Guide to U.S. Economic Indicators

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic analysis, and is the value of all goods and services produced by the United States (regardless of nationality) during a specific time period. When the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is increasing there is an increase in capital spending by businesses and increased hiring of available employment. GDP has replaced GNP (Gross National Product) as the GNP measuement included only domestic U.S. corporations and individuals.

Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims is reported by the U.S. Labor Department and indicates filings by laid-off workers for state unemployment insurance. There is usually a previous month figure and a 4-week moving average.   (Office of Workforce Security; Search past news releases).

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Dept. of Labor) preliminary estimate for the U.S. national average unemployment rate for 2015 was 5.3%, compared to 2014 national average of 6.2%, and 2013 national average rate of 7.4%. This is continued improvement from a national average of 9.6% in 2010 with the onset of the economic recession.

Unemployment Rate is reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Labor Department and indicates the total number of laid-off workers as a percentage of the total work force. In the United States, the "natural" rate of unemployment with stable inflation conditions is approximately 5.0% to 5.5%.   Employment Situation Summary   Employment Situation Summary (.pdf format)   Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment (Monthly)   Archived Current Employment Statistics Monthly Highlights   Archived News Releases for Employment Situation   Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary   Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment Summary   Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)   Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization (U-1 to U-6)   Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) for the previous month is reported by the Conference Board: as consumer confidence increases so does consumer spending. The Consumer Confidence Survey is based on a representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) is reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) and is an indication of inflation and is measured by looking at the annual percentage change of the cost of Food, Housing, Clothing, etc.   Archived News Releases for Consumer Price Index

Personal Income for States and Metropolitan Areas is reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. Department of Commerce).

Personal Income and Outlays (Consumer Spending) is reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. Department of Commerce).

The Consumer Expenditure Survey (2007) is reported by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and provides information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their increases / decreases in after tax income expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics.

Consumer Credit is reported by the Federal Reserve.

Durable Goods Orders / Capital Goods Orders / Manufacturer's Shipments, Inventories and Orders for the previous month is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing and Construction Division.

Manufacturing and Trade Inventories and Sales is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Retail Indicators Branch.

Industry Economic Accounts is reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (U.S. Department of Commerce).

Manufacturing Index: when the ISM (Institute for Supply Management) Index increases above 50% this indicates that manufacturing and exports are improving.

National Association of Purchasing Management - Chicago Index is indicative of manufacturing activity within the midwest. Any reading over 50 is indicative of expansion and is useful due to the high concentration of manufacturing employment within the Chicago area.

Annual Survey of Manufacturers is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing and Construction Division.

Current Account Deficit indicates whether the nation is importing more goods and services than it is selling abroad and also indicates further borrowing to fund the trade deficit.

Balance of Payments (International Transactions) is reported by the Commerce Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Foreign Trade Statistics is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Division.

Federal Reserve Bank Open Market Committee sets monetary policy (including interest rates) in the U.S. The Fed also controls and reports weekly on the monetary aggregates M1, M2 and M3

Federal Reserve Bank Beige Book is published eight times per year. Each Federal Reserve Bank gathers anecdotal information on current economic conditions in its District through reports from Bank and Branch directors and interviews with key business contacts, economists, market experts, and other sources.

Building Permits for the previous month is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing and Construction Division.

New Residential Sales for the previous month is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing and Construction Division.

New Residential Construction (Building Permits, Housing Starts, and Housing Completions) for the previous month is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, Manufacturing and Construction Division.

Existing Home Sales for the previous month is reported by the National Association of Realtors and is indicative of which regions of the country are expanding or contracting and indicates how consumers are responding to existing mortgage rate levels.

Mortgage Loan Application Survey is reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association and is an indication of mortgage applications for new purchases and refinances of primary residential real estate properties.

Retail Sales is reported for the previous month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

E-Stats - Measuring the Electronic Economy is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Producer Price Index (PPI) is reported by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and is reported for the previous month and indicates the cost of raw materials used by manufacturers of various products.   Archived News Releases for Producer Price Index

Productivity and Costs is reported by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and is reported for the previous month.

Housing Data is reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) (replaced the U.S. Standard Industrial Classification / SIC system) is a numbererd classification system of various types of industries, retailing, manufacturing, services and agriculture which allows a breakdown of statistics about each type of business activity across North America (utilized by the United States, Canada and Mexico).

