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.
Shows prices dating as far back as 1980. Click the "Historical Data" link next to each item, then look for drop-down boxes near the top of the screen where you can set the start and end years. This source covers mainly food items but covers the price of gasoline and fuels.
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 the simplest possible figure, which does not take into account number of rooms, square footage or home location, see this U.S. Census Bureau chart showing the average and median selling price of only NEW homes (not older homes), reported monthly back to January 1963.
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.