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Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783. During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65), in which a northern Union of states defeated a secessionist Confederacy of 11 southern slave states, and the Great Depression of the 1930s, an economic downturn during which about a quarter of the labor force lost its jobs. Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US remains the world's most powerful nation state. Since the end of World War II, the economy has achieved relatively steady growth, low unemployment and inflation, and rapid advances in technology.


Economy

Economy - overview
The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $48,100. 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 greater flexibility than their counterparts in Western Europe and Japan in decisions to expand capital plant, to lay off surplus workers, and to develop new products. At the same time, they face higher barriers to enter their rivals' home markets than foreign firms face entering US markets. US firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment; 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. Since 1996, dividends and capital gains have grown faster than wages or any other category of after-tax income. Imported oil accounts for nearly 55% of US consumption. Oil prices doubled between 2001 and 2006, the year home prices peaked; higher gasoline prices ate into consumers' budgets and many individuals fell behind in their mortgage payments. Oil prices increased another 50% between 2006 and 2008. In 2008, soaring oil prices threatened inflation and caused a deterioration in the US merchandise trade deficit, which peaked at $840 billion. In 2009, with the global recession deepening, oil prices dropped 40% and the US trade deficit shrank, as US domestic demand declined, but in 2011 the trade deficit ramped back up to $803 billion, as oil prices climbed once more. The global economic downturn, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, investment bank failures, falling home prices, and tight credit pushed the United States into a recession by mid-2008. GDP contracted until the third quarter of 2009, making this the deepest and longest downturn since the Great Depression. To help stabilize financial markets, in October 2008 the US Congress established a $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The government used some of these funds to purchase equity in US banks and industrial corporations, much of which had been returned to the government by early 2011. In January 2009 the US Congress passed and President Barack OBAMA signed a bill providing an additional $787 billion fiscal stimulus to be used over 10 years - two-thirds on additional spending and one-third on tax cuts - to create jobs and to help the economy recover. In 2010 and 2011, the federal budget deficit reached nearly 9% of GDP; total government revenues from taxes and other sources are lower, as a percentage of GDP, than that of most other developed countries. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan required major shifts in national resources from civilian to military purposes and contributed to the growth of the US budget deficit and public debt - through 2011, the direct costs of the wars totaled nearly $900 billion, according to US government figures. In March 2010, President OBAMA signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a health insurance reform bill that will extend coverage to an additional 32 million American citizens by 2016, through private health insurance for the general population and Medicaid for the impoverished. Total spending on health care - public plus private - rose from 9.0% of GDP in 1980 to 17.9% in 2010. In July 2010, the president signed the DODD-FRANK Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a law designed to promote financial stability by protecting consumers from financial abuses, ending taxpayer bailouts of financial firms, dealing with troubled banks that are "too big to fail," and improving accountability and transparency in the financial system - in particular, by requiring certain financial derivatives to be traded in markets that are subject to government regulation and oversight. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable current account and budget deficits - including significant budget shortages for state governments - energy shortages, and stagnation of wages for lower-income families.

Gdp (purchasing power parity) World Ranking: 2
$15.29 trillion (2011 est.)
$15.03 trillion (2010 est.)
$14.58 trillion (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp (official exchange rate)
$15.09 trillion (2011 est.)

Gdp - real growth rate World Ranking: 162
1.7% (2011 est.)
3% (2010 est.)
-3.5% (2009 est.)

Gdp - per capita (ppp) World Ranking: 11
$49,000 (2011 est.)
$48,500 (2010 est.)
$47,400 (2009 est.)
Note Data are in 2011 US dollars

Gdp - composition by sector
Agriculture 1.2%
Industry 19.2%
Services 79.6% (2011 est.)

Labor force World Ranking: 4
153.6 million
Note
Includes unemployed (2011 est.)

Labor force - by occupation
Farming, forestry, and fishing 0.7%
Manufacturing, extraction, transportation, and crafts 20.3%
Managerial, professional, and technical 37.3%
Sales and office 24.2%
Other services 17.6%
Note
Figures exclude the unemployed (2009)

Unemployment rate World Ranking: 103
9% (2011 est.)
9.6% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line
15.1% (2010 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
Lowest 10% 2%
Highest 10% 30% (2007 est.)

Distribution of family income - gini index World Ranking: 42
45 (2007)
40.8 (1997)

Investment (gross fixed) World Ranking: 142
12.4% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget
Revenues $2.303 trillion
Expenditures $3.599 trillion
Note
For the US, revenues exclude social contributions of approximately $1.0 trillion; expenditures exclude social benefits of approximately $2.3 trillion (2011 est.)

