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US Economy




United States    Economy Top of Page
Economy - overview: The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $36,200. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and government buys needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. US business firms enjoy considerably greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, lay off surplus workers, and develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to entry in their rivals' home markets than the barriers to entry of foreign firms in US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment, although their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market" in which those at the bottom lack the education and the professional/technical skills of those at the top and, more and more, fail to get comparable pay raises, health insurance coverage, and other benefits. Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households. The years 1994-2000 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. Growth weakened in the fourth quarter of 2000; growth for the year 2001 almost certainly will be substantially lower than the strong 5% of 2000. The outlook for 2001 is further clouded by the continued economic problems of Japan, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, and many other countries.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $9.963 trillion (2000 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5% (2000 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $36,200 (2000 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture:  2%

industry:  18%

services:  80% (1999)
Population below poverty line: 12.7% (1999 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%:  1.8%

highest 10%:  30.5% (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.4% (2000)
Labor force: 140.9 million (includes unemployed) (2000)
Labor force - by occupation: managerial and professional 30.2%, technical, sales and administrative support 29.2%, services 13.5%, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and crafts 24.6%, farming, forestry, and fishing 2.5% (2000)

note:  figures exclude the unemployed
Unemployment rate: 4% (2000)
Budget: revenues:  $1.828 trillion

expenditures:  $1.703 trillion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1999)
Industries: leading industrial power in the world, highly diversified and technologically advanced; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining
Industrial production growth rate: 5.6% (2000 est.)
Electricity - production: 3.678 trillion kWh (1999)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel:  69.64%

hydro:  8.31%

nuclear:  19.8%

other:  2.25% (1999)
Electricity - consumption: 3.45 trillion kWh (1999)
Electricity - exports: 14 billion kWh (1999)
Electricity - imports: 43 billion kWh (1999)
Agriculture - products: wheat, other grains, corn, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; forest products; fish
Exports: $776 billion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Exports - commodities: capital goods, automobiles, industrial supplies and raw materials, consumer goods, agricultural products
Exports - partners: Canada 23%, Mexico 14%, Japan 8%, UK 5%, Germany 4%, France, Netherlands (2000)
Imports: $1.223 trillion (f.o.b., 2000 est.)
Imports - commodities: crude oil and refined petroleum products, machinery, automobiles, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, food and beverages
Imports - partners: Canada 19%, Japan 11%, Mexico 11%, China 8%, Germany 5%, UK, Taiwan (2000)
Debt - external: $862 billion (1995 est.)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $6.9 billion (1997)
Currency: US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: British pounds per US dollar - 0.6764 (January 2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6106 (1997), 0.6403 (1996); Canadian dollars per US dollar - 1.5032 (January 2001), 1.4851 (2000), 1.4857 (1999), 1.4835 (1998), 1.3846 (1997), 1.3635 (1996); French francs per US dollar - 5.65 (January 1999), 5.8995 (1998), 5.8367 (1997), 5.1155 (1996), 4.9915 (1995), 5.5520 (1994); Italian lire per US dollar - 1,668.7 (January 1999), 1,763.2 (1998), 1,703.1 (1997), 1,542.9 (1996), 1,628.9 (1995), 1,612.4 (1994); Japanese yen per US dollar - 117.10 (January 2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), 120.99 (1997), 108.78 (1996); German deutsche marks per US dollar - 1.69 (January 1999), 1.9692 (1998), 1.7341 (1997), 1.5048 (1996), 1.4331 (1995), 1.6228 (1994); euros per US dollar - 1.06594 (January 2001), 1.08540 (2000), 0.93863 (1999)

note:  financial institutions in France, Italy, and Germany and eight other European countries started using the euro on 1 January 1999 with the euro replacing the local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002
Fiscal year: 1 October - 30 September

 

Countryfacts Information Courtesy: CIA Worldbook








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