Despite Recession, Americans Still Have It Good
Channel 4 CBS-TV Denver: Professor Mark Perry studies the American economy at the University of Michigan-Flint.
"As much as we hear about how bad everything is, the reality is that people are still shopping, they're still out in lines. They're not in bread lines, they're in lines at the food court and lines at stores at some of the malls," said Perry.
Perry figured out a way to measure just how well we are doing. He took old Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs from the 1940s through the 1970s and used them to gauge the typical price of a product. Then he looked at the average wage at that time and calculated the number of hours it would take at the average wage to buy some typical household items.
"Back in 1950, somebody would have to work 154 hours at the average wage back then to be able to afford a refrigerator and today somebody would only have to work around 22 hours," said Perry. That's not all he found. "Back in 1950 it took 127 hours of time or work to purchase a dryer, today that could be purchased for only 20 hours," said Perry.
He created a list of items. Things like a refrigerator and dryer, toaster, vacuum cleaner, sofa, etc. and figured it would take eight months to buy them. "An average worker today would only have to work 1.6 months to purchase those same items that almost everybody has in their household," said Perry.