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Full text of "Changes in cost of living and prices, 1914 to 1920"

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UC-NRLF 

$B T4 351 



1 


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1 BUREAU OF APPLIED ECONOMICS, INC. 


1 WASHINGTON 


CHANGES IN COST OF LIVING 


AND PRICES 


1914 to 1920 


Bulletin Number 6 



WASHINGTON 
1920. 



COPYRIGHT, 1920 

BY 

BUREAU OF APPLIED ECONOMICS, INC. 

WASHINGTON 

HUGH S. HANNA, Director 
PRICE $1.00 



r^l ' 



BUREAU OF APPLIED ECONOMICS, INC. 

WASHINGTON 



CHANGES IN COST OF LIVING 
AND PRICES 



1914 to 1920 



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WASHINGTON 














1920 


















PREFACE. 

This bulletin is a compilation of the existing authoritative data 
on changes in cost of living since the beginning of the European War 
in July 1914. Inasmuch as these data are at present scattered 
through a large number of publications it is believed the assembling 
of them under a single cover, in summarized form, will be of service 
at the present time when there is so much demand for information 
on this subject. 



Bureau of Applied Economics, 
Bulletin Number 6. 



ADDENDUM, JUNE 20, 1920. 

Since this bulletin was printed index numbers of cost of 
living and prices for a month later than those given in the 
bulletin have become available for most of the sources listed. 
These later figures are shown below, together with the com- 
parable data for the preceding monJ;h or two months, in order 
to show clearly the recent changes. All figures are converted 
to the same base (July, 1914=100) in order to make them com- 
parable with those printed in the bulletin. 

Index Numbers of Cost of Living and Wholesale and Retail 

Prices, April, May and .June, 1920. 

1914=100. 

1920 

April May June 

1. General Cost of Living: 

(a) National Industrial (Conference Board — 

Food 100 111 

Shelter 50 51 

Clotliing 188 187 

Fuel Heat and Light 51 55 

Sundries 83 83 

Total, weighted 96.6 101.62 

(b) Massachusetts Commission on the Neces- 

saries of Life — 

Food 91.9 101.3 

Shelter 29.3 30.3 

Clothing 200.4 197.0 

Fuel and Light 75.5 75.9 

Sundries 83.0 83.0 

Total, weighted 92.3 96.2 

2. Retail Price of Food: 

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 211 217 

3. Wholesale Prices: 

(n) U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics — 

Farm Products 246 244 

Food, etc 270 287 

Cloths and Clothing 353 347 

Fuel and Lighting 213 235 

Metals and Metal Products 195 193 

Lumber and Building Materials 341 341 

Drugs and Chemicals 212 215 

Housef urnishing Goods 331 ^9 

Miscellaneous 238 246 

All Commodities 265 £12. 

(b) Bradstreet— 

All Commodities 225 225 21b 

All Commodities 213 218 217 

'^^f^'X 225 229 .235 

1 Week ended June 12, 1920. 

2 Preliminary figure. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2007 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/costlivingchangelOOburerich 





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CHANGES IN COST OF LIVINC' 'aND 
PRICES, 1914 to 1920 

CHAPTER I. 

Increase in the General Cost of Living July, 1914, to May, 1920. 

Recent studies of cost of living and prices indicate that the in- 
crease in the general cost of living between July, 1914, and May, 
1920, was approximately 110 per cent for the larger cities of the 
country and approximately 100 per cent for the country as a whole. 

The periodic changes, for as short intervals as are available, are 
shown in the following table, which summarizes reports of the 
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Indus- 
trial Conference Board, supplemented by corresponding data for 
Massachusetts as compiled by the Massachusetts Commission on the 
Necessaries of Life. 



PER CENT INCREASE IN COST OF LIVING SINCE JULY, 1914. 








Mass. Commission 




U. S. Bureau of 


National Industrial 


on the Necessaries 




Labor Statistics. 


Conference Board. 


of Life. 




18 


Country 








Industrial 


as a 


Country as a Whole. 


Massachusetts Only. 




Centers. 


whole. 






1914 — December .... 


2 


2 




.6 


1915— June-July .... 


2 


2 


.5 


dec. .4 


December .... 


3 


3 




1.4 


1916— June-July . 




9 


9 


8.7 


7.6 


December . 




17 


17 




15.0 


1917— June-July . 




30 


29 


31.3 


26.6 


December . 




44 


41 




36.7 


1918— June-July . 


... 


60 


56 


52.2 


49.3 


November . 


... 




. 


65.0 


61.6 


December . 




76 


72 




62.7 


1919— March .... 








60.5 


61.3 


Jmie 




80 


75 




66.8 


July 






.. 


72.2 


68!o 


November . . 








82.2 


80.7 


December .. 




loi 


95(1) 




80.9 


1920— January . . 








90.2 


88.1 


February . . 








93.5 


86.9 


March .... 








94.8 


89.4 


Apra 








96.6 


92.3 


May 




nii^) 


ibm 











(^)Esthnates; increase between December, 1919, and May, 1920, being estimated 
at 5 per cent from price increases shown in later sections. 

5 



Sources op the Table. 

The figures for the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics up 
to June, 1919, are from the Labor Review for October, 1919. For 
December, 1919, the figures are based on press statements issued by 
the Bureau. 

The figures for the National Industrial Conference Board are 
from the Board's publications, supplemented by press statements 
for February, March and April of this year. 

The figures for the Massachusetts Commission on the Necessaries 
of Life are from the recent report of that Commission, supplemented 
by press statements for March and April, 1920. The index numbers 
as issued by this Commission are all based on the jesiT 1913, equal- 
ing 100. In order to make these figures comparable with those of 
the other two studies, the base has been changed to July, 1914, by 
dividing by the index number for that month. 

