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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1970-1979

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, 1970-1979

PERSONAL and FAMILY INCOME

Earnings by race and sex, 1970-1979

EARNINGS by RACE AND SEX, 1970s

The links below lead to earnings data for race and sex combinations (for example, white women, black men, etc.

EARNINGS by RACE, 1970s

EARNINGS by SEX, 1970s

Wages by metro area (selected occupations), 1970-1979

Click on a state tab above to see cities and metro areas.  These are U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys that show pay for occupations such as secretary, stenographer, typist, messenger, file clerk, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, keypunch operator, computer systems analyst, computer programmer, registered nurse, carpenter, electrician, painter, machinist, mechanic, pipefitter, toot and die maker, janitor, porter, cleaner, and laborer and more.

Alaska

Alabama

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Arizona

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Arkansas

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

California

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:


California Labor Market Bulletin - Statistical Supplements
Shows earnings and hours of labor by industry and by city or metro area.

  • 1972 -- monthly issues bound in one volume
  • 1976 -- monthly issues bound in one volume

Colorado

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Connecticut

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

District of Columbia

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Delaware

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Delaware State Planning Office, Social and Economic Analysis Section:

Florida

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Georgia

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Idaho

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Illinois

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Indiana

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Iowa

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Kansas

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Wichita Municipal Government Wage Survey

  • 1973 edition shows mean and median monthly earnings for a wide variety of occupations, such as police, fire fighters, computer programmers, refuse collectors, librarians, accountants, engineers, social workers and more.

Kentucky

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Louisiana

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Maine

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Maryland

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Massachusetts

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Michigan

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Minnesota

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Mississippi

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Missouri

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Montana

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Nebraska

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

New Hampshire

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

New Jersey

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

New Mexico

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

New York

These bulletins are part of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys unless otherwise noted.

North Carolina

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Ohio

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Oklahoma

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Oregon

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Pennsylvania

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Rhode Island

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

South Carolina

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

South Dakota

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Tennessee

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Texas

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Utah

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Vermont

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Virginia

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Washington

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

West Virginia

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

In addition to the above, there is also a Hospital Wage Survey for Selected Occupations covering West Virginia only.  It was published in 1973.

Wisconsin

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Area Wage Surveys:

Wages by occupation and industry (A to Z), 1970-1979

  • Airline wages in 1970 and 1975
    • Tells salary and wages for pilots, copilots, flight engineers, flight attendants, aircraft inspectors and mechanics, maintenance crew occupations, dispatchers, airline customer service attendants, office clerical workers, and electronic data processing occupations.  Source: BLS Industry Wage Surveys
  • Appliance repair shop wages19721975, and 1978
    • Tells wages of those who repaired televisions, radios and electrical appliances. Source: BLS Industry Wage Surveys
  • Auto dealer repair shop wages - 1973
    • Tells wages, incentive pay and earnings for employees of automobile dealership repair shops, including automotive mechanics, car painters, body repairmen, lubrication men, parts men, service salesmen and more. Source: BLS Industry Wage Surveys
  • Banking and life insurance job wages
    • 1971  [Life insurance jobs] - provides earnings data for secretaries, clerks, claims approvers, underwriters, and computer programmers working in this industry.
    • 1973 [Banking jobs] - wages paid to bank tellers, bookkeepers, secretaries, clerks, computer programmers, etc.
    • 1976  [Both banking and life insurance jobs]
  • Baseball players' salaries
    • This article investigates the history of major league baseball players' salaries; table 1 (page 5) shows average and median annual salaries for 1970-1996, table 2 (page 6) shows the average salaries for the highest and lowest playing teams for select years 1980-1995, and table 4 (page 7) shows minimum baseball salaries for 1967-1997 (source).
  • Building trades - union wages by occupation and by city 
    1970 -19711971-19721973-1974197519761977
    • Includes asbestos workers, bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, painters, plasterers, plumbers, roofers, sheet metal workers, stonemasons, tile layers, and many more building occupations. Source: BLS Union wages and hours: Building trades.
  • Bus driver wages by city 
    19711972197319741975, 19761978-1979
    Source: BLS Union wages and hours: Local-transit operating employees.

Source: Industry Wage Surveys in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin series.

