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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1900-1909

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, 1900-1909

Jump down to WAGES ...

by RACE
by SEX
by OCCUPATION
by STATE
in FOREIGN COUNTRIES


WAGES -- GENERAL SOURCES  (all occupations and worker types)

Wages by race, 1900-1909

Women's wages, 1900-1909

Wages by occupation (A-Z), 1900 to 1909

  • Building and construction wages, 1890-1903
    Provides tables that compare wage rates in U.S., Great Britain, Germany, France and Belgium for specific occupations, including blacksmith, boiler makers, bricklayers, carpenters, compositors, hod carriers, iron molders, general laborers, machinists, house painters, plumbers, stone cutters, and stone masons. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin #53, pp 724-728.
  • Building and construction wages by occupation and city, 1902-1910
    Wages in 1902, 1904, 1907, 1908, 1909 and 1910 for bricklayers, stone masons, structural-iron setters, ornamental-iron setters, plasterers, tile setters, plumbers, steam fitters, gas fitters, carpenters, painters, stonecutters, electricians, sheet-metal workers, marble setters and cement finishers in each of 25 major American cities.
  • Factory wages -- SEE Manufacturing wages box below.
  • Farm labor wages, 1866-1909
    Browse this book's table of contents for wage rates for all states and the US as a whole, including some rates from prior to 1866.
  • Farm laborers, 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 hands and ranch hands - Wages, 1900-1910
    Members of the agricultural industry from select states report average wages (with and without board) per month at their farms, ranches, or dairies for the years 1900-1910.
  • Government - Congressional salaries, 1789-present
    Historical chart shows salaries of members of the U.S. Congress, along with dates of enactment and statutory authority for each pay increase.
  • Iron and steel industry workers, 1907-1924
    Earnings per hour, customary hours of labor, and actual hours and earnings in one pay period in 1924 are presented in this report for wage earners in ten departments of the iron and steel industry in the United States. Summary figures for preceding years are also shown for each department.
  • Iron and steel industry -- Wages and hours, 1912
    Wages and hours of labor for workers in the steel industry, broken up by location and occupation. Source: U. S. Congressional Serial Set Vol. No. 6096.
  • Lumber, millwork, and furniture industries, 1907-1912
    Wages and hours of labor in lumber manufacturing for the years 1907 to 1912, including information from 1890 to 1912. Source: U.S. BLS Bulletin no. 129.
  • Manufacturing wages -- SEE box below.
  • Military pay for enlisted men
    Many military job titles are listed separately such as electrician, band leader, sergeant major, etc. Pay tables extend from pages 775-782. Source: Soldiers' adjusted compensation: hearings ... Published 1920.

See manufacturing wages in the box below.

  • Street railways - Employee wages by town, 1905
    Shows hours, wages and policies for sick leave. Source: 1905 Yearbook of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, pp. 7-23.
  • Teacher wages by state and sex, 1894-1902
    Taken from the U.S. Commissioner of Education Report for 1902. Starting on page LXXXI, the average monthly wages of teachers in 1902 are listed.
  • Teaching wages by race - South Carolina, 1901-1909
    Shows the average annual salary of both white and black teachers in 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1908, and 1909 throughout the state. Source: Annual report of the State Superintendent of Education of the State of South Carolina.

Manufacturing wages, 1900-1909

Wages in selected states, 1900-1909

 

Foreign wages by country, 1900-1909

Wages in ARGENTINA, 1900s

Wages in AUSTRALIA, 1900s

Wages in AUSTRIA, 1900s

Wages in BELGIUM, 1900s

Wages in BULGARIA, 1900s

WAGES on CARIBBEAN ISLANDS, 1900s

Wages in CANADA, 1900s

Wages in ENGLAND, 1900s

Wages in FINLAND, 1900s

WAGES in FRANCE, 1900s

Wages in GERMANY, 1900s

Wages in IRELAND, 1900s

WAGES in ITALY, 1900s

Wages in JAPAN, 1900s

WAGES in MEXICO, 1900s

WAGES in NEW ZEALAND, 1900s

WAGES in NORWAY, 1900s

WAGES in the PHILIPPINES, 1900s

WAGES in POLAND, 1900s

Wages in RUSSIA, 1900s

Wages in SCOTLAND, 1900s

Wages in SPAIN, 1900s

Food prices in the United States, 1900-1909

Housing and land prices, 1900-1909

Transportation costs and prices, 1900-1909

 

  • New car prices, 1904
    See pictures, specifications and prices in  "Pleasure Automobiles," Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly magazine, January 1904, pp. 359-374.
This Ford automobile cost $750 in 1904

GASOLINE PRICES

  • Gasoline price, 1900
    Gasoline storage tank for private homes, 1901 (Source)

