Field Guide Resources

We relied on many different sources to write the Field Guide to the U.S. Economy. On this page we are listing the main ones that provided the bulk of our information. Hopefully, you might find these helpful in your efforts to keep tabs on the economy and issues of economic equality and economic justice.

This listing begins with an overview of general sources, then provides further information for each chapter topic. In many cases, statistics and entire publications will be available online. In other cases, the websites only provide ordering information.

  • The two best sources of general economic data are the Statistical Abstract of the United States, published by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, and the Economic Report of the President, published by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. Both can be downloaded from the Web. New editions of the Economic Report of the President usually become available in February from the Government Printing Office.
  • FedStats is an extremely useful Web site with links to a large number of federal agencies and departments. Also see the Department of Commerce site, Stat-USA.
  • Short, interesting, and useful articles about current economic events are published bimonthly in Dollars & Sense magazine, 29 Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108. More academic yet still accessible articles are published bimonthly in Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 80 Business Park Drive, Armonk, NY 10504.
  • The major publications of the business press, including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, and Barron’s, are all useful, but BusinessWeek usually offers the most systematic analysis of economic trends. For a distinctly anticorporate approach, see The Left Business Observer, 38 Greene Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10013.
  • For more in-depth reading, The State of Working America 2004/5, produced by the Economic Policy Institute, offers a comprehensive analysis of the way economic trends affect working Americans. 1660 L Street NW, Suite 1200, Washington, DC 20036, 202-775-8810.
  • The National Priorities Project provides helpful information and analysis on the government’s budget priorities. 17 New South Street, Northampton, MA 01060, 413-584-9556.
  • United for a Fair Economy has developed a range of publications, educational materials, and workshops that focus on wealth and income distribution. 29 Winter Street, 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02108, 617-423-2148.

Chapter 1: Owners

Every year, usually in September, Forbes magazine publishes a feature article describing the richest 400 people in the U.S. In late spring or early summer, Fortune ranks the top industrial corporations of the year and provides considerable information about their performance. In April or May, BusinessWeek usually publishes a list of the highest-paid corporate executives. For an abundance of information on money in politics and its effects on electoral outcomes, contact the Center for Responsive Politics, 1101 14th Street NW, Suite 1030, Washington DC 20005, 202-857-0044.

Chapter 2: Workers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), provides a wealth of information on employment, wages, occupations, and prices, among other topics. The bureau also publishes the Monthly Labor Review which often includes articles on special topics such as displaced workers. The American Federation of Labor (AFL-CIO) also maintains a useful Web.

Chapter 3: Women

The Bureau of the Census periodically publishes special reports on women. A recent compendium based on the 2000 census is entitled We the People: Women and Men in the United States [pdf]. A useful source for political and economic analysis is the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 1400 20th St. NW, Suite 104, Washington, DC 20036, 202-785-5100. For more scholarly research and networking information, see the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) site. The United Nations recently released a compendium of statistical information on women around the world. For a recent report on global gender issues, see the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) report Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World. Columbia University maintains an excellent clearinghouse of information on international family policies.

Chapter 4: People of Color

For a good overview of issues facing African Americans see African Americans in the U.S. Economy, edited by James Stewart, Patrick Mason, John Whitehead, and Cecilia Conrad (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005). The Bureau of the Census maintains a special Web page with citations to publications on race. A recent summary Census report is We the People: Blacks in the U.S. [pdf]. For a good discussion of race issues in a global context, see the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) report Racism and Public Policy.

Chapter 5: Government

Every January, the president proposes a budget for the next fiscal year to Congress, detailed in The Budget of the U.S. Government and summarized in The Budget in Brief. The best source for historical data on revenue and taxation is The U.S. Budget, Historical Tables. Look at the Office of Management and Budget Web site for easy access to many of these publications. They are also available through the Government Printing Office. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities publishes regular reports on government spending, particularly as it affects low-income Americans. 820 1st Street NE, Suite 510, Washington DC 20002, 202-408- 1080. Citizens for Tax Justice focuses on tax issues,1311 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20005, 202-626-3780.

Chapter 6 : Education and Welfare

In March of every year, the Bureau of the Census conducts a survey of U.S. families to determine trends in income and poverty. The results are published annually in the Current Population Reports (CPR) Series P-60, often under the title Money Income of Households, Families, and Persons in the United States. Recently, the Bureau of the Census began to conduct a survey of income and program participation that includes information about who receives public assistance. Some of the results are published in the CPR Series P-70, Economic Characteristics of Households in the United States. Expenditures per recipient in social programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are provided by the Social Security Administration in its annual Statistical Supplement. Another important source of information on government programs are the publications of the House Ways and Means Committee, especially the Green Book. The Condition of Education and the Digest of Educational Statistics, both published by the National Center for Educational Statistics, a division of the U.S. Department of Education, are good primary sources on the state of education. For statistics and articles on higher education, see The Chronicle of Higher Education, published on a weekly basis.

Chapter 7: Health

Primary sources on the health of Americans are Health, United States and Vital Statistics of the U.S., both published annually by the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Information on health care costs and expenditures can be found in the Health Care Financing Review, published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Additional information is at the Research, Statistics, Data & Systems page. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is another good source for analysis and statistics relating to health care.

Chapter 8: Environment

Many different sources are useful here, but a publication that provides an international overview of the state of the environment is World Resources, a joint publication of several international organizations. The 2005 edition, focusing on The Wealth of the Poor is available online. One of the contributors is the World Resources Institute, 10 G Street NE, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20002, 202-729-7600. Another contributing organization is the United Nations Environment Programme. The Energy Information Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Energy, provides data on sources and usage of energy in the U.S. and around the world. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also a good source of information. The Pew Center on Climate Change is a good source regarding climate change (aka global warming). Environmental groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, also compile information in an activist context.

Chapter 9: Macroeconomics

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the best source of current data on the national accounts, such as gross domestic product (GDP), investment, and the trade balance. An online database lets you download the information you need. The tables published in the back of The Economic Report of the President each year are an excellent source of statistics. The Department of Commerce maintains a Web site with current data on many facets of the U.S. economy. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve posts timely information, both data and research reports, on topics such as the banking sector, interest rates, consumer credit, and exchange rates. The Financial Markets Center Web site contains a wealth of accessible information on monetary and financial trends and policies. Data on inflation can be found at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cross-national macroeconomic data for high-income countries can be found in the Main Economic Indicators, published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Databases with worldwide coverage include International Financial Statistics, published by the International Monetary Fund, and World Development Indicators, published by the World Bank.

Chapter 10: The Global Economy

A wide range of statistics on economic performance and socioeconomic indicators for countries around the world can be found in the World Development Indicators database, published each year by the World Bank. The World Bank also publishes Global Development Finance, which contains detailed country-by-country information on debt. The International Labor Organization collects information on the global employment situation. Three useful publications from the ILO are the World Employment Report, Global Employment Trends, and Yearbook of Labor Statistics. For a different approach that emphasizes human needs and potential, see the Human Development Report, published each year by the United Nations Development Programme. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) makes statistics on global trade available on its Web site. The United Nations publishes the annual World Economic and Social Survey which analyzes thematic challenges facing the world economy. Every two years the UN also publishes the Report on the World Social Situation which covers emerging trends of global concern.