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How do Today’s Salaries Stack Up Against Salaries 25 Years Ago?

1987 seems much farther back than 25 years ago, doesn’t it?

A quarter-century ago, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. In Super Bowl XXI, the New York Giants beat the Denver Broncos, 39-20. The Minnesota Twins emerged victorious over the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1987 World Series.

Madonna’s “Open Your Heart” and Jon Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” were among the year’s top hits, while moviegoers flocked to see “Beverly Hills Cop II”, “Dirty Dancing”, and “Fatal Attraction”. On TV, the top-rated shows included “Roseanne”, “Cheers” and “The Cosby Show”.

But how does the cost of basic goods and the salaries of HR and other business professionals match up today against 1987? Take a look.

1987 2012
Cost of gas $0.95 $3.79
Cost of milk $2.28 $3.50
Cost of eggs $0.78 $1.99
Minimum wage $3.35/hr $7.25/hr
Average income $26,061.00 $51,413.00


1987 2012
Receptionist $17,500.00 $26,579.00
Administrative Assistant $19,900.00 $29,579.00
Staff Accountants $20,600.00 $44,220.00
Bookkeepers $17,300.00 $37,831.00
HR Professionals $24,600.00 $48,785.00

*based on the national average

So while we may miss the low cost of living in 1987, it’s good to know that salaries have risen over the years and that there are always opportunities to move up and earn more in the years to come.

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