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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1890-1899

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, 1890-1899

Wages by race, 1890-1899

Black worker wages

  • 1890-1920The Negro Wage Earner
    • This 1930 book cites government data. Use the table of contents to navigate this source.
  • ​​​​​​1896Condition of the Negro in Various Cities.
    • Mainly covers Atlanta, Nashville and Cambridge, Mass. Lists earnings of individuals but not averages. Occupations include clergyman, teacher, seamstress, washerwoman, barber, shoemaker, tinsmith, nurse, well digger, coachman, waiter, railroad porter and more. Source: U.S. DOL Bulletin #10.
  • Farm labor wages by race, 1892-1896
    Discusses wage disparity in northern and southern states. Source: "White and Colored Labor" in the 1896 Special consular report on money and prices, p. 259-260.
  • Teacher wages by race - Delaware, 1890
    Compare wages of teachers for colored children to teachers for white children.  Source: Delaware Free Public Schools report.

Black family income and expenditures

  • 1896The Philadelphia Negro: a social study
    • Black family income and expenditures on pp. 168-178.  

Wages by sex, 1890-1899

Manufacturing industries - Wages for males and females by occupation and region, 1890 and 1900.  Source: Employees and Wages, a special report of the 12th Census (1900).

Wages by industry and occupation, 1890-1899

  • Agricultural labor wages and earnings
    • 1890 earnings by U.S. region
      Shows average monthly earnings with board. See the explanation for this table.
    • 1890-1899 average earnings
      National average monthly earnings of hired farm labor, with or without board, at harvest or other seasons. This is part of a larger table showing wage data from 1866-1922.
    • 1866-1909 earnings by state
      Show average wages with and without board in tables 11-15 on pp. 29-33.
    • 1780-1937 farm wages in Vermont
       Source: Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station, Table 26.

  • Baker wages, 1880-1900. Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 604.
  • Building trades
    • Building trade wages by year and state, 1840-1900
      Lists wages for bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, stationary engineers, stationary firemen, hod carriers, building laborers, marble cutters, stone masons, painters, plasterers, plumbers, stone cutters, granite cutters and tile layers. Scroll forward in the source to see additional occupations. Source: History of Wages in the United States from Colonial times to 1928.
    • Building trades - Wages and hours in the U.S. and Europe, 1890-1903
      Compares wages for blacksmiths, boiler makers, bricklayers, carpenters, compositors, hod carriers, iron molders, general laborers, machinists, house painters, plumbers, stone cutters, and stone masons in U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France and Belgium. Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 53, published July 1904.
    • Wages for city employees, by occupation and city - 1890s
      Wages for all the typical building trades are represented (carpenter, stone mason, bricklayer, electrical inspectors) as well as other jobs working for city governments. Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 7, published November 1896.
    • Building trade wage microdata (not averaged),1890-1891
      Reports monthly wages paid to individual, unnamed male and female employees in a variety of jobs at selected establishments in the states of MD, MA, NJ, NY, PA and RI. Occupations include carpenter, carpenter's helper, hod carrier, mason, mason's helper, painter, bricklayer, bricklayer's helper, steam and gas fitter, plumber, tinsmith, machine hand, teamster, roofer, plasterer, watchmen, foreman, apprentice and engineer.
  • Carpenter
    Source: Wages in the United States and Europe, 1870-1898, pg. 673
  • Clothing manufacture, 1851-1898
    Shows wages for dressmakers and sewing machine operators.  Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 604.
  • Farm labor wages and earnings
    • 1890 earnings by U.S. region
      Shows average monthly earnings with board. See the explanation.
    • 1890-1899 national average earnings
      National average monthly earnings of hired farm labor, with or without board, at harvest or other seasons. This is part of a larger table showing wage data from 1866-1922.
    • 1866-1909 earnings by state
      Show average wages with and without board in tables 11-15 on pp. 29-33.
    • 1780-1937 farm wages in Vermont
       Source: Vermont Agricultural Experiment Station, Table 26.
    • Farm labor, 1841-1899
      For further time series data, see USDA data showing farm labor wages from 1866-1920.
  • Painters
    Source: Wages in the United States and Europe, 1870-1898, pg. 680
  • Plumbers
    Source: Wages in the United States and Europe, 1870-1898, pg. 681
  • Printing and publishing, 1842-1900
    Wages for bookbinders, press feeders, proof readers, compositors for newspapers and other shops, pressmen (operators of the printing press), stereotypers, etc.  Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 604.

