Steve Horwitz at The Austrian Economists blog has some enlightening information culled from Census Bureau data, and he's spread it out over three posts.
In the first, he looks at the percentage of U.S. households below the poverty line that have certain appliances. His thinking is that these represent real gains in income as they represent a better standard of living.
In his second post, Horwitz examines the gap between the percentage of households in the lowest quintile that have the same appliances and compares them to the percentage of households in the highest quintile. He then compares the finding from two different years to see if there is a change in the gap. While he admits that the rich have relatively little room to rise, the important thing is that the gaps on almost all items narrowed over the two years covered in the comparison. More information would seem to be in order.
For the third post, Horwitz uses a table generated by Mark Perry at Carpe Diem to compare the cost of the items in terms of hours worked at the average hourly wage for all industries. This is reminiscent of some work that appeared in annual reports of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas back in the mid-1990s. The conclusion there was similar, as I recall. And while opponents might note that the structure of the economy and available jobs is changing, I will note that has been the case for as long as I remember. And yet the trend seems to continue.
Finally, I thank Mark Perry at Carpe Diem for linking to the original post. I look forward to comments.