Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lessons From a 1956 Sears Catalog

Fascinating, actually!  For instance:
Sears’s lowest-priced 30″ four-burner electric range, with bottom oven, was priced, in 1956, at $129.95.  (You can find this range on page 1049 of the 1956 Sears catalog.)  Home Depot sells a 30″ four-burner electric range, with bottom oven, today for $348.00.

The typical American manufacturing worker in 1956, therefore, had to work 129.95/1.89 – or 69 hours – to buy an ordinary kitchen range.  His or her counterpart today must work 348.00/19.79 – or 18 hours – to buy the same sized ordinary range.
By the way, the numbers use the following: "[For 2012] ... the nominal average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory nonfarm private production workers in the U.S. [is] $19.79 (as of October 2012) ... For 1956 I instead use average hourly manufacturing earnings of production workers. That figure is $1.89."

No comments: