Chapter

4. Real Sector: Data Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
December 2013
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4.1 This chapter elaborates on the data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness for the real sector. It covers the national accounts, production index/indices, labor market indicators (including employment, unemployment, and wages/earnings), price indices, and population.

National Accounts

4.2 The comprehensive statistical framework for the real sector is the System of National Accounts (SNA). The GDDS recommends that data on national accounts are to be disseminated on an annual basis with a 2–3 quarter lag.

4.3 The GDDS recommends that participating countries release GDP compiled by major expenditure category or by productive sectors (industry);1 and it encourages the dissemination of both. The disaggregation of GDP by major expenditure categories or by productive sectors is recommended. Although countries can use their own classifications in the expenditure/productive sector approaches, classification of data according to the latest edition of the SNA is strongly encouraged.2 The SNA provides useful guidance on best practices for compilation of the national accounts. A participating country can refer to these guidelines in preparing its metadata for the national accounts and note its differences from the guidelines, if any, in the metadata, which are posted on the DSBB.

4.4 The GDDS recommends the dissemination of national accounts data in current prices and in volume terms (constant prices), together with associated implicit price deflators/price indices. Dissemination of saving, capital formation, and gross national income (formerly GNP) is encouraged.

4.5 The GDDS further encourages the compilation of quarterly national accounts data with a timeliness of one quarter.

Production Index/Indices

4.6 The GDDS recommends a production index and, where appropriate, several production indices, to track GDP on a more timely basis than annual or quarterly national accounts releases permit. Ideally, the coverage of the production index mirrors the coverage of productive activities in GDP and reflects a country’s economic structure. However, the limited availability of timely, high-frequency data sources may narrow the scope of the production index to a country’s key productive activities—indices for industrial production are useful indicators for GDP in some countries, commodity production indices (for example, petroleum) in others, and indices on agricultural production or other key economic activities in still others. The index or indices selected for dissemination should be the one(s) most useful as indicators for the country’s production or value-added. The coverage of the index and its other characteristics should be noted in the country’s metadata for posting on the DSBB. An industrial production index, for example, is to cover the output of establishments in extr active activities, manufacturing, electricity, and gas and water supply.3 To be useful, the tracking indicator should be based on a sound methodology.4

4.7 For developments in GDP, the GDDS recommends monthly periodicity for the production index (or indices). However, an “as relevant” condition is provided to recognize that in some countries, such as those where seasonal crop production is important, production may not be well represented by a monthly index.

4.8 Timeliness of dissemination is specified as within 6–12 weeks after the reference period.

Labor Market

4.9 The GDDS recommends employment, unemployment, and wages/earnings on an “as relevant” basis. If any of these three components is not deemed relevant, reasons are to be provided.

4.10 These data on the labor market are recommended to be disseminated on an annual basis and with a lag of within 6–9 months after the end of the reference quarter. Distinct metadata should be provided on each component to be posted on the DSBB.

Employment

4.11 Some countries compile several measures of employment, which may be based on sample surveys of households or individuals, establishment surveys, or social insurance records. The recommended measure to be disseminated should be the one that is most widely used in the country. The metadata for the DSBB should note the statistical characteristics of the measure.

4.12 The GDDS does not recommend a definition of employment or its components; however, it notes as best practice the concepts, definitions, and classifications of employment and unemployment provided by the International Labour Organization (ILO).5 A country’s metadata for this data category should note differences between the country’s practices and the international guidelines.

Unemployment

4.13 Some countries prepare several measures of unemployment—for example, based on sample surveys of households or individuals, social insurance records, or employment office statistics. The recommended measure to be disseminated should be the one that is most widely used in the country. The metadata for the DSBB should note the statistical characteristics of the measure.

4.14 The measure may be expressed in terms of the number of unemployed or the unemployed as a percent of the labor force.

4.15 The GDDS does not recommend a definition of unemployment or its components; however, it notes as best practices concepts, definitions, and classifications of employment and unemployment the ILO provides.6 A country’s metadata for this data category should note differences between the country’s practices and the international guidelines.