  • Cleaning services wages (contract) - 197119741977 
    • Those employed in this industry typically worked at night sweeping floors, emptying wastebaskets and dusting furniture, sometimes mopping, waxing floors or washing windows.  Be sure to look at hours as well, because many people with these jobs worked less than 20 hours per week (see summary for more overview.)  Breakouts for 33 metro areas.  Data broken out by sex.
  • Communications industry wages -
    197019711973197419751976197719781979 
    • Tells average hourly wages for employees working at telephone companies and for Western Union.  Wage data by occupation such as accountants, clerical staff, salespeople, telephone operators, construction/installers, repairmen, and more.
  • Congressional salaries
  • Construction wages (contract) by metro area1972 and 1973 
    • Shows average wages for carpenters, bricklayers, bulldozer operators, back-hoe operators, truck drivers, cement masons, electricians, pipe fitters, plumbers, roofers, sheet metal workers, etc.  Breaks out wages by residential or commercial construction.
  • Dairy industry wages 1973
    • The dairy industry employed route drivers (AKA "milkmen"), stationary engineers, mechanics to maintain company trucks, garage attendants, sanitization workers and more.  Ten years before this report came out, almost all milk was delivered in glass bottles directly to homes.  The introduction of paper cartons brought about changes in the industry that are reflected in this report.
  • Dental hygienists and dental assistants - 1978
    • Salaries of employees in state health departments, reported by state, pp. 17-21 of source.
  • Dentists - 1978
    • Salaries of public health dentists employed by state health departments, reported by state, pp. 9-13 of source.
  • Department store job wages - 1973
    • Shows wages for sales clerks by department (housewares, men's clothing, floor coverings, shoes, sporting goods, etc.) for full-time and part-time workers by city.
  • Doctors, medical - Income, 1971
    • Shows median net income for all medical doctors and for particular specialties: surgeons, obstetricians/gynecologists, internists, general practitioners and pediatricians. Source: U.S. Dept of HEW, Medical care expenditures, prices, and costs: background book.
  • Education, higher - Salaries
    • Report from the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics shows salaries of professors, instructors, lecturers, academic deans, and others for 1971-1973
    • The Illnois Data Book for Higher Education shows average salaries for professors, lecturers, instructors and other faculty for 1974. Find data for additional years in other editions of this source.
  • Electric and gas utilities job wages - 1972 and 1978 
    • Wages for workers in plants that generated electricity by burning fossil fuel, or in nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants, etc. and workers at utilities that distributed natural gas.  Source: BLS Industry Wage Survey.
  • Farm labor wages1930-present
    • The USDA periodical Farm Labor has been in publication for nearly 90 years.  Wages are listed in each issue.  Use the "Filter by date" feature to help navigate.
  • Flour and grain mill products industry wages - 1972
    • Occupations in the flour and grain mill industry included millwrights, mechanics, oilers, packers, bolters, forklift operators and more. Other parts of this report tell about job benefits, etc. Source: BLS Industry Wage Survey.
  • Foundries, iron and steel job wages 1973 and 1979
  • Foundries, nonferrous metals job wages 1970 and 1975
  • Government employee salaries and wages at the city level - 1970s
    This source lists pay for firefighters, police, sanitation workers, building inspectors, surveyors, carpenters, painters, plumbers, groundskeepers, computer technicians, typists, librarians, library clerks and assistants, etc. in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas CityLos Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Francisco, St. Paul, Wichita, and more.  Additional cities (such as St. Louis) are available in the library's print collection.  Source: Municipal Government Wage Survey.
  • Government employee compensation at the state level 1972 
  • Grain mill product industry wages1977
  • Grocery stores - Union wages and hours by city - 1971, 1973, 1975
    • Wage rates for cashiers, bakers, dairy workers, baggers, meat men, produce stockers, porters, and more.  68 cities included. Source: BLS Industry Wage Survey.
  • Hotel and motel job wages - 1973 and 1978
    • Shows wages for food service workers, bartenders, waiters and waitresses, porters, elevator operators, room clerks, hotel maids, cooks, dishwashers, pantry workers, security guards, and maintenance crew mechanics.  Hourly wage averages are broken out for 24 major American cities. Source: BLS Industry Wage Survey.

Source: Industry Wage Surveys in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin series.

Source: Industry Wage Surveys in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin series.

