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Popular Science Monthly/Volume 86/May 1915/Wages and Salaries in Organized Industry

WAGES AND SALARIES IN ORGANIZED INDUSTRY
By Dr. SCOTT NEARING

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.

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.

"Values to the extent of $100 are paid to 'labor' or in the form of 'compensation' or of 'wages and salaries.' How is this $100 actually divided up among those who participated in its production?" The answer to that question can not as yet be made final; to the careful searcher after truth it is far from satisfactory; yet those who have eyes to see will find in it many suggestions of the situation that will stand revealed when all of the facts in the case are made available for study.

The tentative answer as to the disposition of service income will indicate for the various classes of industries what the situation of the ordinary, or "modal," person is. Of course the answer will not cover individual cases. No general statement holds true of individual instances. It will, however, show for certain occupations the general scale of service incomes.

No one can overstate the danger of trying to deduce from a statement of averages, or other general ideas referring to a class of things or persons, the condition of individuals in that class. It does not follow because the average for machinists on a certain railroad is $1.90 per day that the machinists on that road all receive $1.90 per day. It does not even follow that any one machinist is receiving exactly $1.90 per day. Some are receiving more, and some less. The mathematical computation derived from these individual rates of daily wages yields the average, $1.90.

The average is, at best, a crude method for the statement of incomes. Convenient because of ease in handling, it is misleading in the extreme when employed for purposes of generalization. It bespeaks not instances, or laborers, or families, but abstract deductions from the relation existing between these highly humanized economic facts.

The classified wage is far more satisfactory as a method of statement than is the average wage. Instead of averaging the wages of all machinists and stating the result as $1.90, the statement is made in this form: "Of 100 machinists, 5 receive less than $1.50 per day; 12 receive from $1.50 to $1.74; 40 receive from $1.75 to $1.99; 20 receive from $2.00 to $2.24," and so on through the list. The result is a presentation of earners by groups in a way that tells the size of the group and the amount earned by each number. Out of 100, 40 earn from $1.75 to $1.99. That is a very different matter from saying that the average wage is $1.90. If care is taken, generalizations regarding types and tendencies may be made without doing too much violence to individual instances. These generalizations should, wherever possible, be based on classes, rather than on averages.

Classified wage figures do not permit of such ready generalizations. They do, however, decrease error. People have assumed that the steel industry is a very lucrative one because certain individuals have made millions in it, or that there is an abundant chance for rapid advancement in the railroad industry because certain railroad presidents came up from the ranks. Neither inference is necessarily correct. Generalizations can be made safely only where the facts about the great mass of instances are known. One man has made a million in the steel industry; four fifths of his co-workers in the industry are paid less than $1,000 a year. Is the industry lucrative? One man rose from the ranks to be president of a great railroad system. There are a hundred thousand of his fellows still in the ranks. How much chance have these men to become president of the railroad? The time has come to cease crude generalizations, and, by an appeal to the facts, to discover, not the average, but the actual way in which service income is distributed among gainfully employed people.

The races of men always face the statistician with the stern demand that he render a quick, easily comprehensible generalization, even though it be from a few insufficient instances. "Be brief" is a dangerous behest for science to follow. It leads to falsehood and inexactness more often than it leads to truth. It often happens that the statistician must sacrifice brevity for the sake of accuracy.

 

II. Salaries and Wages

The first large fact encountered in the analysis of service income is the distinction between salaries and wages. Although this distinction is arbitrary, it is significant for two reasons. First, because the incomes of "officers" and "salaried employees" are often very much higher than the incomes of "wage-earners"; and second, because in a large number of important publications dealing with service income, the incomes of wage-earners alone are given, while in other cases the figures frequently contain statements for salaries and wages. In the main, the emphasis will be laid upon wages, first, as a matter of necessity. There is no analysis of compensation which shows salaries with the same minuteness that wages are set forth. Secondly, as a matter of choice. The wage-earners, being an overwhelming majority of the whole, constitute the bulk of the human income problem in industry.

The contrast between the amount paid to salary-earners and to wage-earners is in some cases considerable, and in others it is far less marked. Average figures alone are available for this comparison, because there is nowhere any statement of classified earnings for "officers." Although crude in the extreme, these averages give some idea of the divergence between "salaries" and "wages."

