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December 1989, Vol. 112, No. 12
Spending differences across occupational fields
Since the late 1940's, the U.S. labor force has undergone several substantial changes affecting its composition and structure. Female participation has grown rapidly since World War II, and consequently, there are more dual-earner families.1 Growth of the suburban population has contributed to increased commuting time to and from work. And although average weekly work hours have decreased for the civilian labor force, the average American household has less time available for leisure activities:
. . . the amount of leisure time enjoyed by the average American has shrunk 37 percent since 1973. Over the same period, the average work week, including commuting, has jumped from 41 hours to nearly 47 hours. In some professions, predictably law, finance, and medicine, the demands often stretch to 80-plus hours a week. Vacations have shortened to the point where they are frequently no more than long weekends. And the Sabbath is for, what else, shopping.2
According to the same source, the course of the rat race has led to less time available for family activities, increased consumption of service-oriented items, and more labor-saving gadgetry. This increased demand for services is reflected in the change in employment by occupational group. Projections by BLS indicate that employment by the year 2000 will increase most for service workers and least for operators and laborers. (See table 1.)
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 1989 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 See Eva Jacobs, Stephanie Shipp, and Gregory Brown, "Families of working wives spend more on services and nondurables," Monthly Labor Review, February 1989, pp. 15-23.
2 Nancy Gibbs, "How America has run out of time," Time, Apr. 24, 1989, pp. 58-67.
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