How Much Did A Working Girl Need To Live On In 1922?

According To One Report – A Miniscule $468 Per Year Would Supply A Working Girl “All The Necessities Of Life.”

1922 Women Dressed NicelyIn 1922, a single working woman could live comfortably on $9 per week and, $17 a week with “luxuries” according to a report issued by the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts.

Even without debt, an annual salary of $468 would barely keep you at subsistence level. $884 would afford you the luxuries of life? Talk about underestimating the needs of the working poor.

The New York Tribune of August 26, 1922 sarcastically mocks the report, as being completely unrealistic.

BOSTON, Aug. 25 – If you are a working girl, $9 a week is enough to supply you with all the necessities of life, according to an investigation just completed by Miss Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner of the Minimum Wage Commission of Massachusetts, who fails to set down for public information just how much she, herself, is contented to earn for her services. For $17 a week the working girl should be able to keep herself well supplied with all the reasonable luxuries of life.

In order to live on the commission’s wage you are supposed, if you are a working girl, to make one pair of corsets last two years and a $2.98 kimono must be stretched over five
years of service.

Your principal recreation should be semi-annual trips to the dentist, and you may contribute 7 cents a week to charity, presumably that which does not begin at home.

According to the commission’s budget, you should spend $154.92 for your clothes and $1 a day for three meals –  breakfast, 25 cents; lunch, 30, and dinner 45. Your one dress and two hats should go through the 365 days- but your heavy coat, costing $40 is supposed to last three winters.

You must not have more than three union suits a year and six pairs of stockings Miss Johnson says few working girls know how to spend their money. “Working women waste most of their money because they actually do not know how they are spending it. They spend §1.50 for a jar of face cream and then quiet their consciences by saving 40 cents a week on cheap lunches.”

By the way, $468 in 1922 adjusted for inflation is equivalent to $6,608 in 2014 dollars.

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Anti-Spam Quiz:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.