The Iowa Railroad Commission reports several instances in which the compensation paid to officers is not much greater than that paid to wage-earners. The general officers of the Iowa Terminal Companies[1] receive an average daily compensation for one company of $7.67, and for another company $4.38, while for the same companies the average daily compensation of all other employees ranges from $1.95 to $2.55. The Iowa Bridge Companies[2] report an average daily compensation for general officers of $4.33, and for all other employees $2.01. These companies are small, and the variation between the returns to the officers and wage-earners is probably typical of that existing in many small businesses.

The railroads report a divergence between the compensation of general officers and of other employees which is considerable. For all operating railroads in the United States, the average daily compensation of general officers was $12.99[3] For Class I. roads (annual earnings over $1,000,000) the average is, in the Eastern District, $19.52; in the Southern District, $14.63; and in the Western, $16.63. In Class II. and Class III. roads the average is much lower. "The other officers" (there were in 1911 5,628 "general officers" and 10,196 "other officers" on all operating roads) received an average daily compensation of $6.27. For Class I. roads the average, as before, was somewhat higher than for Class II. and III. roads. Although the compensation rates for "other officers" do not greatly exceed the rates for the best-paid wage-earners, the rates of pay among general officers is much higher than for the wage-earners. With the exception of enginemen, conductors and machinists, no group of railroad employees receives an average daily compensation of more than $3.00 a day. For conductors and enginemen it is $4.16 and $4.79, respectively, and for machinists, $3.14. For most of the employees the average daily compensation ranges around $2.00. The same relation exists between the average wage of the great bulk of railroad employees and that of "other officers" as that shown for the Iowa Terminal and Bridge Companies. The compensation of the "general officers" on the railroads is very much higher.

Although the facts are most readily usable in the railroad industry, an examination of the figures from street and electric railways, mines and quarries, telegraph and telephone companies, and manufacturing industries tends to confirm the general impression made by the railroad statistics. For small concerns, and for second-grade officers, the rate of return is not greatly in excess of the rate for the better-paid wage-earners. The general, or first-class, officers who are responsible for large enterprises do receive, as a group, a rate of return which is ordinarily from five to ten times greater than the rate paid to wage earners.

There is another point of great significance which must be borne in mind in this connection. The salaries of general officers are high in individual instances, nevertheless the aggregate of salaries paid is small as compared with the entire amount of service income. Thus on the railroads the total compensation of both general and other officers was $40,000,000 in 1911. This constituted only about 3 per cent, of the total compensation paid during the year to all classes of employees. If to the salaries of all officers are added the total salaries of office clerks[4] the entire salary schedule for the railroads covers 8 per cent, of the total amount paid in compensation.[5] The same situation exists in street railways. All street and electric railway salaries amount to approximately $13,000,000, which is 9 per cent, of the total amount paid for compensation.[6] The Census reports[7] the payment of $4,366,000,000 for services in the manufacturing industries. Of this amount, $939,000,000, or more than a fifth, was expended for salaries. Officers of corporations received a quarter of this salary expenditure; superintendents and managers another quarter, and clerks and other subordinate employees received a half. If individual industries are examined, however, it appears that in highly organized businesses like the production of iron and steel, of railroad cars and locomotives, of agricultural implements, and the like, the relation of salaries to total compensation is essentially the same as that for railroads. The figures for mines and quarries[8] show $40,000,000 paid in all kinds of salaries, as compared with $370,000,000 paid in wages. Again the figures appear as about 10 per cent. General officers received one fifth of the forty millions, or about 2 per cent, of the whole; superintendents, managers and foremen received three fifths, and clerks one fifth of the total salary expenditure. For those industries in which figures are available, it would seem that the general officers receive less than one twentieth of the total amount paid in compensation, while all salaried persons (general officers, other officers and clerks) receive about a tenth of the total payments in the form of compensation. This generalization holds true for large, highly organized industries. In the smaller, less specialized industries, the proportion which the salary account bears to the total payments for compensation is perhaps double that in the larger industries.

