$16 Then And Now

According to an inflation calculator, my $16 twenty years ago has the buying power of $25.70 today, a difference that my eight-year-old self would have viewed with the same reverence, and my current self would have probably turned into laundry quarters.

The NYT on the Fast Food Strikes

The editorial board of the New York Times weighed in on the fast food strikes noting that at $7.25 an hour, low paid work "is lower paid today than at any time in modern memory" because the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation and failure to enact right-to-organize legislation has made it difficult for low-paid workers to organize without retaliation from employers. All of this, plus the loss of so many midwage jobs during the recession, have inevitably led to the current strikes.

The Specter of Inflation? No, The Reality

Der Spiegel on inflation.

What Did Your First Job Pay Then and What Does It Pay Now?

What did your first job pay? What does it pay now? Here are some of the many fascinating answers we’ve received, with more to come.  

Fran: I graduated USC school of journalism in 1963 and got a job on a daily paper called the San Gabriel Valley Daily Tribune. It is still in existence in L.A. county. I was fully trained to write about everything from fires to sports. However it was the olden days and my job was on the Women’s Page. I earned $60 a week gross and lived at home to pay off my car. I spent an entire summer writing about brides and their veils of illusion. That was enough.

I took the civil service exam for L.A. county and became a social worker visiting seniors who received old age assistance. At least it was equal pay for equal work and I started at $369 per month, advancing to $389 per month by June 1964 when I got married. We were able to live on that salary as my husband was a medical student. I have no idea what these salaries might be today but I am sure journalists still don’t earn much. [Editor's note: The inflation calculator from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says $389 in 1974 money is $1,877 today.] I eventually used my journalism at a social worker three salary to recruit foster homes for child welfare services until I quit when Joey was born in 1968.

Veda:

My first temporary non-babysitting job was while I was an undergraduate at McGill. In 1963, through the university employment office, I got a job putting an eyebrow pencil and a clear plastic eyebrow template into cellophane bags, placing a foldover label at the top, and stapling them shut. I was paid by the piece, and I don’t remember how much, but given the times, it could not have been more than a couple of cents per bag. I performed my duties in the empty basement of my employer’s brother’s shoe store. It was in the days before iPods or even Walkmen, so it was BORING. When the entire job was finished, I went into tutoring, which was a distinct improvement.

My first full-time job was in 1967 at the IBM Datacenter in Montreal, as a junior programmer.  Even though I had had a full summer of training (by IBM), I was singularly mediocre. Nonetheless, I persisted, as the pay (beginning at $3,900 and reaching $4,100 per annum by the time I left a year later), and the benefits were far better than for other jobs I could have gotten at the time. As I recall, a job at a major bank as a management trainee paid probably $500-600 less, and a job with the Canadian government–probably in the frozen wastelands of Northern Quebec–paid about the same as the banks. I don’t know what my IBM job would pay nowadays, but I would think it would be at least 10 times what I was getting in 1967-68. BTW, as a woman, I was paid less than my equally feckless male counterparts.

All Eyes on Japan

Neil Irwin says Japan is the most interesting story in global economics right now.

Underpaid, Underemployed

The Times has a story this morning about how difficult it is to continue to pay for things when wages are stagnant and inflation continues to do its thing. As you can imagine, people who are earning money, but are underemployed are finding it very difficult to make ends meet.

What ‘DuckTales’ Taught Me About Inflation

The other night I was having a conversation with a friend about money, and we started talking about inflation. When my friend asked me where I’d learned about the concept, I think he expected me to say, "college." Instead I said, DuckTales.

Sunday’s Minimum Wage Discussion

Yakking about the minimum wage.

Only An Idiot Would Rob a Bank: How Inflation Deflated the Stick Up

"If somebody wants big money, they're not gonna rob a bank."