Similarity op Results. 

The similarity in the results of these studies is apparent, and the 
similarity becomes even more striking when the methods and scope 
of the studies are analyzed. Thus, while the United States Bureau 
of Labor Statistics' investigations are the most thorough and, as a 
result, probably the most accurate, they have covered the whole 
period since 1914 only for certain large cities which during the war 
were shipbuilding centers. As these cities suffered from a very 
heavy influx of population, with consequent congestion, price ad- 
vances there were somewhat greater than in most other communities. 
In the October, 1919, number of the Labor Review, the Bureau of 
Labor Statistics estimated that during the war the cost of living 
increased 12 per cent less rapidly in other communities, and 6 per 
cent less rapidly in the country as a whole, than it did in the ship- 
building centers. If these relationships still hold, as there is reason 
to believe they do, the figure of 101 per cent for December, 1919, 
would be reduced to 95 per cent as a fair average for the country as a 
whole. 

Increases by Principal Commodity Groups. 

The increases in Jiving costs have been by no means uniform for 
the various commodity groups. The following tables show the esti- 
mates of increases by commodity groups as compiled from reports 
of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Indus- 
trial Conference Board and the Massachusetts Commission on the 



Necessaries of Life. The tables, it will be noted, cover slightly dif- 
ferent periods, and the commodity groups are not identical, but they 
constitute the most complete and most recent studies of the subject. 

INCREASED COST OF LIVING BY COMMODITY GROUPS. 

1. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1914 to 1919. 
For 18 Industrial Centers. 



Items. 



Per cent increase 

Dec, 1914, to 

Dec, 1919. 



Food 

Clothing 

Housing 

Fuel and light 

Furniture and furnishings \ 

Miscellaneous I 

Total, weighted according to importance of each item in the| 
family budget | 



87.8 
178.8 

28,5 

57.7 
166.9 

86.3 

97.1 



2. National Industrial Conference Board, 1914 to 1920. 



Items. 



I Per cent increase 
I July, 1914, to 
AprU, 1920. 



Food i 100. 

Shelter | 50. 

Clothing I 188. 

Fuel, heat and light | 51. 

Sundries I 83. 

Total, weighted according to importance of each item in thel 

family budget I 96.6 



Massachusetts Commission on the Necessaries of Life, 1913 to 1920, 
for the State of Massachusetts. 



Items. 



Food 

Shelter 

Clothing 

Fuel and light 

Sundries I 

Total, weighted according to importance of each item in the] 
family budget 



Per cent Increase 
I 1913, to April, 
1920. 



98.2 
33.8 
205.5 
70.8 
83.0 



96.3 



Changes in Cost op Living by Cities. 

The preceding sections have been concerned primarily with the 
ascertaining of average increases in the cost of living for the coun- 
try as a whole. This has meant the averaging of conditions in a large 
number of communities. While increases in the cost of living oc- 
curred during the past few years in every community of which 
there is record, the rate of increase was not everywhere the same. 
In general, the increases were greater in the East than in the West, 
and greater in the centers where industrial activity was most stimu- 
lated by the war. On the other hand, the greatest price increases 
have not always been in the very largest cities. These variations 
are well brought out in the cost of living surveys made by the U nite d 

States Bureau of Lg ^nr ^t^iti^.tip n r^nr'ing .^Ui^y.Qj-, ^ 

These surveys covered a large number of cities, and the results 
have been partially tabulated and published by individual communi- 
ties. For only one group of 18 large cities, however, does the infor- 
mation cover substantially the whole war period from 1914 to Decem- 
ber, 1919. For 13 other large cities partial information is available 
for the period December, 1917, to December, 1919, and for a third 
group of 66 cities, mostly of smaller sizes, detailed information is 
available for the one-year period, December, 1917, to December, 
1918. 

The summarized data for the two former groups of cities, as tabu- 
lated from the published figures of the Bureau, are as follows : 



(a) 



9 



Survey of Eighteen Shipbuilding Centers, December, 1914, 
TO December, 1919. 



This survey was undertaken by the United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics especially for the use of the Shipbuilding Labor Adjust- 
ment Board of the Emergency Fleet Corporation, and for that rea- 
son was limited to shipbuilding centers. It covered 18 large cities 
of wide geographical distribution and containing between 15 and 20 
million people. The following tables show the percentage increase 
in cost of living for December of each year from 1914 to 1919, as 
developed in this survey. 



PERCENTAGE OF INCREASE IN COST OF LIVING IN 18 SHIPBUILDING 
CENTERS, FROM DECEMBER, 1914, TO DECEMBER, 1915, 1916, 1917, AND 
1918, AND TO JUNE 1919 AND DECEMBER, 1919. 

(Compiled from data published in the Monthly Labor Review of the U. S. Bureau 

of Labor Statistics). 





Percentage of increase from December, 1914, to — 


Cities. 