The figures furnish an indication of the manner in which service income is divided between those who receive salaries and those who receive wages. When a hundred dollars is paid in compensation by a modern large-scale industry, from 3 to 4 dollars go to general officers, from 6 to 10 dollars go to other salaried employees (including clerks), and the great bulk, from 85 to 90 dollars, is paid in the form of wages to wage-earners. This formula will not hold good for individual industries, but it does express with a considerable degree of fairness the situation now existing in organized industry. Furthermore, the fact should not be lost sight of that in more highly organized industries, that is, in the industries which have evolved to the point which virtually all industries may be expected to reach in the process of their development, at least ninety out of every hundred dollars paid for compensation goes in the form of wages.

The point regarding the distribution of compensation among salaried employees and wage-earners is not stressed. For the purpose of this study no importance attaches to the distinction between a wage and a salary, since both payments are made for "services." Nevertheless, since most of the available figures relating to service income are wage figures, the critical reader will bear in mind the fact that the necessity which forced the use of such material bears every earmark of reasonableness, since the bulk of service payments are made in the form of wages.

 

III. Incomes of Managers, Foremen and Other Officers

The data regarding the apportionment of incomes among officers of all grades are meager in the extreme. The mass of figures cited in the last section give some idea of the general relation existing between "salaries" and "wages" in bulk. They are of no value in an analysis of income apportionment among individual salary and wage-earners.

Figures showing the apportionment of income among general officers are apparently non-existent in any usable form. Even for under officials the figures are so scanty as to be worthy of only the most cursory analysis. The reason for this paucity of data is apparent. On the one hand, several of the most reliable sources (the reports of classified wages in the manufacturing industries of Massachusetts and New Jersey, for example) include "wage-earners" only in their classification. On the other hand, much of the salary information relating to under officials is, for all practical purposes, unclassified. The latest report of the California Bureau of Labor Statistics[9] is an excellent case in point. The income classification in that report includes, in its last category, incomes of $25 per week and over ($1,300 per year). For each city and under each industry "superintendents" or "managers" are listed, but in nine tenths of the instances they fall in this last class. That they receive more than $1,300 per year goes almost without saying. Exactly how much more the report does not state. The report might have stated with equal validity that the officials in California industries received in nine tenths of the cases over $1,300 annually.

The figures showing the service incomes of inferior officers on the railroads appear in the form of averages only. The section foremen, of whom there were 44,466 in 1911[10] received an average daily compensation of from $1.92 to $3,17, varying with the part of the country in which they were at work. The average daily compensation of general officers ($13.99) and of other officers ($6.37) has already been commented on. Apparently the railroad foremen receive a wage approximately the same as that paid to semi-skilled wage-earners. The compensation paid to officers is considerably greater.

One report[11] contains data of real importance in this connection. The most available figures in this report relate to the Bell Telephone System, from the 1908 pay rolls of which they were taken. Among the Bell employees there were 614 foremen, one fifth of whom received less than $80 per month ($960 per year), and eleven twelfths of whom received less than $135 per month ($1,500 per year). Of the total number, only 51 received more than $135 (the last class appearing in the report). The rates of pay for assistant foremen (39 in all) were much lower. Half fell below $80, and all but one below $135 per month. The pay of general foremen was higher. Of the 21 listed, half (10) received $135 or over per month. The managers and assistant managers were paid at approximately the same rate. Two fifths received less than $80, and four fifths less than $135. The pay of superintendents is much higher. There were only three under $80, and nine under $135. Three fourths (32 out of 41) received $135 or over.

The New York Public Service Commission reports upon the income rates of 635 foremen and assistant foremen employed by gas and electric utilities in the First District of New York. Only 3 per cent, received less than $750; 22 per cent, received less than $1,000; and 58 per cent, received less than $1,250.[12]

These figures are given rather because they emphasize the paucity of the data than because they serve any useful statistical purpose. So far as the figures go, they suggest that foremen, assistant superintendents and assistant managers are paid salaries about equal to those of the best-paid tenth among the wage-earners ($1,000 to $1,500 per year). Superintendents, general superintendents and general managers usually receive more than $1,500. It is to be hoped that before another income study is made there will be some authoritative statement, at least for transportation agencies, showing the classified incomes of the men higher up.

 

IV. The Income of Clerks

There seems to be no very good reason why clerks should be classed among "salaried employees" rather than among "wage-earners," except that they are paid by the month, Nevertheless, they are so classed in virtually all of the reports, including the Census reports. For that reason they are so treated in this study.

