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December 28, 1999
Millennium Cocktail Hour Tidbits: JEC's Facts on U.S. Economy
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hington- Congress's Joint Economic Committee has released an end of the century chartbook that gives plenty of valuable statistics and insight into the changing U.S. economy over the last century. The report is entitled, "The U.S. Economy at the Beginning and End of the 20th Century." The report can be downloaded in pdf format from the web at

The chartbook consists of six sections: America's place in the world; Regional changes within the U.S.; Our rising standard of living; Growth in government; Changes in the workforce; and Growth in international trade.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Today, the average full-time employee works about 40 hours per week rather than 60.
  • The average family spends just 15 percent of its income on food today, compared to 44 percent in 1900.
  • In 1900 the U.S. economy was the second largest in the world (Great Britain was number 1).
  • The American population has more than tripled during this century.
  • The American population was transformed from being 60 percent rural in 1900 to 75 percent urban today.
  • Just 3% of Americans are involved in agriculture today.
  • Taxes account for 29 percent of the nation's GDP today, compared to just 6 percent a century ago.

To view the complete version of "The U.S. Economy at the Beginning and End of the 20th Century," please go to the Joint Economic Committee homepage at:

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