For the first time ever, there are more than 700,000 licensed radio amateurs in the United States. As of September 30, 2011, according to the ARRL and AH0A.org, the total number of FCC amateur licensees was 700,221. This represents a 145 percent increase over the U.S. ham population in 1971, according to the ARRL, and an increase of more than 200,000 in the past 20 years.
After dipping between 2003 and 2007, license numbers have risen steadily for the past four-plus years, passing the 2003 peak of 687,860 in March 2010, according to statistics tracked by Joe Speroni, AH0A. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, says there are currently approximately 150 ARRL-coordinated exam sessions each week, compared with about 55 per week in the mid-1980s. (Keep these numbers in mind next time someone tells you ham radio is dying. -- ed.)