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Economic Quarterly

Oct. 1, 2019

Richmond Fed’s Economic Quarterly Uses Text Analysis to Measure Sentiment in Survey Responses

In the latest issue of Economic Quarterly, economist Santiago Pinto uses text analytic techniques to examine responses to the Richmond Fed’s Surveys of Manufacturing and Service Sector Activity. The Richmond Fed conducts these two surveys monthly in order to identify factors that drive current and expected business conditions; the responses not only provide context for other data, they also reflect sentiment — an attitude that is a key determinant of economic decisions.

Pinto extracts and analyzes the sentiment in these survey comments using text analytics, which involves examining words to find connections and themes. He puts sentiment into three categories, contrasts sentiment measures against responses to other questions, traces the evolution of the sentiment indicators over time and identifies patterns among survey participants.

This article and others in the latest issue of Economic Quarterly are available online.

Also in this issue:

The Economic Quarterly is a free publication containing economic analysis pertinent to Federal Reserve monetary and banking policy. More information is available at (800) 322-0565 or online.


As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.

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