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Visualizing the Buying Power of the U.S. Dollar Over the Last Century

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The Buying Power of the U.S. Dollar Over the Last Century

The Buying Power of the U.S. Dollar Over the Last Century

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

The value of money is not static. In the short term, it may ebb and flow against other currencies on the market. In the long-term, a currency tends to lose buying power over time through inflation, and as more currency units are created.

Inflation is a result of too much money chasing too few goods – and it is often influenced by government policies, central banks, and other factors. In this short timeline of monetary history in the 20th century, we look at major events, the change in money supply, and the buying power of the U.S. dollar in each decade.

A Short Timeline of U.S. Monetary History

1900s
After the Panic of 1907, the National Monetary Commission is established to propose legislation to regulate banking.

U.S. Money Supply: $7 billion
What $1 Could Buy: A pair of patent leather shoes.

1910s
The Federal Reserve Act is signed in 1913 by President Woodrow Wilson.

U.S. Money Supply: $13 billion
What $1 Could Buy: A woman’s house dress.

1920s
U.S. dollar bills were reduced in size by 25%, and standardized in terms of design.

The Fed starts using open market operations as a tool for monetary policy.

U.S. Money Supply: $35 billion
What $1 Could Buy: Five pounds of sugar.

1930s
To deal with deflation during the Great Depression, the United States suspends the gold standard. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Executive Order 6102, which criminalizes the possession of gold.

By no longer allowing gold to be legally redeemed, this removes a major constraint on the Fed, which can now control the money supply.

U.S. Money Supply: $46 billion
What $1 Could Buy: 16 cans of Campbell’s Soup

1940s
The massive deficits of World War II are almost financed entirely by the creation of new money by the Federal Reserve.

Interest rates are pegged low at the request of the Treasury.

Under Bretton-Woods, the “gold-exchange standard” is adopted.

U.S. Money Supply: $55 billion
What $1 Could Buy: 20 bottles of Coca-Cola

1950s
The Korean War starts in 1950, and inflation is at an annualized rate of 21%.

The Fed can no longer manage such low interest rates, and tells the Treasury that it can “no longer maintain the existing situation”.

U.S. Money Supply: $151 billion
What $1 Could Buy: One Mr. Potato Head

1960s
An agreement, called the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord, is reached to establish the central bank’s independence.

By this time, U.S. dollars in circulation around the world exceeded U.S. gold reserves. Unless the situation was rectified, the country would be vulnerable to the currency equivalent of a “bank run”.

U.S. Money Supply: $211 billion
What $1 Could Buy: Two movie tickets.

1970s
In 1971, President Richard Nixon ends direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold.

The period following the Nixon Shock is uncertain. The federal deficit doubles, stagflation hits, and the oil price skyrockets – all during the Vietnam War.

Over the decade, the dollar loses 1/3 of its value.

U.S. Money Supply: $401 billion
What $1 Could Buy: Three Morton TV dinners.

1980s
The stock market crashes in 1987 on Black Monday.

The Federal Reserve, under newly-appointed Alan Greenspan, issues the following statement:

“The Federal Reserve, consistent with its responsibilities as the nation’s central bank, affirmed today its readiness to serve as a source of liquidity to support the economic and financial system.”

The Dow would recover by 1989, with no prolonged recession occurring.

U.S. Money Supply: $1,560 billion
What $1 Could Buy: One bottle of Heinz Ketchup.

1990s
This decade is generally considered to be a time of declining inflation and the longest peacetime economic expansion in U.S. history.

During this decade, many improvements are made to U.S. paper currency to prevent counterfeiting. Microprinting, security thread, and other features are used.

U.S. Money Supply: $3,277 billion
What $1 Could Buy: One gallon of milk.

2000s
After the Dotcom crash, the Fed drops interest rates to near all-time lows.

In 2008, the Financial Crisis hits and the Fed begins “quantitative easing”. Later, this would be known as QE1.

U.S. Money Supply: $4,917 billion
What $1 Could Buy: One Wendy’s hamburger.

2010-
After QE1, the Fed holds $2.1 trillion of bank debt, mortgage-backed securities, and Treasury notes. Shortly after, QE2 starts.

In 2012, it’s time for QE3.

Purchases were halted in October 2014 after accumulating $4.5 trillion in assets.

U.S. Money Supply: $13,291 billion
What $1 Could Buy: One song from iTunes.

The Changing Value of a Dollar

At the turn of the 20th century, the money supply was just $7 billion. Today there are literally 1,900X more dollars in existence.

While economic growth has meant we all make many more dollars today, it is still phenomenal to think that during past moments in the 20th century, a dollar could buy a pair of leather shoes or a women’s house dress.

The buying power of a dollar has changed significantly over the last century, but it’s important to recognize that it could change even faster (up or down) under the right economic circumstances.

