Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 4, 2015

In our last installment in our national dividend series, we were striving to turn our work in developing a consumption-based national dividend concept for measuring the economic well-being of typical Americans into a monthly economic indicator.

It turns out however that our source for the monthly number of U.S. households recorded in the U.S., which we use to approximate the number of "consumer units" in the U.S., is only updated quarterly by the U.S. Census Bureau. So, even though we can calculate the national dividend for the U.S. economy for each month, we only update our calculations once a quarter.

The chart below reveals what we found for each month in the recently-ended second quarter of 2015:

Monthly National Dividend for U.S., January 2000 through June 2015

In nominal terms, the U.S. national dividend increased from $6.842 trillion in March 2015 to $7.037 trillion in June 2015. However, after adjusting these values to account for the effect of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (in All U.S. Cities), we find that in terms of constant June 2015 U.S. dollars, the national dividend increased from $6.915 trillion in March 2015 to $7.037 trillion in June 2015.

Those results contrast with those of the first quarter of 2015, which saw the national dividend decline from the values recorded at the end of the fourth quarter of 2014 in each month of the quarter.

So on the whole, our national dividend measurement indicates that the U.S. economy, as experienced by typical Americans, expanded in the second quarter of 2015. Digging into the underlying numbers for our national dividend calculation, 63% of the increase during the second quarter is attributable to an increase in the number of U.S. "consumer units", with the remainder being attributable to an increase in their income-fueled consumption.

Previously on Political Calculations

Once upon a time, earlier this year, we solved a problem that had stymied economists since 1906. And we made it look easy!

Data Sources

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: June 2015. [PDF Document]. 24 July 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Housing Vacancies and Homeownership (CPS/HVS). Historical Tables. Table 13. Monthly Household Estimates: 1955 to Present. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 30 July 2015.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. Accessed 30 July 2015.


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