Father's Day by the numbers 

  • Photo courtesy of Martin Pilote via Flickr Creative Commons

Father's Day by the numbers

The data shamans at the U.S. Census Bureau periodically compile interesting holiday-related facts from their vast information resources. Here's their submission for Father's Day 2012:

The idea of Father's Day was conceived slightly more than a century ago by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father's Day celebration June 17, 1910, proclaimed by Spokane's mayor because it was the month of Smart's birth. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

How Many Fathers?

70.1 million

Estimated number of fathers across the nation. Source: Unpublished data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation

24.7 million

Number of fathers who were part of married-couple families with children younger than 18 in 2011. 21 percent were raising three or more children younger than 18 (among married-couple family households only). 3 percent lived in someone else's home. Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements

1.7 million

Number of single fathers in 2011; 15 percent of single parents were men. Ten percent were raising three or more children younger than 18. About 45 percent were divorced, 31 percent were never married, 19 percent were separated, and 5 percent were widowed. 38 percent had an annual family income of $50,000 or more. Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements

Thinking of You, Dad


The number of men's clothing stores around the country (as of 2009), a good place to buy dad a tie or shirt. Source: County Business Patterns


The number of hardware stores (as of 2009), a place to buy hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and other items high on the list of Father's Day gifts. Additionally, there were 6,897 home centers across the country in 2009. Source: County Business Patterns


Number of sporting goods stores in 2009. These stores are good places to purchase traditional gifts for dad, such as fishing rods and golf clubs. Source: County Business Patterns

79.1 million

The number of Americans who participated in a barbecue in 2010. It's probably safe to assume many of these barbecues took place on Father's Day. Source: GFK Mediamark Research and Intelligence as cited in the Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012, Table 1240.

Stay at Home Dads


Estimated number of stay-at-home dads in 2011. These married fathers with children younger than 15 have remained out of the labor force for at least one year primarily so they can care for the family while their wives work outside the home. These fathers cared for upwards of 332,000 children. Source: America's Families and Living Arrangements


In spring 2010, the percentage of preschoolers regularly cared for by their father during their mother's working hours. Source: Who's Minding the Kids? Child Care Arrangements: Spring 2010

Child-Support Payments

$1.9 billion

Amount of child support received by custodial fathers in 2009; they were due $3.5 billion. In contrast, custodial mothers received $19.5 billion of the $31.7 billion in support that was due. Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009


Percentage of custodial fathers who received all child support that was due in 2009, not significantly different from the corresponding percentage for custodial mothers, 42 percent. Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009


Percentage of custodial fathers receiving noncash support, such as gifts or coverage of expenses, on behalf of their children. The corresponding proportion for mothers was 58 percent. Source: Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2009

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