December 
1915 


December 
1916 


December 
1917 


December 
1918 


June 
1919 


December 
1919 


Portland, Me 


♦ .42 

1.57 

1.97 

1.19 

♦1.37 

.61 

♦.21 

1.27 

♦.40 

*.29 

3.01 

3.51 

1.42 

3.53 

♦3.05 

*1.02 

♦1.93 

♦1.66 

.43 


13.83 

15.72 

14.91 

14.65 

18.51 

14.73 

14.59 

14.66 

13.82 

16.41 

19.51 

22.25 

19.10 

24.38 

6.14 

7.40 

7.68 

8.30 

14.81 


37.96 
38.13 
44.68 
43.81 
51.27 
45.15 
42.48 
41.63 
43.16 
44.89 
41.78 
49.85 
42.93 
51.13 
31.23 
31.08 
28.85 
28.63 
41.04 


72.23 
70.60 
77.28 
73.86 
84.68 
80.73 
74.98 
71.52 
71.37 
75.67 
72.16 
78.03 
71.36 
80.91 
64.24 
69.87 
58.03 
57.77 
72.52 


74.25 
72.78 
79.22 
76.21 
83.99 
87.05 
79.76 
77.48 
76.64 
80.22 
74.47 
84.36 
77.23 
84.23 
69.16 
74.01 
65.07 
65.58 
76.76 


91.59 


Boston, Mass 


92 30 


New York, N. Y 

Philadelphia, Pa 

Baltimore, Md 

Norfolk, Va 


103.81 
96.49 
98.40 

106.98 


Savannah, Ga 


98 68 


Jacksonville, Fla 

Mobile, Ala 


102.14 
94 54 


Houston, Tex 


101.70 


Chicago, lU 


100 61 


Detroit, Mich 


107 87 


Cleveland, Ohio 

Buffalo, N. Y 

Portland, Ore 

Seattle, Wash 

Los Angeles, Calif — 
San Fran'co & Oakland 
Average (unweighted) . 


95.05 
102.65 
83.73 
97.67 
85.33 
87.76 
97 07 



♦Decrease. 



10 



(&) Survey op Thirteen Large Non-Shipbuilding Cities, 
December, 1918, to December, 1919. 

The cities covered by tliis survey are for tlie most part lai^ in- 
land cities. Industry in many of them was greatly stimulated by 
the war, but in few, if any, cases did they experience the heavy labor 
influx and housing congestion experienced by the shipbuilding cen- 
ters. The following table gives for each city the percentage increases 
in cost of living from December, 1917, to December, 1919, and to 
June, 1919. 



PERCENTAGE OF INCREASE IN COST OF LIVING IN 13 LARGE NON- 
SHIPBUILDING CENTERS FROM DECEMBER, 1917, TO JUNE, 1919. AND 
DECEMBER, 1919. 

(Compiled from data pabfished in the Monthly Labor Review of the U. S. Borean 

of Labor Statistics). 





Per cent increase from December, 1917, to— 


Cities 


1 
December, 1918 June, 1919 


December, 1919 


Atlanta, Ga 


19.68 
16.98 
17.27 
20.72 
19.06 
! 19.62 
18.33 
15.80 
17.90 
19.82 
17.88 
16.69 
21.89 
18.59 


23.27 
19.78 
2L05 
25.33 
21.12 
20.57 
23.25 
18.75 
20.73 
21.82 
20.60 
17.85 
25.03 
22.24 


37.89 


Pirminghain, Ala. 


34.32 


Cincinnati, Ohio 


35 24 


Denver Colo 


38.19 


Indianapolis Ind 


36 53 


Kansas City Mo 


3816 


Memphis, Tenn. 


35.23 


Minneapf>lis, Minn , , , , , ^ , . . 


32.71 


New Orleans, La. 


33 86 


Pittsburgh, Pa. 


36.17 


Richmond, Va. 


32.02 


St Louis, Mo 


34.24 


Scranton Pa 


37.10 


Average (unweighted) 


35.51 



Monthly Changes in Cost of Living. 

Since January, 1920, the National Industrial Conference Board 
has undertaken to collect and publish monthly statistics of changes 
in cost of living. Prior to that time neither the National Industrial 
Conference Board nor the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 
attempted to report changes at less intervals than six months. 
Therefore, the attempt of the Massachusetts Commission on the 
Necessaries of Life to compile monthly figures for a period of years 
is of much interest, even though the figures relate solely to the one 



11 



state. The index numbers as compiled by this Commission are shown 
in the table below, by months, from January, 1913, to April, 1920. 



INDEX NUMBERS OF COST OP LIVING, 1913 TO APRIL, 1920. 

(From Report of the Commission on the Necessaries of Life, Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, February, 1920.) 





1913. 


1914. 


1915. 


1916. 


1917. 


1918. 


1919. 


1920. 


January 


94.9 

94.2 

99.2 

99.6 

99.4 

100.3 

100.8 

100.6 

100.2 

101.0 

101.0 

100.8 


101.8 
101.8 
101.6 
100.4 
100.1 
100.6 
102.1 
103.1 
103.3 
104.1 
103.2 
102.7 


102.9 
102.1 
101.0 
101.0 
101.5 
101.4 
101.7 
101.4 
102.2 
103.2 
103.9 
103.5 


105.7 
106.3 
106.7 
108.2 
108.7 
110.3 
109.9 
110.1 
112.1 
113.6 
116.2 
117.5 


119.6 
121.1 
122.7 
125.3 
127.5 
131.0 
129.3 
130.0 
133.1 
137.1 
138.2 
139.6 


144.6 
147.0 
145.7 
145.9 
148.7 
152.4 
155.1 
157.6 
161.3 
164.2 
165.0 
166.1 


167.5 
164.7 
164.7 
167.0 
169.1 
170.3 
171.5 
174.6 
173.1 
179.9 
184.5 
184.7 


192.0 


February 


190.8 


March 


193.4 , 


April 


196.3 


May 




Juno r T , 




July 




August 




September 




October 




November 




December 









Method op Computing Increased Cost op Living. 