Conference Board Leading Indicator Index
  • Average workweek of manufacturing production workers
  • Average initial weekly claims for state unemployment insurance
  • New orders for consumer goods and materials (adjusted for inflation)
  • Vendor performance (timely delivery from suppliers)
  • New orders for non-military capital goods (adjusted for inflation)
  • New building permits issued
  • Index of stock prices
  • M2 money supply (adjusted for inflation)
  • Spread between 10-year notes and federal funds
  • Index of consumer expectations

    The Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government is reported by the U.S. Treasury.


    Economic Growth in the United States

    Real gross domestic product increased at a (preliminary) annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter of 2016 after second quarter real GDP increased 1.4% and a first quarter increase of 0.8% (GDP percent change based on chained 2009 dollars). Current dollar GDP increased 5.0%, or $225.2 billion, in the third quarter to a level of $18,675.3 billion. In the second quarter, current dollar GDP increased 3.7%, or $168.5 billion.


    Employment in the United States

    During the 1940s and 1950s, approximately 50% of private sector employment was in the goods-producing sector. As of 2016, approximately 17% of private sector employment is in goods production. Over the past 20 years, the manufacturing sector has experienced a decrease of 5 million positions while the service sector has added 9 million positions. As of 2015, men held approximately 23% of private sector jobs in education and health services compared to 73% of manufacturing sector positions. Men with lower skills are not employed in the education and health service sectors, thus the participation of men without a college degree in the U.S. work force has decreased. As of 2016, 83% of prime working age men (25 to 54) are employed compared to 97% in 1964. Approximately 94% of college-educated men are in the work force, and the unemployment rate among that group is 2.3%. The difference between the earnings of college graduates and high school graduates continues to be substantial. Technological advancement in automation and robotics has eliminated many basic manufacturing functions once done by a person. In addition, opportunities for employment within the United States have changed from traditional masculine role requirement of upper-body strength and working with machines to a requirement for sitting, caring, and communicating.

    The Solar Foundation indicates it employs 208,000 persons in the United States. The American Wind Energy Association indicates it employs 88,000 persons.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Dept. of Labor) indicates the percent of wage and salary workers who were members of unions was 11.1 percent in 2015, unchanged from 2014. The number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions, at 14.8 million in 2015, was little different from 2014 (the 14.6 million total in 2014 was also little different from 2013). In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1 percent, and there were 17.7 million union workers. In 2015, 16.4 million wage and salary workers were represented by a union. This group includes both union members (14.8 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million). Public-sector workers had a union membership rate (35.2 percent) more than five times higher than that of private-sector workers (6.7 percent). Median weekly earnings of nonunion workers ($776) were 79 percent of earnings for workers who were union members ($980). In 2014, the median income of nonunion workers was $763 compared to $970 of union workers ($950 in 2013).


    The United States ended 2016 with the unemployment rate at 4.7% in December. The unemployment, rate released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Dept. of Labor) on a monthly basis, is known as the "Official Unemployment Rate" or the U-3 Rate, which is defined as "total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force." To measure the unemployment rate, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) surveys 60,000 households—about 110,000 individuals—which serve as a representative sample of the U.S. population. Survey respondents (16 years of age and older) answer a series of questions that classify them as either “in the labor force” or “not in the labor force.” Those classified as not in the labor force are not working and not looking for work. So, they are not employed and also not considered unemployed.

    Natural Rate of Unemployment (Long-Term), which is the rate of unemployment arising from all sources except fluctuations in aggregate demand, at December 31, 2016, is 4.8%. The natural rate of unemployment is a key concept in modern macroeconomics. Its use originated with Milton Friedman’s 1968 Presidential Address to the American Economic Association. The overall natural rate of unemployment will then be affected by changes in the demand or supply in the different segments of the overall labor market (skilled, unskilled, teenagers, etc.), and by changes in the composition of the aggregate labor force.

    However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases several alternative measures of labor underutilization, U-1 through U-6. The U-6 measurement is often referred to as the Real Unemployment Rate. The U-6 measurement includes the "Total unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force". At December 31, 2016, the U-6 unemployment rate was 9.2%. The U-6 measurement improved during 2016 (9.9% in January 2016), and is substantially lower than the highest point reached during the U.S. Economic Recession (17.1% Oct.-Dec. 2009), but is still above the record low of 6.8% in Oct. 2000 (the measurement commenced in January 1994). The U-6 measurement includes discourged workers as a sub-set of the "marginally attached".

