You’re Doing Worse Economically Now Than in 1998

If you’re 40 or older, you’re doing worse economically now than you were in 1998.


The national average wage increased about $20,000 from 1998 to 2016. According to the Social Security Administration, the average wage was $28,861 in 1998 and $48,642 in 2016. That’s an increase of 68.5 percent.

That sounds like a big increase in wages, but wait a minute. Let’s look at how much stuff costs now compared to 1998.

Now keep in mind none of these prices or wages are adjusted for inflation, but the percentage calculation are all based on unadjusted values. I don’t know if this the correct way to do it, but it’s how I did it.

So a 68.5 percent wage increase seems large, but look at the cost of a new car in 1998. In 1998, a new car cost on average $17,200. Now look at a new car in 2018. In 2018, a new car costs on average $36,270. That’s an increase of more than 110 percent.

So that’s wages up 68.5 percent, while the cost of a new car increased more than 110 percent.

How about a housing costs?

In 1998, the cost of a new home was about $129,300. In 2018, the average cost of a home went up more than 180 percent to $363,300.

We’re getting crushed by gas prices too. A gallon of gas is up from 148.6 percent from 1998 to 2018.

This all means that we’re way worse off economically now than we were in 1998.

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