United States of America - Financial services.

The financial sector is composed of banking, insurance, and real estate operations. Financial firms provide a range of services. Commercial banks provide loans to consumers and businesses, including revolving loans in the form of credit cards. They also offer a variety of safe investment opportunities, such as savings accounts. Most savings and checking accounts in U.S. banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation for up to $100,000. Other financial firms concentrate on investment opportunities such as stocks and bonds, and manage long-term retirement plans. Still others provide a range of insurance needs including life, car, and home insurance. Financial service firms account for about 8.5 percent of all companies and just 5.8 percent of U.S. workers. Because of the high level of education and training required for employment in this sector, workers in financial services are among the highest-paid in the United States. In 1999, their average hourly wage was $14.61 compared with the national hourly average of $13.24. They also have a lower unemployment rate. Unemployment among financial service workers was just 2.3 percent in 1999, while the national unemployment rate was 4.3 percent. The largest financial service firms are Citigroup with 173,500 workers, Bank of America with 163,400, Wells Fargo with 90,400, and Chase Manhattan with 73,800.

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