Friday Facts: Mind-Blowing Economic Trivia

The Motley Fool ran a great story this week called “100 Mind-Blowing Facts About The Economy,” that really got us thinking about how bad the economy is, how good the economy is, and just how confusing facts can be when looked at from different angles.

Here are the top 20. In no particular order:

In no particular order...

1. The unemployment rate for men is 8.4%. For married men, it’s 4.9%.

2. The unemployment rate for college graduates is 3.9%. For high school dropouts, it’s 13%.

3. According to The Wall Street Journal, in 2010, “for every 1% decrease in shareholder return, the average CEO was paid 0.02% more.”

4. According to The New York Times: “From 2001 to 2011, state and local financing per [college] student declined by 24 percent nationally.”

5. Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index ranks the United States as the 24th least-corrupt country in the world, just behind Qatar and ahead of Uruguay.

6. Since the recession began in 2007, the number of Americans receiving disability benefits has risen by 1.6 million, and the number of Americans employed has fallen by 4.8 million.

7. China’s labor force grew by 145 million from 1990 to 2008. The entire U.S. labor force today is 156 million.

8. In 1998, oil industry executives told Congress that oil would average $10 a barrel for the following decade. In reality, it averaged $44.9 a barrel. Most people are terrible at predicting the future — even (or especially) experts.

9. In 1999, one of the best years for the market ever, more than half of stocks in the S&P 500 declined. Two companies, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Cisco, accounted for one-fifth of the index’s return.

10. From 1929 to 1932, the total amount of money paid out in wages fell by 60%, according to historian Frederick Lewis Allen. By contrast, from 2007-2009, total American wages fell less than 5%. What we experienced in recent years was nothing close to the Great Depression.

11. According to writer Dan Gross: “The United States produced about as much output in the third quarter of 2011 as it did in the third quarter of 2007, albeit with about 6 million fewer workers on the payroll.”

12. China’s working-age population is expected to shrink by more than 200 million between now and 2050. The U.S.’ is expected to rise by 47 million.

13. According to author Charles Murray, just 3% of American couples both had a college degree in 1960. By 2010, 25% did.

14. At the height of his success, Andrew Carnegie’s annual income was 20,000 times the average American’s wage, according to historian Frederick Lewis Allen. That’s the equivalent of about $720 million in today’s economy. In 2010, hedge fund manager John Paulson earned $4.9 billion, or nearly seven times what Carnegie earned in his prime. The key difference: Carnegie made steel to construct buildings. Paulson bought derivatives to bet against them.

15. If state, local, and federal employment followed the same trend from 2008 through today as it did from 2005-2008, the unemployment rate would be 6.5% instead of 8.2%.

16. Federal Reserve economist Bhashkar Mazumder has shown that incomes among brothers are more correlated than height or weight.

17. According to the International Energy Agency, global governments spent $409 billion on fossil-fuel-industry subsidies in 2010. That’s nearly double the annual GDP of Ireland.

18. A rare 1-cent coin from 1793 recently sold for $1.38 million. That sounds amazing until you realize it’s an annual return of less than 9%, or about the same as stocks have produced historically.

19. For the 2012-2013 fiscal year, California will spend $8.7 billion on prisons and $4.8 billion on its UC and state college systems.

20. Boeing (NYSE: BA  ) accounts for almost 2% of all U.S. exports.

For the full story, check out The Motley Fool.