How has the buying power of working-class American individuals changed over 50 years?

Dale00

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Cars and homes are not the same as they were in 1971. Homes are larger and have more ostentatious features (kitchen island, marble counter tops, hot tubs, showy entryways (McMansions) etc etc. Cars are now unibody with crash-engineered features and have much more electronics (back up cameras, lane sensors, more luxurious interiors). These changes need to be factored into any comparison.
 

Rooster1971

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Individual prosperity is measured by how much material things one individual can acquire and upkeep vs one's individual net earnings. I exclude prosperity by independent wealth because most of us are not in the wills of rich uncles nor super-lotto winners. It's true many Americans acquire/have acquired/will acquire money and property through family inheritance but many also don't. We just can't always wait for people to die and be handed something. The majority of American adults have to work to achieve some level of prosperity. The lower the percentage for the cost/price of things vs our take-home pay PLUS any employment benefits, the greater our buying power.

Let's consider now vs 25 years ago vs 50 years ago. 2021 vs 1996 vs 1971

Let's also consider for each time in history:

1. average annual NET income for one individual W-2 American employee who works for a living based on a 40-hour work week
2. average price for new-construction fenced 3-br suburban subdivision home with 2-car garage and complete landscaping
3. average price for new automobile (excludes exclusive brands like Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, Maserati, Jaguar and Roll-Royce)
4. average annual food/grocery bill (store-bought groceries, eating-out bills)
5. average annual clothing bill (includes shoes, hats, gloves, etc.)
6. average annual out-of-pocket dental costs
7. average annual out-of-pocket healthcare costs
8. average annual cost to keep large pet dog (feed, treats, paid training, vet bills, leashes, toys, grooming, pest control)*
9. average annual out-of-pocket utility bill costs (TV, telephone, Internet, power, gas, trash, water, sewer)
10. average annual automobile upkeep costs (gas, out-of-pocket repairs, out-of-pocket car rental for repairs, towing, roadside emergency services, DMV fees, insurance, auto detailing)
11. average annual property insurance costs
12. average annual costs of entertainment: TV, radio, books, newspapers, magazines, recorded music, Internet, going to movies, home video, shows in performing arts, theater, opera, zoos, museums, amusement parks, watching, spectator sports, carnivals, circuses, concerts, romantic dating costs, hosting parties, having guests for company, etc.
13. average annual property taxes
14. average annual home upkeep costs (repairs, yard care, cleaning costs)
15. average annual clothing/linens upkeep costs (paid laundry services, dry cleaning, laundry supplies)
16. average price of a complete set furniture, both indoor and outdoor, and appliances for a 3-br home
17. average price for complete set of home maintenance tools and equipment: includes, lawn mower, wheelbarrow, dolly, common hand tools, garden tools, sheds, common power tools, weed-eater, garden sprayer, lawn spreader
18. average annual costs of recreation: includes camping, hobbies, fishing, photography, hunting, bicycling, playing and learning music non-professionally, fitness, boating, playing leisure sports, vacationing, etc.
19. average annual cost of personal security: includes guns, ammunition, security dog training, alarms, paid security services, safes, deadbolts, locks and chains

*I've included one pet dog because that's always been a common household fixture in America.

It's true the price/cost of virtually everything has gone up over the years but has our take-home pay kept pace with rising costs of things in general?

In general, are/were working American individuals on national average more prosperous now, in 1996 or in 1971?

American = legal citizen of the United States
You measure prosperity by material things you can impress the neighbors with. I’ve seen many people with fancy cars, houses, Pure bred dogs(lol) as wealth that can’t buy an AC when needed. They are scrambling for a payment plan and usually spend way to much with a rip-off company that can secure them financing. These people are leveraged to their eyeballs and are a couple missed checks away from bankruptcy,
The way to wealth is spend less than what you make, save and spend wisely, and don’t try and impress the neighbors with debt. I’ve seen people with perceived modest means whip out cash when so called “emergencies happen” They don’t whip out a nearly maxed card. These people have a thing called money
 

