The United States is still the only western country to grow in both tea imports and consumption, according to the International Tea Committee. The country celebrates national hot tea month in January. Credit: Courtesy of Pixabay

Start the New Year with a hot cup of tea. Americans from millennials to baby boomers continue to drink more tea, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc.

All the reason for January to be National Hot Tea Month.

The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with a list of unusual holidays and the facts behind them.

The United States doubled its tea imports during the past 10 years from $1.3 billion in 2008 to $2.6 billion in 2017. The most tea was imported from Madagascar, followed by India and China. Canada came in sixth and Sri Lanka eighth.

Germany at No. 11 beat out Japan at No. 13 for tea imports.

And if you put a spot of milk in your tea, celebrate National Milk Day on Jan. 11 with Maine’s dairy farmers.

Milk production in the United States was up 0.8 percent from 2017 to 17.9 billion pounds in October 2018. That translates into 1,912 pounds of milk per cow, up 21 pounds per cow compared to October 2017.

The number of milk cows on farms in the United States was 9.37 million head, 30,000 head fewer than October 2017, and 2,000 head fewer than September 2018.

National Pharmacist Day on Jan. 12 might grab the attention of those still deciding their career. The median annual wage for pharmacists was $124,170 in May 2017.

Employment of pharmacists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2016 to 2026. Increased demand for prescription medications will lead to more demand for pharmaceutical services, according to the Census Bureau.

Here are some of the other days you might not want to miss celebrating: popcorn day (Jan. 19), mail carrier day (Feb. 4), weatherperson’s day (Feb. 5), national pizza and national bagel day (Feb. 9), Oregon (home to the other Portland) 160 years of statehood day (Feb. 14) and singles awareness day (Feb. 15).

What’s in store for 2019

Financial website WalletHub offers some financial predictions and resolutions for 2019.

It predicts 2.5 percent growth in the gross domestic product and a 3.5 percent unemployment rate nationwide, down from the 3.7 percent in November 2018.

It expects the S&P 500 index to rise to 3,000, up from 2,489 at the stock market close on Dec. 27. It predicts the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates twice in 2019.

Credit card debt will top $1.1 trillion. Almost 17 million automobiles and 5.5 million existing homes will be sold.

For those wanting to add New Year’s resolutions, WalletHub recommends monitoring your credit report, paying bills right after pay day, paying off credit card debt, separating everyday purchases from debt, adding a month to your rainy day fund, adding 20 points to your credit score, sticking to a budget and improving your physical health.

Softwood prices hold steady

While pulpwood prices have increased in five of the nine major pulp-producing regions of North America in 2017 and 2018, the Northeast has seen prices hold steady, according to the North American Wood Fiber Review.

In the third quarter of 2018, the average market prices for wood chips and pulp logs were highest in interior British Columbia and the U.S. Northwest. Pulp mills in the U.S. South, Quebec and the Maritime provinces had the lowest wood costs.

The U.S. Northeast experienced no change in softwood pulp log prices from the second to the third quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter with steady pricing.

Hardwood roundwood prices edged down slightly when a temporary price increase ended.

Hardwood-consuming pulp mills in Maine had reported low fiber inventories during the summer, but by late August the inventory levels had recovered.

Minimum wage hikes in 2019

Some 5 million Americans will get more in their paychecks in 2019 as 20 states, including Maine, boost their minimum wage in the new year.

Maine’s minimum wage will rise from $10 to $11 per hour on Jan. 1 and then rise again in 2020 to $12. Tipped employees will see a wage increase from $5 to $5.50 per hour.

Next year will mark a decade since Congress last increased the federal minimum wage, according to CBS News. During that time, 29 states and more than 40 cities or counties have hiked their minimum wages above the federal $7.25.