It's 5:30am Monday morning, and I just finished unloading a packed dishwasher, and am getting ready to put some laundry in. Ahhh....the start of a new day.
Life - at least for me - would be a lot more complicated without those two appliances, which I would venture to guess most American families consider a necessity. But according to a new study by the Pew Center, American attitudes about luxuries versus necessities are changing as more and more people cut back on spending.
Pew's new national survey asked Americans what they could do without, and found that "No longer do substantial majorities of the public say a microwave oven, a television set or even home air conditioning is a necessity. Instead, nearly half or more now see each of these items as a luxury. Similarly, the proportion that considers a dishwasher or a clothes dryer to be essential has dropped sharply since 2006."
Pew researchers say these results are striking, because for the previous decade, "the public's luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries" have been moving in the exact opposite direction, when we considered nearly everything a necessity...which explains why sales of so-called "luxury goods" was out of this world.
But while people surveyed actually said they could do without a clothes dryer (are they INSANE, or just childless?) -- the number of people who said they could NOT live without a cell phone and Internet service shot up significantly. Pew researchers say that this perhaps signals "that consumer reaction to the recession is being driven by specific personal economic hardships as well as by a more pervasive new creed of thrift that has taken hold both among those who've been personally affected and those who haven't."
You can read more about the survey in USA Today, on CBSNews.com, or in the Wall Street Journal or this NYTimes blog, proving that your Wifi-enabled laptop is a necessity -- and your newspaper either a luxury - or a relic.