Economy of the United States

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Economy - overview: The United States has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $36,300. 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%. The year 2001 witnessed the end of the boom psychology and performance, with output increasing only 0.3% and unemployment and business failures rising substantially. The response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. Moderate recovery is expected in 2002, with the GDP growth rate rising to 2.5% or more. A major short-term problem in first half 2002 was a sharp decline in the stock market, fueled in part by the exposure of dubious accounting practices in some major corporations. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $10.082 trillion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 4.1% (1999 est.), 5% (2000 est.), 0.3% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $36,300 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 18%
services: 80% (2001)
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): 2.2% (1999), 3.4% (2000), 2.8% (2001)
Labor force: 141.8 million (includes unemployed) (2001)
Labor force - by occupation: managerial and professional 31%, technical, sales and administrative support 28.9%, services 13.6%, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and crafts 24.1%, farming, forestry, and fishing 2.4% (2001)
note: figures exclude the unemployed
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (1999), 4% (2000), 5% (2001)
revenues: $1.828 trillion
expenditures: $1.703 trillion (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.), -3.7% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production: 3,799.944 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel:  70.76%
hydro:  7.19%
nuclear:  19.84%
other:  2.21% (2000)
Electricity - consumption: 3.45 trillion kWh (1999), 3.613 trillion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 14.829 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 48.879 billion kWh (2000)
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.), $723 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: capital goods, automobiles, industrial supplies and raw materials, consumer goods, agricultural products
Exports - partners: Canada 22.4%, Mexico 13.9%, Japan 7.9%, UK 5.6%, Germany 4.1%, France, Netherlands (2001)
Imports: $1.223 trillion (f.o.b., 2000 est.), $1.148 trillion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: crude oil and refined petroleum products, machinery, automobiles, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, food and beverages
Imports - partners: Canada 19%, Mexico 11.5%, Japan 11.1%, China 8.9%, Germany 5.2%, UK, Taiwan (2001)
Debt - external: $862 billion (1995 est.)
Economic aid - donor: ODA, $6.9 billion (1997)
Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

SOURCE: The World Factbook (2002)

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > United States Map Economy