May 23, 2006
The material well-being of families in the United States improved dramatically during the 20th century, as demonstrated by the change over time in the percentage of expenditures allocated for food, clothing, and housing.
In 1901, the average U.S. family devoted 79.8 percent of its spending to these necessities, while families in New York City spent 80.3 percent, and families in Boston allocated 86.0 percent.
By 2002–03, allocations on necessities had been reduced substantially, for U.S. families to 50.1 percent of spending, for New York City families to 56.7 percent, and for Boston families to 53.8 percent.
These data come from the Consumer Expenditure Survey. Find out more in "100 Years of U.S. Consumer Spending: Data for the Nation, New York City, and Boston," BLS Report 991.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Spending on necessities, 1901 and 2002-03 on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2006/may/wk4/art02.htm (visited December 01, 2015).
Fifty years of looking at changes in peoples lives
Longitudinal surveys help us understand long-term changes, such as how events that happened when a person was in high school affect labor market success as an adult.