Things are getting better, part 3

Minimum wage over the decades, from the Fiscal Times

Okay, maybe not entirely better. This is a breakdown by decade of the cost of gas, a movie ticket, and rent vs. the minimum wage. Instead of dragging it out in a slide show, here you go:

Decade Minimum Wage Gas Movie Ticket Rent
50s $0.75 $0.27 $0.48 $42
60s $1.00 $0.31 $0.69 $71
70s $1.60 $0.36 $1.55 $108
80s $3.10 $1.25 $2.60 $243
90s $3.80 $1.13 $4.23 $447
2000s $5.15 $1.49 $5.39 $602
2010s $7.25 $2.78 $7.95 $790

The overall tone of the article is negative, and by the raw numbers, that’s somewhat justified: while gas is actually cheaper in terms of wages, movie tickets have gone up by over 60%, and rent by 85%.


But consider what you got then for your money vs. now:


Cars today are safe, comfortable, fuel-efficient, and go practically forever with no maintenance.

Cars in the early 50s (some of them) still came with no seat belts, no padded dash (I remember Jay Leno joking once on Letterman, “You get in an accident in one of these babies, they hose off the dash and sell it to someone else!”), no disc brakes, no air conditioning, and got maybe 15MPG — oh, and needs an inspection/tune-up every 5000 miles.


Today your $7.95 movie ticket gets you this:



In the 50s $0.48 got you this:

Annex - Chapman, Ben (Creature From the Black Lagoon)_NRFPT_05


Apartments today are harder to generalize about, but most have air conditioning, a dishwasher, and a bathroom. A microwave might not be built-in, but it wasn’t an option in the 50s. Everything is more energy-efficient now. Almost certainly the apartment some form of cable-tv available, and internet access — perhaps free wi-fi.

Apartments in the 1950s were unlikely to have a dishwasher. The refrigerator was primitive, and if the apartment had air conditioning (not nearly as likely) it was often a noisy bolt-on sitting in the window. Less expensive apartments used shared bathrooms. Lead paint and asbestos were much more common.

So, as I’ve said before, I’ll take today. Yesterday sucked.


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