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Amazing Economic Changes in The U.S. Since 1918

Updated on November 14, 2018
Gerry Glenn Jones profile image

I write on a wide variety of genres, and history and war have always been a concern of mine, especially the history we make every day.

Causes of Changes in Our Economy

As the hours, days and years of our lives change so do many other things; some of which change on their own due to nature. These include the eruption of volcanoes, storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters that plague our world, but there are many things which change because of our actions: some planned and some accidentally.

One of the changes we have perpetuated through the years is our economy. It's been changed through advances in technology, with many major changes coming about in the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century. These include the invention of the automobile, the airplane, space transportation, communication, advances in medicine, and so much more. With each added advancement, the economy changes, as if in a stair-step pattern for us here in the United States.

In this article, we'll take a look at changes in this country's economy through increments of 20-year spans, beginning in 1918 and ending in 2018. We'll also showcase some of the products that caused it to change.

Cars in 1918

1918 Ford Model T Touring 2.9 Taken at the British Motor Museum Old Ford Rally 2018, Gaydon
1918 Ford Model T Touring 2.9 Taken at the British Motor Museum Old Ford Rally 2018, Gaydon | Source

The U.S. Economy in 1918

In 1918, almost everyone in America was excited about living in the 20th century. All the newest inventions were really coming into vogue, such as the automobile and the airplane. Alternating current (AC) was at the doorstep of becoming more available for many Americans who hadn't had access to it earlier.

Something not so wonderful was happening in Europe; World War I was in its final year. Thirty-two countries were involved in that conflict. Back in America, the Ford Model T was paving the way for future automobile productions with its assembly line, and the airplane was constantly evolving.

For us today in the 21st century, a look at the nation's economy in 1918 is simply astounding, with the average house and car prices then appearing so low, but when you factor in the wages, it looks different. Here are some of the most noted costs of living averages that year.

  • Average house cost: $6,187
  • Average car cost: $440
  • Average yearly wage for a household: $641
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.2
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.16
  • Cost of a gallon of Milk: $0.29

The 2018 average wage for a household would buy 9 homes or 134 cars in 1918.



Airplanes in 1918

Gallaudet D-4 Seaplane 1918.jpg
Gallaudet D-4 Seaplane 1918.jpg | Source

Cars in 1938

1938 Buick Century Convertible
1938 Buick Century Convertible | Source

Cost of Living in 1938

  • Average house cost: $6,827
  • Average car cost: $920
  • Average yearly wage for a household: $1,561
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: $0.3
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $0.19
  • Cost of a gallon of Milk: $0.60

The 2018 average wage for a household would buy 8 houses or 64 cars in 1938.


Airplanes in 1938

Curtiss P-36A Hawk
Curtiss P-36A Hawk | Source

Cars in 1958

1958 Chevrolet Corvette
1958 Chevrolet Corvette | Source

Cost of Living in 1958


  • Average house cost: $12,750.00
  • Average car cost: $2,200
  • Average yearly wage for a household: $4.600.00
  • Cost of a gallon of gas: 25 cents
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: 4 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: 25 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of Milk: $1.01

The 2018 average wage for a household would buy 4 houses or 26 cars in 1958.


Airplanes in 1958

1958 - F-104As of the 84th FIS, Hamilton AFB CA.
1958 - F-104As of the 84th FIS, Hamilton AFB CA. | Source

Cars in 1978

1978 Ford LTD II
1978 Ford LTD II | Source

Cost of Living in 1978

  • Average house cost: $54,800.00
  • Average car cost: $6,379
  • Average yearly wage for a household: $17,000.00
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: 15 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: 77 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of Milk: $1.44

The 2018 average wage for a household would buy 1 house or 9 cars in 1978.



Airplanes in 1978

1978 - F16 fighter planes
1978 - F16 fighter planes | Source

Cars in 1998

1998 Chevrolet Corvette
1998 Chevrolet Corvette | Source

Cost of Living in 1998

  • Average house cost: $129,300.00
  • Average car cost: $17,200.00
  • Average yearly wage for a household: $52,175.00
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: 32 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $1.15
  • Cost of a gallon of Milk: $3.16

The 2018 average wage for a household wouldn't even buy half of a house but would buy 3 cars.

Airplanes in 1998

F22 Raptor
F22 Raptor | Source
Ford GT 2018 at Legendy 2018 in Prague
Ford GT 2018 at Legendy 2018 in Prague | Source

Airplanes in 2018

2018 - F35 Lightening
2018 - F35 Lightening | Source

Cost of Living in 2018

  • Average house cost: 300,000.00
  • Average car cost: $34,000
  • Average wage was: $59,055.00
  • Cost of a first-class stamp: 50 cents
  • Cost of a gallon of regular gas: $2.69 Cost of a gallon of Milk: $3.14


What Will Our Economy Look Like in The Future

It is hard to determine what our economy will look like in the future because there are so many variables in play which can affect it. One thing we can almost be certain of is that products and services will continue to rise in cost.

References

A History of American Economic Growth in the 20th Century https://www.thoughtco.com/us-economic-growth-in-the-20th-century-1148146

A Glimpse at Your Expenses 100 Years Ago https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/01/02/a-glimpse-at-your-expenses-100-years-ago

1918-2018, What a Difference 100 Years Can Make! https://blog.famicity.com/2017/12/1918-2018-what-a-difference-100-years-can-make/?lang=en

© 2018 Gerry Glenn Jones

Comments

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    • Gerry Glenn Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Gerry Glenn Jones 

      7 days ago from Somerville, Tennessee

      Yes, we would be in a wonder world, wouldn't we? I owned a 67 Mustang fastback at one time. I wish I still had it.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 days ago

      If only we could roll back the prices to 1918! The difference in today's prices is shocking. Would love to have that Ford Mustang!

    • Gerry Glenn Jones profile imageAUTHOR

      Gerry Glenn Jones 

      2 weeks ago from Somerville, Tennessee

      That is exactly right Peggy. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      It is interesting looking back at those prices in past decades. It is also easy to see that costs have risen much faster than wages from the comparisons listed in 1998 and 2018. This does not bode well if this trend continues for the average person.

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