The relation between increased cost of living and increased prices 
should be, but is not always, clearly understood. This point is de- 
veloped in an article in the Monthly Labor Review for October, 
1919. There it is pointed out that the determination of_c hanges in 
the cost of living^to be at all accurat e, must be based upon the reta il^ 
CQSt g-Of the vario usitems ent*^T»inp^ intn |be ^^Hlnnry family hnfl^ot^ 

w^^^]^j^jl_^£2rirJlll3^^--t2^^ ^ ^ ^^^^ items in the b udget. 

This includes house ^ent, sick ness_exp enses, amusements an d other 
PiO££L or less intangible thing s, as well as actu al commodities, such 
a^^foodand clothing. For this reason prices of commodities, as the 
term is usually used, whether wholesale or retail, do not constitute 
a complete index of cost of living. Thus prices of food, fuel and 
clothing may go up 100 per cent, but if rent and sundries (which 
take about one-third of the average family's income) advance, say, 
only 10 per cent, the real increase in cost of living will be about 70 
per cent. 

Retail prices of food offer an excellent guide to changing living 
costs, but cannot be taken as absolutely conclusive, as food is only 
one item, although usually a most important one, in the family 
budget. 



12 

Wholesale prices offer a very unsatisfactory guide to living costs. 
Experience has shown that during a period of rapidly rising prices, 
such as has occurred during the past five years, wholesale prices 
tend to increase more rapidly than retail prices. There are two evi- 
dent reasons for this : first, the retailer often buys on contract for 
future delivery, and, second, the retailer is often unable to shift 
the increased wholesale cost immediately to the consumer. Thus, 
in a period of increasing cost, retail prices — and it is at retail 
that the average consumer buys — tend to lag behind wholesale 
prices. Ultimately retail prices will show somewhat the same total 
increase as wholesale prices will, but on any particular date, in a 
period of generally increasing prices, wholesale prices may be sev- 
eral steps in advance of retail prices. 

Moreover, the existing data regarding wholesale price movements 
are not entirely satisfactory. There are four well-known index 
numbers of such prices — Bradstreet's, Dun^s, the Annalist's and the 
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics'. These are based on dif- 
ferent groupings of commodities, and are by no means identical in 
their results. 

Character of the Principal Cost of Living Investigations. 

Comprehensive studies of the character above mentioned and for 
the country as a whole have been made only by two organizations : 
(1) The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, and (2) The 
National Industrial Conference Board. In addition, a very interest- 
ing study has been made for the State of Massachusetts by (3) The 
Massachusetts Commission on the Necessaries of Life. 

(1) Cost of Living Survey of Eighteen Shipbuilding Centers 
from December, 1914, to December, 1919, made by the United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, and supplemented by a country-wide 
cost-of-living survey, covering (a) thirteen large non-shipbuilding 
centers form December, 1917, to December, 1919, and (b) sixty-six 
additional cities, most of smaller size, from December, 1917, to 
December, 1918. 

In these surveys detailed expenditures over a year's time were 
obtained from several hundred families in each community. From 
these were determined the relative importance of each article in 
the list of expenditures. The local retail prices were then obtained 
and weighted according to their importance in the budget. 

The most recent data of the Bureau regarding the "weights," or 
percentage importance, of the various groups of items in the family 



13 



budget were developed in the budget study made in 1918-1919. This 
study covered more than 12,000 families. Their combined expe- 
rience gives the following per cent distribution of expenditures by 
principal groups of items : 

PER CENT DISTRIBUTION BY ITEMS. 
(From Labor Review, August, 1919.) 



Items. 



White 


Colored 


Families. 


Families. 


38.2 


42.7 


16.6 


15.9 


13.4 


12.4 


5.3 


5.3 


5.1 


4.3 


21.3 


19.4 



Food 

Clothing 

Rent 

Fuel and light 

Furniture and furnishings 
Miscellaneous 



(2) Cost of Living Surveys of the National Industrial Conference 
Board. This Board is an association of manufacturers' associa- 
tions, which has established a research department for industrial 
investigations. In these surveys the prices obtained were similarly 
weighted, the results of previous investigations being used for this 
purpose. 

The weights used are as follows : 

PER CENT DISTRIBUTION OF ITEMS. 



Food 

Shelter 

Clothing 

Fuel, heat and light 
Sundries 



43.1 
17.7 
13.2 
5.6 
20.4 



In obftaining prices the Board used the retail food prices pub- 
lished by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. For other 
items it obtained prices direct from the localities, mostly by corre- 
spondence. Its principal investigations are now made at intervals 
of four months, with monthly studies of more limited scope since 
January, 1920. 

The making of cost-of-living surveys such as these just listed is 
very laborious. It means collecting prices of food, clothing, house 
furnishings, house rents, etc., from a large number of persons in a 



14 

large number of localities. As a result, such price collecting has 
only been done at considerable intervals and for a more or less 
limited number of communities. Thus there is no complete series 
of figures showing changes in cost of living for all communities and 
at short intervals. Therefore, in attempting to arrive at a complete 
series of figures showing changes in cost of living during the period 
July, 1914, to date, the best that can be done is to combine and 
analyze the existing data and to seek to reconcile conflicting find- 
ings and fill in lacking data as well as possible. 

The paramount difficulty is that during the past few years there 
has been considerable lack of uniformity in the increasing cost of 
living in different cities and different sections. From 1914 to date 
every community of which there is record shows a very substantial 
increase, but the percentages are by no means the same. This fact 
explains in some part the different results obtained by different 
investigations. 



15 



CHAPTER II. 

Retail Prices of Food. 