About The Money Project

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

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Mapped: The Industry Hiring the Most People In Every Country

The restaurant industry has the most vacancies in the U.S., followed by non-profit organizations.

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Mapped: The Industry Hiring the Most People In Every Country

Job searching can be challenging, especially when you are located in a region where your skills may not be in high demand.

This map illustrates which industry is hiring the most people in every country, based on LinkedIn job listings searched by Resume.io. This analysis only considers countries with 300 or more job listings and data is as of August 2023.

The Top Job Postings in America, Canada, the UK, and Australia

The restaurant industry had the most vacancies in the U.S., accounting for 7.9% of all job ads. It was followed by non-profit organizations with 5.6%, and motor vehicle manufacturing with 4.4%:

U.S. Industry by Job Ads% of Job Ads
Restaurants7.86%
Non-profit Organizations5.59%
Motor Vehicle Manufacturing4.41%
Software Development4.28%
Hospitality4.07%
Wellness and Fitness Services3.78%
Financial Services3.76%
Transportation, Logistics, Supply Chain, Storage3.61%
Internet Publishing3.59%
Defense and Space Manufacturing3.53%

According to the study, the trend in restaurant hiring is indicative of America’s return to eating out after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health care were Canada’s biggest potential employers, with almost 15% of all job ads. Retail came in second with 12.4%, followed by staffing and recruitment with 6.8%:

Canadian Industry by Job Ads% of Job Ads
Hospitals and Health Care14.82%
Retail12.45%
Staffing and Recruiting6.85%
Human Resources Services4.61%
IT Services and IT Consulting3.86%
Technology, Information and Internet3.75%
Financial Services3.53%
Manufacturing3.16%
Internet Publishing2.85%
Construction2.61%

In the UK, the construction industry had the most wanted ads with 9.2%. Britain’s construction industry has faced ongoing worker shortages, exacerbated by Brexit, which has prevented EU citizens from working in the UK without visas:

UK Industry by Job Ads% of Job Ads
Construction9.22%
Industrial Machinery Manufacturing6.03%
Education Administration Programs5.78%
Financial Services4.88%
Non-profit Organizations4.69%
Civil Engineering3.99%
Motor Vehicle Manufacturing3.62%
Accounting3.45%
Advertising Services3.43%
Hospitality3.36%

Just three sectors accounted for over 30% of the jobs available in Australia. Government administration was the sector hiring the most people (11.60%), followed by staffing and recruiting (10.8%) and hospitals and health care (10.2%):

Australian Industry by Job Ads% of Job Ads
Government Administration11.60%
Staffing and Recruiting10.81%
Hospitals and Health Care10.20%
Retail6.85%
IT Services and IT Consulting5.55%
Financial Services3.06%
Construction3.01%
Education Administration Programs2.68%
Human Resources Services2.54%
Software Development2.24%

Industry Hiring In Every Country by Job Ads in 2023

Across all countries, two sectors posted the most wanted ads in the most countries (28), staffing and recruiting and IT services and IT consulting. Healthcare and retail industries also appear among those in high demand.

