Monday, August 8, 2011


My son, a college student, was lucky enough to get a part time job as a laborer in a warehouse, which includes driving a forklift truck. I am glad he got the job, but it put me to reminisce of when I was a college student working as a laborer. In the summer 1972 I was making $5 per hour. It was enough to pay for my college expenses for a year. Now 39 years later my son is also a laborer helping pay for his education and making $8 per hour. Not nearly enough to pay for his education at a state university. The point that got me thinking is that over 39 years, wages have increased for a laborer by only $3 an hour.

In 1972 you could buy a new car for $4,500. Today that same car would cost over $22,000.

A loaf of bread $.25, a gallon of gas $.36, and so on. The purchasing power of one 1972 dollar equals $5.21 in 2010 dollars.

If my math is correct, in 39 years inflation has increased by over 500%, yet a laborer’s wages have only increased by 63%.

Just reminiscing.


Bud said...

In 1972, we bought a new Plymouth "Duster" for $2800. Of course, with my current memory I could be totally wrong. Maybe it was actually $2850.

Recently, I was looking at new Chrysler prices, and it occurs to me that it would be hard for a worker in these days of declining wages, to buy cars with inclining price tags.

scot s w said...

Yes, spot-on. There are two conclusions:

1) We've been hosed, to a great degree.

2) Postwar America was a unique place in world history, where masses of relatively uneducated workers earned wealthy paychecks. The rise of competitive labor first in Europe, then in the Far East, has hit unskilled labor very, very hard in the last generation. Good thing DashmannII is working on that college degree.