October 28, 2013

Prices...1955 and Now

My sister recently forwarded me one of those nostalgia-twinged emails about the high cost of 1955 living (high to them). Inflation since 1955 results in things costing about 11 times more now and it was interesting to see what was over the rate of inflation and what wasn't.

Food, auto, postage stamps, hamburgers all came in at or under the rate of inflation (and surprisingly, gasoline isn't too far off).

Cigarettes, baseball salaries, hotel room, day at the hospital and haircuts have have all soared, some astronomically.  (I was especially aggrieved at hotel room costs.)
Week's worth of groceries was $10  ($110)
New Car $2,000 ($22K)
Cigarettes: 20cents a pack ($2.20)
Stamp: 7 cents (77 cents)
Min Wage: $1 ($11)
Gas: 20 cents ($2.20)
Highest paid baseball player: $50K ($550K)
Hamburger McDonald's = 15 cents ($1.65)
Hotel room = $2.00 a night ($22)
Day in Hospital = $15 ($165)
Haircut = 30 cents ($3.30)
Politicians talk about the woes of the middle class (without doing much) but the data below seems to suggest that we're much better off than in 1973, or would be without debt payments. 

American are spending less on essentials but with far less savings to show for it (and what's interesting on the housing side is houses are so much bigger than in 1973):

By  Walter Hamilton

LOS ANGELES TIMES Sunday October 27, 2013 9:27 AM
The average person spends 81.2 percent of his or her post-tax income on food, housing and other expenses, according to ConvergEx Group, a New York brokerage.

That’s down from the 85 percent that Americans shelled out for mandatory and discretionary items in 1973.

“In short,” the report says, “spending — and saving — among American consumers is changing, and not necessarily for the better.”

The U.S. savings rate is a fraction of what it used to be: 4.6 percent today versus 13 percent four decades ago, according to the report.

“Where are we putting the extra money? Not into retirement accounts, stocks or bonds, clearly,” the report says.

In 1973, according to ConvergEx, the average American had post-tax income of $9,700. Annual spending was $8,270, or 85 percent of income.

Income has risen to about $63,000 today, but per-person expenditures average only 81.2 percent.

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