The happenings "inside" the Wisconsin State Treasury and across the street at the State Capitol

The Economy & You #40 – How Big is the Fireworks Industry?

Every Fourth of July, families across our great state enjoy the spectacle of fireworks.  It is a community tradition to have fireworks at the local park that can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Whether you watch the U.S. Bank Fireworks in Milwaukee, the Fireman’s Fourth of July Festival in Boscobel, or the Day on the Green where Madeline Island celebrates the Fourth of July, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy food, friendly people, and fireworks. Still, many do not know that fireworks is big business in Wisconsin and across the country.

In 2011, the fireworks industry brought in almost a BILLION dollars ($967 million) in revenues. Ten years ago, the total was $650 million.  Revenues in the fireworks industry have increased since 1998 according to the American Pyrotechnics Association.

There are two main types of fireworks. Display fireworks are those which are viewed at events like Rhythm and Booms in Madison, or at your local community park. Professionals are brought in to put on a display that is enjoyed by the community. Consumer fireworks are the sparklers, firecrackers, and bottle rockets that people purchase at stands and stores to light off in their backyards. 

Consumer fireworks comprise the largest part of the fireworks industry. In 2011, people purchased $649 million worth of consumer fireworks compared to $318 million of display fireworks.

Regulation has not seemed to hurt the fireworks industry. The federal government has placed basic controls on the industry, and states and municipalities have imposed further restrictions.  Still, the consumption of fireworks topped over 234.1 million pounds.

Currently, there are 41 states plus the District of Columbia that allow some or all types of consumer fireworks permitted by federal regulations. Four states (IL, IA, OH, VT) allow for only wood stick or wire sparklers, and four other states (DE, MA, NJ, NY) ban all consumer fireworks.

Fireworks have continued to evolve as improvements in technology have allowed microchips to be placed in shells so that displays can be set to music, and advances in chemistry have resulted in more brilliant blasts.  All have led to even more spectacular displays.

Still, it is important to remember that fireworks are explosives and present potential risks. It is important that people use fireworks safely.  Here are a few videos that provide safety tips when using fireworks.

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