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Prices and Wages Guide: Home

Here you will find U. S. government documents listing retail prices for typical consumer purchases, and wages for common occupations. Data is broken out by decade from the 1770s-present.

Prices and Wages by Decade

Choose a time period tab 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 sources for 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 is sometimes 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 Kamilah Jones, Scott Peterson, Carrie Carter, and Guinevere Lawson who helped with the research and creation of this web resource.

General Sources