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U.S. Economy

Data Series Employed in the WEI

The WEI is composed of 10 underlying series. To measure consumer behavior, we include the Redbook same-store retail sales index and the Rasmussen Consumer Index. To measure labor market conditions, we include initial and continuing unemployment insurance claims, the American Staffing Association Index of temporary and contract employment, and federal tax withholding data from Booth Financial Consulting. For production, we include U.S. steel production from the American Iron and Steel Institute, U.S. electricity output data from the Edison Electric Institute, a measure of fuel sales based on Energy Information Administration data, and total railroad traffic from the Association of American Railroads.
Series Description
Consumer Behavior  
Redbook Research: Same-store retail sales average Measures year-over-year same-store sales growth for around 9,000 general merchandise stores in the United States
Rasmussen Consumer Index Constructed with a daily survey of 1,500 American adults, using questions about personal finances and the economy more broadly
Labor Market Conditions  
Unemployment insurance: Initial claims Reports the number of people making new unemployment insurance claims from state unemployment offices
Unemployment insurance: Continuing claims Reports the number of people making unemployment insurance claims for a continuing spell of unemployment from state unemployment offices
American Staffing Association Staffing Index Tracks temporary and contract employment with data coming from a large pane of staffing companies
Federal withholding tax collections (Booth Financial Consulting) Measures Treasury receipts of income and payroll taxes withheld from paychecks, filtered and adjusted for policy changes
Raw steel production (from American Iron and Steel Institute) Estimates the weekly production of raw steel from domestic producers
Electric utility output: United States ex. Alaska and Hawaii (from Edison Electric Institute) Measures electricity output for the United Sates,  excluding Alaska and Hawaii
U.S. fuel sales to end users (our calculations based on underlying data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration) Estimates gasoline, diesel and jet fuel sales to retailers and end users
U.S. railroad traffic Tracks total freight transported, as reported by railroad companies to the Association of American Railroads
WEI Authors

The WEI was developed by Daniel J. Lewis, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York; Karel Mertens, senior economic policy advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; and James H. Stock, professor of economics at Harvard University.