Americans are changing their view of which appliances are truly necessary. According to the Pew Research Center, many of our past favorites are losing their hold on our pocketbooks.
A microwave oven, a television set or even home air conditioning is no longer considered a necessity. Instead, nearly half or more now see each of these items as a luxury, the report found. Similarly, the proportion that considers a dishwasher or a clothes dryer to be essential has dropped sharply since 2006.
The study also found these recession-era reevaluations are all the more striking because the public’s luxury-versus-necessity perceptual boundaries had been moving in the other direction for the previous decade.
For example, the share of adults who consider a microwave a necessity was just 32% in 1996. By 2006, it had shot up to 68%. But it has now retreated to 47%. Similarly, just 52% of the public in the latest poll say a television set is a necessity — down 12 percentage points from 2006 and the smallest share to call a TV a necessity since this question was first asked more than 35 years ago. Most surprising to me is the change in response to the clothes dryer — down 17 percentage points since 1996.