The United States has been the world's leading industrial nation since early in the 20th century.
The U.S. economy consists of three main sectors-the primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary economic activities (4% of GDP) are those directly involving the natural environment, including agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining. Secondary economic activities (23% of GDP) involve processing or combining materials into new products, and include manufacturing and construction. Tertiary economic activities (73% of GDP) involve the output of services rather than goods. Examples of tertiary activities include wholesale and retail trade, banking, government, and transportation. The tertiary is the most important sector by far.
The basic unit of currency is the US dollar. The U.S. decimal currency consists of coins and paper money, issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve issues paper money called Federal Reserve notes, which constitute almost all the paper money in the United States. The Treasury issues US notes, which come in $ 100 denominations, as well as all coins.
Most domestic commerce, or trade, in the United States is carried on by wholesalers and retailers. Wholesalers buy goods from producers and sell them mainly to retail business firms. Retailers sell goods to the final consumer. Wholesale and retail trade together account for about 16% of GDP of the US and employ about 20% of the labor force.
Foreign, or international, trade enables the United States to specialize in producing those goods it is best suited to make from its available resources. Nonagricultural products usually account for approximately 90% of the yearly value of exports and agricultural products for about 10%. Machinery and transportation equipment make up the leading categories of exports, amounting together to over 40% of the value of all exports. Other leading exports include manufactured goods, such as textiles and iron and steel; processed foods; inedible crude materials, such as cotton, soybeans, and metal ores; chemicals; and mineral fuels and lubricants.
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