What is the United States GDP?

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The United States GDP (Gross Domestic Product), like any nation's GDP, can be defined in three different ways, all of which are similar. First, it is the total expenditures for all goods and services produced by the nation in a year-long period. Second, it can be defined as the value added to input materials at every stage of production by all industries within the United States, plus taxes, minus government subsidies. The third definition is the sum of the income of everyone in the country. The GDP of a nation indicates its level of financial wealth and economic productivity.

The GDP of the US is the largest in the world, beating out the next largest, Japan, by a factor of more than three. Sometime around 2003, the US annual GDP exceeded $10 trillion US Dollars (USD) in 2009 dollars. In 2007, the it was estimated as $13.8 trillion USD. This translates to a GDP per capita of about $46,000 USD per working-age person in 2007, which ranks at about number ten in the list of all countries. In 2008, about 72% of the economic activity in the United States came from consumers — the rest is from industry and government. The primary industries are very diverse, and include consumer goods, lumber, mining, motor vehicles, aerospace, petroleum, telecommunications, chemicals, steel, electronics, food processing, and defense.


The annual growth of the United States GDP is approximately 10% per year, which is slightly lower than the global average, which was 11.99% in 2007. In contrast, the annual GDP growth of China in 2007 was 22.59%. In 2007, Armenia had GDP growth of 43.69%, the highest in the world. The economy of the United States includes a labor force of approximately 150 million, which is roughly half the population, with an employment rate fluctuating between 3% and 8%. In 2007, exports were $1.149 trillion, while imports were $1.968 trillion. The difference between exports and imports is known as the trade deficit.

Despite its great wealth, the government of the United States has extreme gross external debt, about $10.6 trillion USD as of late 2008. This works out to approximately 65% of GDP, or $37,316 USD per capita. In contrast, entry to the euro economic and monetary union requires countries to have a gross public debt of less than 3% of GDP. Besides its foreign debt obligations, the United States government also has about $59.1 trillion USD in long-term liabilities through unfunded Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare obligations, or $516,348 USD per household.


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Post 5

@bythewell - I don't disagree with you, but it is a complex situation. A lot of people are worried about the rise of China, for example. They point out the growth of its GDP compared with the States and how many more people it has and how quickly it may become the dominant power in the world, if their per capita GDP gets up high enough.

The problem is that China has an extremely top heavy population, because of their one child policy. And that population is aging.

One prediction is that in the next few decades, their economy might collapse, simply because they will have too many workers concentrating on taking care of the elderly, rather than generating new products. If that happens, who knows what else might? There's almost no way for the average person to predict it.

Post 4

This is the kind of thing that can get very depressing if you think about it too long. It's also one of the reasons I think people are crazy if they aren't making sure they have a vegetable garden and other means of survival that aren't dependent on the economics of the country they live in.

It's been a while since the World Wars when people had to bind together and suffered through food shortages and so forth and we forget that those supermarket shelves are entirely dependent on a system that is riddled with debt and, in some cases, corruption.

I don't think civilization will collapse. But I do think a vegetable patch will be worth its weight in gold sometime soon.

Post 3

@GlassAxe- I do not know if I could agree with everything that you are saying, but the United States Economy is complex so no one will likely agree with everything someone else has to say. Top economists cannot even seem to agree on general economic strategies.

What I agree with you the most is that the GDP is a poor measure of growth. If you adhere to the Pareto Improvement or even the Kaldor-Hicks growth theories, then you would agree that the GDP does not accomplish "net benefit" accounting.

A natural disaster that creates environmental damage (BP, Exxon Valdez Spills) increases the GDP, creating "growth". When an obese person on Medicaid is treated for diabetes and hypertension, that is considered "growth". There are a number of things the GDP calls growth, that do not benefit society. Since we live on a planet that ultimately has finite resources, infinite growth will only come from increasingly socially detrimental economic activity.

Post 2

@anon129293- I do not think that the only way out of our debt burden is through collapse. If you look closely at GDP, you will see that the addition of debt by our government is considered economic productivity. You could theoretically reduce the national debt by reducing the GDP.

Now, before you scream socialism or something along these lines, here me out. GDP accounts for all government spending, but it does not account for government debt. The government counts on future growth, which will only be harder by the way, to increase the tax base and pay down debt in the future. Essentially, the United States government takes a bullish stance on U.S. economic growth.

If we would phase out

many of the subsidies and tax breaks for multinationals, which only benefit us by creating cheaper goods to consume, the government could reduce the money it borrows thus significantly reducing the debt. This would reduce GDP, but GDP is only an account of economic activity (and a skewed one at that), not true growth.
Post 1

Unfortunately, it looks like the only way out of our debt burden will be through collapse, which would in turn lead to a worldwide financial collapse. The old rules still apply, live within your means. This will not be fun.

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