Average Salaries, 1912 and 2012

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, September 16, 1912:  Just about the same things done over every day with just a little change here and a little more there.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Both then and now– some days are just the same old, same old.

Since Grandma didn’t have much to say a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some interesting data that I found about the average salaries for selected occupations a hundred years ago and now.

The 1912 data are from an article in the September, 1912 issue of Ladies Home Journal titled “How Other People Live.” The current data was from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average Salaries, 1912 and 2012

average salaries, 1912 and 2012

Click on table to enlarge

Of course all the salaries are much higher now than they were back then because of inflation. But it’s interesting to compare which salaries were relatively high and which were relatively low across the two years.

Data Sources

This is what the 1912 Ladies Home Journal article said about the data sources for 1912:  “The industrial incomes were obtained from the Government’s’ investigation of the incomes of over 3,000,000 adult males. The income for public school teachers is taken from a report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1911. The salaries of city and country ministers are from the United States Census reports.”

I used the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the 2012 data. It actually was 2011 data, but I assumed that salaries haven’t changed much over the past year.

2 Responses

  1. $10 to $15 dollars a week was the norm for a man with a good job. You could buy a very nice home for $400. That was fun to think about.

  2. I can’t help but think that the number of those positions available in this country has probably changed drastically in 100 years. There can’t be many clothing makers/sewing machine operators still working in the United States. And there must be many fewer railroad workers as well.

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