Chart from the U.S. Dept of Labor shows the first federal minimum wage law enacted in 1938 (25 cents), and all subsequent increases through 2009. Some states set minimum wage higher than the federal level.
Chart shows average annual and weekly wages per employee, across all industries, for each year from 2000-2008. For detail on how this data was defined and collected, see this section of the BLS 2008 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages website. This data is also available as a downloadable Excel file from the 2012 Statistical Abstract of the United States (source)
Select any year from 1954-2007; tables of contents will appear for each issue. Look for tables describing EARNINGS expressed in "current dollars." Mostly covers jobs in manufacturing, industry and production. Note that earnings data for states and major cities are also available in these reports.
The periodical Farm Labor has been in publication for nearly 90 years. It was originally published monthly, and then became a quarterly. Wages expressed in dollars can be found in every issue, it seems. After clicking on the link above, scroll down the section titled "Previous Releases." The Hathi Trust digital library has these issues as well.
Historical chart shows salaries of members of the U.S. Congress, along with dates of enactment and statutory authority for each pay increase.
Prices in the United States, 2000-2009
Average Retail Food and Energy Prices, 1980-2018
Prices for meats, fruits, vegetables, bread, eggs, milk and more foods, as well as gasoline, electricity, natural gas and other residential energy. To view data back to 1980, click the green "Historical Data" icon in the rows, then use drop-down boxes near the top of the page to set start and end years.
To get average prices of common items purchased by consumers including various meats, breads, dairy products, gasoline, electricity per KwH, etc., find “Average Price Data” > Select how you want to display your search options (One Screen recommended) > Follow the instructions on the screen. Dates in this set can vary, but can go back as far 1947.
Gross rent is defined as "the monthly amount of rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities (electricity, gas, water and sewer) and fuels (oil, coal, kerosene, wood, etc.). This source shows data by state and for the U.S. as a whole. Source: U.S. Census of Housing, choose unadjusted figures. Table displays best in Chrome.
For those who want a simple figure which does not take into account number of rooms, square footage or home location, this U.S. Census Bureau chart shows the average and median selling price of only NEW homes (not older homes), reported monthly back to January 1963. For greater detail on sales of newly built homes up through 1985, see the Census Bureau's Construction Reports series "Sales of New One Family Homes"
Shows average value per acre (statewide) for farm real estate including both land and buildings. Table shows price per acre for each year from 1912 to 2018. Compares the figures to the average for all other states.
Students spent an average of $898 per year on textbooks in 2003-2004. See page 4 of the report Ripoff 101: How the Current Practices of the Textbook Industry Drives up the Cost of Textbooks. This report was quoted in the 2004 congressional hearing Are College Textbooks Priced Fairly? In contrast, college students spent around $30 annually for textbooks in 1932 (source).
Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars
This calculator allows you to compare the buying power of wages earned at different points in history. For example, a dollar earned in 2016 had the same buying power as 4 cents in 1913. Conversely, a dollar earned in 1913 had the same buying power as $24.24 in the year 2016.