Are Times Bad or Good?


I was chatting with a friend today discussing whether times were down a little or really bad.  So, I ran a few numbers on one of my favorite devices.  My HP12C (see below).  I found some interesting comparisons from 1983, when I graduated from the University of Florida, and today.  Here goes:

– My first job was with Atlantic Bank in Jacksonville, FL (now part of the Wells Fargo company).  I made $15K per year (well below what my friends were making.)  If you assumed 5% per year inflation over those 26 years (average), that would be equal to $53K today.  Are most college grads getting out of school and getting at least $53K per year?  I don’t think so.  That’s deflation you can believe in!

– Gasoline back in 1983 (April) was around $1.25 per gallon.  If we assume the same 5% inflation and 26 years, gas should cost $4.44.  It is much lower than that!

– GDP per Capita in 1983 was $15,008.21.  Given the above variables, it should be $53,364.28.  It is estimated to have been $47,000 in 2008.  A little slip there.  Not keeping up with inflation.

– 30 year fixed rate mortgages went for about 13% in 1983.  They are now around 4.75%.  That’s a huge drop.

– Phone bills are dead cheap today.  If you are young and need a phone, you can get an all you can eat service from Boost Mobile for $50 per month.  That covers the entire US.  OR, for $3 per month for Skype Unlimited US.  DSL from AT&T will run $30 (and includes hotspot access all across the US.)  The two cost $33.  $33 is $9.28 in 1983.  I know I paid more than that back then.  You had to pay for the line, the phone lease, wierd taxes and the dreaded long distance.

What’s the answer?  Not sure.  I think times are better.  Much better.  BUT, I do miss one thing from back then.  The “party line”.  My grandparents had one at their lake cabin.  It was so much fun to listen in on other people’s conversations!

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