The railroad industry may be passed by with a word of comment, since its figures take the undesirable form of "averages." The general office clerks[13] (30,613 in all) receive average daily compensations of $3.49. The uniformity of their compensation throughout the country is astonishing, in view of the usual variation in wages between the east and the west.[14] In the Eastern District they received $2.56; Southern, $2.39, and Western, $2.44. The other two groups of railway employees whose services might be classed as clerical are station agents (15,309 in 1911), and telegraph operators and dispatchers (14,857 in 1911). Their daily compensation is very uniform with that of the clerks. The average for the United States was: station agents, $2.17, and operators and dispatchers, $2.44. As in the ease of the clerks, the rate of compensation varies only slightly from one part of the country to another. Apparently the salary rates of men doing clerical work in the railroad industry lie somewhere between $650 and $900 per year.

The statistics furnished from the telephone industry are worthy of some attention.[15] The total number of male clerks employed by the Bell system was 2,650. Of this number, one tenth received less than $40 per month, one third received less than $60, seven tenths received less than $80, and 52, or about 5 per cent., were paid more than $125. For the 257 male bookkeepers the facts show a slightly lower range. Only three received over $125, while four fifths received less than $80. Apparently in the telephone industry, as represented by the Bell interests, the bulk of the male clerical force is paid from $600 to $1,000 per year.

The female employees of the Bell system who were engaged in the work of clerical grades are compensated at a rate much lower than that for males. A little more than half (1,015) of the 1,862 female clerks were paid less than $40 per month, while nineteen twentieths were paid less than $50. The female "operators," who comprise the great bulk of telephone employees, report similar wages. The telephone company, employing 16,229 operators, paid seven eighths of them less than $40 per month, and all but 9 of them less than $60 per month. The 377 female stenographers received somewhat higher wages. Only a seventh fell under $40, two thirds under $60, while 19 earned over $80. Most of the female clerical force employed by the Bell system received less than $500 per year. A few were paid more than $700. The Public Service Commission of the First District of New York[16] gives some excellent figures for the public utilities. The street railways employ[17] 423 male general office clerks, for whom the wage rates are under $500 per year in 8 per cent, of the cases, under $750 in a quarter of the cases, and under $1,000 in three quarters of the cases.[18] The wage rates for the gas and electric utilities are very similar. Among 1,515 male clerks and salesmen, half received less than $750, and nine tenths under $1,250. The ratio is similar for other clerical employees. For cashiers and bookkeepers the rate is higher.[19]

The pay of females doing clerical work in all of the New York public utilities is very much lower than that of males. The street railway general office clerks receive less than $750 in four fifths of the cases. Among the 252 clerks and salesmen employed by the gas and electric companies, 210 received less than $750, and 240 less than $1,000 a year. The rate for stenographers and typists is somewhat higher, one in ten of them receiving over $1,000 a year.

Little information is available dealing with the salaries of clerks in manufacturing industries. The Census reports the employment in the manufacturing industries of 576,356 "clerks and other subordinate salaried employees."[20] The total salaries paid to this group was $497,998,101.[21] The absence of any statement regarding sex invalidates any analysis of the figures.

The female clerical help employed in Washington, D. C, in department stores (252 in all) received in a fifth of the instances less than $250 per year, and in four fifths of the instances less than $500 per year.[22]

Although these figures showing the wage rates of clerks are meager in the extreme, they are sufficiently extensive to permit of a tabular statement that will bring out the likenesses and differences existing among them.

Table I

Salary Rates of Male Clerks in Certain Industries

Industry and Occupation Total
Number
Employed
Per Cent, of Male Clerks
Receiving Wage Rates
per Year of Less Than
$500 $750 $l,000 $1,250
Bell Telephone System (clerks) 2,650 9 36 71 95
New York Street Railway (general office clerks) 423 8 27 74 . . . .
New York Gas and Electric Utilities (clerks and salesmen) 1,515 9 47 76 91
Other clerical employees 440 22 57 85 93
Cashiers and bookkeepers 587 2 5 48 83

Table II

Salary Rates of Female Clerks in Certain Industries

Industry and Occupation Total
Number
Employed
Per Cent, of
Female Clerks Receiving
Wage Rates Per Year
of Less Than
$500 $750 $1,000
Telephone clerks 1,852 54 95 99
Telephone operators 16,129 87 99 . . . .
Stenographers 377 13 60 96
New York Street Railway 154 66 85 99
New York Gas and Electric Utilities (clerks and saleswomen) 252 29 83 95
Stenographers and typists 209 14 59 89
Washington department stores 252 23 82 . . . .

