WASHINGTON -- The Commerce Department is scheduled today to unveil a new measure of U.S. production of goods and services and to announce other technical changes in tracking the economy.
From now on, the department will issue monthly statistical reports on U.S. gross domestic product and phase out the better-known gross national product statistical series. GDP covers goods and services produced by labor and property located within U.S. borders. It does not cover business activity by U.S. residents overseas, which would be reported in the GNP series.
Commerce officials say the change will not make much of a difference in terms of the dollars used to measure U.S. economic activity. But the GDP statistics are considered to be more consistent with employment and other short-term economic data. GDP also is the common international standard for measuring a country's performance.
Commerce officials also plan to issue a series of technical, or benchmark, revisions to the GDP data series. The most important change will be the use of 1987 prices instead of 1982 prices as the baseline to adjust for inflation.
Because prices of computers and some other goods came down dramatically during that period, the shift to the 1987 base year shows slower growth rates in investment in durable goods and other sectors, officials said. As a result of the benchmark provisions, economic growth in general turned out to be slightly lower during the 1980s than originally reported.
The revisions also are expected to show the recession was more severe than originally estimated. Revisions to the 1991 data are due out today.