A New Report Tracks 50 Years Of American Dream

THE American dream has always been to own one's own home.

In a new report released today, ``Tracking the American Dream - The First Fifty Years of the Census of Housing: 1940-1990,'' by housing analyst Jack Devaney, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau tracks a half-century of housing in the United States through such indicators as plumbing, heating fuels, homeownership, and housing costs.

Among some findings:

* The 1940 housing census showed that more than one-third of houses had no indoor toilets; fewer than one-third had no running water. In 1990, only 1 percent of housing lacked complete plumbing.

* In 1940, there were 19.7 million renters and 15.2 million owners. By 1990, 59 million homes were owned, and under 33 million were rented.

* In 1940, married couples and male householders comprised 85 percent of households; women were 15 percent of householders. Today, married couples and males are 72 percent, and women are 28 percent.

* Between 1940 and 1990, the West had the highest housing growth rate at 360 percent, followed by the South with 232 percent. Increases in the Midwest and Northeast were only slightly more than 100 percent.

Excavating with air

MAKERS of a new trench-digging machine, the ``Soft Trencher,'' claim it eliminates slow, expensive, and labor-intensive hand-digging around buried electrical cables and gas lines.

That's because the apparatus uses supersonic jets of air to loosen dirt instead of hard-cutting teeth of conventional excavators that sometimes damage the utilities, say its developers, Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, and Concept Engineering Group Inc. of Pittsburgh. The trencher was created for the Electric Power Research Institute in Washington.

Once the Soft Trencher loosens the soil, a vacuum air stream collects the soil and places it on a truck or deposits it along the side of the trench.

Research is now being conducted to modify the Soft Trencher for use in environmental waste-site cleanup, bulk-material handling and loading, railroad grade cleanup, and material recovery.

R&D Magazine has selected the machine as one of the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year.

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