Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 11, 2012

GDP, unemployment, debt: A look at America by the numbers

As the end of 2012 draws near, here are some interesting and revealing statistics about our country.

The Gross Domestic Product Growth Rate has been anemic all year, but had its biggest increase in the third quarter, rising 2.7 percent. That was double the second quarter’s 1.3 percent, and beat the first quarter’s 1.9 percent. From 1947 until 2012, the United States GDP Growth Rate averaged 3.2 percent.

• • •

In 2011 the population of the U.S. was 313.8 million and 153.6 million Americans were in the labor force. The nation produced total GDP of $15.1 trillion, roughly $49,000 in per capita GDP.

The U.S. Treasury collected tax revenue of a little more than $2.3 trillion and as a percent of GDP the economy is taxed at slightly more than 15 percent. However, the federal government spent about $3.8 trillion, creating a budget deficit of more than $1.3 trillion, or 8.63 percent of GDP. Each man, woman and child citizen’s share of the cost of government is more than $12,000.

Currently, the national debt is roughly $16.3 trillion, which works out to about $51,000 per man, woman and child. This year’s federal budget deficit adds $3,500 or so of additional debt per citizen.

• • •

The November jobs report listed 146,000 new jobs and a U-3 Unemployment Rate of 7.7 percent, two-tenths lower than the October figure. Unfortunately, this news is not as good as it appears. To have a truly meaningful effect on unemployment, more than 300,000 new jobs must be created each month. The Labor Department revised downward new job numbers in October from 171,000 to 138,000, and in September from 148,000 to 132,000.

The drop in the unemployment rate resulted not from lots of people going back to work, but because 350,000 people dropped out of the workforce.

The Labor Force Participation Rate dropped from 63.8 percent to 63.6 percent. The 146,000 new jobs have a much greater effect on a smaller labor force than on a larger labor force. If the labor force remained the same as it was in January 2009, U-3 unemployment would be 10.7 percent. The more accurate U-6 Unemployment Rate, which includes not only those working and those looking for work, but also those who have become discouraged and given up looking for jobs, is 14.6 percent for November.

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In June, a total of 142,415,000 people were employed in the U.S, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, including 19,938,000 who were employed by federal, state and local governments. By November, the total number of people employed had climbed to 143,262,000, an overall increase of 847,000 in the six months since June. In the same six-month period the number of people employed by government increased by 621,000 to 20,559,000. These 621,000 new government jobs equal 73.3 percent of the 847,000 new jobs created overall.

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Back in July of 2008 candidate Barack Obama said this about the $4 trillion in debt that we incurred under the Bush administration: “The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — No. 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.”

According to the U.S. Treasury, on July 2, 2001, the national debt was approximately $5.7 trillion. On inauguration day 2009, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. Last Thursday, it stood at $16.3 trillion. That means the debt has increased $5.7 trillion during Mr. Obama’s first four years, and that is more than all presidents through Bill Clinton, and the first five months of George W. Bush’s tenure. In the name of U.S. taxpayers Mr. Obama has borrowed more than $49,500 per man, woman and child.

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Inflation in October was 2.2 percent, up from September at 2 percent, August at 1.7 percent and July at 1.4 percent. The highest level of inflation since 2000 was 5.6 percent in July of 2008.

• • •

Are we drowning in regulations? Ayn Rand’s classic “Atlas Shrugged” in paperback has 1,088 pages. The 2011 Federal Register totals 82,419 pages, nearly 76 times more than Ms. Rand’s book. A popular estimate of the cost of regulations on the economy is $1.75 trillion annually, which is nearly 76 percent of total amount of tax revenue collected last year.

• • •

In 1913 the U.S. tax code was 400 pages. Today, it’s more than 73,000 pages, which means we added on average 730 new pages each year. It is estimated that U.S. taxpayers pay $431.1 billion annually, or 19 percent of total tax revenue collected last year, just to comply with and administer the U.S. tax system.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.


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