Monthly GDP background information

Information and guidance on the experimental monthly GPD statistics, including data sources and methodology.

Around 45% of GDP by weight is based on the Monthly Business Survey and Retail Sales Inquiry. These surveys collect turnover data from all large businesses and a sample of smaller firms across the manufacturing and services sectors.

Growth is estimated for each industry using a dynamic panel of companies which are surveyed in consecutive months. From March 2021, stratified ratio estimates have also been used for the monthly GDP estimates based on the MBS and RSI. This methodology and the detection and treatment of outliers remains in development, and users may notice that historic estimates (2010-2019) include relatively high levels of month to month noise while these systems are being improved. All estimates are constrained to the more robust quarterly results for previous periods.

Around 7% of GDP by weight is based on other data sources which are specific to Scotland, such as volumes of output by industry or electricity generation. Most of these sources have already been supplied to us as monthly data, or have been supplemented by additional monthly information during the development of monthly GDP.

Around 30% of GDP by weight is usually based on quarterly forecasts from annual data sources for Scotland. This includes the activities of much of the public sector, such as civil service, education and health services, as well as other industries including agriculture, and the imputed rental of owner-occupiers.

The output of these industries is normally assumed to move smoothly over time, with little variation from trend, and it would be a trivial process to interpolate a monthly path instead of quarterly. However, at this time of widespread economic disruption, the forecasts for these industries must be reviewed for quarterly GDP as well as monthly. For example, adjustments are needed to account for changes in the provision of education via remote learning. Provisional adjustments have been made which are consistent with the approach adopted by ONS for the UK and explained here, with similar adjustments made for consistency in health and other sectors.

Around 18% of GDP by weight is based on estimates which are derived as shares of UK output, using indicator data such as Scottish employment shares, or are simply modelled to grow in line with the same industry across the UK as a whole. For example, this includes industries such as financial services, where quarterly output in Scotland is estimated using an employment based regional model run by the Bank of England for ONS.  

At present, where the data used to take a share of UK output are not available for the latest months, many of these industries are forecast to grow in line with the UK as a whole, consistent with the latest UK monthly GDP release.

For all industries where estimates are not based directly on monthly data for Scotland, we are continuing to investigate potential sources of new data or information which can be used to ensure that estimates of short term output are as accurate as possible. Updates will be applied when possible in future releases



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