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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1920-1929

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, 1920-1929

Jump down to WAGES ...

by RACE
by OCCUPATION
by SEX (WOMEN)
by COUNTRY

 

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

Wages by race, 1920s

WAGES by RACE

WAGES of BLACK WOMEN, 1920s

Wages by occupation and industry (A to Z), 1920s

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

  • Government, federal
  • Government, state and local
    • State employee pay, 1925-1928 
      • Shows average public employee pay for each state. Source: National Municipal Review, January 1932 issue.
    • New York state, 1911-1931 
      • This source is entirely about compensation of state and local government employees in New York. See the table of contents for additional tables and discussion.
    • Pennsylvania, 1928 
      • Shows salaries at the state, county and city levels. Source: Report of the Salary survey commission to the Pennsylvania General assembly, 1929.
    • New Haven Connecticut, 1920 and 1921 
      • This series of Municipal Year Books from New Haven, Connecticut, show salaries for police, firemen, school teachers, principals, building inspectors, clerks and other jobs working for city government.  Use the search function to find salaries for these occupations, or contact us for assistance.

I-L

M

N

O

P

  • Petroleum industry - Wages by occupation and state, 1920 
    • Shows wages, hours and earnings for mechanics, pipe fitters, welders, tinsmiths derrick men, drillers, firemen, engineers and more.   Source: BLS Bulletin no. 297.
  • Police department personnel salaries and wages
    • 1924
      •  Shows data for Washington DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and other additional cities on pages 5-9. Separate listings for inspectors, police superintendents, captains, sergeants, privates, etc. Source: Congressional hearing.
    • 1927
      • Shows salaries for seven occupations in police departments of 25 American cities.  Source: U.S. Congressional Serial Set vol. 8836.
    • 1929
      • Shows police department salaries for cities over 100,000 population.  Source: U.S. BLS Monthly labor review, Jan 1930.

R

  • Radio announcer salary, 1929 
    • Broadcasting jobs described in Manual of Occupations by R. Platt (source), p. 275
  • Railroad employee wages
    • 1920-1921 
      • Shows wage rates for engineers, conductors, passenger baggage men, coal passers, firemen, switch tenders, hostlers, signalmen, station agents, telegraphers, machinists, car cleaners, and more. Source: Monthly Labor Review, April 1922, pp. 82-85.
    • 1922 
      • Compares 1922 to 1940 wage rates for a variety of RR jobs, pp. 7-8 in: Wages and labor relations in the railroad industry 1900-1941.
    • 1914-1923 
      • Source: Wages, hours and employment of railroad workers published by the National Industrial Conference Board.
    • Pennsylvania Railroad Wage Data, 1927 
      • Extensive, 219-page report published in the Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin no. 514.
  • Religious organizations - Salaries, 1929 in Manual of Occupations by R. Platt (source)
  • Retail shop employees - Chain store wages, 1929
    • Table shows average 1929 and 1931 weekly wages of full-time store employees, managers, and supervisors by kind and size of chain and location. Source: Chain Stores (Serial Set 9783).

S

T

V

Manufacturing wages, 1920-1929

WAGES in AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in AIRPLANE and AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in CLOTHING MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in TEXTILE MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in FURNITURE MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in PAPER and PULP MANUFACTURING, 1920s

WAGES in POTTERY MANUFACTURING, 1920s

Women's wages, 1920-1929

See list of the most common occupations for women in 1910 and 1920 (source: Census Bureau).

WOMEN'S WAGES in ALABAMA, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in ARKANSAS, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in WASHINGTON DC, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in ILLINOIS, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in KANSAS, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in KENTUCKY, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in MISSOURI, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in OHIO, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in NEW JERSEY, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in PENNSYLVANIA, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in SOUTH CAROLINA, 1920s

WOMEN'S WAGES in TENNESSEE, 1920s

Wages by state, 1920-1929

Significant legislation concerning wages, 1920s

Foreign wages by country, 1920-1929

Wages in ARGENTINA, 1920s

WAGES in AUSTRALIA, 1920s

WAGES in AUSTRIA, 1920s

WAGES in BELGIUM, 1920s

Wages in CANADA, 1920s

WAGES in CHILE, 1920s

WAGES in CHINA, 1920s

WAGES in DENMARK, 1920s

WAGES in FRANCE, 1920s

Wages in GERMANY, 1920s

Wages in GREAT BRITAIN, 1920s

Wages in GREECE, 1920s

WAGES in JAPAN, 1920s

WAGES in LITHUANIA, 1920s

WAGES in MANCHUKUO, 1920s

Wages in MEXICO, 1920s

Wages in SOUTH AFRICA, 1920s

Wages in the SOVIET UNION, 1920s

WAGES in SPAIN, 1920s

WAGES in SWITZERLAND, 1920s

Wages in NEW ZEALAND, 1920s

Wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1920s

Click for exchange rates, 1921-1930.

Family and household Income, 1920-1929

NOTE: For household income data for 1929, we recommend a 1934 Brookings Institution report titled America's Capacity to Consume.  It is not yet available to read online; check your local library for a printed copy.