The only authoritative data on retail food prices in the United 
States are those collected by the United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics and published currently in the Monthly Labor Review of 
that Bureau. These price reports for a considerable period of time 
have been for at least 22 principal food articles, obtained from some 
2,000 dealeiFs in forty-five cities of the United States, so distributed 
geographically as to be representative of the whole country. Re- 
cently the number of commodities and the number of cities covered 
by the study has been considerably extended. 

Index Numbers op Retail Food Prices of All Commodities^ by 
MoNTHS_, January_, 1913, TO April, 1920. 

The following table gives by months from January, 1913, to April, 
1920, the index numbers of retail food prices of all the commodities 
for all cities for which data were obtained by the United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics for this period. The average of the prices 
for the year 1913 is taken as a base of 100. 

RELATIVE RETAIL PRICES OP FOOD IN THE UNITED STATES JANUARY, 
1913, TO APRIL, 1920, INCLUSIVE. 

(Compiled from Monthly Labor Reviews of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) 



Month. 



J J ,1 
1913. I 1914. I 1915. I 1916. | 1917. 



1 

1917. 


1918. 


1 
1919. ! 

1 1 


146 


16? 


186 


128 


160 


185 


133 


161 


172 


133 


154 


175 


145 


154 


182 1 


1 151 


158 


185 


152 


162 


184 


146 


167 


190 


149 


171 


192 


153 


178 


188 


157 


181 


189 


155 


183 


192 


157 


187 


197 



1920. 



Average for year 

January 

February 

March 

April 

May 

June 

July 

August 

September 

October 

November 

December 



100 

98 

97 

97 

98 

97 

98 

100 

101 

102 

104 

105 

104 



102 
104 



97 
98 
99 



101 
103 



101 I 101 
99 I 98 



99 
100 
100 



102 I 100 

107 I 100 

107 I 101 

105 I 103 

105 I 104 

105 I 105 



I 114 

I 107 

I 106 

I 107 

1 109 

I 109 

I 112 

I 111 

I 113 
118 
121 

I 126 

I 126 
I 



201 
200 
200 
211 



16 



Index Numbers of Retail Price Changes for Certain 
Commodities 1913 to 1920. 

The table below analyses the data of the preceding table by com- 
modities. It shows for twenty-two important commodities the index 
numbers of retail prices on February 15 for selected years from 1913 
to 1920. 



RELATIVE RETAIL PRICES OF FOOD IN THE UNITED STATES ON 
FEBRUARY 15, 1913, 1914, 1917, AND 1920. 

(Compiled from table in Monthly Labor Review of U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.) 

Base, 1913 = 100. 



Article 


1913 


1914 


1917 


1920 


Sirloin steak 


94 

93 

95 

93 

93 

90 

95 

94 

98 

97 

91 

108 

100 

100 

100 

100 

98 

99 

90 

100 

100 

100 

97 


99 

102 

101 

103 

102 

100 

98 

99 

99 

104 

106 

93 

104 

102 

110 

99 

103 

100 

108 

94 

100 

99 

101 


113 
117 
114 
116 
116 
125 
114 
118 
138 
126 
147 
122 
142 
112 
142 
171 
136 
104 
290 
148 
100 
100 
133 


160 


Round stf^ak 


167 


Rib roast 


159 


Chuck roast 


157 


Plate beef 


152 


Pork chops 


179 


Bacon ■. 


185 


Ham 


188 


Lard 1 


204 


Hens 


210 


Eges 


199 


Butter 


190 


Cheese 


196 


Milk 


189 


Bread 


198 


Flour 


245 


Com meal 


217 


Rice 


210 


Potatoes 


353 


Sugar 


342 


T^i 


131 


Coffee 


164 


22 weighted articles 


200 







17 



Actual Retail Prices op Food on Fkbeuaey 15 of Each Year, 

1913 TO 1920. 

The actual retail prices of a long list of food articles for Feb. 15, 
1913, 1914, 1917 and 1920, are given in the next table. Prices for 
certain of the articles are not available for the whole period, but the 
totals are suflScient to be representative. 

AVERAGE RETAIL PRICE ON FEBRUARY 15, 1913, 1914, 1917 AND 1920, 
OF SPECIFIED ARTICLES OF FOOD. 

(From March, 1920, Monthly Labor Review, Bureau of Labor Statistics.) 



Article. 




Average Retail Price 
February 15 — 



1913. 
Cents. 



1914. 


1917. 


Cents. 


Cents. 


25.4 


28.7 


22.8 


26.0 


19.9 


22.5 


16.3 


18.6 


12.4 


14.1 


20.9 


26.1 


26.4 


30.7 


26.5 


31.8 


18.9 


25.9 


22.2 


26.7 




21.6 


91 


10.0 


35.9 


46.9 


23.6 


31.5 


15.8 


21.9 



1920. 
Cents. 



Sirloin steak. 
Round steak, 
Rib roast... 
Chuck roast. 
Plate beef.. 



Pork chops 

Bacon 

Ham 

Lamb 

Hens 



Salmon, canned 

Milk, fresh 

MiDt, evaporated, unsweetened. 

Butter 

Oleomargarine 



Nut -margarine 

Cheese 

Lard 

Crisco 

Eggs, strictly fresh. 



Eggs, storage. 

Bread 

Flour 

Corn meal 

Rolled oats... 



Pound 
do. 
do. 
do. 
do. 

do. 
do. 
do. 
do. 
do. 

do. 

Quart 

15-16-oz..can 

Pound 

do. 

do. 
do. 
do. 
do. 
Dozen 

do. 
^Pound 
do. 
do. 
do. 