 

Box of cigarsCigar makers worked 48-60 hours per week for usually less than $2 per day

 

Wages by state, 1890-1899

WAGES in CALIFORNIA, 1890s

WAGES in COLORADO, 1890s

WAGES in CONNECTICUT, 1890s

WAGES in IOWA, 1890s

WAGES in ILLINOIS, 1890s

WAGES in INDIANA, 1890s

WAGES in MASSACHUSETTS, 1890s

WAGES in MARYLAND, 1890s

WAGES in MINNESOTA, 1890s

WAGES in MISSOURI, 1890s

WAGES in MONTANA, 1890s

WAGES in NEW YORK, 1890s

WAGES in OHIO, 1890s

WAGES in PENNSYLVANIA, 1890s

WAGES in RHODE ISLAND, 1890s

WAGES in TEXAS, 1890s

WAGES in VERMONT, 1890s

WAGES in WASHINGTON, 1890s

WAGES in WISCONSIN, 1890s

Wages by country, then occupation - 1890s

To see wages by country then occupation, select a tab above.
To see wages by occupation then country, select a tab below.

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Wages in AUSTRIA, 1890s

Wages in BELGIUM, 1890s

Wages in CANADA, 1890s

Wages in CENTRAL AMERICA, 1890s

Wages in DENMARK, 1890s

Wages in FRANCE, 1890s

Wages in GERMANY, 1890s

Wages in GREECE, 1890s

Wages in HOLLAND, 1890s

Wages in ITALY, 1890s

Wages in MEXICO, 1890s

Wages in NORWAY, 1890s

Wages in RUSSIA, 1890s

Wages in SPAIN, 1890s

Wages in SWEDEN, 1890s

Wages in SWITZERLAND, 1890s

Wages in TURKEY, 1890s

Wages in the UNITED KINGDOM, 1890s

Foreign wages by occupation (A-Z), then country - 1890s

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).

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).

Wages, 1890s - Analysis and calculators

Food prices in the United States, 1890-1899

  • Boston - Food prices, 1890 

    Study shows a great variation in prices for the same item in different Boston neighborhoods. Source: American Statistical Association publication, p. 118-119.

  • 1898 grocerGrocer using food scale

    Colorado - Food prices, 1891 

    Shows retail prices of foods, soap, fabric, blankets and more. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics of Colorado, pp. 177-179

  • Rhode Island towns - Food prices, 1893

    Shows retail price data for over 35 towns. Source: Rhode Island Commissioner of Industrial Statistics 7th Annual Report, pages 201-257.

Housing and land prices, 1890-1899

Transportation prices, 1890-1899

Merchandise prices, 1890-1899

Health costs and prices, 1890-1899

More prices in the United States, 1890-1899

PRICES for COMMUNICATION, 1890s

COST of EDUCATION, 1890s

PRICES for ANIMALS, 1890s

PRICES for SERVICES, 1890s

HOTEL RATES, 1890s

PRICES for ENTERTAINMENT, 1890s

Cost of living and consumer expenditures in the U.S. - 1890s

Foreign prices and cost of living, 1890-1899

Quotable facts for the 1890-1899 decade

  • In 1890, most American workers earned $500 to $1,000 annually. Source: U.S. Congress.
  • In 1890, wage-earning U.S. families spent an average of 41% of their income on food, 15% on rent, 15% on clothing, 9% on light, 5% on fuel, and 22% on all other purposes. Source: U.S. Congress.
  • One writer suggested that by American living standards of the 1890s, the following possessions would fulfill all of a typical family's wishes:
    • A home worth $2,000, free of mortgage
    • $500 in the bank
    • A horse and buggy
    • A barrel of flour
    • Five tons of coal in the cellar
    • A cottage organ
    • New Sunday outfits for oneself and one's spouse

Timeline -- Major economic events of the 1890s

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

1890

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

1891

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

1892

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

1893

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

1894

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

1895

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

1896

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

1897

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

1898

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

1899

"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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