My father recalls that wages were good in the oil fields compared to those in other fields. He says that he and his father got $150 a month in Wyoming during the late 1920s. That would be comparable to $1354 in 1998 dollars. The oil companies provided some housing at no cost to the employee, but there was a nominal rent for the higher quality housing.
The following is a table of occupations and the average wages they earned during 1927:
|Wholesale & Retail Trade||$1480|
|Finance, Insurance, Real Estate||$2019|
--from Series D 739-764, Historical Statistics of the United States
|Average, All Industries, inc. Farm Labor||$1434|
|Wholesale & Retail Trades||$1416|
--from The Value of a Dollar, p. 204-205.
These tables show that the annual income my Grandfather earned ($150/month or $1800/year) compared favorably with the other occupations he could have qualified for. In particular, it was much better than farm labor, which was the main option the Hopkins sons had to look forward to. However, with the higher wages came poor living conditions for themselves and their families.
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This file was last updated on 7/15/2004.