24.0 
20.6 
18.9 
14.9 
11.1 

18.8 
25.5 
25.3 
18.5 
20.8 



8.9 
41.4 



22.2 
15.4 

3*1.5 

23.5 
5.7 
3.3 
3.0 



36.4 


50.6 


32.6 


46.3 


6.2 


8.0 


3.2 


5.6 


3.1 


4.1 



40.6 
37.2 
31.5 
25.1 
18.4 

37.6 
50.0 
50.5 
39.1 
44.7 

37.6 
16.8 
16.2 
72.6 
43.4 

36.1 
43.3 
32.3 
37.8 
68.6 

59.4 

11.1 

8.1 

6.5 

10.0 



^Baked weight. 



18 



AVERAGE RETAIL PRICE ON FEBRUARY 15, 1913, 1914, 1917 AND 1920, 
OF SPECIFIED ARTICLES OF FOOD— Continued. 



Article 


Unit. 


Average Retail Price 
February 15— 




1913. 
Cents. 


1914. 
Cents. 


1917. 
Cents. 


1920. 
Cents. 


Corn flakes 


8-oz. pkge. 

28-oz. pkge. 

Pound 

do. 

do. 

do. 
do. 
do. 
No. 2 can 
do. 

do. 
do. 
Pound 
do. 
do. 

do. 

do. 

Dozen 

do. 


* 8.6 
1.6 

* 5.5 
54.3 
29.8 


' 8.7 
1.9 

* 5.1 
54.5 
29.6 

.... 


* 9.1 

14.9 

5.1 
12.2 

' 8.1 
54.6 
29.9 

14.1 
14.1 


141 


Cream of Wheat 


29 3 


Macaroni 


20 2 


Rice 


18.3 


Beans, Navy 


12 2 


Potatoes 


60 


Onions 


94 


Cabbage 


93 


Beans, baked 


16 9 


Corn, canned 


18 7 


Peas, canned 


191 


Tomatoes, canned 


15 3 


Sugar, granulated 


18 8 


Tea 


71 


Coffee 


49 


Prunes 

Raisins 


29.0 
25 6 


Bananas 


41 


Oranges 


53 2 






Increase in 22 weighted articles— each 
specified year over 1913 — per cent 






3 


37 


105 











19 



CHAPTER III. 
Retail Prices op Coal. 

The Monthly Labor Review of the United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics for March, 1920, contains detailed data regarding the 
retail prices of coal on January 15 and July 15 of each year 1913 
to 1919 and on January 15, 1920. The prices shown for bituminous 
coal are averages made on the several kinds, the coal dealers in 
each city being asked to quote prices on the kind usually sold for 
household use. The prices quoted are for coal delivered to con- 
sumers, but do not cover charges for storing in cellar or coal bin 
where extra handling is necessary. Coal prices were obtained only 
for those cities in which the Bureau obtains food prices. 

The following table summarizes the information referred to. 
These abbreviated data are sufficient to show the trend of prices: 

AVERAGE AND RELATIVE PRICES OP COAL IN TON LOTS FOR THE 
UNITED STATES ON JANUARY 15 AND JULY 15 OF EACH YEAR, 1913 
TO 1919, INCLUSIVE, AND ON JANUARY 15, 1920. 





I 
Pennsylvania anthracite, white ash. | Bituminous. 

( 


Year and month. 


Stove. 


Chestnut. 


Average 
price. 




Average 
price. 


Relative 
price. 


Average 
price. 


Relative 
price. 


Relative 
price. 


1913: 

Aver, for year. 

January 

July 

1914: 

January 

July 

1915: 

January 

July 

1916: 

January 

July 

1917: 

January 

July 

1918: 

January 

July 

1919: 

January 

July 

1920: 

January 


$7.73 
7.99 
7.46 

7.80 
7.60 

7.83 
7.54 

7.93 
8.12 

9.29 
(1) 

9.88 
9.96 

11.51 
12.16 

12.59 


100 

103 

97 

101 
98 

101 
98 

103 
105 

120 
(1) 

128 
129 

149 
157 

163 


$7.91 
8.15 
7.68 

8.00 

7.78 

7.99 
7.73 

8.13 
8.28 

9.40 
(1) 

10.03 
10.07 

11.61 
12.19 

12.77 


100 

103 

97 

101 
98 

101 

98 

103 
105 

119 
(1) 

127 
127 

147 
154 

161 


$5.43 
5.48 
5.39 

5.97 
5.46 

5.71 
5.44 

5.69 
5.52 

6.96 
(1) 

7.68 
7.92 

7.90 
8.10 

8.81 


100 

101 

99 

110 
101 

105 
100 

105 
102 

128 
(1) 

141 
146 

145 
149 

162 



(1) Prices not secured by bureau in July, 1917. 



CHAPTER IV. 

Retail Prices of Clothing and Dry Goods. 

Lack of standardization makes it very difficult to obtain satisfac- 
tory price changes for specific articles of clothing and dry goods. 
The tables below reproduce in condensed form two of the most 
interesting of recently published studies of such prices. The first, 
from the report of the Massachusetts Commission on the Necessaries 
of Life, gives prices in 1914 and in 1920 for a few articles of everyday 
wear. The second table, from a report of the National Industrial 
Conference Board, gives prices for 1914 and November, 1919, for a 
considerable number of articles of clothing and dry goods. 

RETAIL PRICES OF CERTAIN ARTICLES OF CLOTHING 1914, 1917, 1919 
AND FEBRUARY, 1920. 

(From Report of the Commission on the Necessaries of Life, Commonwealth of 
Massachusetts, February, 1920.) 



I I 

Company 
number. 1914. 



1917. 



1919. 



Feb., 
1920. 



