A new-generation of night-time lights (NTL) image products, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) monthly composites, have been produced and released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Compared with the last generation NTL image products, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Linescan System stable light composites, the new NTL image products have finer spatial resolution with compatible radiance values across different month/year images. However, the current defects in VIIRS DNB monthly composites show ephemeral lights, relatively high radiance in winter months, and missing data over the high-latitude regions of the northern hemisphere in summer months. This study presents a method to improve the accuracy of the new NTL image products by statistically modelling the time series VIIRS NTL images and uses the improved imagery to estimate socio-economic factors. In this method, we first estimate radiance for each pixel with ‘no data’ in May, June, July, and August images and then exponentially smooth the monthly time series images to produce a 2014 annual VIIRS DNB image for the contiguous USA. Sum radiance derived from the smoothed annual image shows stronger correlations with gross domestic product at the state level and smaller standard errors of the estimate at the metropolitan and county levels compared with that extracted from the annual image produced by simply averaging the original monthly DNB composites. Such results infer that exponential smoothing effectively improves the quality of the VIIRS DNB images for annual economic estimation.