CountryIndustry
🇦🇱 AlbaniaInternet Publishing
🇩🇿 AlgeriaBanking
🇦🇴 AngolaHuman Resources Services
🇦🇷 ArgentinaHuman Resources Services
🇦🇲 ArmeniaSoftware Development
🇦🇺 AustraliaGovernment Administration
🇦🇹 AustriaRetail
🇦🇿 AzerbaijanBanking
🇧🇭 BahrainStaffing and Recruiting
🇧🇩 BangladeshSoftware Development
🇧🇪 BelgiumStaffing and Recruiting
🇧🇴 BoliviaHuman Resources Services
🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaSoftware Development
🇧🇷 BrazilTechnology, Information and Internet
🇧🇬 BulgariaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇰🇭 CambodiaHospitality
🇨🇦 CanadaHospitals and Health Care
🇰🇾 Cayman IslandsIT Services and IT Consulting
🇹🇩 ChadStaffing and Recruiting
🇯🇪 Channel Islands (Jersey)Financial Services
🇨🇱 ChileHuman Resources Services
🇨🇳 ChinaTechnology, Information and Internet
🇨🇴 ColombiaHuman Resources Services
🇨🇩 Congo (Democratic Republic of the)Hospitality
🇨🇷 Costa RicaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇭🇷 CroatiaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇨🇾 CyprusTechnology, Information and Internet
🇨🇿 Czech RepublicStaffing and Recruiting
🇩🇰 DenmarkRetail
🇩🇴 Dominican RepublicInsurance
🇪🇨 EcuadorIT Services and IT Consulting
🇪🇬 EgyptTechnology, Information and Internet
🇸🇻 El SalvadorHuman Resources Services
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 EnglandStaffing and Recruiting
🇪🇪 EstoniaTechnology, Information and Internet
🇪🇹 EthiopiaSoftware Development
🇫🇮 FinlandIT Services and IT Consulting
🇫🇷 FranceStaffing and Recruiting
🇬🇫 French GuianaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇬🇪 GeorgiaStaffing and Recruiting
🇩🇪 GermanyStaffing and Recruiting
🇬🇭 GhanaHigher Education
🇬🇷 GreeceTechnology, Information and Internet
🇬🇵 GuadeloupeTechnology, Information and Internet
🇬🇹 GuatemalaHuman Resources Services
🇭🇹 HaitiStaffing and Recruiting
🇭🇳 HondurasIT Services and IT Consulting
🇭🇰 Hong Kong (SAR)Financial Services
🇭🇺 HungaryIT Services and IT Consulting
🇮🇸 IcelandHigher Education
🇮🇳 IndiaStaffing and Recruiting
🇮🇩 IndonesiaHospitality
🇮🇶 IraqDefense and Space Manufacturing
🇬🇧 Ireland (Northern)Staffing and Recruiting
🇮🇪 Ireland (Republic of)Staffing and Recruiting
🇮🇲 Isle of ManHuman Resources Services
🇮🇱 IsraelSoftware Development
🇮🇹 ItalyRetail
🇯🇲 JamaicaStaffing and Recruiting
🇯🇵 JapanIT Services and IT Consulting
🇯🇴 JordanTechnology, Information and Internet
🇰🇿 KazakhstanIT Services and IT Consulting
🇰🇪 KenyaSoftware Development
🇰🇼 KuwaitDefense and Space Manufacturing
🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanIT Services and IT Consulting
🇱🇻 LatviaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇱🇧 LebanonTechnology, Information and Internet
🇱🇮 LiechtensteinStaffing and Recruiting
🇱🇹 LithuaniaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇱🇺 LuxembourgStaffing and Recruiting
🇲🇴 MacaoHuman Resources Services
🇲🇰 Macedonia (North)Technology, Information and Internet
🇲🇾 MalaysiaFinancial Services
🇲🇹 MaltaTechnology, Information and Internet
🇲🇶 MartiniqueTechnology, Information and Internet
🇲🇺 MauritiusFinancial Services
🇲🇽 MexicoIT Services and IT Consulting
🇲🇩 MoldovaInternet Publishing
🇲🇨 MonacoStaffing and Recruiting
🇲🇦 MoroccoIT Services and IT Consulting
🇲🇲 MyanmarStaffing and Recruiting
🇳🇵 NepalSoftware Development
🇳🇱 NetherlandsStaffing and Recruiting
🇳🇿 New ZealandStaffing and Recruiting
🇳🇮 NicaraguaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇳🇬 NigeriaHuman Resources Services
🇳🇴 NorwayStaffing and Recruiting
🇴🇲 OmanStaffing and Recruiting
🇵🇰 PakistanSoftware Development
🇵🇦 PanamaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇵🇬 Papua New GuineaStaffing and Recruiting
🇵🇾 ParaguayTelecommunications
🇵🇪 PeruHuman Resources Services
🇵🇭 PhilippinesIT Services and IT Consulting
🇵🇱 PolandIT Services and IT Consulting
🇵🇹 PortugalIT Services and IT Consulting
🇵🇷 Puerto RicoRetail
🇶🇦 QatarStaffing and Recruiting
🇷🇪 ReunionBusiness Consulting and Services
🇷🇴 RomaniaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇷🇺 RussiaTechnology, Information and Internet
🇸🇭 Saint HelenaSoftware Development
🇸🇦 Saudi ArabiaStaffing and Recruiting
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 ScotlandStaffing and Recruiting
🇸🇳 SenegalStaffing and Recruiting
🇷🇸 SerbiaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇸🇬 SingaporeStaffing and Recruiting
🇸🇰 SlovakiaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇸🇮 SloveniaTechnology, Information and Internet
🇿🇦 South AfricaStaffing and Recruiting
🇰🇷 South KoreaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇪🇸 SpainIT Services and IT Consulting
🇱🇰 Sri LankaIT Services and IT Consulting
🇸🇪 SwedenGovernment Administration
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandInternet Publishing
🇹🇼 TaiwanSoftware Development
🇹🇭 ThailandSoftware Development
🇹🇳 TunisiaSoftware Development
🇹🇷 TurkeySoftware Development
🇻🇮 U.S. Virgin IslandsIT Services and IT Consulting
🇺🇬 UgandaEducation Administration Programs
🇺🇦 UkraineSoftware Development
🇦🇪 United Arab EmiratesTransportation, Logistics, Supply Chain and Storage
🇬🇧 United KingdomConstruction
🇺🇸 United States of AmericaRestaurants
🇺🇾 UruguaySoftware Development
🇻🇪 VenezuelaConsumer Services
🇻🇳 VietnamSoftware Development
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 WalesConstruction

Which countries or industries stand out the most to you?

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