Men's furnishings: 

Hats 

Gloves 

Collars 

Hosiery 

Shirts 

Blue serge suiting (per yard) 

Blue serge suits 

Men's underwear 

Shoes 

Women's corsets 



f3 
{I 
{I 
{I 
{I 



$5.00 
2.00 

1.75 
1.65 

.15 
.10 

.50 
.25 

1.50 
1.15 

'1.37% 

15.00 
17.50 
20.00 

1.00 
2.25 
1.00 

3.75 

1.00 
5.00 



$6.00 
4.00 

3.00 
2.85 

.15 
.15 

.50 
.35 

2.00 
1.75 

'2.00 

'20.00 
'23.00 
"25.00 

1.50 
3.50 
1.75 

5.50 

1.00 
6.50 



$7.00 
4.50 

4.50 
4.35 

.25 
.20 

.75 
.45 

3.00 
2.00 



3.00 
4.50 
2.50 



'$4.90 

50.00 
55.00 
70.00 



8.50 

2.50 
8.50 



'January. ''January, 1920. 'June. 



21 



AVERAGE RETAIL PRICES OF SELECTED YARD GOODS AND WEARING 

APPAREL IN JULY, 1914, AND IN NOVEMBER, 1919, AND 

PERCENTAGES OF INCREASE. 



(National Industrial Conference Board.) 



Article. 



July 1, 
1914, 
price. 



Nov. 1, 

1919, 
price. 



Percentage 

of increase 

between 

July, 1914, 

and 
Nov., 1919. 



Woolen Yard Goods : 

Serge 

Poplin 

Broadcloth 

Cotton Yard Goods: 

Percale . , 

Gingham 

Longcloth 

Fruit of the Loom . . . 
Voile 

Hosiery : 

Men's 

Women's 

Knit Underwear: 

Men's union suits 

Women's vests 

Muslin Underwear: 

Women's combinations 

Suits: 

Men'j^ 

Women's 

Overcoats : 

Men's 

Women's 

Shirts and Blouses: 

Men's work shirts 

Men's work shirts 

Men's negligee shirts. 
Women's btouses 

Overalls 

3s: 

Men's 

Women's , 

Gloves: 

Men's dogskin 

Women's cape kid. ... , 

Hats: 

Men's felt 

Women's velvet 



$1.00 
1.50 
2.00 



.07^ 
.10 

.15 
.25 



.15 
.25 



.50 
.10 



1.00 



15.00 
15.00 



10.00 
10.00 



.50 
1.00 
1.00 
1.00 

.75 



3.50 
3.00 



1.25 
1.00 



2.00 
1.50 



$2.62 
3.24 
4.82 



.32 
.34 
.34 
.39 
.55 



.32 
.57 



1.28 
.26 



2.06 



34.21 
31.51 



26.78 
23.90 



1.45 
2.15 
2.24 
2.02 

2.26 



8.42 
8.30 



2.69 
2.60 



4.34 
3.49 



161.9 
116.0 
141.0 



326.7 
238.0 
174.4 
160.7 
121.2 



108.0 
126.0 



156.8 
163.0 



106.0 



128.1 
110.7 



167.8 
139.0 



189.6 
115.4 
124.3 
101.6 

200.7 



140.4 
176.3 



115.2 
159.8 



117.0 
132.7 



22 

CHAPTER V. 

Wholbsale Prices. 

Wholesale price index numbers have been compiled and published 
for a number of years by various organizations. The best known 
of these index numbers are those of the United States Bureau of 
Labor Statistics, The Annalist, Bradstreet and Dun. These are all 
built upon the same general principle — namely, the averaging of 
the wholesale prices of various commodities (in some cases weighted 
prices) and expressing all changes in terms of some one year taken 
as a base. 

They differ widely, however, as regards the selection of commodi- 
ties and their system of weighting. The series compiled by the 
Bureau of Labor Statistics includes at the present time articles or 
grades of articles divided into farm products, foods, cloths and cloth- 
ing, fuel and lighting, metals and metal products, lumber and build- 
ing materials, chemicals and drugs, housefurnishings and miscellane- 
ous commodities. The Annalist series comprises 25 food articles. 
Bradstreet's index includes 96 commodities classed as breadstuffs, 
livestock, provisions and groceries, fresh and dried fruits, hides and 
leather, raw and manufactured textiles, metals, coal and coke, 
mineral and vegetable oils, naval stores, building materials, chem- 
icals and drugs, and miscellaneous. Dun's index contains 200 com- 
modities, divided into breadstuffs, meats, dairy and garden products, 
other foods, clothing, metals and miscellaneous. 

In the following table the four series of wholesale price index 
numbers noted are brought into comparison for selected dates from 
1913 to 1920. The base in each case has been shifted to the same 
year, 1913, by dividing the index for 1913 in the original base into 
the original index for each subsequent year or month. 

The differences between the several index numbers are, of course, 
due to the different selection of commodities, as noted above. 



23 






INDEX NUMBERS OF WHOLi29!«f>ffi.WafCft5S.i'', 
(Base 1913 = 100.) 



•• • • » • 



Bureau of 








Labor 


Annalist. 


Brad- 


Dun. 


Statistics. 




street. 




