I don't know what started the round of "I only got paid X when I was a trainee" on the twitts but I noticed nobody was adjusting for inflation.
Using the US Dept of Labor calculator, I came up with the following.
For an initial frame of general reference, $30K in 2012 is equal to $22K in 2000, $17K in 1990, $11K in 1980 and $5K in 1970.
The grad stipend when I started graduate school was equal to $15.6K in 2012 adjusted dollars. For us, the NSF fellowship was a considerable upgrade and the NSF graduate fellowship from that time is equivalent to $22.6K in 2012.
Interesting. So how are today's trainees doing?
The current NSF stipend is apparently $30K, a 33% increase in adjusted dollars compared to what it was when I was a graduate student. Looking at my old training department, they are offering a 35% increase in stipend over what they were offering when I started, again, in constant dollars.
I also happened to spend some time on NIH training grant funds so I can also report that my starting postdoc salary was $28.6K in 2012 dollars. The current NRSA base is $39.3K, which represents a 37% increase.
The bottom line is this. We're in crap economic times and graduate students and postdocs are getting paid at least 33% more than I was, even going by inflation adjusted dollars.
Stop whining about your salary.