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United States: Economy

Economy United States
Economy - overview:
The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $37,600. In this market-oriented economy, private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy 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 saw the end of boom psychology and performance, with output increasing only 0.3% and unemployment and business failures rising substantially. The response to the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 showed the remarkable resilience of the economy. Moderate recovery took place in 2002, with the GDP growth rate rising to 2.45%. 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. The war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to military industries and introduced uncertainties about investment and employment in other sectors of the economy. 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 - $10.45 trillion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.4% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $36,300 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 2%
industry: 18%
services: 80% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
12.7% (2001 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.8%
highest 10%: 30.5% (1997)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
40.8 (1997)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.6% (2002)
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%
note: figures exclude the unemployed (2001)
Unemployment rate:
5.8% (2002)
Budget:
revenues: $1.946 trillion
expenditures: $2.052 trillion, including capital expenditures of NA (2002 est.)
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:
-0.4% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
3.719 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 71.4%
hydro: 5.6%
other: 2.3% (2001)
nuclear: 20.7%
Electricity - consumption:
3.602 trillion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
18.17 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
38.48 billion kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
8.054 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
19.65 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
22.45 billion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
548.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
640.9 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
11.16 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
114.1 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
5.195 trillion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; forest products; fish
Exports:
$687 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
capital goods, automobiles, industrial supplies and raw materials, consumer goods, agricultural products
Exports - partners:
Canada 23.2%, Mexico 14.1%, Japan 7.4%, UK 4.8% (2002)
Imports:
$1.165 trillion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
crude oil and refined petroleum products, machinery, automobiles, consumer goods, industrial raw materials, food and beverages
Imports - partners:
Canada 17.8%, Mexico 11.3%, China 11.1%, Japan 10.4%, Germany 5.3% (2002)
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 - 0.6661 (2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), Canadian dollars per US dollar - 1.5693 (2002), 1.5488 (2001), 1.4851 (2000), 1.4857 (1999), 1.4835 (1998), Japanese yen per US dollar - 125.39 (2002), 121.53 (2001), 107.77 (2000), 113.91 (1999), 130.91 (1998), euros per US dollar - 1.0626 (2002), 1.1175 (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

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Background & Country Profile
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Economy
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Source: The CIA World Fact Book 2003

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