100 


100 


100 


100 


100 


104 


97 


101 


101 


106 


107 


105 


124 


126 


128 


123 


176 


187 


170 


169 


196 


205 


203 • 


190 


100 


102 


97 


103 


100 


104 


94 


99 


99 


108 


99 


103 


101 


105 


107 


103 


111 


110 


119 


114 


120 


121 


125 


120 


151 


151 


149 


140 


187 


189 


175 


175 


185 


200 


195 


184 


198 


203 


208 


192 


203 


211 


201 


190 


197 


201 


192 


182 


201 


209 


187 


180 


203 


222 


188 


182 


207 


226 


187 


184 


207 


216 


196 


189 


219 


219 


205 


193 


226 


220 


217 


200 


221 


202 


211 


197 


223 


200 


212 


195 


230 


201 


216 


191 


238 


205 


219 


202 


248 


210 


221 


205 


249 


209 


227 


210 


253 


213 


226 


209 


265 


225 


225 


213 




229^ 


225 


218 



1913 
1914 
1915 
1916 
1917 
1918 



1914: 

January . 

July 

1915: 

January . . 

July . . . . 
1916: 

January . , 

July .... 
1917: 

January . . 

July 

1918: 

January . . 

July . . . . 
1919: 

January . . 

February . 

March . . .. 

April 

May 

June .... 

July .... 

August . . 

September 

October . 

November . 

December , 
1920: 

January . . 

February . 

March . . . 

April 

May 



^Week ending May 15. 

Wholesale Price Index Numbers for Selected Groups of 

Commodities. 

The wholesale price index numbers of the United States Bureau 
of Labor Statistics, as now constituted, include quotations for 326 
commodities, the largest number covered by any of the index number 



24 



series. The index numbers as published by the Bureau are divided 
into nine main groups — farm products, food, clothes and clothing, 
fuel and lighting, metals and metal products, lumber and building 
materials, drugs and chemicals, housefurnishings and miscellane- 
ous. These index numbers by commodity groups offer an excellent 
indication of the trend of wholesale prices of the more important 
commodities during recent years. The following table gives these 
data in detail for selected dates from 1913 to April, 1920 : 



INDEX NUMBERS OF WHOLESALE PRICES BY COMMODITY GROUPS, 
1913 TO APRIL, 1920. 

(Base 1913 = 100.) 



Year 

and 

Month 


Farm 
prod- 
ucts 


Food, 
etc. 


Clothes 

and 
clothing 


Fuel 

and 

lighting 


Metals 
and 
metal 
prod- 
ucts 


Lumber 
and 

building 
mate- 
rials 


Drugs 
and 

chem- 
icals 


House 
fur- 
nish- 
ings 


Miscel- 
laneous 


All 
com- 
modi- 
ties 


1913 


100 
103 
105 
122 
189 
220 
234 

97 
101 

101 
104 

102 
108 

108 
118 

148 
199 

207 
224 

222 
218 
228 
235 
240 
231 
246 
243 
226 
230 
240 
244 

246 
237 
239 
246 


100 
103 
105 
127 
178 
191 
210 

99 
102 

102 
104 

106 
105 

114 
122 

151 
182 

188 
186 

209 
197 
205 
212 
216 
206 
218 
227 
211 
211 
219 
234 

253 
244 
246 
270 


100 
98 
100 
128 
181 
238 
261 

100 
100 

98 
99 

96 
99 

110 
126 

161 
187 

211 
249 

234 
223 
216 
217 
227 
258 
281 
304 
306 
313 
325 
335 

350 
356 
355 
353 


100 
96 
93 
119 
175 
163 
173 

103 
99 

99 
95 

93 
90 

105 
108 

176 
192 

157 
166 

170 
169 
168 
167 
167 
170 
171 
175 
181 
181 
179 
181 

184 
187 
192 
213 


100 
87 
97 
148 
208 
181 
161 

107 
98 

92 

85 

83 
102 

126 
145 

183 
257 

174 
184 

172 
168 
162 
152 
152 
154 
158 
165 
160 
161 
164 
169 

177 
189 
192 
195 


100 
97 
94 
101 
124 
151 
192 

100 
101 

98 
97 

94 
93 

99 
99 

106 
132 

136 
154 

161 
163 
165 
162 
164 
175 
186 
208 
227 
231 
236 
253 

268 
300 
325 
341 


100 
101 
114 
159 
198 
221 
179 

101 
99 

100 
99 

103 
108 

150 
156 

159 
198 

232 
216 

191 
185 
183 
178 
179 
174 
171 
172 
173 
174 
176 
179 

189 
197 
205 
212 


100 
99 
99 
115 
144 
196 
236 

100 
100 

99 
99 

99 
99 

105 
121 

132 
152 

161 
199 

218 
218 
218 
217 
217 
233 
245 
259 
262 
264 
299 
303 

324 
329 
329 
331 


100 
99 
99 
120 
155 
193 
217 

100 
101 

99 
97 

100 
98 

107 
120 

138 
153 

178 
190 

212 
208 
217 
216 
213 
212 
221 
225 
217 
220 
220 
220 

227 
227 
230 
238 


100 


1914 


100 


1915 


101 


1916 


124 


1917 


176 


1918 


196 


1919 


212 


1913- 
Jan 


100 


July 


100 


1914- 
Jan 


100 


July 


100 


1915- 
Jan 


99 


July 


101 


1916- 

Jan 

July 


111 
120 


1917- 
Jan 


151 


July 


187 


1918- 
Jan 


185 


July 

1919- 
Jan 


198 
203 


Feb 


197 


Mar 


201 


Apr 


203 


May 


207 


June 


207 


July 


219 


Aug 


226 


Sept 


220 


Oct 


223 


Nov 


230 


Dec 


238 


1920- 
jan 


248 


Feb 


249 


Mar 


253 


Apr 


265 







DAY AND TO $I.OO ON Tm. o '"''^ ''°^'''^" 
OVERDUE. ^'^ ^"^ SEVENTH DAY 




416814 



^# 



UNIVERSITY OF CAUFORNIA LIBRARY