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American Get More for Their Money

American Get More for Their Money

High wages, low prices boost living standard

IN FIVE MINUTES on the job, the average United States factory worker earns enough to buy a loaf of bread. The Paris or West Berlin worker must put in 11 minutes; the Manila worker, 29 minutes; the Russian, 36 minutes. Comparisons between the earning power of American and Russian workers disclose the gap most people would expect. More surprising is the substantial difference between what wages will buy in the United States and in other free world nations. This reflects wages which are high relative to prices. The combined effect has raised living standards here far above those in any other part of the world.

American factory workers have enjoyed steadily increasing purchasing power during the past 51 years. In 1912 bacon cost 24.4 cents a pound, the factory worker earned 21 cents per hour, and had to work 69.7 minutes to purchase a pound of bacon. Bacon now costs almost three times as much, but the factory worker earns more than 11 times as much, so he now works only one fourth as long to earn the price of a pound of bacon.

The length of work time required to earn enough to buy a pound of butter dropped from 106.9 minutes in 1912 to 19 minutes now; a dozen eggs, from 97.4 minutes to 13 minutes; a quart of milk, from 24.9 minutes to seven minutes; and 10 pounds of sugar, from 180 minutes to 30 minutes. The analysis of the increase in the average U. S. worker's buying power over the past 51 years, together with an estimate for 1964, and the amount of time he must work to purchase consumer items compared with his counterpart in various parts of the world.

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