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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1930-1939

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, 1930-1939

Wages by race, 1930-1939

Wages by occupation and industry (A to Z), 1930s

  • 1928-1934 in Handbook of Labor Statistics, 1936 edition, pp. 874-1055.
  • 1935-1940 in Handbook of Labor Statistics, 1941 edition.
  • Actors with membership in the Chorus Equity Association in New York City - minimum pay shown in Union Scales of Wages and Hours...1930 (source)
  • Agricultural wages
    • Farm workers' wages and income - 1909 to 1938
      Farm wage rates are broken out by year and geographic location. Wages for farm workers are compared to that of factory workers. Article starts on page 59 of the BLS Monthly Labor Review, July 1939 issue.
    • Farm labor wages 1866-1935
      Average yearly wage, reported with and without board (meals). Taken from the 1936 Statistical Abstract of the United States.
    • Farm Labor wages, 1930-1939
      The monthly USDA periodical Farm Labor showed farm labor wages with and without room and board, and broken out by geography.
    • Farmer's earnings by state, 1934-1935
      Although farm owners don't earn wages, they did have earnings through sale of farm products. See average prices received by farmers for crops, by state and average prices paid for livestock in Chicago, Kansas City and Omaha. Source: USDA Crops and Markets.
  • Air transportation workers - Wages, 1931
    Wages and earnings for pilots, co-pilots and ground personnel engaged in passenger service or mail delivery. Crop dusters, sight-seeing tour operators, mappers and surveyors, and office workers were not included in these figures. See data for 1933 here.
  • Asbestos workers in building construction -  1930 wages reported in Union Scales of Wages.... p. 88.
  • Automobile and vehicle industry job wages for 1930 in Union Scales of Wages and Hours..., pp. 238-245 (source)

  • Farm wages 
    • Farm wages by state, 1929 & 1930
      Shows the average monthly wages for farm hands in different states. Wages both with and without board are provided. Source: BLS Monthly Labor Review (December 1930)
    • Farm workers' wages and income - 1909 to 1938
      Farm wage rates are broken out by year and geographic location. Wages for farm workers are compared to that of factory workers. Article starts on page 59 of the BLS Monthly Labor Review, July 1939 issue.
    • Farm labor wages 1866-1935
      Average yearly wage, reported with and without board (meals). Taken from the 1936 Statistical Abstract of the United States.
    • Farm Labor wages, 1930-1939
      The monthly USDA periodical Farm Labor showed farm labor wages with and without room and board, and broken out by geography.
    • Farm wage rates by geographical division, 1935-1939
      Shows figures with and without board. Source: USDA Agricultural Statistics. 1935 (Geographical divisions only), 1936193719381939
  • Firemen - Salaries, late 1930s (link to library item)
    The Municipal Yearbook shows the salaries of firemen and fire chiefs for all U.S. cities over 30,000 in population. This work is still in active copyright and unavailable online. However, we would be happy to look up a salary for you if you contact us.
  • Fishing wages, pp. 269-271 of Union Scales of Wages and Hours...1930 (source)
  • Foundry and machine shop wages, 1931
    Trends of hours and earnings. Earnings by occupation. Overtime and bonuses.
  • Furniture store salaries, 1930
    Shows average salaries at about two dozen furniture stores, broken out by occupation: sales, delivery, administration, etc.  Source: Domestic Commerce Series no. 68, p. 100.
  • Wage of Furnace Workers, 1931
    Pages 1183-1187 details the earnings of workers in blast furnaces, bessemer converters, and open hearth furnaces. Source: BLS Monthly Labor Review, November 1931
  • Upholsterers' wages in 1930 in Union Scales of Wages and Hours..., pp. 298-299 (source)
  • Window cleaners' wages for 1930 in Union Scales of Wages, p. 314.
  • Woodworkers' wages for 1930 in Union Scales of Wages, p. 297.
  • WPA worker wages in 1939 - The wage depended both on the worker's skill class and the geographic location. See pay briefly discussed on pages 549-550 of this issue.
  • Writers (women) - Salaries in early 1930s shown in Careers for women in journalism, starting p. 69.

