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Thursday focus: The economy

The Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation.

No doubt you remember those facts from your American history lessons.

But Independence Day gives us so many more figures to gnaw on, like a sweet slice of summer watermelon. And the holiday’s economic impact can be substantial, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau:

$207 million … value of fireworks imported from China in 2007, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imported ($217 million).

$14.9 million … U.S. exports of fireworks in 2007 (Japan bought $3.8 million worth).

$4.7 million … value of U.S. imports of American flags in 2007; $4.3 million was for U.S. flags made in China.

$2.4 million … value of U.S. flags exported in 2007; Mexico was the leading customer, purchasing $1.2 million worth.

$349.2 million … annual value of shipments of fabricated flags, banners and similar emblems by the nation’s manufacturers.

More than 1 in 4 … the chance that the hot dogs and pork sausages consumed on the Fourth of July originated in Iowa. The Hawkeye State was home to 17.6 million market hogs and pigs on March 1, 2008. This represents more than one-fourth of the nation’s total. North Carolina (9 million) and Minnesota (6.7 million) were the runners-up.

6.8 billion pounds … total production of cattle and calves in Texas in 2007. Chances are good that the beef hot dogs, steaks and burgers on your backyard grill came from the Lone Star State, which accounted for about one-sixth of the nation’s total production. And if the beef did not come from Texas, it very well may have come from Nebraska (4.7 billion pounds) or Kansas (4.1 billion pounds).

1 billion pounds … of watermelon Georgia produced last year, making it the nation’s leader. California, Florida and Texas each produced more than 400 million pounds.

From staff reports


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