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TitleUsing Data Buffet: Read series measurement units
AuthorPhillip Thorne

Each Data Buffet time series has a textual description that includes, at its end and in parentheses, the measurement units (currency, rates, adjustment, etc.). What do the abbreviations mean?


Where do I see the description?

The series description appears in View mode, Basket output, and Mnemonic 411.  When configuring a basket (i.e., its optional header fields), we strongly recommend activating the description because it contains essential information about the series.


The time series IRFEDD.US has a description that reads "Interest Rates: Federal Funds Effective Rate, (% P.A., NSA)."  There's a text-descriptor with category prefix at the front, followed by the parenthesized unit-descriptor.  You can read this description as:

The federal funds effective rate is an interest rate; the series values are expressed in percent per annum, not seasonally adjusted.

We indicate currency values using unambiguous ISO 4217 codes, rather than local or journalistic symbols. Currency levels are in nominal terms unless otherwise indicated; if in inflation-adjusted terms, that's denoted by the unit-descriptor, not by the word "real."  (N.B.: Although "real" and "inflation adjusted" are synonymous, there's a methodological difference between "constant" and "chained" values.)

  • (Mil. USD) = millions of U.S. dollars = current, nominal
  • (Bil. Ch. 2000 EUR, NSA) = billions of chained year-2000 euros = chained, real, inflation-adjusted

The following are equivalent:

  • Bil. 2005 USD
  • Bil. 2005 $
  • Bil. 05$
  • "Billions of inflation-adjusted U.S. dollars in year-2005 terms"


The units-descriptor may have one or two segments, separated by commas.  Annual series usually have just one segment.  Sub-annual series have at least two, where the second describes the adjustment (if any) that has been applied to the values in the series.

The first segment describes the base measurement unit, which can help you understand (if the text-description doesn't otherwise specify) if the values are levels, rates, indexes, etc.  As necessary, there may be a multiplier or scaler that multiplies the base unit, a comparison interval symbol (month-over-month, etc.), an aggregation symbol (moving average, year-to-date), and a measurement point (end of period, etc.).


Please note that a degree of inconsistency exists among our unit-descriptors , and you will see alternative symbols denoting the same measurement unit. In this listing, deprecated symbols are marked in the third column; we are gradually replacing these with standardized symbology.

First segment of units-descriptor   Second segment of units-descriptor
Abbv. Description Dep.   Abbv. Description Dep.
  Multipliers       Single adjustments  
Hnd. Hundred (10^2)     NSA  Not seasonally adjusted, unadjusted, original  
Ths.  Thousand (10^3)     SA  Seasonally adjusted, deseasonalized  
10 Ths. Ten thousand (10^4)     AR  Annualized rate  
Mil.  Million (10^6)     CDA  Calendar day adjusted  
Bil.  Billion (10^9)     WDA  Working day adjusted  
Tril. Trillion (10^12)       Compound adjustments  
        NSAAR Not seasonally adjusted at annualized rate  
  Default units     SAAR  Seasonally adjusted at annualized rate  
#  Number, single items, persons, etc.     CDASA Calendar adjusted and seasonally adjusted  
(blank) or x   CDA & SA or x
        WDASA Working-day adjusted and seasonally adjusted  
  Physical dimensions     WDA & SA or x
Bbl  Barrels          
L Liters     Modifier segments
Square meters     Abbv  Description  
m^2  or x     Time basis  
Sqm  or x   P.A.  Per annum  
ft² Square feet     YTD  Year-to-date  
Sq ft  or x   YTD(Apr)  Year-to-date, year begins in April  
        3-mo MA  3-month moving average  
  Time units       Measurement point or interval  
Hr  Hour     12-mo Ending 12-month rolling period  
Wk  Week       E.g. FBKPY.US  
Mo Month     EOP
End of period
Yr  Year     AVE Average over period  
        SUM Sum over period  
  Currency units (ISO 4217)       Comparison interval  
USD  U.S. dollar     W/W Week-over-week  
EUR  Euro     M/M Month-over-month  
JPY  Japanese yen     Q/Q Quarter-over-quarter  
GBP  British pound sterling     Y/Y Year-over-year  
CAD  Canadian dollar          
CNY  Chinese yuan renminbi          
  Currency units (symbols)          
$  U.S. dollar x        
C$  Canadian dollar x        
  Nominal vs. real (inflation-adjusted)          
XYZ  Nominal XYZ (current)          
2005 XYZ  XYZ with 2005 fixed reference year          
Ch. XYZ  Chained XYZ with unspecified reference year          
Ch. 2005 XYZ Chained XYZ with 2005 reference year          
05$ 2005 U.S. dollars x        
  Percentage units and rates          
%  Percent of whole          
% P.A. Percent per annum (interest rate)          
% or x        
Per 1000 population E.g. VS%LBTHUA.IMEX          
% W/W Week-over-week percent change          
# M/M Month-over-month level change          
% Q/Q Quarter-over-quarter percent change          
Bil. USD Y/Y Year-over-year currency level change          
  Indexed units          
Index  For specifics, see Mnemonic 411          
Index 2000=100  Base period year 2000, base value 100          
Index 3Jan2000=85.17  Base period year 1/3/2000, base value 85.17          
Index 1982-84=100  Base value of 100 is average over 1982-1984 interval          
Index prev. mo.=100 Relative to previous month          
  Note: similar to % M/M          
Index CPPY=100
Index corr. per.
Relative to corresponding period of previous year          
prev. yr.=100 Note: similar to % Y/Y x        
  Diffusion indexes, etc.          
Index=0 Central value=0, improvement>0, deterioration          
Bal. of Op.
Balance of opinion

Rank Numeric ranking          
(list) E.g., NBERRECM.US: 0=Not recession, 1=recession