Sunday, September 12, 2010

RCA TV Cost 72 Hours of Work At Avg. Wage ($2.05/hr.) in 1959 = $1,350 Today @ $18.52/hour

The 1959 RCA TVs pictured above sold for $150 retail, which would be about 72 hours of work then at the average hourly manufacturing wage of $2.05.  At today's hourly wage of $18.52, that amount of work (72 hours) would be equivalent to $1,350 in today's dollars.  Today you can get a 19 inch LCD HDTV for as little as $138, which would be only 7.5 hours of work at the average hourly wage. 

Bottom Line: In 1959, the average worker had to work 9 full 8-hour days (almost two weeks) to earn enough income to purchase a 17 inch portable TV (ignoring taxes), and today's average worker would earn enough income in less than one day (7.5 hours) to purchase a 19 inch LCD HDTV.   

19 Comments:

At 9/12/2010 10:16 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Manufactured goods just get better and less-costly, continuously--except for military hardware.
Wonder why? Could it be the public pays for it?

 
At 9/13/2010 12:07 AM, Blogger fboness said...

Today's American worker doesn't make TV sets.

 
At 9/13/2010 12:22 AM, Blogger Nicholas Bormann said...

Great post - impressive how technology has both improved qualitatively, and also become much more available at the same time.

Efficiency is almost like a miracle sometimes.

 
At 9/13/2010 1:19 AM, Blogger randian said...

Military hardware may not get less costly, but does get much, much better. I'd bet a single US Carrier Group could destroy the entire US Pacific Fleet from WWII by itself.

 
At 9/13/2010 3:09 AM, Blogger DaveinHackensack said...

OK, so the average manufacturing worker's TV is cheaper today. You've made this point before. Now, why don't you compare the cost of the average manufacturing worker's housing, health insurance, and college tuition for his kids today with what they were in 1959?

Also, let's remember that a much smaller percentage of Americans is employed in manufacturing today than in 1959. Now you may think that's a great thing, and analogize it to the previous shift from agriculture (as if a high-paying auto industry job with great benefits was similar to being a subsistence farmer), but does manufacturing-centric Germany's current economic performance make you question that dogma?

Germany has weathered the global financial crisis better than we have and currently has much higher economic growth than us and much lower unemployment. Might this have something to do with them prizing their high-end manufacturing jobs?

 
At 9/13/2010 5:18 AM, Blogger Cabodog said...

Maybe more importantly, we need to look into why Germany can retain their high-end manufacturing jobs...

The USA still has plenty of high-end manufacturing jobs: silicon valley, Boeing, etc. The USA just can't compete on commodity items such as apparel, toys...

 
At 9/13/2010 6:53 AM, Blogger tom said...

Great post.

If people think military hardware is expensive, just wait for the full health care regulations to kick in.

 
At 9/13/2010 8:32 AM, Blogger David said...

Stuff gets cheaper if it can be made in a factory and especially if it can be shipped in a freight container.

If it doesn't fit either or both of those criteria (houses, health care, haircuts, meals in restaurants, auto repair) the trend line is very different.

 
At 9/13/2010 9:09 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Now, why don't you compare the cost of the average manufacturing worker's housing, health insurance, and college tuition for his kids today with what they were in 1959?"...

What will be the deciding factor of the real costs of the items you mention? Number of hours worked?

You bring up an interesting question...

Thanks to Google I found a couple of interesting sites:

Seven Ways to Compute the Relative Value of a U.S. Dollar Amount, 1774 to Present

A real world 'then and now' collection of examples: Prices -- What Things Cost

"If people think military hardware is expensive, just wait for the full health care regulations to kick in"...

From Reason: CBO Adds $115 Billion to ObamaCare's Price Tag

That meter on the so called 'health care bill' just keeps ticking along and its full force of the legislation hasn't been started yet...

 
At 9/13/2010 9:17 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

how many days did/does he have to work for a year of healthcare?

 
At 9/13/2010 10:46 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Daveinhackensack, Germany's present situation has just as much to do with the currency balancing the Euro provides, as to do with it's own zenophobic tendencies towards foriegn trade.

Bottom line, in their situation they had better be successful, they are playing with a stacked deck.

 
At 9/13/2010 1:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos, thanks for the link to the Reason article. I really enjoyed the Onion news video linked at that location.

 
At 9/13/2010 2:24 PM, Blogger James said...

In 1959 the money paid for a TV went into the hands of a fellow American. That American spent the wages on American made good etc which produced a rising standard of living instead to today’s high unemployment.

No tariffs no recovery.

 
At 9/13/2010 2:51 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"If it doesn't fit either or both of those criteria (houses, health care, haircuts, meals in restaurants, auto repair) the trend line is very different."

David, I think you will find that the items you mentioned - houses, haircuts, meals, and auto repair - aren't really more expensive than they've ever been, if you compare apples to apples in real terms. Where you find a higher price, you will almost always find it's due to government distortion of the market in some form.

If by 'healthcare' you mean medical care or medical insurance, it should be obvious that higher costs are mostly caused by the large number of ways in which government interferes with the market, and also by the prevalence of third party payments, which disconnect the receiver of care from any consideration of price.

 
At 9/13/2010 3:39 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"No tariffs no recovery."

James, It's not clear why you think that if we all spent more money on things, we would be better off.

You mention high unemployment, and we certainly have that right now, but other than during recessions, the unemployment rate since 1959 has stayed in a fairly narrow range around 5%. Those who used to make TVs are now doing something else, and it must, for the most part, be better paying than making TVs, as per-capita GDP is up since then also.

I certainly don't feel like I would be better off if I had to spend an extra $1200 today for a TV - or anything else - and other than perhaps some of those who made the TV, I can't think of anyone else who might be better off. What of those unseen people who wouldn't have jobs because I couldn't spend that $1200 somewhere else?

 
At 9/13/2010 8:09 PM, Blogger randian said...

That American spent the wages on American made good etc which produced a rising standard of living instead to today’s high unemployment.

Let's perform a thought experiment, shall we? If what you posit were true, then it would behoove New Yorkers not to buy goods from California. Further, it would behoove San Francisco not to buy stuff from Los Angeles.

 
At 9/13/2010 11:43 PM, Blogger DaveinHackensack said...

"Let's perform a thought experiment, shall we? If what you posit were true, then it would behoove New Yorkers not to buy goods from California. Further, it would behoove San Francisco not to buy stuff from Los Angeles.".

Are you aware that all of those places are in the same country? Can you think of why tariffs on trade within countries might have different effects than tariffs on trade between countries?

 
At 9/14/2010 12:02 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Are you aware that all of those places are in the same country? Can you think of why tariffs on trade within countries might have different effects than tariffs on trade between countries?"

I think the point is to show how little sense it makes to protect your local area with tariffs, and how it harms everyone. Everyone should do what they do best, and trade for things that others do best.

I would expect tariffs within a country to have much the same effect as tariffs between countries, and that is to make everyone poorer.

Likewise, those who worry about trade imbalances, might consider that Californians should be horrified at the trade deficit they have with Michigan from buying all those cars, when Michigan buys so little from California.

 
At 9/14/2010 2:13 AM, Blogger randian said...

Are you aware that all of those places are in the same country?

Precisely my point. If "don't buy from foreigners" is sound advice for Americans buying from Germany, it applies equally to New Yorkers buying from California.

Can you think of why tariffs on trade within countries might have different effects than tariffs on trade between countries?

Why no, I can't. Please explain how a tariff on German goods at the US border has a different economic effect than a tariff on California goods at New York's border.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home