    The U6 rate must also be considered convesrely. For example, a U-6 unemployment rate of 9.2% at December 31, 2016, indicates that 90.8% of those in the labor force are employed.

    The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (also referred to as involuntary part-time workers), at 5.6 million, was essentially unchanged in December 2016 but was down by 459,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

    In December 2016, 1.7 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, little changed from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 426,000 discouraged workers in December 2016, down by 237,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted). Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available to them. The remaining 1.3 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in December 2016 had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

    There are also Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS), which produces monthly and annual employment, unemployment, and labor force data for Census regions and divisions, States, counties, metropolitan areas, and many cities.

    The labor force participation rate measures the labor force as a percentage of the civilian noninstitutional population. Labor force participation rose from 58.1 percent in December 1954 to a high of 67.3 percent in April 2000 and then started a downward trend. The labor force participation rate increased by 0.1 percentage point to 62.7% (62.7 percent of the non-institutionalized, civilian population over the age of 16 is either employed or are actively looking for work, while the other 37.3 percent is not working or has ceased looking) in December 2016 (measured in thousands, there 254,742 persons available for work and the actual civilian labor force was 159,640). Overall, the rate has ranged between 62.7 and 62.9 2014 through 2016, and it has improved from the recent low of 62.4% in September 2015. The increase and more recent decrease in the labor force participation rate are due to demographic changes (retiring baby-boomers, unemployed going to school) and due to cyclical (business cycle) factors. The ratio of the actual number of persons employed (152.1 million) to the civilian population over 16 (254.7 million) is 59.7% (essentially, only 60% of the adult U.S. population is oficially employed).

    The labor force participation rate experienced a recent sharp decline following the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009. In December 2016, the total number of persons considered "employed" amounted to 152.1 million people, the category of persons considered "unemployed" amounted to 7.53 million people, and those considered in the "non-participant" category amounted to 95.1 million people. Thus, the non-participant population (95.1 million) is equal to 59.6% of the the actual number of persons employed (152.1 million), and 37.3% of the civilian population over 16 (254.7 million).

    In December 2016, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diplomas was 7.9%, and the participation rate was 45% (both seasonally adjusted). The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree or higher was 2.5%, and participation rate was 73.6%.

    Job growth totaled 2.2 new million positions in 2016, less than the increase of 2.7 million new positions in 2015. December 2016 marked 75 consecutive months of job growth.

    Total Nonfarm Payrolls (measured in thousands) in December 2016 amounted to 145,303, which is the largest amount recorded since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records in 1939. All Employees: Total Nonfarm, commonly known as Total Nonfarm Payroll, is a measure of the number of U.S. workers in the economy that excludes proprietors, private household employees, unpaid volunteers, farm employees, and the unincorporated self-employed. This measure accounts for approximately 80 percent of the workers who contribute to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    In December 2016, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 10 cents to $26.00 ($24.76 in January 2016), after edging down by 2 cents in November. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 2.9%. In December 2016, average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 7 cents to $21.80.

    The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 34.3 hours in December 2016. In manufacturing, the workweek edged up by 0.1 hour to 40.7 hours, and overtime edged up by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private nonfarm payrolls remained at 33.6 hours.

    Occupations expected to have the most job growth 2014 through 2024 include Home health aides (38.1%), Personal care aides (25.9%), Medical assistants (23.5%), Computer systems analysts (20.9%), Medical secretaries (20.5%), Software developers, applications (18.8%), Market research analysts and marketing specialists (18.6%), and Nursing assistants (17.6%).

    The key issue regarding employment (and wage) improvement within the United States is labor force participation for prime-age males, ages 25 to 54. Participation by this group has actually been declining prior to the U.S. Economic Recession, primarily due to the continual introduction of improved machinery and automation, then through globalization. The decrease in the prime-age male labor force participation rate has gone from a peak of 98% in 1954 to 88% as of 2016. There was a sharp decline related to the recession: from 91.5% in January 2007 to 87.9% at its trough in October 2013, and only a slight rebound as the economy began to improve. The fall in participation for prime-age men has largely been concentrated among those with a high school degree or less, and participation rates have declined more steeply for black men. In 2015, the rate for college-educated men had fallen slightly to 94 percent while the rate for men with a high school degree or less had plummeted to 83 percent. Related to the reduction in participation / employment, there has been recent research in 2015 and 2016 which has linked joblessness of this group to worse economic prospects in the future, lower overall well-being and happiness, and higher mortality, as well as negative consequences for families and communities. Approximately 36% of prime-age men not in the labor force lived in poverty in 2014.


