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Prices and Wages by Decade: Home

Links to U. S. government documents listing retail prices for typical consumer purchases, and wages for common occupations. All data is for the United States unless specifically indicated.

Government Information Librarian

Marie Concannon
106-B Ellis Library

Office phone: (573) 882-0748
Website / Blog Page

Prices and Wages by Decade

Choose a time period tab in the gold bar above.

This guide points to government publications listing consumer prices for common items or "necessities of life."   Retail prices for specific foods, articles of clothing and other physical goods fall within the domain of this guide.  We included consumer prices for other types of common expenditures: transportation (gasoline or bus fare), housing, utilities, and school tuition for example.  We avoid pointing to wholesale prices, prices for commodities, etc. unless it is the only kind of information available. 

Here you will also find typical wages and earnings for workers dating back to the 1700s. Since it can be challenging to determine the number of hours that workers put in each week, earnings cannot necessarily be determined using only wage data. 

We welcome your comments and suggestions: contact Marie Concannon, project coordinator.

Thanks to student assistants Amanda Krewson, Kamilah Jones, Scott Peterson, Carrie Carter, and Guinevere Lawson, as well as to Pamela Campbell of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Library who provided assistance in the enhancement of this web resource.

General Sources

Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars