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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

WAGES by RACE

 

WAGES BY INDUSTRY / OCCUPATION

Manufacturing Wages, 1920-1929

WAGES in MANUFACTURING, 1920s -- General sources

See tabs above for specific industries

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

WOMEN'S WAGES in MULTIPLE STATES, 1920s
See tabs above for individual states.

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 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

WOMEN'S WAGES in WASHINGTON DC, 1920s

Significant Legislation concerning Wages, 1920s

Wages in Foreign Countries, 1920-1929

Wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1920s

Click the tabs above for single countries.

Wages in GERMANY, 1920s

Wages in GREAT BRITAIN, 1920s

Wages in the SOVIET UNION, 1920s

Family/Household Income, 1920-1929

NOTE: If you are looking for total U.S. family income data for 1929 that is not limited to just salary and wage income, 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.

Prices in the United States, 1920-1929

PRICES for FOOD, 1920s

PRICES for MERCHANDISE, 1920s

PRICES for HOUSING, 1920s

HOME PLANS with ESTIMATED COSTS

Important note: Some of these home plan catalogs estimate only the cost of materials based on prices in a particular market (such as Chicago).  The ones that do include labor costs generally add disclaimers based on fluctuating rates. The front matter of each catalog usually includes some explanation.

COST of CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS and LABOR

FARMS and LAND PRICES

HOUSEHOLD UTILITIES

PRICES for HEALTH CARE, 1920s

MEDICINE PRICES

PRICES for SERVICES, 1920s

PRICES for TRAVEL and TRANSPORTATION, 1920s

GASOLINE PRICES

HORSE DRAWN TRANSPORTATION

TRAIN FARE and EXPENSES

STEAMSHIP and AIRFARE

VACATIONS and TOURISM

PRICES for EDUCATION, 1920s

Cost of Living Analysis, 1920s

In addition to the links below, we recommend the book America's Capacity to Consume, published in 1934 by the Brookings Institution.  It presents detailed analysis of personal and household income as well as consumer expenditures in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  

Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars

Prices in Foreign Countries, 1920-1929

Quotable facts for the 1920-1929 decade

In the United States...

  • In 1920, bread cost an average of $0.11 per pound. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1920, milk cost an average of $0.33 per ½ gallon. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1920, eggs cost an average of $0.68 per dozen. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1920, sugar cost an average of $0.055 per pound. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1920, flour cost an average of $0.40 per 5lbs. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • In 1920, the starting cost of the popular car, the Model-T Ford, was $440. Source: Automobile Trade Journal
  • In 1929, the average cost of a gallon of gasoline was 21.7¢. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • In 1920, carpenters earned an average of $0.95 per hour in Washington, D.C. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1928, engineers at Yale could expect to make up to $20,500. Source: Incomes and Living Costs of a University Faculty. 
  • In 1920, the average cost of a passenger train ticket per mile was $0.0275. Source: Section of Transportation Service
  • In 1921, elementary teachers in mid-Missouri made a minimum of $765 annually. Source: Bureau of Education 
  • In 1922, the cost of a police pistol was $19.50, a badge was $0.50, and handcuffs were $3.35. Source: Sears, Roebuck and Company Spring 1922 Catalog
  • In 1924, the average annual salary of a police officer in Kansas City, MO was $2,400. Source: U.S. Department of Labor
  • In 1927, nurses earned an average of $1,720 and $2,079 at public and private hospitals, respectively. Source: Committee on the Grading of Nursing Schools. 

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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Reference service is available Monday - Friday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Marie Concannon, Government Information Librarian
Government Documents Department
106B Ellis Library (1st Floor East)
University of Missouri, Columbia
Phone (573) 882-0748