The business of love

Brian Brown, Reporter

Cupid’s back. And the arrows he slings are pricey for his targets.

The Census Bureau recently released a host of facts and figures it compiled tied to the lovers’ holiday, which, in case you were wondering, was first recognized in Rome in A.D. 496 by Pope Gelasius I. More than 1,500 years later, the holiday means big business.

Here are a few of the facts that I find interesting:

• In February 2011, jewelry stores sold $2.27 billion in merchandise.
• There were 1,177 U.S. manufacturing establishments that produced chocolate and cocoa products in 2009, and those organizations employed 34,252 people. The total value of their shipments was $12.6 billion.
• In 2010, the average American ate 24.7 pounds of chocolate.
• The combined wholesale value of U.S. produced cut flowers in 2010 for all operations with $100,000 or more in sales was $375 million. Cut roses accounted for $17 million of that figure.
• There were 17,124 florists across the country in 2009, and they employed 75,855 workers.
• In 2009, 2.1 million marriages took place, which amounts to an average of nearly 5,800 trips down the aisle each day. Nevada ranked fifth in marriages despite the fact that its population ranks 35th among all states. Missouri ranked 17th with just under 40,000.
• Just above 53 percent of all adults reported being married in 2011. The median age for first marriages is 28.7 for men and 26.5 for women.
• For women married for the first time between 1990 and 1994, 74.5 percent made it to their 10-year anniversaries. This compares to 83 percent of women who married for the first time between 1960 and 1964. Statistics on guys, curiously, were not compiled by the Census Bureau.
• While much has been made of divorce rates in recent years, 75 percent of all people who decide to tie the knot only ever do so once. About19 percent of folks in the U.S. that marry have entered a second marriage and only 5 percent have married three times or more.
• In 2007, there were 393 dating services nationwide, and combined, they pulled in nearly $1 billion in revenue.

Opinions vary as to who was the original Valentine, but a common theory is that he was a member of the clergy who was executed for secretly marrying couples in ancient Rome. If you’re looking to take your significant other on a romantic getaway in celebration of the fallen matchmaker, here are a few destinations you might consider: Loving, N.M.; Valentine, Texas; Darling, Mich.; Romeo, Colo.; or Loveland, Okla.

If you’re alone this Valentine’s Day, buy yourself a nice gift and some chocolate. You can tell yourself it’s good for the economy.

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