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Prices and Wages by Decade: 1970-1979

Links to U. S. government documents listing retail prices for typical consumer purchases, and wages for common occupations. All data is for the United States unless specifically indicated.

Wages in the United States, 1970-1979

Earnings by race and sex, 1970-1979

EARNINGS by SEX, 1970s



Wages by metro area for 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.





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



District of Columbia



















New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

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

North Carolina





Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota







West Virginia

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


Wages for occupations and industries, 1970-1979

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

  • 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.
  • Appliance repair shop wages -  19721975, and 1978
    • Tells wages of those who repaired televisions, radios and electrical appliances.
  • 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, “new-car get-ready men,” parts men and service salesmen.
  • 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]
  • Building trades - union wages by occupation and by city -
    1970 -19711971 - 19721973 - 19741974 - 19751975 - 19761976 - 1977
    • Includes asbestos workers, bricklayers, carpenters, electricians, painters, plasterers, plumbers, roofers, sheet metal workers, stonemasons, tile layers, and many more building occupations.
  • Bus driver wages by city -
  • Cleaning services wages (contract) - 1971 , 1974 , 1977 
    • Those employed in this industry typically worked at night sweeping floors, emptying wastebaskets and dusting furniture, sometimes wet-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 reported for men and women workers.
  • Communications industry wages -
    1970 , 1971 , 1973 , 1974 , 1975 , 1976 , 1977 , 1978 , 1979 
    • Tells average hourly wages for employees working at telephone companies and for Western Union.  Data is broken out by occupation such as accountants, clerical staff, salespeople, telephone operators, construction/installers, repairmen, and more.
  • Construction wages (contract)1972 and 1973 
    • Shows average wages for carpenters, bricklayers, bulldozer operators, back-hoe operators, truck drivers, cement masons, electricians, pipefitters, plumbers, roofers, sheet metal workers, etc.  Breaks out wages by residential or commercial type construction in dozens of different metro areas, and by level of employee experience.
  • Dairy industry wages1973
    • The dairy industry employed route drivers, stationary engineers, mechanics to keep the company trucks good repair, garage attendants, sanitization workers, etc.  Ten years before this report came out, almost all households had milk delivered directly to the home.  The introduction of paper cartons eliminated the delivery of milk in glass bottles to homes.  This report reflects the difference in occupations in this industry.
  • 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.
  • 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.  
  • Farm labor wages1930-present
    • The periodical Farm Labor has been in publication for nearly 90 years. It was originally published monthly, and then became a quarterly. Wages expressed in dollars can be found in every issue, it seems. After clicking on the link above, scroll down the section titled "Previous Releases."
  • 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.
  • 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
    The Municipal Government Wage Survey volumes tell pay and benefits for workers employed by selected city governments. Typical occupational breakouts include firefighters, police, sanitation workers, building inspectors, surveyors, carpenters, painters, plumbers, groundskeepers, computer technicians, typists, librarians, library clerks and assistants, etc.. Full text in Hathi Trust for Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Francisco, St. Paul, Wichita, and possibly more.  Additional cities (such as St. Louis) are available in the library's print collection.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Iron and steel foundry job wages - 19721973 and 1979
  • Iron and steel job wages - 1972 and 1978-1979
  • Leather tanning and finishing job wages - 1973
  • Librarian salaries at research institutions - 1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1978-79.
    • Source: Association of Research Libraries.
  • Local-transit employees - Hours and wages by city
    1970-1971, 1971-1972, 1972-1973, 1973-1974, 1975-1976, 1978-1979
    • Gives wage data for city bus drivers, trolley car operators, subway and elevated train personnel, including conductors, platform men, etc. 
  • 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.
  • Medical and health industries 
    • Physicians, dentists and other health workers' median incomes - 1970-1976
    • Physicians fees (includes median earnings by specialty) - 1970s
    • Nursing homes and related facilities job wages - 1973 and 1976
    • Salaries of dental personnel in state health departments - 1978
    • Health services industry - All wage and salary workers, 1970-1978 (source)
    • Hospital job wages - 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.  Gives average wage for each of these occupations in 21 major cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York, Philadelphia, Portland OR, St. Lois, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.
    • 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. 
    • VA 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...
  • Metal industry (fabricated structural) job wages1974 and 1979​ 
  • Mining industry job wages - 1972 and 1977
  • Millwork job wages - 1979 
  • 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 
  • 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


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
    • Tells wages for factory jobs (candymakers) and other workers such as machinist, mechanic, janitor, watchman, etc.
  • Cigar manufacturing job wages - 1972 
  • Cigarette manufacturing job wages - 1971 and 1976 
  • Chemical (industrial) manufacturing job wages - 1971 and 1976
  • Clothing and apparel manufacturing wages
    • Hosiery manufacturing wages - 1970 , 1973 , 1976 
    • Men’s and boys’ trouser manufacturing wages - 1971 , 1974 
    • Men’s and boys’ shirts and nightwear manufacturing wages - 1971 , 1974 
    • Men’s and boys’ suits and coats manufacturing wages - 1970 , 1973 , 1976 , 1979 
    • 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 - 1971 , 1974 , 1977 
    • Work clothing manufacturing industry - Wages and demographic characteristics - 1972 
  • 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.  
  • Footwear manufacturing wages - 1971 and 1975 
  • Furniture manufacture, (wooden household) wages1971 , 1974 , 1979
    • Wages in upholstered vs. wooden compared, 1979 (source)
  • Glass and glassware manufacturing job wages 1970, 1975
  • Machinery manufacturing job wages1970-1971 , 1973 , 1974-1975 , 1978 
  • Motor vehicles and parts manufacturing wages - 1973 and 1974 
  • Paints and varnish manufacturing job wages1970 and 1976 
  • Semiconductor manufacturing wages -  1977
  • Structural clay products industry job wages 1975 
  • Synthetic fiber industry job wages1970 and 1976 
  • Textile manufacturing job wages - 1971 and 1975

Additional sources for earnings data

Wages in Foreign Countries, 1970-1979

Prices in the United States, 1970-1979

PRICES for FOOD and ALCOHOL, 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.







Consumer expenditures / Analysis, 1970-1979

Prices in Foreign Countries, 1970-1979

Buying power of historic wages expressed in today's dollars

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