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Visualize Key Economic Indicators

Chris Garcia
Director of Marketing

It's 2018! Time to get back to the gym, eat better, review your budget, analyze your investments, and all the other "better you" tasks that we neglect most of the year. And why not? It's a good opportunity to set goals and take stock in our respective situations.

Since I work on the Oracle Business Analytics team, I find it useful to leverage the tools at my disposal to help me evaluate where I stand with many of life's measuring sticks. This is especially true when it comes to money.

Should I be less aggressive with my investment choices? Should I continue to ride the bull market? Stocks or bonds? Mutual funds or ETFs? I am not a financial adviser so if you are looking for any hot tips, you won't find them here. What I can offer is an easy-to-use tool that will help you see the economy better and hopefully make you feel more comfortable with your understanding of the current situation.

I will be using some information I found on Investopedia.com. I simply searched for "Best Economic Indicators" and a link with the title ‘Top Ten US Economic Indicators' appeared. I read the article and decided to create several visualizations that highlight some of the indicators listed there.

Once again... I am not a financial advisor and Oracle is not suggesting that you use these visualizations to make any investment decisions. This is a simple snapshot of the US Economy that I put together to help you view the current environment.

To start, I created a spreadsheet that I then imported into Oracle's Data Visualization tool. Below is a brief description of the indicators I included in the spreadsheet.

Employment Situation

The United States Department of Labor and more specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases a monthly report that details the unemployment rate. For this data point, I calculated the monthly percent change in an inverted fashion because as the unemployment rate drops, the metric becomes more positive.

Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization

The United States Federal Reserve delivers a report each month that measures the output of manufacturing-based industries. For this analysis, I used the monthly percent change of industrial production that is provided by the Federal Reserve so I did not have to calculate any data.

Personal Income and Outlays

The United States Department of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis offers a monthly report that highlights consumer spending and personal income. For this metric, I calculated the monthly delta between personal income percent change and price index percent change.

New Residential Construction

The United States Department of Commerce and more specifically, the Census Bureau along with the Department of Housing and Development releases a report each month that indicates real estate developer's confidence in the economy. For this data, I calculated the monthly percent change in total new construction permits issued.

Construction Spending

The United States Department of Commerce's Census Bureau delivers a monthly report that details changes in construction spending. I used the seasonally adjusted total (private and public) construction numbers to calculate the monthly percent change.

Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders

The United States Department of Commerce and more specifically, the Census Bureau offers a report each month that measures information on manufacturer's activity with regard to shipments, inventories, and orders. The monthly percent change is offered in the report so no calculations were needed in my spreadsheet.

Monthly and Annual Retail Trade

The United States Department of Commerce's Census Bureau releases a monthly report that highlights retail and food service spending and is an indication of consumer health. The report is very detailed and provides gross numbers so I had to calculate the monthly percent change.

New Residential Sales

The United States Department of Commerce and more specifically, the Census Bureau along with the Department of Housing and Urban Development delivers a report each month that indicates how strong consumer confidence is in relation to housing. For this metric, I only considered ‘sold' houses and not ‘for sale' as that is a better indicator of consumer sentiment.

Here is a look at the visualizations I created with the above data points:

 

 

The list on the Investopedia website continues but I decided to focus on the eight indicators listed above. Depending on where you like to find your economic information, there are different opinions on which indicators are best to consider. Here are a few more choices:

https://www.moneycrashers.com/leading-lagging-economic-indicators/

https://dailyreckoning.com/top-10-market-indicators-of-economic-development/

http://www.aaii.com/investing-basics/article/the-top-10-economic-indicators-what-to-watch-and-why

In any case, I hope you found this blog informative and that you make use of the spreadsheet I attached above for your own economic research. As I stated a couple of times earlier... Oracle is not suggesting any specific investment advice. Instead, we offer these items as tools for your own use.

I enjoy working with numbers and feel strongly that they are best understood when represented visually. If you like what you see, take one of our Quick Tours or Simulations to learn more about Oracle Data Visualization. You can also find more resources on our Customized Content page. When you are ready to start a free trial, visit the Business Analytics website.

Also, for current Oracle Data Visualization customers, be sure to visit the new Oracle Analytics Library and download sample files to take your analytics to a new level.

Thanks for your time.

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