Here's some easy reading for your Friday afternoon. Did you know that...

50. From 1948 until 2007, the average duration of unemployment was 13.5 weeks. Today, it's 40.5 weeks.

49. In 1982, a 30-year mortgage carried an interest rate of 17.6%. Today, it's 4.1%. On a $250,000 loan, that's the difference between a monthly payment of $3,686 versus $1,210.

48. In 2000, 69% of businesses offered workers health insurance. By 2009, just 60% did, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

47. In 1952, corporate taxes were 6.1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 1.8% of GDP. In 2009, corporate taxes were 1% of GDP, and employment taxes were 6.3% of GDP.

46. The day after Standard & Poor's downgraded U.S. Treasuries was the second best day for Treasuries in modern history.

45. "Just 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic health problem," according to The Wall Street Journal, citing Gallup data.

44. Adjusted for inflation, nationwide home prices have dropped 8.5% since 1979. Unrelated: 60% of homeowners say a major reason they bought a home is because they think it will make a good retirement investment.

43. The markup AT&T (NYS: T) charges for a single text message ($0.20) compared with a standard mobile data package ($25 for 2 gigs) is roughly 10 million percent.

42. Tax evasion has added an estimated $3 trillion to the national debt over the past decade, according to David Callahan of Demos, citing Internal Revenue Service data.

41. According to The Wall Street Journal, "every year 17,000 American-trained masters and doctoral students leave the U.S. to find work elsewhere."

40. Over the past 25 years, college tuition has increased at nearly four times the rate of broader inflation.

39. Health care for an average family now runs $19,393 a year, according to the Milliman Medical Index. It was about half that much in 2002.

38. Power to the people! According to The Los Angeles Times: "Some 75% of respondents said they were following the [California] budget debate, yet only 16% were aware that state spending has shrunk by billions of dollars over the last three years."

37. California will spend $5.7 billion on its main public universities this year, and $9.6 billion on prisons, according to The Bay Citizen.

36. The labor force participation rate for men has dropped from 87% in 1948 to 71% today.         

35. The personal savings rate in August was 4.5%. Since 1959, it has averaged 7%. Returning to that level would divert more than $200 billion a year from consumer spending into saving.

34. 5.5 million Americans are unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits. Last year, that number was 1.4 million.

33. The U.S. government provides health care for a minority of its population (elderly and poor) at a greater cost per citizen than many European countries spend on universal coverage.

32. As a percentage of GDP, federal taxes in 2010 were the lowest since 1950.

31. Between 2007 and 2009, those with a bachelor's degree saw the employment-to-population ratio fall by just 0.5%. For those without a bachelor's degree, it fell by more than 2%.

30. Household debt payments as a percentage of income are now at the lowest level since 1994.

29. Despite record federal deficits, total debt throughout the economy -- public plus private -- as a percentage of GDP has been dropping since 2008. Households are shedding debt faster than the government can go into it.

28. Just not student debt: Total student loans outstanding are expected to reach $1 trillion this year. The average student now leaves college with nearly $23,000 of debt. As Time pointed out, "Students today are borrowing double the amount they did ten years ago -- after adjusting for inflation.

27. Total state and local pension shortfalls now equal $4.4 trillion, according to State Budget Solutions.

26. In 2000, interest payments on the national debt totaled $222 billion. By 2009, the debt had more than doubled, but interest payments were $186 billion. Lower interest rates have saved taxpayers trillions of dollars.

25. According to The New York Times, only 23% of Americans benefit from the mortgage interest tax deduction, yet 93% support it.

24. For every $1,000 decline in home values, Americans reduce spending by $20 to $70 a year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

23. Without mortgage equity withdrawal -- people using their homes as ATMs -- the U.S. economy would have been in recession for most of the 2001-2006 period.

22. The percentage of Americans covered by health insurance fell from 86.9% in 2000 to 83.7% in 2010. It has declined in eight of the past 10 years.

21. Nationwide real estate values have declined by about $7 trillion since 2006.

20. CEOs of S&P 500 companies are entitled to receive an average of $22 million upon being fired, according to GMI. "In total, it would cost shareholders $10.8 billion to fire the CEOs of all of the companies in the S&P 500," it writes.

19. One percent of households captured 52% of all income gains from 1993-2008.

18. Just 400 people earned 10% of all capital gains in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, the top 400 taxpayers captured about 2% of all economic growth.

17. People spend their money on different sets of goods and services. The richest 10% of Americans had an inflation rate that was about 6% higher than the bottom 10% between 1994 and 2005.

16. According to former White House budget advisor Peter Orszag: "In 1990, about 63 percent of business income in the U.S. took the form of wages and other types of labor compensation. ... By 2005, that figure had dropped to 61 percent. And by the middle of this year, it had fallen to 58 percent. ... The difference from 1990 to today -- about 5 percentage points or so of private-sector income -- amounts to more than $500 billion a year."

15. Private jobs growth over the past two years has been faster than it was from 2001-2003. Public job losses have been a major factor in our current jobs crisis.

14. If federal, state, and local governments hadn't been slashing jobs since 2009, today's unemployment rate would be nearly a full percentage point lower.

13. The White House -- famously optimistic throughout all administrations -- forecasts that the unemployment rate won't return to pre-recession levels until 2016.

12. According to the National Review, "[General Motors (NYS: GM) ] has 96,000 employees but provides health benefits to a million people."

11. While gold hit record highs this summer, the yield on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, implied a forecast of near record low inflation.

10. According to author Matt Ridley, it took an average person 4,700 hours of work to afford a Ford (NYS: F) Model T in 1908. Today, it takes an average person 1,000 hours of work to afford an ordinary car.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the first Apple (NAS: AAPL) Macintosh cost $5,440. Today's iPad costs $500, and is outrageously more advanced.

8. About half of all Tweets are derived from 20,000 people -- or just 0.05% of Twitter members.

7. UBS estimates that illegal lending in China amounts to $630 billion a year, or about 10% of the country's gross domestic product.

6. Only 2.7% of what Americans spend their money on are goods and services from China. 88.5% is on American-made goods and services.

5. Cash flow among S&P 500 companies set a new all-time record last year, at $1.2 trillion.

4. Between dividends and buybacks, S&P 500 companies returned $4.3 trillion to shareholders from 2003 to 2010.

3. According to the Hedge Fund Research index, hedge funds as a group returned 19.6% between March 2009 and May 2011. Broad stock market indexes in the developed world returned 114% during that period.

2. Food prices invariably come up when people talk about inflation. But average disposable income has risen twice as fast as food prices over the past 50 years. There's been fairly steady food deflation over time.

1. America is still by far the largest economy in the world, nearly three times the size of China's or Japan's economy, and nearly five times the size of Germany's. We have the best schools, the deepest financial system, the most advanced innovation, and the brightest entrepreneurs.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Ford Motor. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Ford Motor, General Motors, AT&T, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Emilio Leist

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October 22 2011 at 3:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply