I have a client that loves to send me little jokes and ditties every now and then. He’s just slightly older than I am and loves to pontificate about how prices are outrageous and how he can’t imagine how people can afford to live any more.
In some respects, of course, he’s absolutely right. But in others, it’s amazing how little prices have gone up.
Today he sent me a list of a few things and their prices in 1955. Of note, of course, are prices like gasoline – 23 cents a gallon; milk – 85 cents a gallon; eggs – 61 cents a dozen.
A bit of checking around and I see this list, thanks to www.fiftiesweb.com:
Average income: $4,137
Ford car: $1606-$2944
Postage stamp: $.03
Sirloin chops: $ .69 lb.
Pot Roast: $.43 lb.
Eggs, doz.: $.61
Coffee: $.93 lb.
Milk, ½ gal. $.43
Potatoes, 10 lb. bag: $.53
Starkist Tuna, 6 ½ oz. can: $.25 lb.
Oreo cookies, 11¾ .oz pkg: $.39
Potato Salad, pint: $.29
Cracker Jack, 24 pac: $1.49
Apple cider,½ gal.: $.49
Gum Drops, 1½ lb. pkg: $.29
Ivory Soap, 2 bars: $.29
Mickey Mouse lunchbox: $.88
Nylons, pair: $1.00
Home permanent: $1.50
Baseball Glove: $9.95
As I reviewed this list, I’m thinking … wow, some of these haven’t gone up much at all. I mean, last week’s ad for potatoes was something like $1.48 for a ten pound bag (about 3 times more than 1955); milk – $2.59 a gallon (oof, that’s a big price increase: about 6 times, although I’m pretty sure I see milk for $1.99 a gallon now and then) eggs were something like $1.50 a dozen or so (can’t find an ad anywhere) – up about 2.5 times.
Gas in my area (just south of Seattle) is right around $3.30 a gallon – up 14.3 times (that’s a gotcha!)
Anyway, then I decided to look at the price of housing. According to this chart, the price of a home in 1955 was about 5.3 times the average income.
Looking at local statistics, Washington state reports that the 2011 median income for King County (basically the greater Seattle area) is projected to be $66,294. Median house price for sold homes in King County right now? The Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) says: $343,700 as of end of November. 5.18 times the median income. Pretty close to 1955.
Now, 1955 is just slightly before my memory (I was two in 1955) … I have memories of some of these though! I wonder what my grandchildren born in 2010 will think when looking back at prices when they’re 55.
Enough analysis this time of the morning!