JR777

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Cars and homes are not the same as they were in 1971. Homes are larger and have more ostentatious features (kitchen island, marble counter tops, hot tubs, showy entryways (McMansions) etc etc. Cars are now unibody with crash-engineered features and have much more electronics (back up cameras, lane sensors, more luxurious interiors). These changes need to be factored into any comparison.
That's true, but there's also the deflationary impact of technology. It's not necessarily more expensive, relatively speaking, to make a bigger/fancier house or car. Truth be told, it's the deflationary influence of technology that has allowed the government to suck so much more out in taxes and inflation of the money supply. We should be getting more for less, and more people around the world should be getting access to better things. Unfortunately the status quo hasn't changed very much, and seems to be turning back the other direction thanks to the whole climate movement.
 

AlongCameJones

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Cars and homes are not the same as they were in 1971. Homes are larger and have more ostentatious features (kitchen island, marble counter tops, hot tubs, showy entryways (McMansions) etc etc. Cars are now unibody with crash-engineered features and have much more electronics (back up cameras, lane sensors, more luxurious interiors). These changes need to be factored into any comparison.
Which is about impossible to do.


It will be virtually impossible to compare now with then PRECISELY. The basic purpose of an automobile is the same now as it was in 1971: getting where you need to go and back home again. I'm a bachelor. I don't need a mansion-size home to provide me shelter. I can easily live comfortably in a 1971-size house.

The fact is humans have NEEDED housing and transportation since 1971. That much has not changed. 1971 cars still had the most important thing for my level of comfort in hot weather being that I'm heat-injury prone: factory a/c at least as an option. I value my personal time much more than car safety, a dash full of geek stuff or sheer house size. Having to work longer hours reduces quality time for me. I would like to spend more time fishing, boating, hiking with my dog and hunting and less time on the boss's clock. As far as car safety goes, I don't drive like an idiot or talk on the phone behind the wheel.

Modern consumers are sold a bill of goods: many things unneeded.

I like Harley-Davidson's philosophy of the 1980's ... "less is more".
 

BReeves

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Lots of people look down on us because we live in a mobile home. Doesn't bother me we keep the place looking nice, have two fairly new vehicles and 8 acres I can just about do anything I want on. It's all paid for and we now have more liquid cash than I have ever had. I don't worry about stuff breaking, doesn't matter what it might be I can come up with five to ten k pretty easily.

You can have your thousand buck house payments and five hundred buck car payments, We do not need that to be happy.
 

OHJEEZE

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In the 90's I used to buy the 250 packs of nosler 38/125gn, 38/158gn and the 44/200 gn.

The 38/158 was around $18, the 44/200 was around $20.

Using the .gov inflation calculator, they should be $31 and 34 respectively!

Here is midways current price! 44/200gn 250 pack for $92!

Even if they was in stock, I am not buying at that price!

At 92 bucks, I'll shop for another mold! :)

$34 bucks and I'd bite! Well, maybe! ;)
 

AlongCameJones

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Question:

What did humans actually NEED to live in 1971?

What did humans actually NEED to live in 1996?

What do humans actually NEED to live NOW?

It sounds like we are now forced to do more these days to get what we actually NEED to live vs what our parents had to do and our grandparents had to do to get what they NEEDED to live.

I don't NEED a bunch of convenience features in a house. The consumer market now is forcing things on consumers that they don't need so they have to work longer and harder to pay for them. It's forced slavery by advanced technology. A lot of this forced slavery by technology is implemented by government regulations and politics. Emissions controls are forced on our vehicles driving the prices of cars up so we have to slave harder to acquire them. I don't have the option now to buy a new car or a new home with 1970's simplicity which would make me very happy to have today. We are forced to work more and devote more time, money and energy to college educations to pay for excess baggage we don't need whether we want the excess baggage or not. My DOD-employed electrcian father and UNION YES hard-hat operating engineers grandfather with the limited education of a high-school diploma had enough earning power in skilled trades in the 1970's to get everything their families needed to live and live happily in the California San Francisco Bay Area, mind you. Humans are now slaves to too much STUFF!!!!!!!!

 
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