The US has the largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world, with a per capita GDP of $37,600. 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 firms are at or near the forefront in technological advances, especially in computers and in medical, aerospace, and military equipment, although their advantage has narrowed since the end of World War II. The years 1994-2000 witnessed solid increases in real output, low inflation rates, and a drop in unemployment to below 5%.
Moderate recovery took place in 2002, with the GDP growth rate rising to 2.45%. A major short-term problem in first half 2002 was a sharp decline in the stock market, fueled in part by the exposure of uncertain accounting practices in some major corporations. The war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to military industries and introduced uncertainties about investment and employment in other sectors of the economy. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, and sizable trade deficits.
Personal consumption expenditures, accounting for the largest share of GDP, are the main generator of employment in the economy. In 2000, employment generated by consumer spending was 83.2 million, accounting for 62 percent of total employment in the economy. The annual growth rate of employment generated by consumer spending.
is projected to be 1.3 percent, considerably less than the 1.8-percent growth rate during 1990-2000. From 2000 to 2010, as in the previous decade, virtually all non-farm wage and salary employment growth is expected to be in the service-producing sector.
In consistency with past trends, two major occupational groups "professional and related occupations, and service occupations "are projected to be the fastest growing, accounting for about 7.