America by the numbersby Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio
President Bush gave his State of the Union address this week. Here's an alternative look at just how the country is faring these days.
St. Paul, Minn. — When President Bush presented his State of the Union address this week, he talked about his last seven years in office and the challenges the country has faced during that time.
He acknowledged the American economy is going through a period of uncertainty, but he maintained that its future remains strong.
Of course, there are many ways to sum up just how our union is doing these days. One way is to check out the numbers. Here are just a few of the figures that help tell the tale of the United States in 2008.
Let's start with 36 million. That's the number of Americans living in poverty today. Twenty-four percent of African-Americans live below the poverty line, compared to 8 percent of white Americans.
Today 7.6 million people find themselves unemployed.
The average number of private sector jobs created in 1999 was 8 million. In 2007, the number created was 369,000.
The median household income today is $48,200. Eight years ago it was $49,200. And that number is adjusted for inflation.
The salary of a full-time employee making minimum wage is around $12,000. The average salary for CEOs at America's top 500 companies is $15 million.
In 2000, the U.S. had a budget surplus of $236 billion. In 2007, the country had a budget deficit of $354 billion.
The price of home heating oil is 142 percent higher than it was seven years ago.
Over the last year, the price of eggs and butter went up 20 percent. Lettuce prices rose 46 percent. And the cost of milk jumped 53 percent.
The average price of a gallon of gas today is $3.14. That's a 98 percent increase from January of 2000.
That year, Exxon Mobil showed profits of $7.9 billion. Today Exxon reported a $40.6 billion dollar profit. That's the largest annual profit ever posted by a U.S. company.
Over the last seven years, 86 million Americans lost their health insurance. Three million lost their pensions. Three million manufacturing jobs disappeared. And, over the last year, home foreclosures increased 68 percent.
Clearly, that all sounds a little bleak. But there are some other numbers to keep in mind.
For example, take 26,470. That's the inflation rate in Zimbabwe -- a record high.
Then there's 70 percent. That's how many Palestinians are currently living in poverty.
Three million is the number of people who were forced to flee their destroyed villages in Darfur. At least 400,000 are believed to have been killed in the region's ongoing violence.
Finally, there's 850. That's the number of Kenyans who have lost their lives as a result of political unrest. And that's just over the last 30 days.