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The Economy Today The United States has been the worlds leading industrial nation since early in the 20th century Until the second half of the 19th century agriculture remained the dominant US economic activity After the Civil War ended in 1865 great advances were made in the production of basic industrial goods By the time of World War I 1914-1918 exports of manufactured goods had become more important than the export of raw materials as manufacturing grew agriculture became increasingly mechanized and efficient employing fewer and fewer workers The most important development in the economy since World War II 1939-1945 has been the tremendous growth of service industries government professional services trade and financial activities Today service industries make up the most important sector of the economy employing almost three-fourths of the workforce Industry employs approximately 23 percent of the labor force and agriculture forestry and fishing about 3 percent of the workers Beginning in the 1930s the government of the United States played an increasingly active role in the economy Even though the US economy in the 1990s was based on free enterprise the government regulated business in various ways Some government regulations were drawn up to protect consumers from unsafe products and workers from unsafe working conditions others were designed to reduce environmental pollution Government also exerts tremendous influence on the economy through the jobs it provides and the money it spends Government employs 15 percent of all the workers in the nation The federal budget for fiscal year 1998-1999 included estimated expenditures of 167 trillion or about 200 percent of the periods estimated gross domestic product GDP Revenue was estimated at 166 trillion or 199 percent of GDP That left a deficit of about 10 billion The United States had consistently recorded annual budget deficits of 100 billion or more since the early 1980s the amount of the deficit began declining in the early 1990s In the mid-1990s the United States
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