$51,000 was the median household income in Santa Fe in 1974, based on US Census estimates and adjusted for inflation.
$49,500 is the city’s median household income in 2009, based on the most recent Census estimates.
"There is a feeling among many officials that Santa Fe must still decide on a basic level whether it really wants economic growth."—SFR business story from Oct. 15, 1986
The front-page story in SFR’s first issue 35 years ago announced round-trip flights to Dallas for $80, which would be $346 in today’s dollars. Booked a month in advance, the same trip on the new American Eagle route costs $1,048—roughly triple the inflation-adjusted cost of the same trip decades ago.
Such price comparisons underscore a rarely remarked-upon irony of Santa Fe’s economic growth over time: Though the area has developed and locals’ personal wealth has risen, the benefits have not been equally shared, and some people are actually worse off. Santa Feans’ dollars don’t necessarily go as far as they used to.
SFR did some time-travel comparison shopping to make the point. Weirdly, nearly everything advertised in SFR as on sale at Piggly Wiggly 35 years ago was also on sale at Albertsons last week. (Dollar values below have been adjusted for inflation, except for those in parentheses.)
Breakfast: Farmer Jones sliced bacon was $3.42 per pound then (79 cents in the unadjusted prices of the day). Now the Albertsons store brand is on special for $3.99 per pound.
A quart of Smirnoff vodka to wash it down cost $21.58 then ($4.99). Today it’s on sale for $19.99 for a fifth, which would be $25.30 for a quart.
Lunch: A pound of white grapes cost $2.55 (or 59 cents) then. Today, they’re going for $1.99 a pound.
Dinner: Piggly Wiggly sold five potpies for $4.33 (then, $1). At Albertsons you can get five for $10. A fifth of “Beam’s Choice” whiskey cost $19.42 then. Albertsons is selling a fifth of Jim Beam for $15.99.
Added up, this questionable daily diet would have cost $51.30 back in the day. Today, it costs $57.20, before taxes. Over the same period, wages have stagnated while housing costs have increased. And Piggly Wiggly vanished.