Taxes and other revenues World Ranking: 193
15.3% of GDP
Note
Excludes contributions for social security and other programs; if social contributions were added, taxes and other revenues would amount to approximately 22% of GDP (2011 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) World Ranking: 190
-8.6% of GDP (2011 est.)

Public debt World Ranking: 35
67.7% of GDP (2011 est.)
62.8% of GDP (2010 est.)
Note
Data cover only what the United States Treasury denotes as "Debt Held by the Public," which includes all debt instruments issued by the Treasury that are owned by non-US Government entities; the data include Treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data exclude debt issued by individual US states, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of Treasury borrowings from surpluses in the trusts for Federal Social Security, Federal Employees, Hospital Insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), Disability and Unemployment, and several other smaller trusts; if data for intra-government debt were added, "Gross Debt" would increase by about one-third of GDP

Inflation rate (consumer prices) World Ranking: 60
3.1% (2011 est.)
1.6% (2010 est.)

Central bank discount rate World Ranking: 139
0.5% (31 December 2010)
0.5% (31 December 2009)

Commercial bank prime lending rate World Ranking: 173
3.25% (31 December 2011 est.)
3.25% (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of narrow money World Ranking: 4
$2.324 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$1.742 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of broad money World Ranking: 3
$12.99 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$12.37 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of domestic credit World Ranking: 1
$32.61 trillion (31 December 2009 est.)
$31.53 trillion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares World Ranking: 1
$15.64 trillion (31 December 2011)
$17.14 trillion (31 December 2010)
$15.08 trillion (31 December 2009)

Agriculture - products
Wheat, corn, other grains, fruits, vegetables, cotton; beef, pork, poultry, dairy products; fish; forest products

Industries
Highly diversified, world leading, high-technology innovator, second largest industrial output in world; petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, consumer goods, lumber, mining

Industrial production growth rate World Ranking: 79
4.1% (2011 est.)

Electricity - consumption World Ranking: 2
3.741 trillion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - exports
18.11 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - imports
34.32 billion kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - production World Ranking: 3
9.688 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - consumption World Ranking: 1
19.15 million bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - exports World Ranking: 11
1.92 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - imports World Ranking: 1
10.27 million bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - proved reserves World Ranking: 13
20.68 billion bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural gas - production World Ranking: 1
611 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - consumption World Ranking: 1
683.3 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - exports World Ranking: 9
32.2 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - imports World Ranking: 2
105.8 billion cu m (2010 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves World Ranking: 5
7.716 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)

Current account balance World Ranking: 192
-$473.4 billion (2011 est.)
-$470.9 billion (2010 est.)

Exports World Ranking: 3
$1.497 trillion (2011 est.)
$1.289 trillion (2010 est.)

Exports - commodities
Agricultural products (soybeans, fruit, corn) 9.2%, industrial supplies (organic chemicals) 26.8%, capital goods (transistors, aircraft, motor vehicle parts, computers, telecommunications equipment) 49.0%, consumer goods (automobiles, medicines) 15.0%

Exports - partners
Canada 19%, Mexico 13.3%, China 7%, Japan 4.5% (2011)

Imports World Ranking: 1
$2.236 trillion (2011 est.)
$1.935 trillion (2010 est.)

Imports - commodities
Agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys)

Imports - partners
China 18.4%, Canada 14.2%, Mexico 11.7%, Japan 5.8%, Germany 4.4% (2011)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold World Ranking: 19
$148 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$132.4 billion (31 December 2010 est.)

Debt - external World Ranking: 2
$14.71 trillion (30 June 2011)
$13.98 trillion (30 June 2010)
Note
Approximately 4/5ths of US external debt is denominated in US dollars; foreign lenders have been willing to hold US dollar denominated debt instruments because they view the dollar as the world's reserve currency

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home World Ranking: 1
$2.571 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$2.343 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad World Ranking: 1
$4.314 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
$3.908 trillion (31 December 2010 est.)

Exchange rates
British pounds per US dollar
0.6176 (2011 est.), 0.6468 (2010 est.), 0.6494 (2009), 0.5302 (2008), 0.4993 (2007)
Canadian dollars per US dollar
0.9801 (2011 est.), 1.0302 (2010 est.), 1.1431 (2009), 1.0364 (2008), 1.0724 (2007)
Chinese yuan per US dollar
6.455 (2011 est.), 6.7703 (2010 est.), 6.8314 (2009), 6.9385 (2008), 7.61 (2007)
Euros per US dollar
0.7107 (2011 est.), 0.755 (2010 est.), 0.7198 (2009), 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007)
Japanese yen per US dollar
79.67 (2011 est.), 87.78 (2010), 93.57 (2009), 103.58 (2008), 117.99 (2007)

Fiscal year
1 October - 30 September


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