  • Manufacturing job wages- see box below for manufacturing wages by industry.
  • Meat products industry job wages - 1974 and 1979
    • Reports average wages in meatpacking and slaughtering plants, mainly hogs and cattle.
  • Metal industry (fabricated structural) job wages1974 and 1979​ 
  • Mining industry job wages - 1972 and 1977
  • Military pay charts (U.S.) - 1790s-present
    This website does a good job of organizing a complex topic.
  • Millwork job wages - 1979 
  • Oil and gas extraction job wages - 1977 

Medical and health industries 

  • Physicians, dentists and other health workers' median incomes, 1970-1976
  • Physicians fees (includes median earnings by specialty) - 1970s
  • Nurses (registered) employed in physician offices - Average salary - 1973 (source, p. 40)
  • Health services industry - All wage and salary workers - 1970-1978 (source)
  • Hospital job wages in 21 major cities - 1972 and 1975-1976
    • Shows average hourly wages for nurse supervisors, head nurses and general duty nurses, LPNs (licensed practical nurses), nursing aides, ward clerks, radiologic (x-ray) technicians, surgical technicians, kitchen helpers, switchboard operators, maids and porters.
  • Hospital and nursing home job wages - 1978
    • Shows average hourly wage for nurse supervisors, head nurses and general duty nurses, LPNs, nursing aides, ward clerks, laboratory technicians, medical technologists, physical therapists, radiologic technicians, respiratory therapists, surgical technicians, food service helpers and cleaning crews.  Data is reported for 22 major cities in the United States. 
  • Nursing home job wages - 1973 and 1976
  • Veterans Administration hospital personnel - Salaries and wages - 1974
    Source: "Salaries of physicians in the V.A. hospital system : hearings before the Subcommittee on Hospitals of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs" covers more personnel than physicians.  For example, see...
  • Dental personnel salaries in state health departments - 1978

Source: Industry Wage Surveys in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin series.

  • Oil and gas extraction job wages - 1977 
  • Petroleum refining job wages 1971 and 1976 
  • Petroleum (crude) and natural gas production job wages1972
    • Shows wages for gasmen, derrickmen, oil field welders, roustabouts, drillers, pumpers, and more.
  • Philanthropic sector earnings - 1972 (source)
  • Plastics industry job wages1974 and 1979
  • Printing trades - Union wages and hours - 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1977
  • Private nonagricultural employment - Annual earnings -  1970, 1971-19721973-1975
    • This multi-volume source tells worker earnings in what seems every industry except agriculture.  It provides data for jobs not found elsewhere on this page, such as jobs in religious organizations, deep sea transportation, mail order houses, gasoline service stations, shoe stores, savings and loan associations, photography studios, hair salons and barber shops, motion picture theaters, museums and zoos, charitable organizations and more.  Reports nationwide figures by race and sex of employee.
  • Private nonfarm economy - Employee compensation - 1970, 1972, 1974

  • Pulp, paper, and paperboard mill job wages - 1972 and 1977 

Source: Industry Wage Surveys in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin series.

  • Restaurant and hotel wages and tips1970
    • Wages for bartenders, waiters and waitresses, bus boys and bus girls, bellmen, and chambermaids.
  • Shipbuilding and repairing wages - 1976 
  • Textile dyeing and finishing job wages - 1970 and 1976 
  • Truckdrivers and helpers - Union wages and hours - 1970s

Manufacturing wages, 1970-1979

  • Chemical (industrial) manufacturing job wages  - 1971 and 1976
  • Drug manufacturing - 1978
    • Occupations in this industry include production workers and professionals such as biologists, chemists, engineers, and science technicians.
  • Fertilizer industry job wages by state - 1971
    • Occupations in the fertilizer industry included baggers, truckers, forklift operators, mixers, weighers, watchmen, etc.  This report tells the average wages for each of these occupations by state.  

Clothing, apparel and footwear manufacturing wages

  • Footwear manufacturing wages - 1971 and 1975 
  • Hosiery manufacturing wages - 197019731976 
  • Men’s and boys’ trouser manufacturing wages - 19711974 
  • Men’s and boys’ shirts and nightwear manufacturing wages - 19711974 
  • Men’s and boys’ suits and coats manufacturing wages - 1970197319761979 
  • Men's shirts and trousers manufacturing wages - 1978 
  • Women’s and misses’ coats and suits manufacturing wages - 1970 
  • Women’s and misses’ dress manufacturing wages - 197119741977 
  • Work clothing manufacturing industry - Wages and demographic characteristics - 1972 

 

WAGES in MANUFACTURING, 1970s

Unless otherwise noted, the following are Industry Wage Surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Bulletin series.

