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The average salary in 1920

Updated July 19, 2017

The year 1920 marked the beginning of the legendary Roaring Twenties. The U.S. population had boomed to more than 106 million but only 6 per cent were literate. More than 2 million people were unemployed and the life expectancy was virtually equal between men and women at about 54 years of age. The end of the decade saw the beginning of the Great Depression preceded by the stock market crash in 1929.

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The average annual salary of an American worker in the year 1920 was £803. The '20s are generally regarded as a prosperous time for the U.S. economy. The job market benefited from an influx of new citizens and unemployment was at a low 5.2 per cent. In urban areas, labourers in the manufacturing and construction sectors held the most promise for the predominantly uneducated workforce of 1920.


By 1920, the automobile industry was in the midst of a meteoric rise as nearly 7 million consumers owned cars. Electrical power consumption increased dramatically due to industrial needs. Electrical plants required workers to help power manufacturing plants that produced goods and distribution and retail grew to accommodate the growing supply of materials for public consumption.


Education was overshadowed by the need for labourers in 1920. Also an indicator of how devalued education had become after the industry boom was the fact that the average teacher's salary fell short of the rest of the workforce by nearly £195 a year.

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About the Author

Matt Badger has been writing professionally since 2010, contributing to various websites. Badger has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Washington.

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