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Anchor Economy Dashboard FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Anchor Economy Dashboard.

What’s the best reliance index number?

The reliance index is not a normative index. That is, it’s not “good” or “bad” to have a high or low ranking on the reliance index. Rather, the index indicates how concentrated your regional economy is in “eds and meds.” If your region has a reliance index close to 1, then eds and meds play the same role in your region as they do in the country as a whole. If your region’s reliance index is below 1, eds and meds are slightly less represented in your regional economy than they are in the country as a whole. And, if your region’s reliance index is above 1, your region is more dependent on eds and meds as a sector in the regional economy than as in the country as a whole. 

How is the reliance index calculated?

The reliance index captures the ratio of a region’s anchor institution economic impact divided by the region’s overall economy, divided by the same ratio calculated at the national level. For employment, income, and gross value added, the reliance index calculates the regional share of impact from eds and meds, and divides this by the share of impact from eds and meds employment, income, and gross value at the national level. For example, the reliance index takes the regional employment impact from eds and meds, divides that by the total employment impact for a region, then divides that figure by the same ratio of eds and meds employment impact at the national level over total employment at the national level. This calculation (also known as the location quotient) is done for employment, income, and gross value added impacts and then averaged together to calculate the reliance index.

Did institutions report their data to the Philadelphia Fed?

No individual institution reported its data to the Philadelphia Fed. The foundation for the economic impact analysis is higher education and hospital institutional reporting to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), which covers 95 percent of U.S. jobs available at the county, metropolitan statistical area (MSA), state, and national levels by detailed industry. The input-output model used for the economic impact analysis — IMPLAN — imputes higher education and hospital operational and capital expenditures for regions based on these employment and income figures and regional and industry sector economic characteristics embedded in the model. See the Methodology section for further details.

Is every hospital and higher education institution in my region included in the data set?

Yes, every higher education and hospital establishment is included in the regional economic impact calculation. In some cases, QCEW suppresses employment and income data from regional higher education and hospital institutions when there are too few establishments and, therefore, the data could be tied back to a specific institution. In the cases of data suppressions to protect the anonymity of establishments, IMPLAN imputes employment and income data based on its model.

I see the data are displayed at the regional (MSA or nonmetro regional) level. Are the data available for my county, city, or town?

The economic impact data are only available at the regional level. The Philadelphia Fed used the 393 metro and 131 nonmetro regions defined by the BLS for the economic impact analysis. (See the Methodology for more specific information on these regions and for a cross-walk of counties to regions.) The Anchor Economy Dashboard can complement county-level data that regions may collect as part of their economic development planning.

Are there any other anchor institutions included in the data set?

For the purposes of the Anchor Economy Dashboard, only hospitals and higher education institutions are considered anchor institutions. In regional anchor institution initiatives, other types of institutions, such as large nonprofits, charitable foundations, and even for-profit companies committed to place, are part of anchor strategies.

Are the impacts that result from out-of-town patients and students and visiting friends and family included in the impact data?

Yes, these impacts are categorized as “ancillary” impacts and are included in the overall economic impact figures, although they are small relative to the larger impacts from employment, operational and capital expenditures.

Which input-output methodology was used to calculate impacts?

The Philadelphia Fed partnered with Oxford Economics to calculate the economic impacts of higher education institutions and hospitals using the IMPLAN model for input-output analysis.