100 Mind-Blowing Facts About the US Economy

In a recent great article Motley Fool columnist Morgan Housel listed 100 fascinating facts about the US economy.I’m going to share some here with you now. They’re in no particular order and you can read the rest in his article here.

  1. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranks the United States as the 24th least-corrupt country in the world, just behind Qatar and ahead of Uruguay.
  2. Since the recession began in 2007, the number of Americans receiving disability benefits has risen by 1.6 million, and the number of Americans employed has fallen by 4.8 million.
  3. China’s labor force grew by 145 million from 1990 to 2008. The entire U.S. labor force today is 156 million.
  4. In 1999, one of the best years for the market ever, more than half of stocks in the S&P 500 declined. Two companies, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Cisco, accounted for one-fifth of the index’s return.
  5. From 1929 to 1932, the total amount of money paid out in wages fell by 60%, according to historian Frederick Lewis Allen. By contrast, from 2007-2009, total American wages fell less than 5%. What we experienced in recent years was nothing close to the Great Depression.
  6. A Honda Civic hybrid starts at $24,200 and gets 44 miles per gallon. A Civic with a normal gas engine starts at $16,000 and gets 39 MPG. If you drive 15,000 miles a year and gas averages $4 a gallon, it will take 47 years for the hybrid to justify its cost over the traditional model.
  7. China’s working-age population is expected to shrink by more than 200 million between now and 2050. The U.S.’ is expected to rise by 47 million.
  8. In Russia, 0.00007%  of the population (100 people) controls 20% of the wealth.
  9. Boeing accounts for almost 2% of all U.S. exports.
  10. Because of its one-child policy, China’s labor force will start to decline in 2016.
  11. The U.S. makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, but a third of the world’s spending on pharmaceuticals, according to the IMS Institute for Healthcare.
  12. According to writer Dan Gross: “The United States produced about as much output in the third quarter of 2011 as it did in the third quarter of 2007, albeit with about 6 million fewer workers on the payroll.”
  13. According to the Department of Agriculture, one-third of the calories Americans consume come from restaurants, almost double what it was three decades ago.
  14. PCs outsold Macs by nearly 60-to-1 in 2004. Last year, the ratio was closer to 20-to-1, according to analyst Horace Dediu.
  15. Forty percent of kids raised in a family in the top income quintile stay there as adults, and 40% of those born into the lowest quintile remain there. Only 8% of those raised in the top quintile drop to the lowest quintile as adults, according to the Pew Economic Mobility Project.
  16. Federal Reserve economist Bhashkar Mazumder has shown that incomes among brothers are more correlated than height or weight.
  17. According to Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, the added weight carried by vehicles due to obesity in America consumes an additional 938 million gallons of gasoline a year.
  18. According to UCLA: “Only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in the United States, but U.S. families buy more than 40 percent of the toys consumed globally.”
  19. Delaware, a famous business haven, has more corporations than people — 945,000 to 897,000, according to The New York Times. One office building in Wilmington is home to more than a quarter-million registered businesses.
  20. A study of retired investors between 1999 and 2009 showed those who hired a stockbroker underperformed those managing their own money by 1.5% a year. “Fees accounted for only about half the gap,” writes Jason Zweig of The Wall Street Journal.
  21. According to Manpower’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, 49% of U.S. businesses report difficulty filling available job openings.
  22. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate the world is overweight by a collective 17 million tons, or the equivalent of 226 million people weighing 150 pounds.
  23. Adjusted for inflation, the median average hourly wage was lower in 2011 than it was in 2001.
  24. In 2010, 6.0 percent of families reported that their spending usually exceeds their income,” according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finance.
  25. According to the Economist, “The average life expectancy of public companies shrank from 65 years in the 1920s to less than ten in the 1990s.”
  26. According to The New York Times: “In the last five years, the United States and Canada combined have become the fastest-growing sources of new oil supplies around the world, overtaking producers like Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
  27. As of June 2011, 32% of American homes were cellphone only, up from 17.5% in 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
  28. Americans drove 85 billion fewer miles over the last 12 months than they did in 2008, according to the Department of Transportation.
  29. In 1989, the CEOs of the seven largest U.S. banks earned an average of 100 times what a typical household made. By 2007, more than 500 times.
  30. Americans will inherit $27 trillion over the next four decades, according to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College.
  31. America is home to less than 5% of the world’s population, but nearly a quarter of its prisoners.
  32. Many talk about how much USA imports from China, but few discuss how much USA sell to them. Exports from the U.S. to China were $19.2 billion in 2001, and $104 billion in 2011.
  33. According to economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, 80% of all income growth from 1980 to 2005 went to the top 1% of wage earners.
  34. We tend to underestimate how powerful the agriculture boom has been in the last century. The 1952 book The Big Change describes life in America in the year 1900: “In most parts of the United States people were virtually without fresh fruit and green vegetables from late autumn to late spring.”
  35. The first American hotel to offer every guest a private bathroom didn’t open until 1907.
  36. Housing may be turning faster than you think. According to David Wessel, “The fraction of homes that are vacant is at its lowest level since 2006.”
  37. America is aging. Older workers (age 55+) are about to overtake younger workers (age 25-34) for the first time.
  38. In 1900, the standard American workweek was 10 hours a day, six days week. Historian Frederick Lewis Allen notes in a 1952 essay: “If anybody had suggested a five-day week he would have been considered demented.”
  39. Facebook claims 100 billion friend connections have been made on its social network. That’s about the same number of humans that have ever lived since 50,000 B.C., according to the Population Reference Bureau.
  40. According to Bankrate.com, nearly half of Americans don’t have enough savings to cover three months expenses. Worth noting: The average duration of unemployment is now 10 months.

You can read more fascinating fact at Motley Fool here.


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'100 Mind-Blowing Facts About the US Economy' have 3 comments


    August 23, 2012 Ian

    They’re crazy!
    What a way to run a country – and our media think we’re in a mess!



    August 22, 2012 Ian

    So did I miss something? Like another 60 of them …


      Michael Yardney

      August 22, 2012 Michael Yardney


      Yes there are lots more. It makes intersting reading doesn’t it? I gave gave 2 links to the original article, but here it is again


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