How Much Did It Cost in 1950?

How Much Did It Cost in the 1950s?

THE MORE I THINK ABOUT IT, however depressing, the cost of living continues to rise, and the price of all goods and services has gone up dramatically over the decades.

Perceived Value or Inflation?

Now the question remains, has the quality of these goods and services gone up as well?

For example, take bread. I don’t think bread is any different today than it was more than 50 years ago, no? Or the price of gasoline? Has the quality of gasoline changed much in 50 years time?

Cost Comparisons Between 1950 and Modern Times

Median Household Income

1950: $3,216
2009: $23,000

Minimum Wage

1950 – $0.75
2009 – $7.25

1st Class Postage Stamp

1950: $.03
2009: $.44

A Gallon of Regular Gasoline

1950 – $0.18
2009 – $2.47

A Gallon of Milk

1950: $0.20
2009: $2 to $3

A Ticket to the Movies

1950 – $0.40
2009 – $11.00

Average Price of a Home

1950: $14,500
2009: $258,000

1 Dozen Eggs

1950 – $0.26
2009 – $1.79

The Cost of Living vs The Value of Things

Materials like cotton, wool, paper, pencils… all essentially unchanged in the way they are manufactured and created, although we might have more complex and elaborate machinery to create products nowadays which would (in essence) lower costs for the company while maximizing profits. But for the consumer, the goods have basically remained unchanged in quality.

Perceived Value: The value that a customer subjectively attaches to a brand or service. It is often the image or personality that differentiates one product from a virtually identical competitor.

Inflation: A general and progressive increase in prices; “in inflation everything gets more valuable except money”

So, how much did things cost back in the day?

I first found a website that listed the price of various goods and services during certain years (in Morris County, New Jersey, of all places!).

And I picked 1950 as a good year for the older prices to compare with what things basically cost today in 2009. A span of 59 years.

Further Reading

Minimum Wage in U.S. History

Median Household Income in U.S. History

Prices of Movie Tickets in U.S. History

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Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and