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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/482

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I. The Narrowed Range of Information

THE extreme differences between the various groups of gainfully employed people in the United States take from the term "employed" any fixed meaning. Occupation, sex, geographical district and the kind of industry, play havoc with any hope that the problem of service income might be reduced to simple terms and treated as a unit. It is manifestly impossible to look upon a man who is "gainfully employed" as having any particular income, since there is no fixed relation between the fact of employment and the amount of income which employment yields.

Any treatment of service income limits itself arbitrarily because of the lack of available facts. Professional people, people rendering personal services, and the small owner or independent producer necessarily are eliminated. Those engaged in personal service and professional work are gainfully employed in every real sense of the word; the small producer of flour, as an example, is a producer in the same sense that the employees in a great flour mill are producers. At the present juncture, income figures have been collected for none of these groups. All of them perform useful social functions, yet regarding them there is only meager information, and that, for the most part, of so unreliable a character as to preclude the possibility of its use in any study that purports to be scientific.

The data at hand do furnish an indication, though an incomplete one, of the way in which income is apportioned among that vastly important part of the gainfully occupied world which is engaged with the processes of organized industry. After all, it is in them that the most permanent interest must center. Outside of agriculture, they constitute the great majority of the population. They are the human part of that system of organized industry toward which the world seems to be moving; from their hands flows most of that stream of goods upon which society subsists; to them is committed the imperative task of feeding, clothing, housing and otherwise providing for the wants of mankind. Although agriculture can not be included in the analysis because of the extreme paucity of the information about agricultural income, nevertheless the data about organized industry are profoundly significant because they bespeak the income situation in the newest, and it is probably fair to say the coming form of industrial organization.