1944 (Rank: 2nd)
GDP Expansion: 8.1%
GDP Per Capita (Inflation Adjusted): $14,705
Consumer Price Index: 1.7%
World War II leads to many scientific and technological innovations in American industry. Personal income generally increases, as average wages rise about 65% over the course of the war, and inflation is limited, leading to improved quality of life for many. President Roosevelt signs the “G.I. Bill of Rights,” providing vocational or college education, special loans and unemployment compensation for soldiers returning from the war. Unemployment, incidentally, is 1.2%, its lowest on record. On August 29th, 5,000 American troops march down the Champs-Elysees, celebrating the liberation of Paris, and marking a turn in the war on the European continent.
1952 (Rank: 6th)
GDP Expansion: 3.8%
GDP Per Capita (Inflation Adjusted): $14,296
Consumer Price Index: 1.9%
The U.S. steel industry prospered during and after WWII, providing significant opportunities for employment and improved wages. Accompanying its success, labor unions push for better contracts. In 1952, the United Steelworkers of America strike against U.S. Steel and nine other steel companies, forcing President Truman to nationalize the industry. Shortly thereafter, the United States Supreme Court finds the President’s actions unconstitutional and the USWA ultimately receives most of the terms they are seeking. Also, a by-product of the steel industry, GM’s XP-122, renamed the Corvette after a fast warship used during WWII, is unveiled that year.
1953 (Rank: 9th)
GDP Expansion: 4.6%
GDP Per Capita (Inflation Adjusted): $14,710
Consumer Price Index: 0.8%
On March 26th, medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announces the discovery of a polio vaccine, scoring a huge victory against a horrible childhood disease. The first color television sets go on sale in December 1953 and the first issue of Playboy, featuring Marilyn Monroe on the cover, debuts. Disney’s Peter Pan premieres at the Roxy Theater in New York City on February 5.
1965 (Rank: 7th)
GDP Expansion: 6.4%
GDP Per Capita (Inflation Adjusted): $18,576
Consumer Price Index: 1.6%
In January of this year, President Johnson delivers his “Great Society” State of the Union address, the goals of which are the elimination of poverty and racial injustice. The Temptations’ “My Girl,” The Beatles’ “Help!,” “Ticket to Ride,” and “Eight Days A Week,” Sony and Cher’s “I Got You Babe,” and The Rolling Stones’ “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” are all No. 1 on the music charts. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is completed in October. Walt Disney announces plans for Epcot (later the Epcot Center), the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.”
1966 (Rank 4th)
GDP Expansion: 6.5%
GDP Per Capita (Inflation Adjusted): $19,559
Consumer Price Index: 2.9%
The term “Black Friday” is coined after being originally used by local Philadelphia police frustrated with the massive crowds that gather in the city’s center to begin their holiday shopping. In February, the Dow Jones industrial average hits a record high of 995 points. Medicare, signed the prior year, goes into effect. Star Trek premieres on NBC, soon followed by the network’s first all-color lineup.