  • Box manufacturing - 1970 and 1976
    • Tells wages of those who worked in factories making boxes
  • Candy making and confectionery industry job wages - 1970 and 1975
  • Cigar manufacturing job wages - 1972 
  • Cigarette manufacturing job wages - 1971 and 1976 
  • Furniture manufacture, (wooden household) wages - 197119741979
    • Wages in upholstered vs. wooden compared, 1979 (source)
  • Glass and glassware manufacturing job wages 1970, 1975
  • Machinery manufacturing job wages- 1970-197119731974-19751978 
  • Motor vehicles and parts manufacturing wages - 1973 and 1974 
  • Paints and varnish manufacturing job wages - 1970 and 1976 
  • Semiconductor manufacturing wages -  1977
  • Structural clay products industry job wages 1975 
  • Synthetic fiber industry job wages - 1970 and 1976 
  • Textile manufacturing job wages - 1971 and 1975

International wages by country, 1970-1979

Prices in the United States, 1970-1979

PRICES for FOOD and ALCOHOL, 1970s

PRICES for CLOTHING, 1970s

The source Average Retail Prices of Selected Commodities and Services, Fall 1971 provides prices for various articles of clothing in each of the 56 American urban areas that constituted the Consumer Price Index "city sample," and included nationwide averages.  Direct links to the latter are below.

PRICES for COMMON HOUSEHOLD ITEMS, 1970s

HOUSING and UTILITY COSTS, 1970s

HEALTH PRICES, 1970s

PRICES for TRANSPORTATION, 1970s

GASOLINE PRICES, 1970s

BUS FARE, 1970s

AIR FARE and RAILWAY TICKET PRICES, 1970s

COST of a COLLEGE EDUCATION, 1970s

College cost detail by year

  • 1970-1971 --  Tuition and expenses in health fields
    Shows average school expenses, room and board reported by students of osteopathy, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, podiatry and veterinary medicine (source, p. 19).
  • 1971-1972 -- Average college costs
    Simple chart shows nationwide average for tuition, fees, room and board (all combined) to attend college in 1971-1972.
  • 1972-1973 -- Higher education: Basic student charges (source)
  • 1974-1975
  • 1978-1979 -- Higher education: Basic student charges (source)
    • Lists tuition, fees, room and board for each institution of higher education in the United States. Breaks out tuition by graduate and undergraduate rates.

ENTERTAINMENT PRICES, 1970s

COMMUNICATION PRICES, 1970s

ENERGY PRICES, 1970s

GASOLINE, 1970s

MISCELLANEOUS PRICES, 1970s

Consumer expenditures and analysis, 1970-1979

International prices by country, 1970-1979

Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars

Quotable facts for the 1970-1979 decade

In the United States...

  • Minimum wage was $1.60 per hour in 1970.  Source: U.S. Department of Labor
  • Carpenters (journeymen) earned an average of $7.02 per hour in 1970.  Source: U.S. BLS
  • In 1970, the median home value was $17,000. Source: US Census Bureau
  • In 1978, home buyers had a median age of 33 and average household income of $21,600.  Source: National Association of Home Builders quoted in a U.S. GAO report, p. 8.
  • Milk cost an average of 66¢ per half gallon in 1970.  Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
  • Eggs cost an average of 61¢ per dozen in 1970.  Source: U.S. BLS
  • Coffee cost an average of 91¢ per pound in 1970. Source: U.S. BLS 
  • The 1970 Ford Galaxie automobile was priced at $3,208. Source: J.D. Power
  • A gallon of gasoline cost an average of 35¢ in 1970. It increased to 86¢ per gallon by 1979. Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration
  • Public 4-year universities charged an average of $1,276 for tuition, fees, room & board for the 1970-1971 academic year. Source: U.S. Department of Education.
  • Teachers earned an average of $8,626 in 1970. Source: National Center for Education Statistics

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