Brief Description

Regional Multipliers from the Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II): A Brief Description


Effective planning for public- and private-sector projects and programs at the State and local levels requires a systematic analysis of the economic impacts of these projects and programs on affected regions. In turn, systematic analysis of economic impacts must account for the interindustry relationships within regions because these relationships largely determine how regional economies are likely to respond to project and program changes. Thus, regional input-output (I-O) multipliers, which account for interindustry relationships within regions, are useful tools for conducting regional economic impact analysis.

In the 1970s, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) developed a method for estimating regional I-O multipliers known as RIMS (Regional Industrial Multiplier System), which was based on the work of Garnick and Drake. 1 In the 1980s, BEA completed an enhancement of RIMS, known as RIMS II (Regional Input-Output Modeling System), and published a handbook for RIMS II users. 2 1992, BEA published a second edition of the handbook in which the multipliers were based on more recent data and improved methodology. In 1997, BEA published a third edition of the handbook (PDF) that provides more detail on the use of the multipliers and the data sources and methods for estimating them. The latest edition of the RIMS II User's Guide (PDF) was released in November 2012.

RIMS II is based on an accounting framework called an I-O table. For each industry, an I-O table shows the industrial distribution of inputs purchased and outputs sold. A typical I-O table in RIMS II is derived mainly from two data sources: BEA's national I-O table (PDF), which shows the input and output structure of nearly 500 U.S. industries, and BEA's regional economic accounts, which are used to adjust the national I-O table to show a region's industrial structure and trading patterns. 3

Using RIMS II for impact analysis has several advantages. RIMS II multipliers can be estimated for any region composed of one or more counties and for any industry, or group of industries, in the national I-O table. The accessibility of the main data sources for RIMS II keeps the cost of estimating regional multipliers relatively low. Empirical tests show that estimates based on relatively expensive surveys and RIMS II-based estimates are similar in magnitude. 4

BEA's RIMS multipliers can be a cost-effective way for analysts to estimate the economic impacts of changes in a regional economy. However, it is important to keep in mind that, like all economic impact models, RIMS provides approximate order-of-magnitude estimates of impacts. RIMS multipliers are best suited for estimating the impacts of small changes on a regional economy. For some applications, users may want to supplement RIMS estimates with information they gather from the region undergoing the potential change. Examples of case studies where it is appropriate to use RIMS multipliers appear in the RIMS II User's Guide. (PDF)

To effectively use the multipliers for impact analysis, users must provide geographically and industrially detailed information on the initial changes in output, earnings, or employment that are associated with the project or program under study. The multipliers can then be used to estimate the total impact of the project or program on regional output, earnings, and employment.

RIMS II is widely used in both the public and private sector. In the public sector, for example, the Department of Defense uses RIMS II to estimate the regional impacts of military base closings. State transportation departments use RIMS II to estimate the regional impacts of airport construction and expansion. In the private-sector, analysts and consultants use RIMS II to estimate the regional impacts of a variety of projects, such as the development of shopping malls and sports stadiums.

RIMS II Methodology

RIMS II uses BEA's benchmark and annual I-O tables for the nation. Since a particular region may not contain all the industries found at the national level, some direct input requirements cannot be supplied by that region's industries. Input requirements that are not produced in a study region are identified using BEA's regional economic accounts.

The RIMS II method for estimating regional I-O multipliers can be viewed as a three-step process. In the first step, the producer portion of the national I-O table is made region-specific by using six-digit NAICS location quotients (LQs). The LQs estimate the extent to which input requirements are supplied by firms within the region. RIMS II uses LQs based on two types of data: BEA's personal income data (by place of residence) are used to calculate LQs in the service industries; and BEA's wage-and-salary data (by place of work) are used to calculate LQs in the nonservice industries.

In the second step, the household row and the household column from the national I-O table are made region-specific. The household row coefficients, which are derived from the value-added row of the national I-O table, are adjusted to reflect regional earnings leakages resulting from individuals working in the region but residing outside the region. The household column coefficients, which are based on the personal consumption expenditure column of the national I-O table, are adjusted to account for regional consumption leakages stemming from personal taxes and savings.

In the last step, the Leontief inversion approach is used to estimate multipliers. This inversion approach produces output, earnings, and employment multipliers, which can be used to trace the impacts of changes in final demand on directly and indirectly affected industries.

Accuracy of RIMS II

Empirical evidence suggests that RIMS II commonly yields multipliers that are not substantially different in magnitude from those generated by regional I-O models based on relatively expensive surveys. For example, a comparison of 224 industry-specific multipliers from survey-based tables for Texas, Washington, and West Virginia indicates that the RIMS II average multipliers overestimate the average multipliers from the survey-based tables by approximately 5 percent. For the majority of individual industry-specific multipliers within these states, the difference between RIMS II and survey-based multipliers is less than 10 percent. In addition, RIMS II and survey multipliers show statistically similar distributions of affected industries. 4

Advantages of RIMS II

There are numerous advantages to using RIMS II. First, the accessibility of the main data sources makes it possible to estimate regional multipliers without conducting relatively expensive surveys. Second, the level of industrial detail used in RIMS II helps avoid aggregation errors, which often occur when industries are combined. Third, RIMS II multipliers can be compared across areas because they are based on a consistent set of estimating procedures nationwide. Fourth, RIMS II multipliers are updated to reflect the most recent local-area wage-and-salary and personal income data.

Applications of RIMS II

RIMS II multipliers can be used in a wide variety of regional impact studies. For example, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has used RIMS II multipliers in environmental impact statements required for licensing nuclear electricity- generating facilities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has used RIMS II multipliers to estimate the impacts of various types of urban redevelopment expenditures. RIMS II multipliers have also been used to estimate the regional economic and industrial impacts of: opening or closing military bases, tourist expenditures, new energy facilities, energy conservation, offshore drilling, opening or closing manufacturing plants, shopping malls, new sports stadiums, and new airport or port facilities.


  1. See Daniel H. Garnick, "Differential Regional Multiplier Models," Journal of Regional Science 10 (February 1970): 35-47; and Ronald L. Drake, "A Short-Cut to Estimates of Regional Input-Output Multipliers," International Regional Science Review 1 (Fall 1976): 1-17.
  2. See U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II): Estimation, Evaluation, and Application of a Disaggregated Regional Impact Model (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1981). Available from the National Technical Information Service, 5285 Port Royal Road, Springfield, VA 22161; order no. PB-82-168-865; price $26.
  3. See U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, The Detailed Input-Output Structure of the U.S. Economy, Volume II (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, November 1994); and U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis, State Personal Income, 1929-93 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, June 1995).
  4. See U.S. Department of Commerce, Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II), chapter 5. Also see Sharon M. Brucker, Steven E. Hastings, and William R. Latham III, "The Variation of Estimated Impacts from Five Regional Input-Output Models," International Regional Science Review 13 (1990): 119-39.