Oil Field Wages

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:

OccupationAnnual Earnings
Agriculture $387
Manufacturing $1502
Mining $1590
Construction $1708
Transportation $1579
Communications $1440
Wholesale & Retail Trade $1480
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate $2019
Services $1646
Government $1531

--from Series D 739-764, Historical Statistics of the United States

Income, Standard Jobs, 1925
Occupation Annual Income
Average, All Industries, inc. Farm Labor $1434
Farm Labor $382
Lower-skilled Labor $1095
Manufacturing, non-union $1330
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.

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