Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

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, 1930s

WOMEN'S WAGES by RACE

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

  • 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)

  • 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.

Wage reports for individual states, 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

International wages by country, 1930-1939

Wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1930s

See tabs above for individual countries.

Wages in ARGENTINA, 1930s

WAGES in AUSTRALIA, 1930s

WAGES in AUSTRIA, 1930s

Wages in CANADA, 1930s

Wages in FRANCE, 1930s

Wages in GERMANY, 1930s

Wages in GREAT BRITAIN, 1930s

Wages in INDO-CHINA, 1930s

Wages in JAPAN, 1930s

Wages in MEXICO, 1930s

Wages in PALESTINE, 1930s

Wages in the SOVIET UNION, 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)

Prices in the United States, 1930-1939

PRICES for FOOD, 1930s

PRICES for MERCHANDISE, 1930s

PRICES for HOUSING, 1930s

FARM HOUSE and LAND VALUES, 1930s

HOUSEHOLD UTILITIES - RATES, 1930s

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

PRICES for HEALTH CARE, 1930s

See transportation prices below.

COST of a COLLEGE EDUCATION, 1930s

In the 1930s decade, 12% to 14% of people aged 18-21 were enrolled in college. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education.

Transportation costs, 1930-1939

NEW CAR PRICES

USED CAR PRICES

  • Used car values, 1930 Chart shows the values of used Hudson and Packard automobiles in the year 1930. Source: Appraisers and assessors manual, p. 478.
  • Used car prices by age, make and model - 1938
    Shows retail sales value in 1938 for used 4-door sedans manufactured 1933-1937. Location: Cleveland OH. See table 10, pp. 61-68 of source.
  • Used car price modeling, 1938
    Chapter titled "How much to pay for a used car" provides an abbreviated chart and detailed discussion on how used cars were priced. Source: How to buy a used car, pp. 24-26.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 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.

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

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.  

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

International prices by country, 1930-1939

Prices in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1930s

Prices in EUROPE, 1930s

Prices in CANADA, 1930s

Prices in LATIN AMERICA, 1930s

Prices in FRNACE, 1930s

Prices in the SOVIET UNION, 1930s

International cost of living by country, 1930-1939

Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars

Quotable facts for the 1930-1939 decade

In the United States...

  • In July 1930, the average starting wage for common labor was 43¢ per hour. Source: U.S. Department of Labor
  • In 1930, less than 10% of workers earned enough to be required to file a federal income tax return.  Source.
  • In 1930, milk cost an average of 56¢  per gallon. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • In 1930, eggs cost an average of 44¢ per dozen. Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1930, coffee cost an average of 39¢ per pound. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • In 1934, 92% of new automobiles sold for less than $825.  Source: Price of Automobiles
  • A gallon of gasoline cost an average of 18.6¢ in rural areas in 1939. Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • In 1930, elementary school teachers in large cities earned a median $2,118 annually. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • In 1932, the median income for engineers at various ages and professional degrees was $2, 574. Source: U.S. BLS

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

Ask a Question

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