Hours of labor to buy basic home appliances – 1956 and 2012

Café Hayek takes a leisurely tour though his newly acquired copy of the 1956 Fall/Winter Sears catalog and shares the preliminary results in The Future: Back to the Past.

Maybe things weren’t so great in the good ol’ days.

Let’s say you just bought your first home and have to get the basic appliances. How many hours do you have to work today compared to 1956 to start with the basics?

Don Bourdeaux converts the list price of some items to the number of hours labor needed to make the acquisitions and come up with:

  • 1956 / 2012 labor hours
  • 116 / 15 – refrigerator-freezer
  • 69 / 18 – kitchen range
  • 61 / 10 – TV, 17” B&W, vs HD color with remote
  • 79 / 15 – automatic washing machine

Add those up and it would take 325 hours of work in 1956 versus 58 hours in 2012 to buy a fridge, range, washer, and TV.

That would be 40½ days versus 7¼ days, or about 2 months versus 1½ weeks. 

That’s an 82% reduction in the number of hours to outfit a home.

Check out the full post for an entertaining explanation of the methodology. More importantly, you can follow his calculations and learn how to do that kind of analysis yourself.

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