Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Snow 28° Snow
News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Reports from Seattle tell of skyrocketing cost of living

The cost of living was out of control in Seattle, according to reports from local war industries workers. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The cost of living was out of control in Seattle, according to reports from local war industries workers. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane people who went to Seattle to work in war industries reported that the cost of living was so high that it was barely worth it.

“Rents, rooms, food – in fact, all of the necessities of life – have gone sky high in Seattle,” according to the Spokane Daily Chronicle. The higher wages were more than offset by the higher cost of living, reported several Spokane business men. They were appalled at what they found.

“People in Seattle who never had any money find themselves with money in these boom days and are spending it like drunken sailors,” said a Spokane banker. “They are buying pianos and automobiles and what not, and are creating a very unstable condition.”

A visiting banker from Seattle said that the prices had gone so high that “the laboring men and the middle men actually find themselves worse off, in spite of the better salaries which are being paid in the shipyards and other wartime industries.”

“I have been told that you can’t get a house for less than $50 a month in all of Seattle,” said one business man. “And these houses are so far from the center of the city where the wartime industries are located, that it requires from an hour to an hour and a half each way, to and from work.”

The upshot? Most people would be “better off in Spokane with a smaller salary and where the living is reasonable.”

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.