Inflation Calculator: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Just for grins, I thought, wonder what kind of salary my dad would’ve had to make today to buy the lifestyle I enjoyed as a kid?
So, I looked it up on the BLS website.
I’m not sure of the exact amount, but for reference, I’m pretty sure he made around $12,000 per year when he was promoted to the head office of Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York. My parents chose a suburban house in one of the best school districts available, Brighton. The three-bedroom, one and a half bath house that my mom still lives in almost 50 years later was just under $25,000 and considered a little above what they could afford. But, they bought it anyway.
A little over two years later, my dad was dead at age 42. He left behind a non-working wife and four kids, ages 4 to 10. He told my mom that she wouldn’t be able to keep the house for what must have seemed logical reasons including no real income coming from my mom. Well, she proved him wrong and managed to stay in a neighborhood of doctors, lawyers and junior VPs. Most of those original neighbors have moved away or died, but my mom remains to this day.
The question that started this writing was, how well am I doing compared to my dad? Could I have supported a family of six on what I make? That’s a difficult question to answer. However, based on BLS’ numbers, it’s doubtful that “I” or any single-income family could make duplicate that feat. Seems like $85,473.05 a year is well above the average male breadwinner of today brings home about $51,000 (if the breadwinner were a woman, she’d bring home about $39,000).
Fast Forward to 2014
On that basis, the house I grew up in would cost around $178,000 and be far above the reach of Joe-average. If I could take the salary I make in the metro DC area back to my hometown, I could buy most of the houses there; however, it’s unlikely that the income I can make here would be the same in Rochester where houses are cheaper by half than the average near my work.
As I am not married and have no children to support, I live comfortably, but don’t own a house. It’s interesting to consider that both of my sisters’ families have dual-breadwinners and both own modest suburban homes with decent school districts. I’m not sure that I would have been able to support a family of my own with what I’ve lived on over the years, but perhaps the responsibility of “little mouths to feed” would have been an incentive to buckle down and stay somewhere else. Somewhere where the housing and schools are decent and the pay adequate to raising said-family.
All this makes me feel grateful that I didn’t have to raise a family in today’s economy. Certainly, the lifestyle of my childhood would have been very different. Still, I am grateful that life has been good to me and my siblings, even with the challenges that come with that life.
Daddy would have been proud.
About the CPI Inflation Calculator
The CPI inflation calculator uses the average Consumer Price Index for a given calendar year. This data represents changes in prices of all goods and services purchased for consumption by urban households. This index value has been calculated every year since 1913. For the current year, the latest monthly index value is used.