Cost of a Sears 1.5 cubic foot microwave in 1981: $469.88, or 63.2 hours of work (about 8 days) at the average hourly wage of $7.42 (total private industries).
Cost of a Sears 1.8 cubic foot microwave in 2009: $119 or 6.5 hours of work at today's average hourly wage of $18.36.
Bottom Line: If we paid the same price today as in 1981 (63.2 hours, at the average hourly wage of $18.36), the 2009 Sears microwave above would cost us $1,160 today. Or equivalently, consumers in 1981 actually paid the equivalent of $1,160 in today's dollars for a microwave oven. Or we could say that the typical consumer today would earn enough money in one day by mid-afternoon (6.5 hours) to earn enough money to purchase a brand new 1.8 cubic foot microwave oven, whereas the typical consumer in 1981 had to work full-time for almost 8 days to earn enough money to purchase an equivalent microwave then.