October 28, 2014

Inflation? What Inflation?


America: "I am big, it's the dollars that got small!"

Imagine you could go shopping for food and groceries in the 1930's. These are some of the foods you may have bought to feed a family.

Shoulder of Ohio Spring lamb 17 cents per pound Ohio 1932

Sliced Baked Ham 39 cents per pound Ohio 1932

Dozen Eggs 18 Cents Ohio 1932

Coconut Macaroons 27 cents per pound Ohio 1932

Bananas 19 cents for 4 Pounds Ohio 1932

Peanut Butter 23 cents QT Ohio 1932

Bran Flakes 10 cents Maryland 1939

Jumbo Sliced Loaf of Bread 5 cents Maryland 1939

Spinach 5 cents a pound Maryland 1939

Clifton Toilet Tissue 9 cents for 2 rolls Ohio 1932

Camay Soap 6 cents bar Ohio 1932

Cod Liver Oil 44 cents pint   Wisconsin    1933

Tooth paste 27 cents Wisconsin 1933

Lux Laundry Soap 22 cents Indiana 1935

Suntan Oil 25 cents Pennsylvania 1938

Talcum Powder 13 cents Maryland 1939

Noxzema Medicated Cream for Pimples 49 cents Texas 1935

Applesauce 20 cents for 3 cans New Jersey

Bacon, 38 cents per pound New Jersey

Bread, white, 8 cents per loaf New Jersey

Ham, 27 cents can New Jersey

Ketchup, 9 cents New Jersey

Lettuce, iceberg, 7 cents head New Jersey

Potatoes, 18 cents for 10 pounds New Jersey

Sugar, 49 cents for 10 pounds New Jersey

Soap, Lifebuoy, 17 cents for 3 bars New Jersey

Sugar $1.25 per 25LB Sack   Ohio    1932

Pork and Beans 5 cents can Ohio 1932

Oranges 14 for 25 cents Ohio 1932

Chuck Roast 15 cents per pound Ohio 1932

White Potatoes 19 cents for 10LBs Ohio 1932

Heinz Beans 13 cents for 25oz can Ohio 1932

Spring Chickens 20 cents per pound Ohio 1932

Wieners 8 cents per pound Ohio 1932

Best Steak 22 cents per pound Ohio 1935

Pure lard 15 cents per pound Wisconsin 1935

Hot Cross Buns 16 Cents per dozen Texas 1939

Campbells Tomato Soup 4 cans for 25 cents Indiana 1937

Oranges 2 dozen 25 cents Indiana 1937

Kellogs Corn Flakes 3 Pkgs 25 cents Indiana 1937

Mixed Nuts 19 Cents per pound Indiana 1937

Pork Loin Roast 15 cents per pound Indiana 1937

Channel Cat Fish 28 cents per pound Missouri 1938

Fresh Peas 4 cents per pound Maryland 1939

Cabbage 3 cents per pound Maryland 1939

Sharp Wisconsin Cheese 23 cents per pound Maryland 1939

From The People History Site HT: Remus

Posted by gerardvanderleun at October 28, 2014 7:38 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Bacon was 19¢/lb in 1958. I work in the A&P in the meat dept and took care of the case, marking prices. Liver was a nickle a pound. Whole chicken on sale was 19¢, cut up, 27¢ lb.

That's how much we've devalued the dollar over the years.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at October 28, 2014 9:59 AM

A little inflation is good for you, dontcha know? It greases the wheels what grease the wheels. It's sorta like compound interest in reverse--it doesn't look like much at first.

Posted by: james wilson at October 28, 2014 10:49 AM

Went to the store, yesterday. Butter is averaging at about $5.00 a box. Back to buying margarine. I now buy my milk by the quart, too. Ground beef in the tubes is the cheapest. You can buy two of them and a third of it drains off in fat.

Posted by: Jewel at October 28, 2014 12:33 PM

A little perspective. According to 1940 Census data, average income in America in 1940 (a year later than the year of the prices cited in the post) was $1,368, or $26.31 per week.

That means that a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, 14 oranges, 10 pounds of potatoes and a loaf of bread (food for a decent breakfast)cost 18+38+25+18+5= $1.04, or 3.9 percent of the average weekly wage.

According to the Social Security Administration's National Average Wage Index, the national average income for 2013 (latest year available) was $44,888 ($863.23 per week), or 32.8 times the 1940 average wage.

For the same spending ratio as 1939/1940, then, the same food items I listed above would today cost $33.67. Even if everything on the list cost $5 each, you'd still come out almost $9 ahead today.

It's cheaper to eat today than it was then. And the food is better quality.

Sorry to bust everyone's bubble of how rotten life is in 2014. (It is, but not for that.)

Oh, "the average unemployment rate in the 1930s was 18.26 percent, up from the average of 5.2 percent in the 1920s."




Posted by: Donald Sensing at October 28, 2014 2:22 PM

The analysis is not complete. Yes, food is less expensive as a percentage of average wages. But ... there's a whole lotta troops now in the Free S*** Army that hafta be fed. That Army didn't exist in the 30's. Somebody is buying the food and housing and cars (sub-prime auto loans) and phones and wide-screen TV's for the FSA. Ninety million and change getting food stamps. Frick. One fourth of the country is on ration cards. If you're a family of four, you're buying food for a mooching fifth. Now redo the analysis.

Posted by: John A. Fleming at October 28, 2014 2:51 PM

Mr. Fleming, for those on the dole, riding that free stuff wagon, things are 'mighty fiiiine'. For us on a fixed income getting 1.7% increase in SS and VA disability benefits it's not so fine. What ever saving are possessed produce virtually no interest.

Local governments are grabbing what ever they can because the Feds have ripped them off via Medicaid and SNAP costs.

This is not going to end well. These politicians better not count on spending their pensions.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at October 28, 2014 3:58 PM

People used to keep track of their spending, using small notebooks. I have one from 1921, one from the late 30s and one from 1933. They make interesting reading, as you try and sort out the details of the writer, based on how they spend their money.

I've got some bulk food prices that I wrote down, back in the 70s. I had a seasonal government job that paid $10 an hour. Pretty good, since I'm not making a lot more than that these days.

The folks back in the 20s-50s could raise their own food. They could raise chickens and sell them for meat without the government getting involved. They could stock their pantries without being called a "hoarder" and making some government list. In short, they were a lot freer.

Posted by: Teri Pittman at October 28, 2014 6:09 PM

There was inflation the 1920's and deflation in the 1930's. Inflation started again in the 1950's through today.

Posted by: Bea at October 28, 2014 9:20 PM

The butter price is scary. You can, however, buy it for $2.79 per pound at Costco right now, if you don't mind buying four pounds. And, strangely, you can buy one pound for $2.99 at a regional convenience store chain here in Minnesota.

I bake a lot. I don't use margarine. Butter price matters to me.

Posted by: Gordon at October 29, 2014 8:36 AM

The reason butter is expensive right now is that there's a shortage. Obama waived the sanctions on Iran and they're buying a lot of it. Also, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries are buying massive amounts of U.S. butter.

Posted by: snopercod at October 29, 2014 2:56 PM