    Income in the United States

    The U.S. Census Bureau indicates median household income was $53,657 in 2014, not statistically different in real terms from the 2013 median of $54,462. This is the third consecutive year that the annual change was not statistically significant, following two consecutive years of annual declines in median household income. In 2014, real median household income was lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession, and the household income peak that occurred in 1999. The real median income of non-Hispanic White households declined 1.7 percent between 2013 and 2014. For Black, Asian, and Hispanic origin households the 2013-2014 percentage changes in real median income were not statistically significant.

    The U.S. Census Bureau Current Population Survey indicates the median income of households in United States was $53,889. Similar to above, in 2015, real median household income was lower than in 2007. An estimated 12 percent of households had income below $15,000 a year and 10 percent had income over $150,000 or more. An estimated 78 percent of the households received earnings and 18 percent received retirement income other than Social Security. An estimated 30 percent of the households received Social Security. The average income from Social Security was $17,790.

    A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which indicates it is a "private, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to conducting economic research", Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, Gabriel Zucman, NBER Working Paper No. 22945, Issued in December 2016, indicates the top 1% of the U.S. population earn an average of $1.3 million a year, recently, compared to $428,000 in 1980. The bottom 50% of the U.S. population earned an average of $16,000 in pre-tax income in 1980, which hasn't changed in over three decades.

    The Equality of Opportunity Project indicates Millennials, born in the 1980s, only have a 50% likelihood of having career earnings in acess of their parent's earnings, which is a decline from 90% approximately 50 years ago. "The decline is due to the more unequal distribution of economic growth in recent decades rather than the slowdown in GDP growth. "

    A report produced by the Young Invincibles (a national organization with offices in several U.S. cities and indicates it is concerned with issuess affecteg the 18 to 34 year-old demographic group), Financial Health of Young America: Measuring Generational Declines between Baby Boomers & Millennials, January 2017, indicates young adult workers today earn $10,000 less than young adults in 1989, a decline of 20%. The 25-to-34 year-old group earned a median annual income of $50,910 in 1989, while the similar group in 2016 earned $40,851. Millennials also have substantially higher student debt to contend with. In addition, Millennial net wealth is half as much as Baby Boomers when they were young adults.


    Interest Rates in the United States

    In addition to keeping the Federal Fund short-term rate low, the Federal Reserve Bank kept long-term rates low through Quantitative Easing (QE), which means that the Federal Reserve purchased a substantial long-term U.S. governemnt debt (yield moves in the opposite direction of price). Approximately $500 billion in U.S. government securities are traded on a daily basis. At one point the Federal Reserve owned $3.5 trillion in government-issued securities.

    The Taylor Rule is named for John Taylor, who is the former Under Secretary of the Treasury for the Office of International Affairs (2001-2005). Mr. Taylor proposed that a central bank should increase interest rates in excess of 1.0% for every 1.0% increase in inflation. The purpose of the increase is to limit the supply of money, and discourage investors from chasing riskier investments in an attempt to earn a return in excess of the rate of inflation.

    On December 16, 2015, the Federal Open Market Committee (Federal Reserve) voted to increase the the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.250% to 0.500%, effective immediately, from the range 0.00% to 0.250% enacted December 16, 2008.

    On December 14, 2016, the Federal Open Market Committee (Federal Reserve) voted to increase the the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.500% to 0.750%, effective immediately, from the range 0.250% to 0.500% enacted December 16, 2015.


    Infrastructure in the United States

    In the United States, the average bridge is 42 years in age, and the average dam is 52 years in age. The American Society of Civil Engineers indicates that 15,238 brdiges are designated as "deficient".


    Demographics in the United States

    The population of the United States is approximately 322 million persons, and the median age is 38 (46 in Italy and Germany, 27 in India). The U.S. population has more than doubled since 151,325,798 persons in 1950. The population per square mile of land area has increased from 42.6 persons in 1950 to 79.6 person in 2000, and approximately 90 persons per square mile today. The world population is presently estimated at 7.3 billion persons. The U.N. recently revised its estimates on world population growth and now forecasts that the world population will be 11.2 billion persons in 2100.

