The Office of Consumer Affairs

December 1997 Report


DOC Consumer-Related Activities

The following agencies are included in this report:


  • Married Couples Make Up Large Share of Asian and Pacific Islander Families:
  • -- Almost 80 percent of the 2.1 million Asian and Pacific Islander families in the United States in 1996 consisted of married couples.

    -- The Asian and Pacific Islander population was estimated at 9.6 million persons in 1996 and represented 3.7 percent of the total population.

    -- Fifty-nine percent of all households maintained by Asian and Pacific Islanders had three or more persons in them in 1996.

    -- About 42 percent of the country's Asian and Pacific Islanders 25 years of age and older had at least a bachelor's degree and 83 percent at least a high school education.

    For questions about the data, contact Claudette Bennett (301-457-2402). For more information, see The Asian and Pacific Islander Population in the United States: March 1996 (Update). For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:

  • More People Left Metro Areas Than Moved into Them in 1995-96:
  • -- A quarter of a million more people left the nation's metropolitan areas than moved into them during a 12-month period that ended in March 1996--the second time since the mid-1980's that metropolitan areas lost population due to migration.

    -- Race and ethnic minorities moved more; Whites had lower overall rates of moving (16 percent) than either African Americans or Asian and Pacific Islanders (about 20 percent each). Persons of Hispanic origin had the highest move rate (23 percent).

    -- Forty-three million Americans--16 percent of the population--moved during March 1995-March 1996. Most of the moves were local; 26.7 million stayed in the same county, 8 million moved between counties within the same state, 6.5 million changed states and 1.4 million moved to the U.S. from abroad.

    For questions about the data, contact Kristin Hansen (301-457-2454). For more information, see Geographic Mobility: March 1995 to March 1996, (P20-497). For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100).

  • New Statistical Abstract Highlights Household Lifestyles: The 117th edition consists of nearly 1,700 tables and graphs, with 100 new tables. Some of the new information covered in this year's edition includes schools with Internet access, family net worth, minority-owned businesses, mammography and workplace drug testing. Other data on American families show that:
  • -- In 1995, family median net worth was $56,400.

    -- In 1996, 32 percent of households owned dogs and 27 percent owned cats.

    -- In 1995, the average annual amount given to charities was $1,017.

    -- The use of general purpose credit cards jumped from 56 percent of all families in 1989 to about 66 percent in 1995. About 52 percent always paid off their balances, 20 percent paid off sometimes, while 28 percent hardly ever paid them off.

    -- Property crime (burglary, motor vehicle theft and theft) fell 9 percent between 1994 and 1995 to a rate of about 280 crimes per 1,000 households.

    For more information, contact Lars Johanson (301-457-1171). For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100) or the National Technical Information Service (703-487-4650). The Abstract is available on the Internet at


    Selected Consumer-Related Information

    Consumer prices increased 0.1 percent in December and rose only 1.7 percent during 1997, their smallest yearly advance since 1986. The core rate of inflation (prices excluding food and energy) increased 0.2 percent in December and 2.2 percent for the year as a whole, their smallest yearly advance since 1965. This closely watched index increased 2.6 percent in 1996.

    Income after taxes posted a strong 0.7 percent gain in November after increasing 0.5 percent in October. Average monthly increases for the first ten months of the year were also 0.5 percent.

    Consumer spending was up 0.4 percent in November following a 0.5 percent increase in October and weak gains during the two prior months. A strong 0.8 percent increase in durable goods sales, after three monthly declines, led the November rise.

    Automobile sales held steady in November following declines of 3.7 percent in October and 5.7 percent in September. Light truck sales, by contrast, jumped 9 percent in November after easing only 1.4 percent in October from the high levels reached during the three prior months.

    Housing starts edged up 0.8 percent in October and November following a large 8 percent jump in September. For the year as a whole, housing starts are very close to the high levels attained in 1996.

    Mortgage commitment interest rates continued to decline from about 7.25 percent in October to 7.17 percent in early December. They are now hovering around or slightly below the 7 percent level.


  • Internet Summit on Children: December 1-3, 1997, the Director attended the Internet Online Summit: Focus on Children. Administration presenters included Vice President Albert Gore, Secretary of Commerce William Daley, Secretary of Education Riley, Attorney General Janet Reno, and Robert Pitofsky, Chairman, Federal Trade Commission.
  • Consumer Affairs at American Express: On December 1, the Director and staff met with Peggy Haney, Vice President, Consumer Affairs, American Express, to discuss electronic commerce. American Express is working with the Smart Card Forum on a pilot using smart cards at Hilton Hotels.
  • Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: Staff attended the 1997 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Awards where President Clinton handed out awards to two manufacturing companies, 3M Dental Products Division and Solectron Corporation, and to two service companies, Merrill Lynch Credit Corporation and Xerox Business Services. The Solectron Corporation also received the award in 1991.
  • Constituent Contacts: During December 1997, OCA responded to 188 requests from constituents.


  • U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook 1998: U.S. Department of Commerce's ITA together with the McGraw-Hill Company released the 1998 U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook with its economic forecasts for 350 manufacturing and service sectors, including telecommunications, financial services, aerospace, and utilities. The ten fastest-growing U.S. industries, according to the Outlook are: computer equipment; aerospace; passive components; dental equipment and supplies; radio and television communications equipment; semiconductors and related devices; weft, lace, and warp knit fabric mills; printed circuit board; telephone and telegraph apparatus; and electromedical equipment.


  • Report Finds Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper Severely Overfished: A consolidated report from three independent peer review panels released in December finds that the red snapper stock in the Gulf of Mexico is severely overfished, and directed that fishing effort and juvenile red snapper bycatch in the shrimp fishery must be reduced. The findings of the three expert peer review panels also call for improving management measures to recover the Gulf red snapper fishery, officials with the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) said.
  • Maine Takes Lead for Atlantic Salmon Protection--Federal Agencies Withdraw Endangered Species Proposal: The NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they are withdrawing a proposal to protect Atlantic Salmon in seven Maine rivers under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Instead, the fish will be protected by a cooperative recovery effort spearheaded by the State of Maine. Officials emphasized that the recovery of Atlantic Salmon stocks depends on full implementation and monitoring of Maine's newly developed Atlantic Salmon Conservation Plan.
  • NMFS Stock Assessment Methods Are Solid; Could Benefit from More Data, Says National Academy of Sciences: According to a National Academy of Science study released in December, the methods currently used by the NMFS to determine the health of U.S. fish stocks are the best available for fisheries management and to set harvest levels, but could benefit from improved data. Fisheries service leaders support the findings of the two-year study that suggests improvements to the science underlying the nation's management of important commercial fish species. The study analyzed methods and information used to determine the status of fish stocks. Officials praised the study as complete, fair and forward looking.
  • NOAA Official Applauded North Carolina Power and Light, State Environmentalists, for Removing Quaker Neck Dam: The future health and rebuilding of several commercial and recreational marine fish species along with their habitat on the Neuse River will be substantially improved following the removal of the Quaker Neck Dam, an official with the Commerce Department's NOAA said. Seventy-five miles of the Neuse River and 925 miles of its tributary will be available to benefit a wide range of fish species who will now be able to spawn there before returning to the ocean.



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