Wages/Earnings

4.16 In the context of labor statistics, “wages” data comprise direct wages and salaries for time worked or work done, while “earnings” data (in cash and in kind) are broader, covering in addition remuneration for time not worked, bonuses, gratuities, and housing and family allowances paid by the employer to the employee. The recommended series to be disseminated should be the series most widely used within the country. The series may show average earnings or time rates of wages (preferably accompanied by hours of work data consistent with the earnings/wages data). The scope of the series may differ from country to country. The metadata for the DSBB should describe the statistical characteristics of the measure, including its coverage.

Price Indices

4.17 The GDDS recommends consumer price indices and encourages producer price indices to be disseminated on a monthly periodicity with a lag of within 1–2 months. The data are disseminated as indices. To be meaningful, each of the indices should be presented in a form normalized to a reference period,7 for which the normalized index assumes the value 100.8 The two indices are based on different source data and they can be disseminated with differing periodicity and timeliness. Distinct metadata, including base/reference periods, should be prepared for each of the two price indices for posting on the DSBB.

Consumer Price Index

4.18 A consumer price index (CPI) measures the variation over time in the prices of goods and services that households acquire, pay for, or use for purposes of consumption. Countries may prepare several indices, differing, for example, with respect to geographic coverage (e.g., urban versus rural), reference population (e.g., whole population or a group such as industrial workers), and item coverage. If there is more than one CPI, the index to be tracked should be the most widely used in the country. The metadata should note the statistical characteristics of the index, including its scope and limitations and whether they conform with international best or generally accepted practice.9

Producer or Wholesale Price Indexes

4.19 A producer price index (PPI) measures the variation over time in the prices of the outputs of market and market-valued goods and services. A wholesale price index (WPI) measures the variation over time in the prices of items at the first important commercial transaction and, as such, its concept broadly overlaps but is not identical to the concept of an intermediate consumption (input) price index. PPIs and WPIs differ across countries, for example, with respect to coverage of the economy (e.g., whether inclusive of mining, construction, and services) and valuation (e.g., whether inclusive of taxes net of subsidies on products, such as an input price index for intermediate consumption, or exclusive of net taxes on products, such as an output price index). If there is more than one PPI, the index tracked should be that most widely used in the country. The metadata for this data category should note the statistical characteristics of the index and whether they conform to international best or generally accepted practice.10

In the national accounts, and consistent with the United Nations’ International Standard Industrial Classifications (ISIC) of All Economic Activities, the term “industry” covers various economic activities, including agriculture; mining and quarrying; manufacturing; electricity, gas, and water supply; construction; wholesale and retail trade; hotels and restaurants; transport, storage, and communications; financial intermediation; real estate, renting, and business activities; public administration and defense; education; health and social work; and other community, social and personal services.

Countries that have not adopted the latest SNA may use the classifications shown in the previous edition of the SNA.

See International Recommendations for Industrial Statistics, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division Office, Series M, No. 90 (2008), and International Recommendations for Distributive Trade Statistics, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Statistics Division, Series M, No. 89 (2008).1 (1983). As noted in the text, production indices could cover all output as defined by the latest SNA, comprising goods and services from privately and publicly controlled enterprises.

A monthly production index should be produced in the form of a consistent time series, normalized to 100 for reference to a fixed reference period.

Current International Recommendations on Labour Statistics (Geneva: ILO, 2000). See also Surveys of Economically Active Population, Employment, Unemployment and Underemployment (Geneva: ILO, 1990).

ILO, ibid.

Which should not be adjusted frequently.

Although the normalized index assumes the value 100 in the reference period, the index may comprise a chain of periodically reweighted and rebased series fragments.

Consumer Price Index Manual, Theory and Practice (Geneva: ILO, 2004). See also IMF’s DQAF at dsbb.imf.org for guidance in describing how the CPI is compiled.

Producer Price Index Manual: Theory and Practice (Washington, DC: IMF, 2004). See also IMF’s DQAF at dsbb.imf.org for guidance in describing how the PPI is compiled.

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