    The feritility rate of the United States has decreased from a peak of 2.12 children per woman (replacement rate without immigration) in 2007 to 1.84 per woman in 2015.

    In 2016, approximately one half of adults today do not live with a spouse compared to 70% in 1967

    In 2016, approximately 40% of 18 to 34 year old adults resided with their relatives (parent, step-parent, grand parent, relative).


    Crime in the United States

    In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Census Bureau indicated that in 2012, there were a "reported" 14,827 cases of murder and manslaughter. Approximately 66.6% of those offenses were carried out with a gun. The homicide rate for the United States is 4.7 homicides per 100,000 persons. The rate is at a 50-year low, however it is still substantially higher than other western nations. For instance, the homicide rate in Canada 1.6 per 100,000 persons, and within western Europe it is 1 per 100,000 persons. In the United States, approximately 90.0% of the prepetrators were male, as were 75.0% of the victims.

    In August 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice publicly indicated it would commence a planned phase out of using private prisons.

    A new government study into killings by police between June 2015 and May 2016 estimates that more than double the number of deaths occurred than commonly-used statistics from the FBI reported. The study, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and RTI International, found that approximately 1200 homicides by police occurred in 2015, compared with the official count by the FBI of 442 homicides for the year.


    Retirement in the United States

    In 2013, approximately one-half of U.S. workers did not have a company-sponsored retirement plan to participate in (Source: U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School). Most of these employees (58%) work for companies with fewer than 100 persons, which are the type of company which cannot afford to start and administer a 401-K plan for employees. Only 45% of companies with fewer than 100 employees have a 401-K plan (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics).

    In 2010, only 8% of those eligible made a tax-deductable IRA contribution. Source: Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    The average Social Security benefit is $15,700 per annum. Source: Social Security Administration (SSA). Approximately 10,000 U.S. citizens turn 65 years of age every day in the United States.

    The Center for Retirement Research (CRR) indicates approximately 72% of U.S. pension pland in 2015 are fully funded compared to almost 100% in 2000.


    Health & Health Care in the United States

    Approximately one half of the U.S. population rely upon employer-provided health insurance plans although employer-provided coverage is declining due to the expense to employers. The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010 sought to increase health insurance coverage within the united States. At the time of ACA, approximately 44 million U.S. residents lacked health insurance, which was eventually reduced by 20 million, which resulted in approximately 90% of U.S. residents having some type of insurance coverage.

    The United States spends more than twice what any other nation spends on healthcare per person but the U.S. life expetancy is below the OECD average of 80.1 years

    U.S. women live 4.8 years longer than men.

    The Association of Medical Colleges estimates that thethe nation will have a 14% deficit of medical doctors necessary to meet patient demand.

    The Annual Median Cost of Long Term Care in the Nation report by Genworth Financial indicates that the annual cost for private room in a nursing home is $91,250, a semi-private room is $80,300, assisted living facility is $43,200, adult day healthcare is $17,904, home health aide is $45,760. Medicaid presently cover approximately 50% of the total cost in the United States, which accounts for approximately 25% of total Medicaid expenditures (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation). Long-term health care insurance coverage from private insurers has become very difficult to afford or even qualify for.

    On December 16, 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), publicly indicated during 2015, drug overdoses accounted for 52,404 U.S. deaths, including 33,091 (63.1%) that involved an opioid. The U.S. opioid epidemic is continuing, and drug overdose deaths nearly tripled during 1999–2014. Among 47,055 drug overdose deaths which occurred in 2014 in the United States, 28,647 (60.9%) involved an opioid. The drug overdose death rate increased significantly from 12.3 per 100,000 population in 2010 to 16.3 in 2015. Death rates increased in 30 states and DC and remained stable in 19 states


    Poverty & Public Assistance in the United States

    The U.S. Census Bureau establishes the  poverty threshold on an annual basis. The 2016 threshold is $11,880 for a single person and $24,300 for a household of four persons. Approximately 43.1 million persons (13.5% of the total U.S. population) were classified as within this group in 2015 (down 1.2 percentage points from 14.8% in 2014). published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

    In May 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Participation in Government Programs, 2009–2012, indicates that 63% of participants in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program received cumulative assistance for less than 12 months. During 2012, less than 1% of the total U.S. population was receiving welfare.