Food prices in the United States, 1920-1929

Housing and land prices, 1920-1929

Transportation costs, 1920-1929

 

 

 

  • Inter-city bus fare to Detroit, 1926
    Lists fares from Chicago, Toledo and several smaller Michigan cities and towns.  Source: Facts and figures of the automobile industry, 1927 edition, p. 76.

 

Public transit fares

  • City transit fares in NY, PA, OH and MA - 1927
    Shows public transportation fares in 12 cities including NYC, Boston and Philadelphia. Chart on p. 48 shows average weekly expenditure on transportation to work. Source: Cost of living in twelve industrial cities, p. 44.
  • Streetcar, omnibus and subway rates, 1926
    • Covers more than 1,200 cities.  Tells cost of public transportation and railway fares as well.  Use "search in this text" feature to navigate (or contact us for assistance).  Source: The real North American pocket guide book by Harman Black.

Railroad fares and dining car prices

Steamship fares

  • Great Lakes, 1921-1922
    Service between Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Toledo, etc. Source: Central states guide, pp.276-278.
  • To China, 1926
    Fares from Seattle and San Francisco to Asia in Commercial travelers' guide to the Far East published 1926 by the U.S. Department of Commerce, p. 69-71.
  • To Latin America - 1920
    The "Commercial Travelers' Guide to Latin America" (1922, U.S. Dept of Commerce) lists one-way, first class steamship fares from New York to Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Central and South American countries. Also shows some fares originating from New Orleans and San Francisco. Fares are listed on pages 30-43; taxes on page 44. The guide advises the traveler to always seek first class accommodation.

More passenger air fares from other sources:

1927 Farman AirlineFind domestic and intl. fares in timetables
  • United States
    • Cleveland to Detroit on an Aeromarine flying boat
      • 1922 - Roundtrip cost $75.  Source: Aviation Sep 4, 1922 issue, p. 287.
  • Europe 
    • London to Paris
      • 1920 - One-way cost £15 15 shillings, or £30 10 shillings for round trip. Source: Aircraft Journal, July 5, 1920, p. 9.
      • 1922 - One-way cost $21, "not quite double 1st class fare by train and boat."  Source: Aviation magazine, Jan 2, 1922, p. 14.
    • London to Berlin
      • 1923 - One-way air fare cost $30 (four cents per mile). The trip was 750 miles and took eight hours.  Source: Aviation magazine, June 4, 1923, p. 608.
         

Merchandise prices, 1920-1929

Health costs to the consumer, 1920-1929

More prices in the United States, 1920-1929

COLLEGE EDUCATION, 1920s

In the 1920s decade, 8% to 12% of people aged 18-21 enrolled in college. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education.

PRICES for SERVICES, 1920s

1928 Hotel guideContact us for 1928 hotel rates
  • Hotel rates, 1920
    • Hotel rates by state and city. Source: Official Hotel Red Book and Directory
  • Hotel rates in the U.S. and Canada, 1923 
    • Listed by state and city. Source: Hotel Book by Howard Johnson, pp. 3-113.
  • Hotel rates in the U.S. and Canada, 1923
  • Hotel rates, 1920-1924
    • Hotel rates can often be found within the advertisements throughout the pages of the Automobile Blue Books.
  • Hotel rates, 1926
    • Covers more than 1,200 cities.  Tells cost of public transportation and railway fares as well.  Must use "search in this text" feature to navigate.  Source: The real North American pocket guide book by Harman Black.
  • Hotel rates, 1928
    • You may download a pdf version of the 1928 Official Hotel Red Book and Directory. Or, contact us for a look-up.

REGIONAL OR LOCAL HOTEL DIRECTORIES

Cost of living in the U.S., 1920s

  • Families with living expenses of $1000
  • Families with living expenses of $1500
  • Families with living expenses of $2000
  • Families with living expenses of $3000

Tools, calculators, and exchange rates

Foreign prices by country, 1920-1929

Prices in CANADA, 1920s

Prices in NEW ZEALAND, 1920s

Quotable facts for the 1920-1929 decade

In the United States...

  • About half of all families in 1928 earned $2000 or less.  Source: Committee on the Costs of Medical Care.
  • About one out of ten people age 18-21 attended college in the 1920s. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education
  • Milk cost an average of 33¢ per half gallon in 1920. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee cost an average of 47¢ per pound in 1920. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Cars cost an average of $2,537 in 1920. Source: Automotive Industries
  • A 1920 Model-T Ford was priced at $440, as recorded in the Automobile Trade Journal, Nov 1 1920 issue. (Source
  • Gasoline cost an average of 21.7¢ per gallon in 1929. Source: USDA
  • In 1925, motor vehicles were scrapped at an average age of 6.5 years.  Source: Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • In 1926, only about 4% of workers earned enough to be required to file a federal income tax return.  Source: NBER

Timeline -- Major economic events of the 1920s

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

1920

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

1921

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

1922

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

1923

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

1924

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

1925

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

1926

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

1927

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

1928

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

1929

"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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Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department
106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phone (573) 882-0748