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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/608

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

months of 1887, the operations of the manufacturers of copper and brass were reported as having been materially restricted.

Every reduction in the price of gas has been attended with greatly increased consumption, entailing greater demand for labor in the mining and transporting of coal and other materials, and in service of distribution; and it is very doubtful whether the apprehensions of impairment of the value of the capital of the gas companies, which are always excited by such reductions, are ever, to any disastrous extent, realized; and it is the general experience that the profits on the increased demand created by cheaper supply continue to afford to the gas companies reasonable and often equal returns on their invested capital. It seems to be also well established that the extensive introduction and use of the electric light has in no way impaired the aggregate consumption of gas.

In 1830 the average price of cotton cloth in the United States was about seventeen cents per yard; in 1880 it was seven cents. This reduction of price has been accompanied by an increase in the annual per capita consumption of the people from 5·90 pounds of cloth to 13·91 pounds; which in turn represents a great increase in all the occupations connected with cotton, from its growth to its transformation into cloth and cloth fabrications; and the evidence is conclusive that in all these occupations the share of labor in the progressing augmentations of values and quantities has continually increased; the advance in the wages of the cotton-mill operatives, during the period under consideration, having been fully 80 per cent.

When, through competition, the companies controlling the submarine telegraph lines between the United States and Europe reduced in 1886 their rates from 40 to 12 cents per word, 212 words, it was reported, were regularly transmitted in place of every 100 previously sent. Assuming this report to be correct, a comparison of receipts under the new and old rates would give the following results: 210 words at 12 cents each, $25.20; 100 words at 40 cents each, $40; or a reduction in rates of TO per cent impaired the revenues of the lines to an extent of only 37 per cent.

A reduction in 1886 in the postal system of the United States of three cents in the fee for domestic money-orders not exceeding $5 (or from eight to five cents) has operated to increase the use of this service to the remitters of small sums in a very noticeable degree, the average amount of each order issued in 1887 being but $12,72 as against an average of $14.33 in 1886, and larger sums in previous years; while the increase in the number of money-orders issued in 1887 was 16'27 per cent greater than in 1886. The aggregate value of these orders for 1887 is returned at the large sum of $117,462,000.

The following have been the economic changes within a decade in the business of manufacturing American watches, and the manner in which such changes have affected the welfare alike of owners and