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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1940-1949

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, 1940-1949

WAGES in CITIES AND STATES

 

WAGES by RACE

Women's wages, 1940-1949

Wages by occupation and industry (A to Z), 1940-1949

Farm workers, 1943In 1940, Pacific region farm workers averaged $43 per month compared to $17
in the South (source)
  • Government (federal) - Pay scales, 1930-1949
    Table shows the basic annual pay rates for federal employees of various services and grades (GS-1 through GS-18, P, SP, CAF and CPC). These are not salary averages.
  • Government (state) pay by occupation in Missouri, 1949
    Shows pay to state government employees such as chemists, financial officers, inspectors, actuaries, judges, janitors, librarians, highway patrolmen, statisticians, telephone operators, carpenters, typists, watchmen and many more. Also shows salaries for the top officials in executive agencies. Recommended: use the search in text feature to find occupations.
  • Government (municipal) salaries and earnings, 1944
    Average hourly earnings, hours or work, estimated annual salaries.

Click on a tab in the box below to see manufacturing wages.

  • Nurse earnings - 1946 and 1949
    Shows median monthly earnings of nurses in different fields of practice, for example, working in hospitals, in private duty, for industry, etc. Also shows different pay rates for nurses living in the hospitals and outside of them.
  • Nurses, see also "Medical services occupations" in this list.
  • Nurses - Median income by state, 1949
    Source: Table 47, Health Manpower Source Book
  • Veterinarians' income, 1941
    Breaks out veterinarians' income by age of workers, also by the type of job, for example, working in an independent practice, doing research/education, inspection of meat and milk, etc.
  • Veterinarians' income, 1949
    Source: Table 110, Health Manpower Source Book.

Manufacturing wages, 1940-1949

WAGES in MANUFACTURING, 1940s -- General sources

See tabs above for specific industries

WAGES in AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in AMMUNITION and EXPLOSIVES MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in CARPET and RUG MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in CLOTHING MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in FERTILIZER MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in FOOD MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in GRAIN PRODUCTS MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in INDUSTRIAL MACHINERY and MACHINE-TOOL MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in MOTOR-VEHICLE MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in RUBBER MANUFACTURING, 1940s

WAGES in TEXTILE MANUFACTURING, 1940s

International wages by country, 1940-1949

Wages in MULTIPLE COUNTRIES, 1940s

Click the tabs above for single countries.

WAGES in AUSTRALIA, 1940s

WAGES in CANADA, 1940s

Wages in FRANCE, 1940s

Wages in GERMANY, 1940s

Wages in GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, 1940s

Directions for finding more wage rates in the 1940s

Wages, analysis - 1940s

Prices in the United States, 1940-1949

PRICES for FOOD, 1940s

RESTAURANT PRICES, 1940s

  • 1940 - Source: Adventures in good eating.
  • 1941 - Source: Adventures in good eating.
  • 1941 - Source: Best places to eat from coast to coast.
  • 1945 - Source: Adventures in good eating.
  • 1947 - Source: Adventures in good eating.

PRICES for MERCHANDISE, 1940s

PRICES for HOUSING and UTILITIES, 1940s

HOUSEHOLD UTILITIES

PRICES for SERVICES, 1940s

PRICES for TRAVEL and TRANSPORTATION, 1940s

GASOLINE PRICES, 1940s

RAILROAD TICKET PRICES, 1940s

BUS, AIRPLANE and STEAMSHIP FARES, 1940s

COST of a COLLEGE EDUCATION, 1940s

In 1940, 15% of people aged 18-21 enrolled in college. By 1946, the figure increased to nearly 18%.  Source: U.S. Bureau of Education.

Cost of living and consumer expenditures in the U.S., 1940s

This section does not necessarily show prices for goods, rather, it reports how much consumers were spending in various categories, like food, utilities, rent, etc.  It also shows how such spending increased or decreased relative to a certain base year.

Historic wages expressed in today's dollars

International prices by country, 1940-1949

Quotable facts for the 1940-1949 decade

In the United States...

  • Minimum wage increased to 30¢ from 25¢ per hour in October 1939. Source: U.S. Department of Labor
  • In 1939, the median annual salary/wage income for whites was $956; and $364 for non-whites. Source: Census Bureau
  • In 1940, the median cost of a home in the US was $2,938. Source: US Census Bureau
  • In 1940, 59.5% of the population ages 25 and over had progressed no further than 8th grade in school.  Source: Census Bureau.
  • Bread cost an average of 8¢ per pound in 1940. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • Milk cost an average of 26¢ per half gallon in 1940. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Eggs cost an average of 33¢ per dozen in 1940. Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee cost an average of 21¢ per pound in 1940. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • The Ford Standard 4-Door Sedan automobile was $725 in 1940. Source: J.D. Power
  • A gallon of gasoline cost an average of 18¢ in 1940.  Source: Energy Information Administration
  • In 1941, motor vehicles were scrapped at an average age of 10 years.  Source: Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • Public school instructional staff earned an average of $1,441 in 1939-1940. Source: U.S. Bureau of Education  

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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