Cost of Living

January 2, 1954

Report Outline
Outlook for Relative Stability in 1954
Postwar Living Costs and Spending Power
Food Prices and Costs of Marketing
Rise in Costs of Shelter and Medical Care
Business Activity and Consumer Welfare
Special Focus

Outlook for Relative Stability in 1954

Small Loss of Dollar Buying Power in 1953

Despite the new “all-time highs” registered by the consumer price index for most of the months of 1953, which resulted in wage increases for some three million workers covered by escalator clauses in union contracts, the overall increase in the cost of living during the year was no more than one per cent and the loss in purchasing power of the dollar was less than one penny. As the year 1954 began, prices of goods and services needed by the average family gave every sign of having reached a point of stabilization. The present level is approximately 15 per cent above the average for the first six months of 1950, before the Korean outbreak, when the consumer price index stood in the vicinity of 100.

Opening a White House conference with legislative leaders, Dec. 17, on plans for the 1954 session of Congress, President Eisenhower said his administration, among other accomplishments during its first eleven months, had “stabilized the purchasing power of the citizen's dollar and stopped inflation.” Eisenhower's first message to Congress on Feb. 2 announced a program for rapid liquidation of the price controls imposed under the Defense Production Act of 1950. With the removal of controls, he said, some prices would rise but others would fall. If freer functioning of the economy did not check inflation, he would “promptly ask Congress to enact such legislation as may be required.” During recent months the fall in farm prices has given more cause for concern to the administration than the slow rise during 1953 in prices paid by consumers.

Retail prices of food rose slightly in December, after a sharp decline in November, but are expected to remain relatively stable during the early months of 1954. Government economists look for a continued slow retreat in prices of clothing, home furnishings, and household appliances, with a continued slow advance in costs of urban housing, medical care, transportation and domestic help. Barring a war emergency or a severe economic recession, the experts foresee no great change, upward or downward, in the overall cost of living during the months immediately ahead.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Cost of Living and Wages
Apr. 17, 2020  Inequality in America
Sep. 08, 2017  Universal Basic Income
Apr. 08, 2016  Future of the Middle Class
Apr. 18, 2014  Wealth and Inequality
Jan. 24, 2014  Minimum Wage
Jun. 19, 2009  Rethinking Retirement
Mar. 06, 2009  Middle-Class Squeeze
Mar. 14, 2008  Gender Pay Gap
Dec. 16, 2005  Minimum Wage
Sep. 27, 2002  Living-Wage Movement
Apr. 17, 1998  Income Inequality
Oct. 27, 1978  Wage-Price Controls
Jun. 16, 1978  Military Pay and Benefits
Mar. 23, 1966  Rising Cost of Living
Oct. 25, 1961  Price-Wage Restraints in National Emergencies
Jun. 21, 1961  Wage Policy in Recovery
Jun. 11, 1958  Prices and Wages in the Recession
Sep. 18, 1957  Control of Living Costs
Nov. 02, 1955  Wages, Prices, Profits
Jan. 26, 1954  Minimum Wage Raise
Jan. 02, 1954  Cost of Living
Jan. 21, 1953  Guaranteed Annual Wage
Dec. 17, 1952  Future of Price and Wage Controls
Nov. 19, 1951  Fringe Benefits and Wage Stabilization
Dec. 06, 1950  Wage Control
Jun. 13, 1949  Wages in Deflation
Jun. 04, 1947  Guarantees of Wages and Employment
Oct. 29, 1946  Decontrol of Wages
Dec. 01, 1945  Minimum Wages
Sep. 29, 1945  Wage Policy
Oct. 27, 1944  Wage Security
May 17, 1943  Incentive Wage Payments
Aug. 25, 1941  Prices, Profits, and Wage Control
Apr. 28, 1941  Wartime Changes in the Cost of Living
Sep. 21, 1940  Two Years of the Wage-Hour Law
Nov. 01, 1938  Industry and Labor Under the Wage-Hour Act
Jan. 20, 1938  Wage Rates and Workers' Incomes
Apr. 11, 1935  The Cost of Living in the United States
Sep. 01, 1930  Wages and the Cost of Living
May 24, 1930  The Anthracite Wage Agreement
Feb. 20, 1925  Measure of Recovery in Profits and Wages Since 1920–21 Depression