4th of July Fireworks and the Connection to the US Economy

We never tend to think that something as fun-filled as 4th of July fireworks displays are ever tied to something as serious as the U.S. economy. But as this Independence Day approaches, many people in cities throughout the country will be stunned by silence and colorless skies as economic pressures in the U.S. impact their abilities to pay the expensive costs for fireworks.

China Ties to United States Fireworks (or Lack Thereof)

As we sit on our lawns or head to a fair to watch fireworks displays, we rarely think about Fourth of July facts such as the location that these fireworks are produced. And when we do think about it, we probably just assume they were manufactured in the United States and kick back to enjoy the show.

Over 30 years ago, this assumption would have been true. But within the past few decades, the U.S. realized that manufacturing the massive amount of fireworks needed to supply the country could no longer be effectively managed within American borders.

When China opened itself up to free trade, it was clear that allowing companies in the country to manage production was best since inexpensive labor and readily-available raw materials made it easier to meet demand.

Up until recently, the fireworks industry was booming in China, making it easy for the country to provide the U.S. with as many fireworks needed. But the world economy has changed significantly since the China began mass-producing them.

Problems like a lack of access to inexpensive labor, costlier raw materials, skyrocketing shipping costs and China’s struggle with its own debt issues have made manufacturing and shipping fireworks more difficult for the country.

States Cancel July 4th Fireworks Displays

Ironically, the slowdown in production of fireworks in China is hardly noticed by many cities and states in the U.S. as they fight to stay afloat financially. In fact, the debt problems faced by the U.S. economy in 2011 have trickled down to state governments, contributing to the decision made by many communities to forego fireworks displays completely.

There’s no doubt that the U.S. economy collapse has taken its toll on cities and states around the country. Many are struggling with record foreclosures, layoffs and budget shortfalls that have pushed into the billions, making it impossible to fund activities such fireworks displays during July 4th events.

States like New Mexico, Colorado, Louisiana, California, Texas, Arizona and Alabama have chosen to ban all outdoor burning—as well as the sale and use of fireworks. While the economy is much to blame for their decisions, fears that droughts could cause wildfires also became a priority.

But some cities have chosen to opt out strictly for financial reasons. For instance, New Britain, Connecticut’s fireworks celebration was canceled due to the $50,000 expense. The University of Florida’s displays hosted in Gainesville, as well as Cincinnati’s annual All-American Birthday Party also were canceled due to costs that were expected to exceed $30,000.

Luckily, New Britain residents fought to bring their celebration back. Many residents helped the city win a $10,000 grant to help reinstate the fireworks shows. With additional help from local organizations, the community was able to amass over $50,000 to bring back the event.

This effort from one community shows just how meaningful 4th of July fireworks really are. Hopefully, as other city and state governments push toward economic recovery, they too will be able to reinstate this tradition that means so much to individuals across the nation.