Those clerical occupations for which data are available pay wages at a rate that does not differ materially from the ordinary wage rates of semi-skilled and skilled labor. Three quarters of the male clerks receive less than $1,000 per year, while less than 10 per cent, are paid more than $1,250. For females the rates are much lower. The proportion of women who receive less than $750 for clerical work is approximately the same as the proportion of men who receive less than $1,250. The woman in a clerical position who receives more than $1,000 is the exception, just as the man who receives less than $500 is the exception. At the same time, a large percentage of the women receive less than this figure, while a considerable proportion of the men receive more than $1,000. In only a small proportion of the instances does the wage rate among male clerks rise above $1,250; in an even smaller number of instances do wage rates of female clerks rise above $750.

 

V. The Income of Wage-earners in Transportation and Commerce

One of the most unsatisfactory situations which an analysis of wage statistics reveals, is the paucity of the wage figures relating to transportation and commerce. It is in these fields that inquisitorial bodies have the greatest authority; yet it is in these fields, strangely enough, that the wage statistics are least satisfactory. With the exception of the Census volumes for 1913 on express, and telephone and telegraph, and of a special report by the Bureau of Labor on the telephone industry, there is little or nothing of note.

The wages in the railroad industry, employing as it does more than a million and a half persons, are stated only as averages. The excuse for this statement of railroad wages in terms of averages—it requires some excuse, for, though the averages are given by districts and for ten wage-earning occupations and two groups of miscellaneous wage-earners, these again classified by districts and by the class of railroads, they are still averages, and therefore suffer under all of the disqualifications that averages are heir to—seems to be that the length of time and the conditions of the work done by different employees vary so greatly that no classified statement could do justice to the situation. Pursuant of such philosophy the Interstate Commerce Commission has done, under the circumstances, the most misleading thing that it could possibly have done—that is, it has published averages; and the State Railroad Commissions, following the footsteps which, unknown to them, led so directly into this statistical quagmire, also have published nothing but averages.

Granted that, in the case of railroad employees, the classified or group system of stating wages is inaccurate, how much more inaccurate does the average become? Instead of accepting errors at their face value, the average thus obtained compounds and augments error. Nor is this a case in which errors tend to neutralize each other. What avails an average of the wages of switch tenders in Maine and in Ohio? What avails an average wage for "all other employees and laborers," including for the United States nearly a third of a million men? The method carries its own refutation. Except as a basis of comparison from year to year, the figures are meaningless and absurd.

The difficulties lying in the path of obtaining classified wages for railroad employees do not seem to be so great as the protestors claim them to be. Why should not the Interstate Commerce Commission secure from each railroad a statement for the first week in June and December showing the number of employees of each class who had earned during that week less than $5, $5 but less than $6, $6 but less than $7, $7 but less than $8, and so on through the category? If the system of payment by months is so prevalent as to make the weekly statement impossible, a statement for an entire month would be even more satisfactory than a statement for a week only. The time would be longer and the results more representative.

At this point it must suffice to say that the average figures for wages on American railroads seem, for the most part, typical of the average wages reported in the manufacturing and other like industries. With the exception of enginemen, conductors and machinists (who constitute 9 per cent, of the total number of employees, and whose wages average in the first two cases over $4, and in the last over $3), no group of employees reports an average wage of more than $3. For three groups the average is less than $2; for three groups it is between $2 and $2.49, and for three other groups it falls between $2.50 and $2.99. An analysis of average wages in those manufacturing industries which are similar in character to the work done on the railroad, shows that the averages are approximately similar.[23] With the exception of the three high-paid occupations mentioned above, railroad wages are, to all appearances, on a level with other wages in the community.

