The Value of Earlier Reporting of Total Business Inventories

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Release Number: CB17-TPS.12

FEB. 15, 2017 — Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released Manufacturing and Trade: Inventories and Sales (MTIS) for December 2016. This report provides important information and insights on the current state of the retail, wholesale, and manufacturing sectors of the economy. One of the key estimates in the MTIS report is total business inventories, which is a sum of end-of-month inventories for all three sectors. Significant components of total business inventories are now published earlier than in the past, first appearing with the new Advance Economic Indicators Report. As of July 2016, the Advance Economic Indicators Report contains the first glimpse of aggregate-level retail and wholesale end-of-month inventories estimates.

The objective of this accelerated reporting is to provide data users with earlier estimates of end-of-month inventories of retail and wholesale firms. An additional important goal is to enable improved accuracy of smaller revisions to early estimates of other indicators that rely upon these data, such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ advance report on Gross Domestic Product.

MTIS total business inventories increased 0.4 percent from November to December 2016, led by a 1.0 percent increase in the wholesale sector and a 0.1 percent increase in the retail sector. The Advance Economic Indicator report for December 2016 was released on Jan. 26, 2017, twenty days prior to the December MTIS report. In the Advance Economic Indicator report, wholesale inventories also rose 1.0 percent from November, and retail inventories were virtually unchanged from the previous month. There was no revision from the wholesale inventories month-to-month percent change reported in the Advance Economic Indicators Report to the MTIS report, and the retail inventories were revised from virtually unchanged to 0.1 percent.

These changes, taken with the totality of all the economic indicator reports issued by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, enable increasingly timely, accurate, and crucial measurement of the complex American economy.

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