Manufacturing wages, 1930-1939

WAGES in FOOD MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in CLOTHING MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in TEXTILE MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in LEATHER MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in FURNITURE MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in AMMUNITION and EXPLOSIVES MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in MISCELLANEOUS MANUFACTURING, 1930s

WAGES in MULTIPLE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES, 1930s 

Women's wages, 1930-1939

  • 1928-1934 wages - Source: 1936 edition, starting on p. 874.
  • 1935-1940 wages - Source: 1941 edition.

Wages by state, 1930-1939

Wages in MULTIPLE STATES, 1930s

Wages in ALABAMA, 1930s

Wages in ARKANSAS, 1930s

Wages in ARIZONA, 1930s

Wages in CALIFORNIA, 1930s

Wages in COLORADO, 1930s

Wages in CONNETICUT, 1930s

Wages in the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 1930s

Wages in DELAWARE, 1930s

Wages in FLORIDA, 1930s

Wages in GEORGIA, 1930s

Wages in HAWAII, 1930s

Wages in IOWA, 1930s

Wages in IDAHO, 1930s

Wages in ILLINOIS, 1930s

Wages in INDIANA, 1930s

Wages in KANSAS, 1930s

Wages in KENTUCKY, 1930s

Wages in LOUISIANA, 1930s

Wages in MASSACHUSETTS, 1930s

Wages in MARYLAND, 1930s

Wages in MAINE, 1930s

Wages in MICHIGAN, 1930s

Wages in MINNESOTA, 1930s

Wages in MISSOURI, 1930s

Wages in MISSISSIPPI, 1930s

Wages in MONTANA, 1930s

Wages in NORTH CAROLINA, 1930s

Wages in NORTH DAKOTA, 1930s

Wages in NEBRASKA, 1930s

Wages in NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1930s

Wages in NEW JERSEY, 1930s

Wages in NEW MEXICO, 1930s

Wages in NEVADA, 1930s

Wages in NEW YORK, 1930s

Wages in OHIO, 1930s

Wages in OKLAHOMA, 1930s

Wages in OREGON, 1930s

Wages in PENNSYLVANIA, 1930s

Wages in RHODE ISLAND, 1930s

Wages in SOUTH CAROLINA, 1930s

Wages in TENNESSEE, 1930s

Wages in TEXAS, 1930s

Wages in UTAH, 1930s

Wages in VIRGINIA, 1930s

Wages in VERMONT, 1930s

Wages in WASHINGTON, 1930s

Wages in WISCONSIN, 1930s

Wages in WEST VIRGINIA, 1930s

Wages in WYOMING, 1930s

Foreign wages by country, 1930-1939

Wages in ARGENTINA, 1930s

WAGES in AUSTRALIA, 1930s

WAGES in AUSTRIA, 1930s

WAGES in BELGIUM, 1930s

Wages in BRAZIL, 1930s

Wages in INDIA, 1930s

Wages in CANADA, 1930s

WAGES in DENMARK, 1930s

WAGES in FINLAND, 1930s

Wages in FRANCE, 1930s

Wages in GERMANY, 1930s

Wages in GREAT BRITAIN, 1930s

Wages in GREECE, 1930s

Wages in HUNGARY, 1930s

Wages in INDO-CHINA, 1930s

Wages in ITALY, 1930s

Wages in JAPAN, 1930s

Wages in KOREA, 1930s

Note: Between 1910 and 1945, the Korean peninsula was under Japanese occupation and was known as Chosen.

