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To the Congress of the United States:
In this, my seventh and final Annual Economic Report to the Congress under the Employment Act of 1946, I think it appropriate to review the period of which the Act is both product and symbol.
Early in the past quarter-century, the United States fell from good times into a period of great economic adversity. Out of this experience, there arose the compelling demand which finally produced the declaration of national economic policy contained in the Employment Act—that our great resources were pledged to the maintenance of maximum production, employment, and purchasing power.
Later within this quarter-century, we achieved in great measure the kind of economic society of which the Act is a symbol—a prosperous and growing economy of free men, with increasing opportunity for all. In this accomplishment we have testimony that we can hold fast to our gains and add to them in the years ahead.
The Progress of the American Economy
During a Quarter-Century During this past quarter-century, the strength and vigor of the American economy have been severely tested. Since 1929, the Nation has suffered its most disastrous depression, fought its most costly war, and moved through a difficult postwar readjustment. Most recently, it has devoted a large portion of its output in the effort of the free world to overcome the menace of aggression.
Now, despite the wastage of depression and the heavy but necessary expenditures for war and national security, the Nation is far stronger economically than it was a quarter-century ago. Its people are enjoying a much higher standard of living. Its farms and factories are far more productive. And it is displaying in remarkable fashion the capacity for economic growth on which its future welfare and security so largely depend.
Production, jobs, and living standards
The Nation's progress during this past quarter-century is evident in the figures which sum up total economic activity.
In 1929, the output of all goods and services was 172 billion dollars; in 1952, total output amounted to 345 billion dollars—measured in both cases in uniform 1952 prices. Industrial production has doubled, and agricultural output has risen about 50 percent.
GROWTH IN PRODUCTION SINCE 1929
Total output and industrial production have doubled since 1929
BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, 1952 PRICES
Last year, on the average, more than 61 million workers had civilian jobs, compared with almost 48 million in 1929. Both were good years for employment. In 1952, however, the average individual worked fewer hours-and produced more goods. From 1929 to 1952, the length of the workweek for all types of activity dropped from about 48 to 40 hours, but each worker turned out on the average 80 percent more goods and services. This greater yield reflects more and better equipment, and higher skills, than existed 25 years ago. Invention and business initiative have more than kept up with the rise in the number of men and women seeking work, and have made it possible for them to find better jobs.
While we have been producing more for consumers, we have at the same time been adding to equipment on farms and in factories. In 1952, for example, we spent about 26 billion dollars for machines and other kinds of durable equipment, compared with a little more than 11 billion dollars in 1929, both measured in 1952 prices.