Here is what the average teenager could have bought, after a summer of work in 1949, at the minimum wage of 40 cents per hour in 1949, assuming a 12 weeks of 40 hours of work per week. This work would have generated $192 in total summer earnings (ignoring taxes). Using a Sears catalog for retail prices, $192 would have only purchased the following 4 items in 1949:
At the mimumum wage of $7.25 today, full-time summer job will generate about $3,500 this year, which would be enough to purchase the following list of 28 items (click to enlarge):
Economics professor Mark Perry says the following: "Teenagers today can afford things like cell phones with cameras, digital cameras, GPS systems, CD players, DVD players, laptop computers, and iPods that even a billionaire couldn't have purchased 20 years ago. As much as we might complain, just by being alive in the 21st century America, even if you're earning the minimum wage, you've "won first prize in the lottery of life."