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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1880-1889

Links to government documents and primary sources listing retail prices for products and services, as well as wages for common occupations.

Wages in the United States, 1880-1889

Wages by industry and occupation, 1880-1889

A

  • Attorneys - Salaries, 1884
    Shows salaries of federal district attorneys.  Source: Register of the Department of Justice and the judicial officers of the U.S., 1885 ed.
  • Attorney's fees in Dakota Territory, 1881
    The law stipulated how much an attorney might charge for winning a case.  Source, p. 17

B

  • Bakers - Wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin #499, p. 148.
  • Blacksmiths and helpers - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 670.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 277-279.
  • Boiler makers and helpers - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 671.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 285.
  • Bookbinders - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 337.
  • Brick layers - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 672.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin #499, p. 155.

C

  • Cabinet makers
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 672.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 456-457.
  • Carpenters - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 673.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 162-163.
  • Cigar makers - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 422-423.
  • Compositors (printing industry)
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 673.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 349-351.
  • Congressional salaries
    Historical chart shows that congressmen's salary was $5,000 per year in the 1880s. Source: Congressional Research Service.
  • Convict labor, 1886
    Compares wage rates for convict labor to that for free labor available near the prisons, by state and by sex.  Source:  U.S. Commissioner of Labor, 2nd annual report.
  • Coopers - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 460-461.

D

  • Dressmakers - Daily wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 219-220.

E

Farm labor wages, 1880s

  • Farm labor - Average hours per week and wages per day by state.
    Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 226.
  • Farm wages by state - 1880
    This table is shown in a section of the book for wages on farms, and includes breakouts for blacksmiths, carpenters, machine makers, wheelwrights and shoemakers. Also breaks out wages for transient and non-transient workers, during harvest or not.
  • Farm wages by state - 1881
    Same breakouts as above but also includes wage data for Indian Territory.
  • Farm labor wages by state - 1866-1892
    Reported with and without board. Data for years: 1866, 1869, 1875, 1879, 1882, 1885, 1888, 1890, 1892. This book also contains an explanation of labor and wage conditions in the South following the Civil War.
  • Farm labor - Average wages by state, 1866-1909
    Tables 11-13 on pages 29-31 show average wages with and without board. Table 17 shows average wages per day without board, and Table 18 shows the daily wages with board.
    Section titled "Extras Received by Laborers" explains the prevalence and value of non-monetary benefits paid to farm laborers, such as the use of a house or dwelling and garden plot, firewood for heat, stable and pasture for the worker's horse or cow, laundry service, occasional use of a buggy or a team for hauling, and one meal per day, pp. 49-52. Starting on page 53, there is discussion of the purchasing power of farm wages over the years.
  • Farm labor wages in Missouri, 1866-1930
    Shows average farm labor wage in Missouri with and without board, during harvest time or at other times. Source: Missouri State Dept of Agriculture.
  • Farm laborer monthly earnings, 1818-1948
    Lists average monthly earnings with board, by geographic divisions. Data for years: 1818, 1826, 1830, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1890, 1909, 1919, 1929, 1940, 1948. Read the explanation and historical context for this table.
  • Farm labor wages - 1866-1922
    In one simple table, this source shows the national average for daily and monthly wages of hired farm labor, with board or without, at harvest or at other times. Data available for years 1866, 1869, 1875, 1879, 1882, 1885, 1888, 1890, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1898, 1899, 1902, and each year from 1910-1922.
  • Farm wages in Vermont, 1780-1937
    Table 26 shows daily and monthly wages with board for each year from 1780-1937. Source: Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station.
  • Firemen, stationary - Wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 176.
  • Glass blowers - Wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 233.
  • Government - Congressional salaries
    Historical chart shows that congressmen's salary was $5,000 per year in the 1880s. Source: Congressional Research Service.
  • Hod carriers - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 675.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 178.
  • Horseshoers' wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 293.

I

  • Iron molders and helpers
    Average wages in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 676.
  • Iron industry job wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 238-252.

J

  • Joiners
    Average wages in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 677.
  • Judicial salaries (federal), 1884
    Lists salaries of federal circuit judges, district judges, supreme court justices, district attorneys, U.S. marshals, court clerks, and more. Source: Register of the Department of Justice and the judicial officers of the U.S., 1885 ed.

