisions to GDP have been amended by an average of about $4.0 billion each quarter thanks to the advance report. Getting the GDP estimates accurate earlier, with smaller subsequent revisions, is crucial to businesses and policymakers around the world.

QSS produces, for selected service industries, quarterly estimates of total operating revenue and the percentage of revenue by class of customer (government, business, consumers and individuals). The survey also produces estimates of total operating expenses from tax-exempt firms in industries that have a large not-for-profit component. In addition, for hospital services, the survey estimates the number of inpatient days and discharges.


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