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May/June 2011, 
Vol. 93, No. 3
Posted 2011-05-01

Regional Aggregation in Forecasting: An Application to the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District

by Kristie M. Engemann, Rubén Hernández-Murillo, and Michael T. Owyang

Hernández-Murillo and Owyang (2006) showed that accounting for spatial correlations in regional data can improve forecasts of national employment. This paper considers whether the predictive advantage of disaggregate models remains when forecasting subnational data. The authors conduct horse races among several forecasting models in which the objective is to forecast regional- or state-level employment. For some models, the objective is to forecast using the sum of further disaggregated employment (i.e., forecasts of metropolitan statistical area [MSA]-level data are summed to yield state-level forecasts). The authors find that the spatial relationships between states have sufficient predictive content to overcome small increases in the number of estimated parameters when forecasting regional-level data; this is not always true when forecasting state and regional-level data using the sum of MSA-level forecasts.