This guide will help you understand what types of time series data is available and selected places where you can find it. Click the tabs above to find online and print resources.
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Basic concepts in the search for time series data
- More and more data can be found online. However, those that are available may be difficult to find, may be distributed over many agencies, may be buried in the provider's website, may only include a few years, and may require payment for access.
- There are a few centralized web sites for government-produced statistics. However, for non-government sources there is not a well organized, consolidated online source of data.
- Business and economic data is most readily available on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis because this information is used to manage U.S. economic policy and support the activities of business. Historically, the federal government has established monitoring activities to easily and quickly compile this data, and these activities receive funding priority.
- Very little social data is available quarterly or monthly. Annual data is most common and may lag a couple of years behind in its currency due to the lack of data collection ability and funding directed towards counting social activities.
- Limiting the search to quarterly or monthly data makes it easier to find consistent data, but the number of variables is limited.
- National data is easier to find than state data, while local (e.g. Sacramento) data is usually not available.
- Data availability is a function of historical practices in collecting data, legal requirements and funding.
- Some social data may not be collected at all due to the lack of a legal requirement and hence lack of funding.
- Company data is typically compiled annually and is usually limited to broad income statement and balance sheet information.
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