How You Can Analyze Federal Programs Using BEA Statistics: A Look at Unemployment Insurance Benefits Payments
The national income and product accounts, produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), provide a consistent and comprehensive picture of the nation’s economy; as a result, they provide a useful tool for analyzing the economic effects of recent federal legislation designed to stabilize and stimulate the economy. For example, it’s logical that reduced income tax rates and expanded tax credits lowered personal current tax receipts, but by how much? It makes sense that a reduction in the social security tax rate lowered contributions for government social insurance, but how do you put that reduction in context? Or by how much did federal assistance to states increase over previous periods? BEA’s national accounts can help you find the facts and answer these sorts of questions.
Here’s an easy and interesting example: What government program explains the increase in government social benefits over the course of the recent recession?
Data from the BEA show that total government social benefits, as a share of personal income, increased from 14.2 percent in the first quarter of 2008 to 18.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010. That’s a notable increase, but what’s behind those numbers?