    Dynamics of Economic Well-Being: Participation in Government Programs, 2009–2012

    U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates approximately 4.1% of the U.S. population reside in urban and rural communities which have an absence of large grocery stores and supermarkets with available fresh produce and healthy food options.

    Mapping Food Deserts in the United States

    Approximately 87.3% (109.3 million) of U.S. households were food secure throughout 2015.

    U.S. Census Bureau Poverty Threshold (Historical)

    U.S. Census Bureau, Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015

    The World Economic Forum, The Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2017, indicates the United States is ranked 23 out of 30 developed nations in a measure known as the “inclusive development index" (IDI). The index measures a number of variables with regard to income inequality and wealth concentration.


    Housing in the United States

    A white paper from Enterprise Community Partners and the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, indicates that since 2010, rental rates have increased at a faster rate than the growth in hourly wage income (income increased 2.1% by the first half of 2015 while rents had increased by 3.7%). In addition, construction of multi-family building rental units have failed to keep pace with rental demand (approximately 36% of the U.S. population now rent their housing unit; homeownership rates have fallen from 69.2% in 2004 to 63.4% in 2015, the lowest level since 1967). This has resulted in a situation where approximately 25% of renters must devote 50% of their monthly income to cover housing and utilities expense. This is approximately 11.25 million households in the U.S.

    In May 2016, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicated in their Lot Supply Survey, lot availability (based on location and price) hit a record low. Sixty-four percent of builders responding to special questions in the May 2016 NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index reported that the supply of lots in their markets was “low” or “very low”, and increase from 62 percent in the previous year, and the highest that number has been since NAHB began collecting this data in 1997. The survey is also qualified by lot type and geographic location. Builders often think in terms of A, B and C lots, based on the desirability of their location.  As one would expect, the shortage tends to be most acute for A lots.  In the May 2016 survey, 69 percent of the builders said A lots were in short supply, compared to 60 percent for B lots, and 47 percent for C lots. Secondly, the 69 percent of builders reporting low or very-low lot supply in the West is only marginally above the 62 percent in the Midwest and 64 percent in the South, and actually slightly below the 68 percent in the Northeast.  But a full 39 percent of builders in the West characterized lot supply as very low, far above the percentages in the other three regions: 23 percent in the South and 18 percent in both the Midwest and Northeast. The NAHB further indicates median single-family lot prices were a record $45,000 in 2015, surpassing the previous peak of $43,000 at the height of the housing boom in 2006. In 2015, builders began construction on 714,500 single-family homes, less than one half as many as in 2006. The median lot size for single-family homes last year decreased to 8,589 square feet, the lowest size since the commencement of the Survey. The price level and lot size is primarily a reflection of less developed land availability: builders and developers have been cautious and not invested in developing acreage although there is probably sufficient demand.

    In July 2016, the National Association of Home Realtors (NAR) indicated 47% of residential properties on the market were selling in less than one month as of June 2016. "Nationally, properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in June, the shortest number of days since the National Association of REALTORS® began tracking in May 2011. Short sales spent the most time on the market with a median of 129 days, foreclosures sold in 39 days, and non-distressed homes were on the market for 33 days. "

    In August 2016, the joint release between the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development indicated sales of new single-family houses in July 2016 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000. This is 12.4% above the revised June rate of 582,000 and is 31.3% above the July 2015 estimate of 498,000. The median sales price of new houses sold in July 2016 was $294,600; the average sales price was $355,800. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of July was 233,000. This represents a supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate.

    Historic Relaeases

    Historical Data

    In July, 2016,the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that as of June 30 , 2016, the homeownership rate in the United States has decreased to 62.9%, which is the lowest in rate in more than 50 years. The rate actually decreased from 63.4% at the same coparative period in 2015. The all-time high homeownership rate of 69.2$ was attained in the fourth quarter of 2004.

    Historical Tables


    Industries & Business Sectors in the United States

    2015 was a record year for automobile sales. Approximately 17.5 million automobiles and trucks were purchased by U.S. consumers (the previous high was 17.3 million in 2000). The sales amounted to $437 billion. Total passenger car sales in 2015 decreased 2% compared to 2014 while SUV and truck sales increased 13%.

    U.S. Census Bureau 2015 Annual Survey of Manufactures.