BERGMANN
Randy Bergmann  /  AP file
Charlie Bergmann of Pinehurst, N.C., tees off during a 2002 round at Hyland Hills course in Southern Pines, N.C. He was one of 26 million Americans who enjoy hitting the links.
By Jon Bonné
msnbc.com
updated 2/12/2004 12:05:51 AM ET 2004-02-12T05:05:51

Hey, you. Yeah, you, reading this sentence. You're probably one of at least 55 million adults who use the Internet, so you're in pretty good company.

Your habit isn't as popular as going to a barbecue, which 67 million American adults did in the past year, according to 2002 data. But it's more popular than going to a bar (43.4 million), baking something (36 million) or doing a crossword puzzle (32 million).

This little fact, like thousands of others, is tucked inside the new Statistical Abstract of the United States, released Thursday. Once again, those earnest eggheads at the Census Bureau have managed to quantify anything and everything we do as a nation.

Like what? Well, since you asked ...

In the money
Perhaps we were feeling a bit better off. Family net worth in 2001 was at an average $395,500, up from $230,500 (in 2001 dollars) in 1992. Median net worth didn't jump quite as much, but still rose to $86,100 from an inflation-adjusted $61,300.

We were sharing more, too. In 2000, we gave an average of $1,623 to charity, about 3.2 percent of household income. That was up from 2.2 percent in 1991 and 1995.

And we certainly couldn't resist having some trusted companions around. Dogs lived in 36 percent of households, where families owned an average 1.6 canines. Just under 32 percent of Americans had cats, but 2.1 kitties lived in the typical cat lover's home.

Off to market
We picked up $485 billion in food to eat at home, and $415 billion to eat away from home.

That included 6.9 billion pounds of citrus fruit and 20.6 billion pounds of other fruit, 48 billion pounds of vegetables and 12.8 billion pounds of potatoes. (With all those spuds, it's worth noting we got nearly 25 percent more potatoes per acre than in 1990.)

And to drink? We consumed $59.2 billion in packaged beer, wine and liquor and spent another  $53.2 billion drinking in bars and restaurants.

We also dropped by the pharmacy rather often: Drug stores sold $182.7 billion worth of prescription drugs in 2002, more than double the $72.2 billion spent in 1995.

When we went shopping, bigger clearly seemed better. America had 23,900 supermarkets in 2001, about 600 fewer than in 1990. But the number of "superstores" grew to 8,900, and the percentage of markets offering delis (80 percent), bakeries (72), seafood (43) and pharmacies (34) all grew significantly. The number of convenience stores shrank to 56,200 from 93,000 in 1990.

Alaska's shopping centers were the most profitable, at $344 in sales per square foot; Nevada's were the least, at $148.

Where did all the money come from?  Well, from ATMs, no doubt, where Americans were getting soaked by their banks. Nearly 90 percent of financial institutions said they included an surcharge on their ATMs if you weren't a customer, at an average fee of $1.36. Fewer banks charged their own customers for using someone else's ATM, though nearly 70 percent still levied a fee — $1.14 on average.

We also spent $700 billion using debit cards in 2002, up from $448 billion just two years earlier. By next year, that is projected to grow to $1.1 trillion.

Major moments
Utah was by far the most fertile state, with 21.8 births per 1,000 people, followed by Texas, at 17.6. Birth wards were a bit quieter in Vermont (10.6) and Maine (10.9).

When it came to wedding bells, the chapels in Nevada clanged up a frenzy, with more than 75 weddings per 1,000 residents. Hawaii came in a distant second, with just over 20. Nevada also led the nation with 6.8 divorces per 1,000 people, followed by Wyoming's 6.6. (Not all states reported divorce statistics.)

Nearly 64 percent of kids aged 3 to 5 were in pre-school or kindergarten in 2001, well up from the 37 percent enrolled in 1970.

More of us were getting our diplomas, too: Over 84 percent of Americans over 25 finished high school by 2002, with more than a quarter holding bachelors' degrees. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado led in college-educated residents, all with more than 35 percent, while West Virginia, Arkansas and Wyoming all lagged under 20 percent.

At work
We produced 565 billion cigarettes in 2002, down a heap from the 710 billion we made in 1990. By contrast, we made 3 billion cigars, over a billion more than 12 years earlier.

We made 60.3 million pairs of shoes, about half of which we shipped overseas. But we used over 1.5 billion pairs, almost all of which were imported.

Airlines actually paid less for fuel in 2001, after adjusting for inflation, than in 1985 -- and far less than in 1980. But they paid more than double in labor costs than 20 years earlier.

Family farms also faced tougher times. They accounted for 585 million acres, down from 628 million in 1987. Corporate farms were on the rise -- with 84,000 by 1997, or 131 million acres, compared with 67,000 (119 million acres) a decade earlier.

Wyoming and Arizona had the largest farms, averaging over 3,600 acres. New Jersey and Rhode Island had the smallest: about 85 acres on average.

And on those farms, they had a cow. Or two. Texas sold the most cattle — $6.8 billion, or nearly 17 percent of national receipts, followed by Nebraska and Kansas.

California sold the most dairy products — $4.6 billion — followed by Wisconsin and New York. Who sold the most corn? Iowa, of course — over 18 percent of the national total.

U.S. companies had $7.8 billion in sales of space vehicles in 2001, down from previous years and well off a 1997 high of $13.4 billion. U.S. commercial space revenues were projected down to $22.7 billion in 2002 from $35.4 billion just two years before.

Back on earth, cobblers were equally glum. Shoe and leather repairs were down 1.5 percent. And while funeral homes' revenues were up nearly 6 percent, to $11.6 billion, cemeteries and crematories dropped almost 4 percent to $2.8 billion.

Yet auto repairs were looking up, growing nearly 5 percent from 2000 to 2001 — almost $90 billion in tune-ups, new mufflers and the like.

Driven
That should be no surprise, of course, as Americans keep growing fonder of automobiles. Sales of new cars and trucks grew to $680 billion in 2002 from $316 billion in 1990. Car registrations grew to 230 million, up from 189 million. And that happened despite having fewer car lots: We had 21,725 franchise dealerships in 2002, down from 24,825 in 1990.

Of course, drivers in Los Angeles were none too happy with more cars on the road, given the extra 62 hours per year they spent in their cars due to traffic delays. Ditto San Francisco, with 41 hours. Fewer complaints in Bakersfield, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Spokane, Wash., where residents wasted five hours or less in traffic during the whole year.

At play
When it came to smaller toys, we were less interested. Toy sales were down 11 percent from 2001 to 2002. But — no surprise to parents — sales of video games grew by 10 percent.

We did spend plenty on home entertainment. About $1 billion dollars worth of VCRs was sold in 2001, down from $2.4 billion a decade earlier. But we spent $2.7 billion on DVD players.

If we got bored, we could call our friends. Eight times as many cell phones were sold in 2001 as in 1990, some $8.6 billion worth.

Or we might have gotten some exercise. About 54 million Americans went swimming and 45 million went camping, while only 24 million did aerobics and 26 million played golf. Just over 5 million played badminton.

Some 34 million went fishing.

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