    In congressional testimony dated 1900, one gas engine owner reported that he expected to pay 7 or 9 cents a gallon for gasoline, but within a short time, the price had doubled. A corroborating advertisement in the July 19, 1899 issue of Horseless Age stated that gasoline "is available in almost any town at 7 cents a gallon" (see tenth point in this ad). Side note: in early years, gasoline was typically purchased from paint shops or drug stores.
  • Gasoline retail price, 1902
    Article "The Rising price of gasoline" cites the retail price of gasoline as 18¢ to 20¢ per gallon. Source: The Horseless Age, Aug 13, 1902, p. 158.
  • Gasoline retail price, April 1906
    In late April 1906, the price of gasoline for automobiles ranged from 16¢ to 21¢ per gallon. Source: Horseless Age, April 25, 1906, p. 611. col. 3.
  • Gasoline retail price, 1907
    Article suggests that gasoline could be purchased for 20¢ a gallon. Source: Scientific American, Feb 9, 1907, p. 127, c. 3.
  • Gasoline - Mileage per gallon
    The distance one could travel on a gallon of gasoline depended on the weight of the automobile, the condition of roads, the design of the vehicle itself and other factors. To find mentions of MPG in the historic literature, search for the phrase "miles to the gallon" in HathiTrust's full text search, limiting to the date range desired.  You may also ask us for assistance.

MOTOR TRUCKS and COMMERCIAL VEHICLE PRICES

4-ton Mack truck priced at $4250 in 1907

 

RAILWAY FARES

STEAMSHIP FARES

1908 steamer trunkThis steamer trunk cost around $3 to $6 in 1908.

STREETCARS, TAXICABS and FERRIES

  • Street railway fares in the U.S., 1905
    Street railway fares in major cities tended to be 3 to 4 cents per ride according to an article in the American Monthly Review of Reviews, February 1905.
  • Cab rates - St. Louis, 1903
    Cab fares for one-horse or two-horse vehicles were calculated by the mile, the hour, the number of passengers, number of stops and amount of packages. Source: The official red book; official St. Louis city guide.
  • Ferry and taxi rates
    Municipalities could set prices of some services. For example, the fee schedule to take a ferry across the river at St. Louis is detailed in the 1907 city ordinances. Contact us for ferry and taxi rates for other cities.

Merchandise prices, 1900-1909

Health costs and prices, 1900-1909

More prices in the U.S., 1900-1909

In the 1900-1909 decade, 4% to 5% of the population aged 18-21 enrolled in college. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education.

OTHER COLLEGE EXPENSES

Cost of living and consumer expenditures, 1900-1909

Prices in Great Britain, 1900-1909

Foreign prices by country, 1900-1909

Prices in ARGENTINA, 1900s

Prices in AUSTRALIA, 1900s

Prices in AUSTRIA, 1900s

Prices in BELGIUM, 1900s

Prices in CANADA, 1900s

Prices in FRANCE, 1900s

Prices in GERMANY, 1900s

Prices in GREAT BRITAIN, 1900s

Prices in HUNGARY, 1900s

Prices in INDIA, 1900s

Prices in IRELAND, 1900s

Prices in ITALY, 1900s

Prices in MEXICO, 1900s

Prices in POLAND, 1900s

Prices in the PHILIPPINES, 1900s

Prices in RUSSIA, 1900s

Prices in SWEDEN, 1900s

Sources showing prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1900s

Quotable facts for the 1900-1909 decade

In the United States...

  • Life expectancy in 1900 was 48.2 years for males and 50.7 years for females. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Milk cost an average of 14¢ per half gallon in 1900. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee averaged 23¢ per pound in 1900. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Just over 4,000 passenger cars were manufactured in the year 1900 (source), when the total U.S. population was 76 million (source). 
  • A gallon of gasoline cost around 18¢ to 20¢ in 1900. Source: The Horseless Age 
  • Selected occupational earnings averages in 1900:
    • Shoemakers earned about $2.40 per day. Source: U.S. BLS
    • Public school teachers earned around $40 per month. Source: Bureau of Education 
    • Carpenters earned $750 per year. Source: U.S. BLS
    • Engineers earned $1,050 per year. Source: U.S BLS 
  • In 1903, an estimated 15,000 Americans had a net worth of $300,000 or more. Source: preface to the Financial Red Book, 1903.  By 1905, 18,000 individuals had achieved that income level (source).

Tools, calculators, and exchange rates, 1900-1909

Timeline -- Major economic events of the 1900s

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

1900

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

1901

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

1902

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

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

1904

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

1905

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

1906

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

1907

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

1908

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

1909

"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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