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A Trusted Resource: Understanding IMPLAN Input-Output Models

January 23, 2024 by Jenny Thorvaldson & Chandler West

Over the years, IMPLAN has gained the trust of users by providing valid and reliable data and analytics. In this blog post, we’re exploring the history of IMPLAN and of input-output models to show you how we’ve come to be relied on as a credible source for so many researchers and decision makers. 

The History of I-O

In 1973, Wassily Leontief was awarded the Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work on Input-Output (I-O) analysis. This method, which examines the interdependencies between different sectors of an economy, laid the foundation for the development of powerful modeling systems.

Several years after Leontief’s Nobel Prize recognition, IMPLAN, short for "IMpacts for PLANning," found its footing within the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in 1976. The system's rich history involves collaboration with the University of Minnesota and key contributors from the USFS. 

IMPLAN Today: A Trusted Resource for Diverse Users

IMPLAN is not just a tool; it's a dynamic system used by private businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and researchers at over 200 academic institutions. The flexibility of IMPLAN allows users to incorporate local-level expertise, and its functionality is applicable not only nationally but also internationally.
Quality Data: A Cornerstone of IMPLAN's Credibility
The IMPLAN team places a strong emphasis on data quality and continuous improvement and expansion. Over the years, some of our data development processes have evolved as we have expanded our quality control testing and our understanding of raw data sources. To ensure our users have access to the most timely numbers, the most recent data are incorporated into the application every year, with an additional update every five years upon the release of a new set of BEA Benchmark Input-Output tables. To enable time series analysis with IMPLAN data, all IMPLAN data are re-estimated every five years to incorporate revised raw data values, non-lagged raw data, all methodological improvements that have been developed during the previous five years, and to conform to the latest IMPLAN sectoring scheme as dictated by raw data availability. 
IMPLAN's domestic trade data provide insights into the trade of goods and services between U.S. regions. These data are estimated via a sophisticated gravity model and confer a more precise understanding of both single-region and multi-region impacts.

A Transparent Approach: Verifying Results
While the estimates of indirect and induced effects cannot be proved or disproved due to the presence of other concurrent changes in the economy, the IMPLAN data undergo extensive internal and external scrutiny. IMPLAN maintains transparency by way of an extensive library of articles detailing data sources and methods and by prompt response to customer queries about the data and methods used at IMPLAN.  IMPLAN takes pride in being an open and accessible resource, committed to helping users understand the data and modeling processes.

IMPLAN stands as a trusted partner in economic analysis, with a robust history, commitment to data quality, and a transparent approach to addressing user queries. Whether you're a business, researcher, or government agency, IMPLAN empowers you with the tools and knowledge needed for informed decision-making.

If you have any questions about IMPLAN’s history and how we’ve won the trust of our users over the years, our team is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a demo and see our economic analysis software in action.

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Topics: Data, Economics, Methodology, Impact


Put simply, IMPLAN is built for everyone.

Together, our software and data give you a window into your region of study — like one gigantic transaction log for the local economy. Chances are that if your project or business has a financial component, then IMPLAN can reveal some sometimes surprising detail about how your project relates to the local, state, or national economy.

What used to take economists weeks can be done in minutes. By anyone!

But you're not alone, IMPLAN's best benefits go beyond the work done in the tool:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Outstanding customer support
  • Access to orientations, trainings, and project consultations
  • Instills confidence in your analyses

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