Americans’ Income Over the years—We’ve Come a Long Way!

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As we reflect this Labor Day, we can be thankful for our salaries. Yes, that’s right, as many people struggle to pay their bills, things were much worse before.

Be glad it’s not 1860, when the average yearly income in America was $277.00! For 16 hours worth of work each day, men made $3.00 a week and women made $1.00 a week! By 1890, during the industrial revolution, Americans were making $412.00 a year, and working 60 hours a week. And, even until the early 1900s, before child labor laws, children were working the same number of hours as adults, and getting paid a fraction of the pay!

In 1910, Americans made an average of $574.00 per year. Granted, eggs were $.36/dozen and a bicycle was $11.95. By 1920, Americans averaged $1407.00 per year, $16,427.00 in 2013 dollars. And, in 1950, Americans averaged $3300.00 per year, $32,000.00 in today’s dollars. Fast forward to 2011, and we were averaging $50,554.00 per year.

So, we have come a long way, and have a lot to be thankful for. Our wages have gone up, and we have many modern conveniences to go along with that rise in wages. Yes, things were much less expensive back in the “olden days”. And, there were fewer things to buy as well. But, our quality of life is vastly improved over the 1860s, and we are living much longer. We are also working fewer hours.

You can take a look at the income statistics over the years at

Happy Labor Day!

Daniel J. Winter

Offices in Chicago, Gurnee, Oak Lawn, and Skokie, Illinois