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Answers to Go with Susan Smith

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Q. My husband and I come to the library several times a week to catch up on reading out-of-town newspapers. I noticed an article in July 13 issue of “USA Today” about the new Ford Expedition. I saw that it starts at about $52,000. I am old enough to remember when new cars cost less than $5,000. Would you help me find a chart about changing prices of new cars?

A. I hoped to find an answer to this question in the Department of Commerce’s “Statistical Abstract of the United States.” I located some related information there, but not exactly what this newspaper reader wanted.

I did find useful information on the website for Chicago’s WGN television station. Their data charts the average price of new cars purchased each year from 1967 to 2016.

In 1967, American new car buyers spent an average of $3,215 in 1967 dollars. In 2016, the average new car cost was $25, 449 in 2016 dollars.

According to this source, if you converted the 1967 dollars to 2016 dollars the 1967 equivalent price would be $22,807. My conclusion, cars are more expensive, but not as much more as you might think.

I must say that it is my impression that automobiles last longer than they did in the 1960s. In addition, this Ford Expedition at $52,000 will probably cost a good bit more than the average car sold this year.

If, like me, you can remember what you were paid in your first “grown-up” job, you may wonder what that would be in today’s dollars.

Using a chart on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, I found that $100 in 1967 dollars would be equivalent to $756.72 today. (Website: https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm)

You can quickly enter the relevant salary and year to see what you’d be making in today’s dollars. If you prefer, you can give us a call and we’ll check for you.

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