What Is the Bureau of Economic Analysis? What Does It Do?

Two of the most widely followed statistics released by the BEA are gross domestic product (GDP) and balance of trade (B.O.T.). 

Bureau of Economic Analysis, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons; Canva

What Is the Bureau of Economic Analysis?

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, or BEA, is an independent federal agency responsible for gathering and analyzing economic data and reporting national, international, regional, and industrial financial statistics—most notably gross domestic product (GDP).

The BEA is an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce and is also one of the component agencies of the U.S. Federal Statistical System. Headquartered in Suitland and led by current director Vipin Arora, MD, the BEA employs around 500 people and has an annual budget of around $101 million.

According to the Department of Commerce, the BEA “promotes a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing timely, relevant, and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.”

Why Is the Data Released by the BEA Important?

The reports released by the BEA are carefully monitored by the Federal Reserve, whose board members use BEA data, among other information, to inform monetary policy decisions like whether to raise, lower, or maintain the Federal funds rate. Investors and market analysts also keep a close eye on BEA reports, as they are indicative of large-scale economic trends and can be used to identify where the U.S. is in its business cycle—important information that can be used to make prudent investment decisions.

The information reported by the BEA also directly affects many otter facets of the economy, including interest rates, hiring trends, taxation, government spending, corporate decision-making, and international trade policy.

What 4 Categories Does the BEA Report On?

The reports and statistics released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis are divided into four general categories or “accounts.”


The BEA’s national accounts compile data on a country-wide scale to provide insight into national production, consumption, import, export, saving, and spending trends.

The most important national report released by the BEA is gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the total value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. over the course of a year. Other national reports include gross domestic Income (GDI), gross national income (GNI), corporate profits, personal income and spending, and personal saving.


The BEA’s regional accounts group data on a smaller scale by region, providing insight into how production, consumption, saving, and spending vary between states and local areas within the united states. Reports include localized GDP measures for states and some metropolitan areas. This regional data is used by the federal government to determine how federal funds are allocated between states.


The BEA’s industry accounts examine the relationships between producers and users across various industries. Policymakers look at various industries’ input and output levels and interrelationships to understand how the economy is structured and how that structure changes over time. Industry-specific GDP measures reported by the BEA provide insight into how much of the nation’s annual output is attributable to each industry.


The BEA’s international accounts provide information about where the U.S. economy stands on an international level and how multinational corporations affect and contribute to the global economy. The two most followed reports in this category are balance of payments and balance of trade (B.O.T.).

Balance of trade analyzes transactions between the U.S. and its international trading partners, showing the difference between the total value of all imports and exports over a certain time frame. When exports are higher than imports, the economy is generally considered healthy on an international scale. 

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