11 mind-blowing facts about the US economy

If California were a country, it would have the fifth highest GDP in the world. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • The United States is the world’s largest economy.
  • Here are 11 surprising facts about the US economy, from its near-record economic growth to the mind-boggling GDP of its largest state, California.
  • Visit MarketsInsider.com for more stories.

For more than a century, the United States has been the world’s economic powerhouse.

From its world-leading GDP to its powerful stock exchange, The US is the market the rest of the globe looks to, even when it’s in the doldrums.

But in the wake of the Great Recession, the US still has plenty of uncertainties when it comes to the future of its economy.

We’ve collected some fascinating facts about the US economy, from it’s near-record economic growth happening right now, to the impressive GDP of its biggest state, California.

Here are 11 mind-blowing facts about America’s economy:

The US is on the verge of its longest economic expansion on record


Last May, the US economy’s streak of more than eight years of economic growth became the nation’s second longest on record.

It’s been a slow climb following the Great Recession, but it’s growth nonetheless.

Should the economy continue to grow until July, it would be the longest expansion in US history, besting the period from 1991 to 2001.

The US has a long way to go before catching Australia, which capped off its 27th straight year of economic growth last year.



But the US also just hit a record 13 straight years without 3% real GDP growth


While the US has had a record period of economic expansion, it’s not setting the world on fire. It’s been a record 13 straight years without reaching 3% real gross domestic product growth.

The US has come close, hitting 2.9% growth in 2018, but America hasn’t hit a real GDP growth of 3% since 2005, when it grew 3.5%.

The previous record stretch? Four years to start the 1930s, a dark time in the US economy following the 1929 stock market crash. By 1934, real GDP growth was going gangbusters, growing 10.8% that year.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

The decade-long expansion has generated 20 million jobs


With economic growth stretching the past decade, key figures continue to get better. A 3.4% year-over-year wage growth is the strongest in more than a decade, a good sign as stagnant wages have kept the US middle class at bay.

However, some stats indicate a more somber storyline. The amount of part-time workers desiring full-time work grew, while some major employers, like big-box retailers and construction companies, shed jobs.

Still, the jobless rate fell to 3.8%.

Source: New York Times

Sleep deprivation costs the US economy billions of dollars


More than a third of the US adult population doesn’t get enough sleep, and that costs the US $US411 billion through the loss of 1.2 million work days each year.

The lack of sleep can come from a variety of factors, whether it’s overworking, poor health habits, or even the horrid blue light from electronics.

It’s best to get those sleep habits under control, since sleep deprivation can weaken immune systems and increase the risk of major health issues, such as cancer.

Source: Quartz

About $US100,000 separates the middle class from the upper class


In 2011, 51% of Americans were considered middle class, and that number grew slightly to 52% in 2016.

The wealth disparity between the middle and upper classes, however, grew quite significantly. The median income of middle-class households grew from $US74,000 to $US78,000, while the upper class saw median incomes rise from $US172,000 to $US189,000.

Source: Pew Research

Generation Z might spend as much as $US143 billion next year


Generation Z, the population born between 1997 and 2012, will make up 40% of US consumers by next year. Those consumers are expected to contribute as much as $US143 billion in direct spending, which will cause plenty of retailers headaches as they figure out how to deal with the changing habits of a generation raised on the internet and with mobile devices.

Source: Morgan Stanley

The average car part crosses into Mexico and Canada eight times in production

The United States imports and exports with its North American neighbours, Mexico and Canada, a lot.

American car manufacturing demonstrates the trade, with more than 30,000 parts involved in car production and each one crossing borders eight times.

Mexico is the top trade partner, with the US exporting $US21.9 billion worth of products to its southern neighbour and importing $US27.7 billion, making up 14.8% of all US trade.

Canada, meanwhile, makes up 13.8% of US trade as it imports $US22.6 billion worth of American goods and sends in $US23.4 billion.

China is sandwiched in between the two countries, making up 14.6% of US trade.

Source: Marketplace and U.S. Census Bureau

If California were a country, it would have the fifth highest GDP in the world


The United States is the world’s largest economy, made up of 50 economically diverse states.

Some of those states have large enough economies on their own that they’d rank pretty high on their own, especially California. If the Golden State were its own nation, the economy would be the fifth largest in world, surpassing the United Kingdom’s GDP last year.

With a gross domestic product of $US2.747 trillion, California would only trail Germany, Japan, China, and the US as a whole.

Texas and New York are massive on their own, as well, ranking No. 11 and No. 13 worldwide, respectively.

Source: Business Insider

The US spends more on defence than the next seven nations combined


The United States isn’t likely to drop from the top of list of national defence spending. The US spends more on defence than the next seven nations combined.

At $US610 billion annually, the US outspends the $US578 billion combined spending of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, France, United Kingdom and Japan.

That $US610 billion is good for 15% of all federal spending.

Source: Peter G. Peterson Foundation

The US national debt is at an all-time high


In February, US government debt hit an all-time high of $US22 trillion.

It’s not likely to start shrinking anytime soon, either, as the Congressional Budget Office expects the annual deficit to average $US1.2 trillion – that’s 4.4% of the annual GDP.

Only two other times has the US seen such a dramatic increase – right after World War II and during the financial crisis.

Source: NPR

The sports industry is worth nearly $US75 billion


A sports-industry report back in 2015 predicted the market in North America would be worth more than $US73.5 billion by this year. That includes media rights that were expected to rise to $US20.6 billion this year.

The rise of sports betting and esports could have significant impacts on those figures.

Source: Forbes


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