To help assess economic activity in the Western Region and Atlantic Economic Corridor (AEC) closer to real-time, the Western Development Commission (WDC) has released the initial “Timely Economic Indicators for the Western Region” statistical report. In this blog post, I provide a data description and the rationale for the indicator set. Please see further accompanying blog posts for a commentary on the statistics contained within each report.
 Under the WDC Act 1998 the WDC’s statutory remit is to ‘.foster and promote the economic and social development of the Western Region’. Where the Western Region is the seven counties of Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Galway, Donegal & Clare. The AEC adds in Limerick and Kerry.
It is envisaged that the indicator set will be regularly reported during the gap between the publication of the key regional and county level economic statistics such as Regional GDP and County Incomes. The key issue with regional and county level economic data is that there is often a considerable lag between the data reference period and the time of publication. The lag for regional data is often much longer than for national economic data. For example, National Income and Expenditure accounts are produced on a quarterly basis, Q1 2020 (a reference period of January-March), was released on July 20th 2020. In contrast, regional GDP and county income data is only available on an annual basis. The most recent regional GDP data refers to 2017 and was published in February 2020. This demonstrates the need for timelier regional and county level economic indicators. However, the timely economic indicators represent approximations for regional economic development and are constrained by the availability of official high-frequency county-level data. The indicators must therefore be interpreted carefully as a complement and far from a replacement of the more comprehensive official economic data published with a lag.