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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/603

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583
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.

considered prosperous. In the United States there is little evidence thus far that labor has been disturbed or depressed to any great extent from this cause. But there is undoubtedly a feeling of apprehension among the masses that the opportunities for employment through various causes—continued large immigration, absorption of the public lands, as well as machinery improvements—are less favorable than formerly, and tend to be still further restricted; and this apprehension finds expression in opposition to Chinese immigration, to the importation of foreign labor on contract, to the increase in the number of apprentices, and in the endeavor to restrict the participation in various employments to membership of certain societies. The reports from many of the large industrial centers of the United States during the past year (1887) have been to the effect, that while specific results are now attained at much less cost and with the employment of much less labor, the increased demand, owing to a reduction in the price and improvement in the quality of the articles manufactured under the new conditions, has operated not merely to prevent any material reduction in the rates of wages, or in the number of employés, but to largely increase both rates and numbers. The annual investigation made by the managers of "Bradstreet's Journal" into the condition of the industries of the country for 1887, indicated that in March of that year 400,000 more industrial employés were at work than in 1885. In thirty-three cities the number of employés at work was 992,000 by the census of 1880, 1,146,009 in January, 1885, and 1,450,000 in March, 1887-The change in the average wages received between 1885-87 as compared with 1882-'85, shows a very general increase: from 10 to 15 per cent in woolen goods and clothing; 15 in cotton goods, silk goods, and iron-mills; 12 per cent in the wages of three fourths of the employés of beef-and pork-packing establishments; 20 per cent in anthracite-coal mining, and the like. In the case of the boot and shoe industry, an opinion expressed by those competent to judge is, that while "there has been a reduction in cost and in the number of employés per 100 cases produced of from 15 to 20 per cent, the actual number of persons employed has been increased; and in cases where the wages of old classes of workmen are affected they have been raised."

On the Continent of Europe, the grievances of labor attributable to new conditions of production and distribution seem to be mainly confined to the agriculturists and to those bred to handicraft employments; and for both of these classes the outlook is not promising.

In Great Britain the number of persons who are in want, for lack of employment, appears to have largely increased in recent years.[1]

  1. "The one thing which I, and those associated with me, always at once peremptorily refuse to do," said recently an English (London) clergyman whose life is among the poor, "is to try and get men, women, and children work to do. I say at once: ' That is impossible. To get you work would be to deprive some other one of work, and that I can not