Mark J. Perry compares how long it takes to buy an electric kitchen oven in 1966 versus what you could buy today for the same number of hours of labor. See his visual illustration at Living the Good Life: The Good Old Days Are Now.
He translates the cost of an oven in 1966 into the number of hours labor needed to buy it at the average hourly wage then. He figures out the average hourly wage today and figures out what home appliances could be purchased for the same number of hours work. The cost reductions are amazing.
As is the case with his other illustrations, technology and productivity improvements keep making life better. My piddly contribution to the discussion – isn’t it great being alive today?
His comments – In 1966 a nifty self-cleaning oven
retailed for $330 in 1966, which would represent 121.3 hours of work (about three weeks) at the average hourly wage in that year
What could you buy today for the same number of hours labor?
Here’s his list from a Best Buy ad, which I converted into bullet points:
- high-efficiency front-loading washing machine,
- super capacity gas dryer,
- 30-inch gas stove,
- 8.8 cubic feet chest freezer,
- 16.5 cubic foot refrigerator,
- 24-inch dishwasher,
- mid-size microwave and
Isn’t that an astounding comparison? An oven then versus outfitting the entire kitchen and laundry room now.
His radical, counterintuitive, mind-boggling, nobody-will-ever-believe-you conclusion is:
As much as we hear about declines in median income, economic stagnation, the disappearance of the middle class, falling real wages, increasing income inequality, the data tell a much different story: The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting richer.
I might add, the working stiffs in the middle are getting richer too.