Description of Data used in fedgazette Wal-Mart Analysis

Published January 1, 2008  |  January 2008 issue

Data on personal income per capita, population, employment, and earnings per job are from the Regional Economic Information System (REIS) provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). See below for detailed BEA definitions of the specific data series used.

Data on county poverty rates are from the Small Area Income & Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program run by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Data on establishments are from the County Business Patterns database collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Data on Wal-Mart store openings was provided by Thomas Holmes.

BEA Definitions

Per capita personal income (dollars)

Personal income is the income that is received by persons from all sources. It is calculated as the sum of wage and salary disbursements, supplements to wages and salaries, proprietors' income with inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments, rental income of persons with capital consumption adjustment, personal dividend income, personal interest income, and personal current transfer receipts, less contributions for government social insurance.

This measure of income is calculated as the personal income of the residents of a given area divided by the resident population of the area. In computing per capita personal income, the BEA uses the Census Bureau's annual midyear population estimates.

Population (persons)

BEA uses the Census Bureau's midyear population estimates. Except for college students and other seasonal populations, which are measured on April 1, the population for all years is estimated on July 1.

Total employment

The BEA employment series for states and local areas comprises estimates of the number of jobs, full-time plus part-time, by place of work. Full-time and part-time jobs are counted at equal weight. Employees, sole proprietors and active partners are included, but unpaid family workers and volunteers are not.

Wage and salary employment

Wage and salary employment, also referred to as wage and salary jobs, measures the average annual number of full-time and part-time jobs in each area by place of work. All jobs for which wages and salaries are paid are counted. Full-time and part-time jobs are counted with equal weight.

Earnings by place of work

Earnings by place of work is the sum of wage and salary disbursements, supplements to wages and salaries and proprietors' income. BEA presents earnings by place of work because it can be used in the analyses of regional economies as a proxy for the income that is generated from participation in current production.

Wage and salary disbursements

Wage and salary disbursements consists of the monetary remuneration of employees, including corporate officers' salaries and bonuses, commissions, pay-in-kind, incentive payments and tips. It reflects the amount of payments disbursed, but not necessarily earned, during the year. Wage and salary disbursements is measured before deductions, such as Social Security contributions and union dues.

Supplements to wages and salaries

This component of personal income consists of employer contributions for employee pension and insurance funds and of employer contributions for government social insurance.

Retail trade

Standard Industrial Classification definition:
This SIC division includes establishments engaged in selling merchandise for personal or household consumption and rendering services incidental to the sale of the goods. In general, retail establishments are classified by kind of business according to the principal lines of commodities sold (groceries, hardware, etc.) or the usual trade designation (drug store, cigar store, etc.). Some of the important characteristics of retail trade establishments are the following: The establishment is usually a place of business and is engaged in activities to attract the general public to buy; the establishment buys or receives merchandise as well as sells; the establishment may process its products, but such processing is incidental or subordinate to selling; the establishment is considered retail in the trade; and the establishment sells to customers for personal or household use. Not all of these characteristics need be present, and some are modified by trade practice.

County Business Patterns Definitions


An establishment is a single physical location at which business is conducted or services or industrial operations are performed. It is not necessarily identical with a company or enterprise, which may consist of one or more establishments. When two or more activities are carried on at a single location under a single ownership, all activities generally are grouped together as a single establishment. The entire establishment is classified on the basis of its major activity, and all data are included in that classification.

Establishment size designations are determined by paid employment in the mid-March pay period. The size group "1 to 4" includes establishments that did not report any paid employees in the mid-March pay period but paid wages to at least one employee at some time during the year.

Establishment counts represent the number of locations with paid employees at any time during the year.


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