Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Future: Back to the Past

by Don Boudreaux on November 26, 2012  in Myths and Fallacies, Standard of Living

To be precise, back to 1956.

Lately, I’ve encountered with unusual frequency claims that the 1950s were a glorious economic time for America’s middle-class – a time so glorious, what with strong labor unions and high (above 90%!) marginal income-tax rates and all, that we middle-class Americans of today should look back with longing and envy on those marvelous years of six decades ago.

So on Saturday I bought on eBay this Fall/Winter 1956 Sears catalog.  I spent an extra $8-and-change to have it shipped to me overnight – a service that I could not have purchased in 1956.  My catalog arrived on my doorstep today.  I’m eager to explore it and to report my findings with some thoroughness.

But to give you a taste now, below is a sample of what I plan to do.

Having on hand information on the nominal average hourly earnings of nonsupervisory nonfarm private production workers in the U.S. in 2012 - that figure being $19.79 (as of October 2012) - I searched for the same earnings figure for 1956.  Thus far I’ve had no luck finding that number.  (Please feel free, I bleg of you, to help me find this figure, if you so desire.)  So, for 1956 I instead use average hourly manufacturing earnings of production workers, as reported in Table 1 here.  That figure is $1.89.  To Read More…..

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