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May 1992, Vol. 115, No. 5
Maureen Boyle Gray
T he 1980's have been described as a fast-paced, free-spending decade, a "decade of economic confidence and robust consumer spending."1 Although much of the focus on the American economy has been about the shift from the production of durables to the provision of services, data on aggregate expenditures from the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey show that these expenditures are divided fairly evenly between goods and services.2 This article examines the pattern of spending of U.S. consumers on selected durables and services from 1980 through 1990. Among the various goods and services discussed are many that have come to play an integral -indeed, to some persons and families, perhaps indispensable-role in today's way of life: microwave ovens; videocassette recorders and associated sales and rentals of cassettes, tapes, and discs; personal computers and associated hardware and software; child care services; housekeeping services; and purchases of meals away from home. Expenditures on most of these items increased, in many cases dramatically, from 1980 to 1990, as the growth in labor force participation of women spurred a need for more time-saving devices and the peak earning years of baby-boomers provided the wherewithal to buy them.
Description of Survey
The principal objective of the Consumer Expenditure Survey is to collect data that provide a continuous flow of information on the buying patterns of U.S. consumers. Originally conducted about every 10 years, the survey has been on-going since 1980.
This excerpt is from an article published in the May 1992 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 James W. Hughes, "Understanding the Squeezed," American Demographics, July 1991, p. 44.
2 William D. Passero, "Goods vs. Services: From the Perspective of Consumer Spending," Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the American Council on Consumer Interests (Columbia, MO, American Council on Consumer Interests, 1988), pp. 45-51.
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