Teen’s purchasing power from working for the summer in 1952 and 2011

What could a teenager working minimum wage 60 years ago buy with his summer earnings compared to now?

Mark Perry has a calculation at his blog Carpe Diem: Young Americans: Luckiest Generation in History:

Here is the short version:

1952 after working for the summer, a teen could buy:

  • Typewriter
  • Phonograph
  • 17” TV

2011, after working the summer, a teen could buy the functionally equivalent items as 1952:

  • Laptop & printer (if you can call that comparable to a typewriter)
  • Ipod,
  • 32” HDTV, blue-ray player, home theater system (just a tad bit more than a 17” TV, but still comparable functionality, sort of)

Plus in 2011 our hypothetical teen still would have enough money left over at the end of the summer to buy some bonus stuff on top of matching types of things from 1952:

  • Iphone
  • Ipad
  • Kindle
  • 14mp camera

Here is the long version of his calculation:

Working minimum wage, 40 hours, 12 weeks in 1952 could allow a teen to buy:

Royal Deluxe Portable Typewriter


Portable Phonograph


Silvertone 17-inch TV




Same parameters in 2011, a teen could buy:

Dell Inspiron Laptop


Apple iPod Touch


Appll iPhone 4G


Garmin GPS


Canon 14.1 Megapixel Digital Camera


HP Officejet Wireless Printer


Westinghouse 32 inch LCD HDTV


Sharp 3D Wi-Fi Ready Blu-Ray Player


Samsung 5.1-Channel Blu-ray Home Theater System


Sonicare Rechargable Power Toothbrush


Sony PlayStation 3


Sony Clock Radio with Apple iPhone and iPod Dock


TiVo Premiere HD DVR – 45 hours


XM OnyX Sirius XM Satellite Radio Tuner


De’Longhi EC702 Espresso Machine




Apple iPad




Read the full article. You will enjoy it.

I’ve discussed this concept earlier at:  I can’t think of a better time to be alive. Or, is the middle class better off today than in 1975?  That conversation was based on a post at Cafe Hayek. This one is from Carpe Diem.

I will repeat my question: even with our current economic , isn’t this the greatest time to be alive?

Even with the very difficult economy, the future is brighter than ever.

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