The Fourth of July: By the Numbers

On Wednesday, the United States celebrates its 236th birthday, commemorating the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence and set the colonies on the march to freedom. Here we look at how Americans today celebrate the historic occasion through fun, fireworks, food and travel.

Many things have changed since America's first birthday: the borders have expanded, the population has soared and the economy has become the largest in the world. But our sense of patriotism and appreciation for life in the United States remains as strong as ever, as evidenced by the many celebrations expected across the nation this July 4th.

The size and scale of the festivities planned for Independence Day showcase just how much the holiday means to us, and how big an impact it will have on the economy.


2.5 Million

Estimated number of people living in the newly independent U.S. in July 1776

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Historical Statistics of the United States 1789-1945

313.9 Million

Estimated number of people living in the U.S. on Independence Day 2012

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Population Clock


Number of Americans with the last name "Washington"

Source: Financial Content


Percentage of U.S. families that owned an American flag in 2011

Source: National Retail Federation's 2011 Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey


Number of American flags flown over the U.S. Capitol last year, with 1,200 flags flown over Washington, D.C., on July 4th alone

Source: VA Home Loans

$302.7 Million

Annual value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation's manufacturers, based on the latest data available

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 Economic Census

$3.6 Million

Value of U.S. flags imported in 2011, with the majority ($3.3 million) of imported flags made in China

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Statistics


Value of U.S. flags exported in 2011, with Mexico as the leading customer, purchasing $80,349 worth

Source: Ibid

$649 Million

Total revenue from the consumer fireworks industry in 2011, with an additional $318 million generated by the display fireworks industry

Source: American Pyrotechnics Association

$231.8 Million

Total value of manufacturers' shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics (including flares, igniters, etc.), based on the latest available data

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's 2007 Economic Census

$232.3 Million

Value of fireworks imported from China in 2011, compared to $15.8 million in U.S. exports of fireworks

Source: U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Statistics


Number of fireworks-related injuries reported nationwide last year

Source: VA Home Loans


42.3 Million

Number of Americans who will travel 50 miles or more from home this Independence Day weekend, up 4.9 percent from last year

Source: AAA's Projection for Independence Day Holiday Travel

723 Miles

Average travel distance expected for this year's Independence Day holiday weekend, 150 miles more than last year's average

Source: Ibid


Median amount expected to be spent by July 4th holiday travelers this year, a 7 percent decrease from 2011

Source: Ibid

35.5 Million

Number of people who plan to travel by automobile over the July 4th holiday, a 4 percent increase from 2011 and marking a 10-year peak

Source: Ibid


Current national average price of regular gasoline per gallon, 16 cents lower than in the same time last year

Source: Ibid

3.2 Million

Number of travelers who will fly during the Independence Day holiday period, a 9 percent increase over last year

Source: Ibid


Average round-trip rate for the top 40 U.S. air routes

Source: Ibid


74 Million

Number of Americans planning to barbeque this Independence Day weekend

Source: VA Home Loans

155 Million

Estimated number of hot dogs that will be consumed the July 4th weekend, enough to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times

Source: Ibid

$1.7 Billion

Amount consumers spent on hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets last year

Source: National Hot Dog & Sausage Council


Number of hot dogs consumed in 10 minutes by Joey Chestnut in his third consecutive victory at the annual Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest in Coney Island

Source: VA Home Loans

1 in 3

Chances that a hot dog or pork sausage consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa, which is home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs

Source: USDA's National Agricultural Services Statistics

7.2 Billion Lbs.

Total production weight of cattle and calves in Texas in 2011, much of which find its way to hot dogs, steaks and burgers

Source: Ibid


Percentage of the nation's potatoes that were produced in Idaho or Washington state in 2011, many of which are turned into potato salad or potato chips for the Fourth of July

Source: Financial Content

$193 Million

Total amount spent on purchasing hamburger patties in 2009

Source: VA Home Loans

$203 Million

Total amount spent on mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard in 2009

Source: Ibid

68.3 Million

Total cases of beer sold on Independence Day weekend, the most popular holiday for beer purchases, followed by Labor Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day and Christmas

Source: Ibid

Click for larger view. Credit: Financial Content

We'll be back with our regularly scheduled publications on July 9th. Until then, from the entire IMT staff, we wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.


All Topics