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Understanding GDP

TEXAS, February 25 - The February edition of Fiscal Notes centers on economic data. Up first is a primer on gross domestic product (GDP), the popular government-sourced data tool that originated in the late 1930s to assess the economic health of a country, state or region and measure changes over time. Economists routinely use GDP, and as we explain in this issue, they do so for good reasons. But GDP isn’t perfect, which is why we touch on other statistics that can offset GDP’s shortcomings to ensure the most accurate economic analyses possible.

We also delve into high-frequency data in this edition. High-frequency data — as the name suggests — are released more often than GDP and other traditional economic health measures. These data offer real-time analyses of the economy and have been particularly useful in monitoring abrupt changes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to these stories, this month’s issue (PDF) features a new look!