Wages in MEXICO, 1930s

Wages in NETHERLANDS, 1930s

Wages in NEW ZEALAND, 1930s

Wages in NORWAY, 1930s

Wages in PALESTINE, 1930s

Wages in POALND, 1930s

Wages in the SOVIET UNION, 1930s

Wages in SWEDEN, 1930s

Wages in SWITZERLAND, 1930s

Wages in YUGOSLAVIA, 1930s

Wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1930s

Family income, 1930s

"It should be emphasized that income tax returns are frequently but erroneously used as an indication of the number of families at different income levels..... only about 4 million persons file returns whereas there are 30 million families in the United States."  -- Daniel Starch, Ph.D., writing in 1930 (Source)

Food prices in the United States, 1930-1939

Housing, land and utilities, 1930-1939

Tip: Table 5 of the U.S. Farm Housing Survey (1935) shows the % of rural homes with lamp; electric or gas lights, central heating, refrigeration, cooking stoves and power washing machines.

Transportation costs, 1930-1939

NEW CAR PRICES

USED CAR PRICES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Rail and bus, 1930
    Compares rail and bus fares on routes involving Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville FL, Boston, Portland ME, Portland OR, San Francisco, Los Angeles on page 30, and Kansas City, Indianapolis, Texarkana, Minneapolis and New York on page 31 in Coordination of motor transportation, a report to the Interstate Commerce Commission (source).
  • Air and rail, 1932
    Air passenger fares averaged 6.2 cents per mile in 1932, according to the U.S. Dept of Commerce.  Source: Brookings Institution report, The American Transportation Problem.
  • Air, bus and rail, 1939
    Single table shows bus, railway or airplane fares for easy comparison. Source: "The National Traffic Pattern," a congressional report published in 1944.

Health costs, 1930-1939

  • Hospital room rates, 1930 
    Shows hospital room rates but not other charges such as lab work, x-rays, surgery and other professional services. Source: BLS Handbook of Labor Statistics 1931 edition.
  • Residential fees at "old people's homes," 1939  
    Article describes the services and fees charged for the care of aged in old people's homes (AKA retirement homes, nursing homes). See fee chart on page 1056 and statement on page 1059, "Assuming an average cost to the home of $410 per person per year...."

College costs, 1930-1939

More prices in the U.S., 1930-1939

PRICES for MERCHANDISE, 1930s

Cost of living and consumer expenditures in the U.S., 1930s

Money disbursement is the measurement of how much money people make as well as how they spend that money. 

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

Foreign prices by country, 1930-1939

Prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1930s

Prices in EUROPE, 1930s

Prices in CANADA, 1930s

Prices in CHILE, 1930s

Prices in LATIN AMERICA, 1930s

Prices in FRNACE, 1930s

Prices in the SOVIET UNION, 1930s

Tools, calculators, and exchange rates

Quotable facts for the 1930-1939 decade

In the United States...

  • The average starting wage for common labor was 43¢ per hour in July 1930. Source: U.S. Department of Labor
  • In 1939, the median annual salary/wage income was $956 for whites; and $364 for non-whites. Source: U.S. Census Bureau
  • The typical American home in 1934 had five rooms.  Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • Milk cost an average of 56¢ per gallon in 1930. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee cost an average of 39¢ per pound in 1930. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • A pack of cigarettes (20-count) cost about 14¢ in 1935. Source: USDA
  • 92% of new automobiles sold for less than $825 in 1934.  Source: Price of Automobiles
  • Gasoline cost an average of 18.6¢ per gallon in rural areas in 1939. Source: USDA
  • Elementary school teachers in large cities earned a median $2,118 in 1930. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • Engineers earned a median income of $2,574 in 1932. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1930, less than 10% of workers earned enough to be required to file a federal income tax return.  Source.

Timeline -- Major economic events, 1930-1938

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1930

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1931

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1932

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

1933

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1934

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1935

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1936

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Saint Louis.
(Click image for detail)

1938

"75 Years of American Finance: A Graphic Presentation 1861-1935" (with 1936-1938 supplement)
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