We have to look at absolute value and relative value. We compare the wage of a worker doing job X in Year Y and compare what one is paid for that amount of work at that time with what one can purchase (relative value). More, less or equivalent buying power? The closer the ratio of what X is worth in work value to products/services purchased the more accurate the comparison. Absolute value is like absolute zero; a recognized point but you don’t want to get there. Due to the nature of these “absolutes” the effect of the absolute would not occur (e.g. lowering all temperature it touches also to absolute zero, so it reproduces itself, sorta - if i could remember proper terms at the moment!). The closer the ratio becomes to zero the more effect it seems to have.
Is that the kind of thing you wanted to avoid, Al-X?
(That’s kind of a mean-looking “laugh”.)
The number $165 is coincidentally funny. That was the rent I paid for my first apartment. That would be right around 1974. I was making $1.79 an hour, if I remember right, so $71.60 for a 40-hour weeks, minus taxes and such. $143.20 per two-week paycheck. $286.40 a month. Housing should come in at about 30% of net. Call the tax bite just about 30%, as a single male I was in the eat-me-raw bracket. I learned what deductions were about real early, though (owning a house before renting an apartment), so let’s say $50 a month. That takes us to $236.40. And also reveals why I worked as much overtime as I could and discovered the mistake about a year later. No, no, it’s 30% of net. Ouch.
With $1.79 an hour, base, as above in 1974, that was a whopping $14.32 a day. (This should put “a dime bag” into absolute perspective for you now - that was a standard item for a long time.) Working in TV for a while in 1980 at lowest pay (to relieve burnout, so small pay was okay, as different job was my form of therapy) was $50/day, flat. Minus. Taxes. Not near enough pay, about a 70% cut or so from nursing pay rate. Unclear memories of such details, hard time for moi.
1993 crazy times. One job was $150 an hour, but rare, maybe 4-5 hours a week. Regular McJob was $10.01/hour. Yes, I fought for the few cents to take it over the $10 mark! Good thing I bumped the bracket - it became worth about $30/month now, as it depends on last five quarters worked. Other job (was years into multitasking jobs by then, plus buying selling stuff like comics and antiques and cars a couple of times) was a high rate / low days kind of deal doing OSHA paperwork for small businesses to get them up to code. That was usually weekends.
Out of all of it I found the most consistent indicator of an absolute value to be that of a gopher - a production assistant, and assistant to a somebody, the lowest paid and paid on a day rate (for 18-hour days, when shooting) minus taxes. Early Eighties that was around $50 a day. Late Eighties, starting with the gasoline shortages early-mid-Eighties, it went to between $75-$90 a day. The ninety bucks is usually for people who drive their own trucks. (All runners also have to have an operating licensed vehicle with insurance. Entry level work in the entertainment business costs one money. This is why so many day jobs, waitressing and so forth.) Now it’s 2015, and TV production assistants are at $100/day.
I think that’s a bunch of numbers. Those with more facility and ease with numbers should be able to plug in relative prices, like a standard comic in 1975, 1980, 1985 and so on.
After all those numbers, I need a nap!