Let’s hear it for the Red, White and Blue. As the economy continues its sluggish recovery, millions of Americans are hitting the road (or the skies) this weekend in advance of the July 4th holiday. Some 42.3 million will travel 50 miles or more, according to a new AAA survey. That would be a 4.9 percent increase over the 40.3 million people who traveled last year – and would tie a decade-high total set in 2007.
Falling gas prices are driving some of the wanderlust. But when July 4 falls in the middle of the week, Americans can “add vacation days to the weekend before the midweek holiday, after it, or even both this year, giving them a lot of options,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Median spending on travel is estimated at $749, a 7 percent drop from last year’s $807. Travelers say they’ll spend more time with family and on sightseeing, as opposed to pricey activities like shopping and entertainment.
Here are some fast and furious Fourth of July figures, courtesy of the Census Bureau:
In July 1776, the estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation
The nation’s estimated population on this July Fourth
Value of fireworks imported from China in 2011, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($223.4 million). U.S. exports of fireworks, by comparison, came to just $15.8 million in 2011, with Australia buying more than any other country ($4.5 million).
Value of U.S. manufacturers’ shipments of fireworks and pyrotechnics (including flares, igniters, etc.) in 2007
Dollar value of U.S. imports of American flags last year; the vast majority ($3.3 million) was for U.S. flags made in China
Dollar value of U.S. flags exported in 2011; Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $80,349 worth
Number of places with the word “liberty” in their names; the most populous one as of April 1, 2010, was Liberty, Mo. (29,149). Iowa, with four, has more of these places than any other state: Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty and West Liberty.
Number of places with “eagle” in their names; most populous is Eagle Pass, Texas, with a population of 26,248.
Number of places with “independence” in their names; most populous: Independence, Mo., with a population of 116,830.
Number of places with “freedom” in their names; most populous: New Freedom, Pa., with a population of 4,464.
Just one lone place has “patriot” in its name: Patriot, Ind., with a population of 209.
Ranking of the frequency of the surname of first president George Washington, among all last names tabulated in the 2000 Census. Other early presidential names that appear on the list, along with their ranking, were Adams (39), Jefferson (594), Madison (1,209) and Monroe (567).
Dollar value of trade last year between the U.S. and the United Kingdom; that makes the British, our adversary in 1776, our sixth-leading trading partner today
7.2 billion pounds
Total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2011 – so chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on the backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. If the beef didn’t hail from Texas, it may well have come from Nebraska (4.6 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.0 billion pounds).
Number of states in which the value of broiler chicken production was estimated at $1 billion or greater between December 2010 and November 2011. So there’s a good chance that one of these states — Georgia, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas — is the source of your barbecued chicken.
Almost 1 in 3
The chance that hot dogs and pork sausages eaten on July Fourth originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 19.7 million hogs and pigs on March 1, 2012. This number represents almost one-third of the nation’s estimated total. North Carolina (8.6 million) and Minnesota (7.6 million) were also homes to large numbers of pigs.