The Office of Consumer Affairs

May 1998 Report


DOC Consumer-Related Activities


The following agencies are included in this report:




-- The major share of local revenue dollars consisted of taxes ($261 billion), followed by state aid ($233 billion), user charges ($107 billion), and government-operated utility sales ($64 billion).

-- Expenditures for local and state governments totaled $1.4 trillion.

-- Expenditures for local governments were primarily for services such as education ($277 billion), hospitals ($39 billion), police ($35 billion), public welfare ($33 billion), and highways ($30 billion).

For questions about the data, contact David Kellerman (301-457-1502). For more information, see The Annual Survey of Government Finances. For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:


-- The number of residents old enough to vote in the November 1998 election will rise to 200.9 million, 4 million more than in November 1996.

-- The largest gains in any one segment of the population since 1996 will be in the 45- to 64-year-old age group, a 7-percent increase.

-- The size of the 65-and-over population, who usually have high rates of voter participation, is expected to remain nearly the same as in 1996, at 34 million. They will comprise 17 percent of the voting-age population.

-- The South is projected to have the greatest number of voting-age residents (71 million).

-- Florida will be the only state with almost one fourth of its voting-age population age 65 and over. Utah will have the youngest voter population; more than 1 in 5 people of voting age (22 percent) will be younger than 25 years old.

For questions about the data, contact Jennifer Day (301-457-2464). For more information, see Projections of the Voting-Age Population, for States: November 1998 (P25-1132). For more information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:


-- Traditional families C married couples with children C have begun to stabilize as a percentage of all families in the 1990's and the growth of single-parent families has slowed.

-- The percentage of married couples with children fell from 50 percent to 37 percent of all families between 1970 and 1990. Since then, it has dropped only 1 percentage point.

-- The percentage of single-parent families doubled between 1970 and 1990, from 6 percent to 12 percent of all families. Since 1990, it has only increased one percentage point.

For questions about the data, contact Ken Bryson or Lynne Casper (301-457-2465/2416). For more information, see Household and Family Characteristics: March 1997 (P20--509). For ordering information, contact Customer Services (301-457-4100). The Internet address is:




Selected Consumer-Related Information

$ Consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in April following no change in March and a slight 0.1 percent gain in February. Over the last 12 months consumer prices are up only 1.4 percent. The core rate of inflation (prices excluding food and energy) increased 0.3 percent in March and 2.1 percent for the past 12 months. Over the same period energy prices dropped 7.4 percent and food prices were up only 2.1 percent.

$ Income after taxes increased 0.4 percent in March, the smallest gain since December.

$ Consumer spending was up 0.5 percent in March following a 0.3 percent gain in February and a 0.7 percent rise in January. In March, spending was concentrated in outlays for nondurable goods and services as durable goods outlays declined.

$ Automobile sales increased 2.5 percent in April following no change the two prior months. Light truck sales increased 4.2 percent following a 2.9 percent gain in March.

$ Housing starts declined for the second consecutive month in April but remained at relatively high levels. All of the April decline was in the volatile multi-family category.

$ Mortgage commitment interest rates continued near the 7-percent level.














The availability of standard, public specifications will promote development of open, interoperable, distributed learning systems, and the reuse of instructional materials. Making educational materials available in the public domain is an important step in promoting the comments of digital objects and related searches over the Internet.

NIST assisted the project by specifying metadata (Adata about data@ that describes how, when, and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data are formatted) and services for metadata, security, and role-based access control, and in developing and testing selected prototype services. NIST researchers also are helping the IMS project to develop a conformance testing and certification program for IMS specifications as well as an accreditation program for testing laboratories.

Should the IMS project opt to use an accreditation program, NIST will help establish it where the IMS specification warrants a formal test and certification system. Conformance testing and certification are recognized as necessary prerequisites to achieving interoperability. (More information on the IMS project is available on the World Wide Web at

MEP centers will be conducting seminars and workshops to raise smaller manufacturers= awareness and understanding of the problem and helping client manufacturers assess their systems and resolve Year-2000 problems. The Stamford, Connecticut-based GartnerGroup, a leading authority on information technology issues, has reported that as of 1997, 88 percent of all smaller companies had not yet started Year-2000 remediation projects. (Year 2000 overview information and a self-assessment questionnaire are available on the MEP World Wide Web site at





Consumers can also connect to FedWorld=s web site at and may visit the NTIS home page at

New Videos Show How to Reduce Worker Stress: Today, preventing worker stress and injury is one of the most cost-effective improvements an organization can make. Lost work days and worker compensation for injury or repetitive stress syndrome are costly. NTIS is offering two new video products that will aid managers and other staff in reducing both lost work days and dollars:

-- Ergonomic Programs That Work (Closed-Captioned) (AVA20258VNB1NEN, $55 plus handling) shows how management commitment, worker involvement, worksite analysis, medical management, training and education, and ongoing evaluation can identify and solve worksite ergonomic hazards. Cost Savings are highlighted.

-- Nursing Homes: Hazards and Solutions (Closed-Captioned) (AVA20259VNB1NEN, $55 plus handling) comes from an Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiative to reduce injury and stress to nursing home workers whose injury rates are much higher than average because of the frequent requirement to lift and transfer patients.

HCUP-3 Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) Release 4 Data, Documentation and Tools, 1995 (on CD-ROM) (PB98-500440NEN, $160 plus handling): The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has issued Release 4 of its popular Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP-3) Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS). Release 4 approximates a 20-percent sample of U.S. community hospitals for 1995. This release is drawn from 19 states and contains information on all inpatient stays from over 900 hospitals, totaling about 6.7 million records in 1995. Access to the NIS is open to all researchers who sign data-use agreements. Uses are limited to research and aggregate statistical reporting. Benefits of the HCUP-3 NIS product include: 1) more than 100 clinical and resource use variables;

2) capture of uncommon conditions and procedures; 3) protection of the privacy of individual patients and physicians; 4) ability to be run on desktop computers; 5) only database that provides information on hospital charges for all payers (private, Medicare, Medicaid, self-pay, etc.); and 6) because of its size, this database supports analyses of both rare and common conditions and procedures.

PR-1047NEN Catalog of Educational Multimedia Products

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