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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Prices rise, but not evenly.

I've notice the rise in prices of groceries and gas in the last several years. But I'm not old enough to know exactly how they compare to decades ago. I got curious about it after seeing a supermarket scene in a movie from the very early 60s. Eggs were advertised at 49 cents. Granted that's cheaper than what they sell for today, but not so much cheaper as one may expect. Eggs are generally priced anywhere between $1.50 and $1.99 a dozen, and I even managed to pick up some on sale for 99 cents this past year -- something that was far more common a few years ago.

It seemed to me, that given the rate of inflation, 49 cents would have been not so cheap back then. I looked up some price on Perhaps the 49 cents was some kind of special because, according to that, the price in the 60s would have been 57 cents, higher than the cost of a gallon of milk, which it puts at 49 cents. Currently, in my area, milk gallon prices range from $3.49-$4.99, with an average of about $4, depending on the store, the brand, and whatever other factors come into play.  That would mean that while milk prices have risen about 10x, the cost of eggs have only risen 3 to 4 times their cost then. Oh, and the cost of gallon of gas was 31 cents, so that has actually gone up more than 10x. Interesting, though, that the postage stamp then was only 4 cents, which would have made it cheaper than a local call in a payphone. A new home is said to cost $16,500.

If you jump ahead a decade to, you find  moderate increases in prices. The stamp now costs 6 cents, still less than call.  The gallon of gas is 36 cents. The dozen eggs are up to 62 cents. But the gallon of milk has more than doubled in price to $1.15.  The median household income is given as $8,734 (no comparable figure appeared for 1960). A house would have proved to be a good investment (as you can't hold milk for 10 years) because the new home price is $26,600.

By the time you get to 1980, home prices would have tripled over the decade to$76,499, though the median income would have only about doubled to $17,710. Other prices are as follows:

Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.15 
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $1.25 
Cost of a dozen eggs: $0.91 
Cost of a gallon of Milk: $2.16 

The cost of a home would have doubled again by 1990 to  149,800. Other indexes include:

Median Household Income: $29,943.00 
Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.25 
Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $1.16 
Cost of a dozen eggs: $1.00 
Cost of a gallon of Milk: $2.78 

For the rate of inflation applied to British products and prices, see Eggs are a lot more expensive over the Atlantic than they are over here.
How prices have changed in 49 years

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