Profile America: Powers of Ten

Friday, July 6th. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1788, made this nation the first in the world to conduct a census of population on a regular basis, based on 10-year intervals. Units of 10 had an earlier attraction for the Continental Congress.

On this date in 1785, for the first time in history, a nation adopted a decimal coinage system, founded on the dollar we know today. At the time, money systems around the world were a chaos of fractions and units.

Today, only two out of 194 countries — Mauritania and Madagascar — do not have decimal-based currency. There are 1.64 trillion of our decimal-based dollars in circulation. The median annual income in America’s 118 million households is about 57,600 of them.

Profile America is in its 22nd year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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