When you look at the price tags on consumer goods, it would seem that costs have skyrocketed over the last 30 years. If you adjust for inflation, however, the relative cost of items such as food, manufactured goods, and energy has fallen since 1980, while prices for other necessities such as housing, education, and health care have increased significantly. Moreover, consumers have taken to new services that carry bills they didn't have to pay in the 1980s: Payments for Internet access, cable TV, and cell phones together total more than $1,000 per year in bills for many Americans, according to a February report in The New York Times
. Businessweek.com compared national average prices in 1980 and 2010 for 35 products and services that range from milk and bread to haircuts and doctor's visits. Comparative figures are based on numbers provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research's ACCRA Cost of Living Index, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, and other pricing-data sources.
to see which prices have increased at a slower pace than income and which have exceeded income growth.