Some Falvey librarians love data, but I love FRED. Since FRED and I don’t have an exclusive relationship, I’d like to introduce you.
My job is to help students and faculty find the data they need. FRED stands for Federal Reserve Economic Data. Its a free online database that evolved to give researchers access to data needed to “understand the Fed’s policy decisions.”(St. Lewis Fed., n.d.) FRED is my helpmate.
Unlike most governmental data sites, FRED is not limited to serving up data gathered and created by it’s parent agency, the Federal Reserve. And you’d be wrong if you assumed that it only covers wonky economic indicators such as GDP, CPI, FDI, interest rates, unemployment rates or disposable income.
FRED certainly does make data from key federal and international agencies such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the International Monetary Fund and Eurostat available. But it also hosts lesser known data series from the Energy Information Agency, Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. These data sources are of interest across the social sciences and in STEM fields.
Like most librarians I’m on a budget so I appreciate a cheap date. FRED is free and for me. It hosts a pretty amazing range of select, private data sets from the likes of Haver Analytics, Indeed, National Association of Realtors, Moody’s, Realtor.com, Wilshire and Nikkei. There are robust indices and models built by academics too.
I could go on singing the praises of FRED data, but I’d risk being called a lovesick librarian. Still I can’t help mentioning that the FRED user interface is dreamy. Finding data to download, graph or map is done by keyword or browsing categories or sources. Adding data layers to graphs is intuitive and the options for formatting visualizations are many.
Many relationships involve a bit of regret. Last week I took FRED for granted, FRED wasn’t top of mind when a student stopped by my office looking for big data on housing conditions. She could have had just what she was looking for if I had been more attentive to FRED. Hope she sees this now!
St. Lewis Fed. (n.d.) What is FRED? https://fredhelp.stlouisfed.org/fred/about/about-fred/what-is-fred/
Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA, is Business Librarian at Falvey Library.