L

  • Laborers, average wages...
    • Labor (unspecified) wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 256-258.
    • Unskilled labor wages - Shows average daily wage earnings for yard hands, watchmen, teamsters, quarrymen, coal-heavers, helpers, unskilled factory operatives, without any geographic breakouts. in Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 13, p. 365.
    • Street labor wages in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 677.
    • Other labor wages in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 678.
  • Lasters - Wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 268.
  • Longshoremen - Average wages by state in  U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 446.
  • Machinists and helpers - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 678.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 301-302.
    1880s miners
    Miners often worked
    60 hours per week.
    See hours and pay rates
  • Manufacturing job wages by state - early 1880s
    Table extends from pp. 143-167.  Children's wages by state on pp. 168-174
  • Marble cutters wages
    Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 187-188.
  • Masons, stone - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 679.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 190-191.
  • Millwrights - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 309.
  • Mining, coal - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 328-332.
  • Mining, iron - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 334.
  • Molders, iron - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 313.
  • Sawyers - Average wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 465.
  • Sewing machine operator wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 221.
  • Shoemaker wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 262-265.
  • Steamboat and towboat wages
    This link leads to the beginning of a section in the 1880 U.S. Census for Transportation, where steamboat statistics are given by U.S. region (the link above leads to the section on New England states.) Read the section carefully to find average wages - it is provided for only some regions. Scroll forward to see additional riverboat regions such as Lower Mississippi, Northern Lakes or Pacific Coast. This source also lists wage rates paid to each type of worker on the boats: masters, mates, pilots, watchmen, engineer, stewards, steersmen, carpenters, deck hands, chambermaids, cabin crew, roustabouts etc. by river where the boat traveled.  For example see wage rates on the Ohio River and Upper Missouri River.
  • Steel industry job wages by state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 238-252.
  • Stone cutters - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 681.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 212-213.
  • Stone masons - Average wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 679.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 190-191.
  • Street laborers - Average wages in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 677.
  • Streetcar conductors - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 444.
1881 classroomFemale teachers earned $6.31 per week on average ca. 1880
(image source)
  • Tanners' wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 272.
  • Teachers' wages in Boston MA and other states, ca. 1880
  • Teamsters' wages
    • By city in Wages in the U.S. and Europe, 1870-1898, p. 682.
    • By state in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 449-451.
  • Textile industry occupations - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 363-421.
  • Tobacco strippers - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, pp. 425-426.
  • Unskilled laborers - Average wages in Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 13, p. 363.
  • Woodworkers - Average wages in U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 499, p. 469-470.

Wages in states and cities, 1880-1889

WAGES in STATES and CITIES, 1880s
Click the tabs above for individual states.

WAGES in CALIFORNIA, 1880s

WAGES in CONNECTICUT, 1880s

WAGES in DAKOTA TERRITORY, 1880s

WAGES in ILLINOIS, 1880s

WAGES in KANSAS, 1880s

WAGES in MAINE, 1880s

WAGES in MASSACHUSETTS, 1880s

WAGES in MICHIGAN, 1880s

WAGES in MINNESOTA, 1880s

WAGES in NEW YORK, 1880s

WAGES in PENNSYLVANIA, 1880s

WAGES in TEXAS, 1880s

International wages by country, 1880-1889

Wages in AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND, 1880s

WAGES in BELGIUM, 1880s

Wages in CANADA, 1880s

Wages in FRANCE, 1880s

Wages in GERMANY, 1880s

Wages in INDIA, 1880s

Wages in IRELAND, 1880s

Wages in ITALY, 1880s

Wages in SWEDEN, 1880s

Wages in the UNITED KINGDOM, 1880s

Sources showing wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES

Wages, 1880s - Analysis and calculators

International wages by occupation (A-Z), then country - 1880s

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.  Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Shows average daily wages for males and females by occupation, state and country.   Source: A Compilation of Wages in Commercial Countries from Official Sources, Volume I and Volume II. Issued as the 15th Annual Report of the U.S. Commissioner of Labor (1900).

Prices in the United States, 1880-1889

PRICES for FOOD, 1880s

PRICES for MEALS, 1880s

PRICES for CLOTHING in government sources, 1880s

 

PRICES for CLOTHING in mail order catalogs, 1880s

PRICES for HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, 1880s

PRICES for HOUSING and LAND, 1880s

PRICES for SERVICES, 1880s

Barber services

BarberGetting a shave in a barber shop

The following examples were found in newspapers.

  • 1880
    • Dakota Territory - Haircut alone 20¢; haircut with shave 25¢, shampoo 15¢ (source)
  • 1882
    • Texas - Haircut 25¢, shave 10¢ (source)
  • 1886
    • Nebraska - Barbers at one shop in Omaha earned $10-$14 weekly plus an additional $4-$8 in tips (source)
  • 1889
    • Oregon - Six shaves for $1 (source)

 

PRICES for ANIMALS, 1880s

PRICES for FARM TOOLS, 1880s

GUN PRICES, 1880s

PRICES for TRAVEL and TRANSPORTATION, 1880s

VIA RAILWAYS

ANIMAL-DRAWN TRANSPORTATION, 1880s

STEAMSHIP FARES, 1880s

HOTEL and LODGING RATES, 1880s

PRICES for COMMUNICATION, 1880s

HEALTH CARE COSTS, 1880s

COST of EDUCATION, 1880s

Cost of living and consumer expenditures in the U.S. - 1880s

International prices by country, 1880-1889

Prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1880s

Click the tabs above for single countries.

Prices in AUSTRALIA, 1880s

Prices in CANADA, 1880s

PRICES in FRANCE, 1880s

Prices in GREAT BRITAIN, 1880s

Prices in INDIA, 1880s

Prices in IRELAND, 1880s

Prices in ITALY, 1880s

Prices in SWEDEN, 1880s

Timeline -- Major economic events of the 1880s

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1880

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1881

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1882

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1883

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1884

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1885

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1886

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1887

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1888

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1889

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935"
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

Legend

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