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Home50th - Money

Soroptimist of Las Cruces is celebrating 50 years
April 4, 1970 - April 4, 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, 2019 prices are 561.23% higher than average prices in 1970.
The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.93% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $1 in 1970 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $6.61 in 2019, a difference of $5.61 over 49 years.
The 1970 inflation rate was 5.72%. The current inflation rate (2018 to 2019) is 1.75%  


The 1970's were the #2 most inflationary
decade in the last century.

1970 house $23,400 = $58,500 in 1979
1970 income $9,350 = $17,550 in 1979
1970 gasoline .36¢ = .86¢ in 1979
1970 new car $3,900 = $5,770. in 1979


In 1970, minimum wage was $1.60 an hour.  Today, it’s $7.25 an hour.  That’s a 353% increase over that period of time, which seems like a fair amount… until you actually start looking at how prices have increased.

What about average wages?  Average household income has roughly kept pace with consumer prices.  In January 1970, the Consumer Price Index was 37.8. In January 2011, it was 220.223. A 482% increase.

In other words, for every dollar increase in the minimum wage since 1970, the price of an average item has gone up $1.36. Even adjusting for inflation, a dollar today buys less.

Fresh out of school in 2019?  Initial income outlook is worse than a fresh graduate in 1970, but after some career advancement, salaries normalize when adjusted for inflation.


In 1970, a year of tuition at a public university cost $1,207. Compared to 2010 cost of  $13,216 per year. That’s a 994% increase in the cost of per year.

In 1970, you could work 755 hours at a minimum wage job over the course of a year to earn enough to pay for a year of college. By 2010, that increased to 1,823 hours at a minimum wage job over the course of a year.  A 141% increase.

Additionally, a college education is more of a requirement than it was in 1970.  In 1973, 72% of jobs available for workers in the United States had only a high school diploma or had dropped out of school. In 2007, that number had dropped to 41%, and 43% drop that continues to grow yearly.


The median price of a home sold in the United States in January 1970 was $23,600, and in 2011 was $240,100. That’s an increase of 917%, one on par with the jump in education prices.

In other words, even after the housing collapse, a home today costs approximately three times as much as a home in 1970 compared to the average wage that a person earns. The Full Picture The minimum wage in the United States has gone up 353% since 1970, and average incomes have gone up approximately 500%.

In the eyes of an average worker from 1970 compered to today, the prices at the grocery store have remained largely unchanged

If the eyes of a minimum wage earner from 1970 compared to today, the prices at the grocery store have gone up about 30%.