The telephone and telegraph industry offers some excellent wage data. The Oklahoma Department of Labor publishes some figures on wages in the telephone industry. Of 660 male wage-earners, 27 per cent, received less than $500; 78 per cent., less than $750, and 95 per cent, less than $1,000. The wage rates for females are much lower. There were 1,143 employed. The wage rates of 17 per cent, were under $250, 96 per cent, under $500, and 99 per cent, under $750.[24]

The wage figures published by the Bureau of Labor[25] are taken from the pay rolls of the company, and represent, as accurately as wage figures may, the situation on the company's books in 1908. In general, the wage scale in the telephone industry is much higher than the scale in most other industries.[26] The wages in nine typical occupations (cable splicers, chauffeurs, drivers and stablemen, installers, inspectors, laborers, repairmen, switchboard men, testers and trouble men) show a considerable uniformity.[27] Only 10 men (they were all in one class, "inspectors") were receiving wages of more than $125 per month ($1,500 per year); two fifths received less than $750; four fifths received less than $1,000. If the laborers are eliminated, the range for the other occupations is greatly advanced. The great bulk of installers, inspectors, repairman, switchboard men, testers and trouble men earn from $750 to $1,000.

The figures for transportation and commerce permit of no further generalization than this—so far as the data at hand may be relied upon, those occupations which have counterparts in manufacturing industries apparently pay about the same rate of wages. At the same time, there are in this field a number of highly skilled occupations which pay wages far above the usual run of wage rates. Even in these high-paid occupations, however, only a small proportion of male employees receive over $1,000; about an equal proportion of female employees receive over $750. Here and there a male employee is paid over $1,500 per year, and a female employee over $1,000 per year. These cases are so rare as to be unique.

 

VI. The Income of Wage-earners in the Mercantile Industry

The wage figures for the mercantile industry are even less conclusive than those for transportation and commerce. Their inconclusiveness has far more excuse for existence, however. Until recently the mercantile industry has been conducted on a small scale. The individual proprietor is still the dominating force in many fields. In no sense have the mercantile trades been organized as the railroads and the steel industry are organized. At the same time, organization is becoming the rule of the road, and the mercantile industry is rapidly shaping itself into a highly developed business. Meanwhile, the meager data on wages in the mercantile houses are indicative, though not in any sense conclusive.

The last report from California gives in elaborate detail the facts regarding the wholesale and retail mercantile establishments.[28] Although the figures are scattering, a summary for San Francisco and Los Angeles (the two chief mercantile centers) gives the following results for male employees.

The contrast between the wages of males and of females is sharp indeed. While only a tenth of the males receive less than $500 per year, and only a third less than $750, a tenth of the females in retail establishments receive less than $250; from a fifth to two fifths receive less than $500; and from three fifths to four fifths fall under $750.

The wage rates for both sexes are higher in wholesale than they are in retail establishments. This is more true in the case of males than of females, although it is striking in both instances. It is also interesting to observe that the wage rates in San Francisco do not differ materially from those of Los Angeles.[29]

Table III

Wage Rates of Males, California, 1911
Retail Establishments

Total
Employed
Per Cent, of Employees Earning Wage
Rates Per Year Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000
San Francisco 5,389 4 14 29 57
Los Angeles 6,277 3 10 37 71
 

Wholesale Establishments, Males

Total
Employed
Per Cent, of Employees Earning Wage
Rates Per Year Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000
San Francisco 8,300 1 7 23 52
Los Angeles 4,820 . . . . . . . 6 29 51
 

The Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards reports on the wages of 3,761 women and on the annual earnings of 1,533 who were employed throughout the year. Many of the department-store employees not employed throughout the year leave for new positions, or are laid off in the dull season. All hut 33 of the 1,533 women employed throughout the year earned less than $500 per year. The hour rates of all of the 3,761 women show practically the same ratio.

Two other sources of information yield similar results. A well-made study of saleswomen and other mercantile employees, not including buyers or clerical assistants, was made in Baltimore by Elizabeth B. Butler. The total number of women covered by the investigation was 4,048. Of these women, 2,184, or 54 per cent., received a rate of pay of less than $250 per year, while 95 per cent, were paid less than $500.[30] These rates are apparently slightly below the rates in Washington. Among 1,760 saleswomen in the Washington stores, a quarter received less than $250, while less than nine tenths fell below $500.[31] Comparative studies indicate that the department store employees are paid at a higher rate than factory employees. Unfortunately the variations of age between the two occupations have not generally been taken into account. An Illinois investigation covering 2,556 department store employees showed that a twentieth received less than a $250 wage rate, and half less than a $500 year rate. On the other hand, a fifth of the wage rates were over $750.[32]

It seems evident that for most saleswomen in eastern mercantile stores, wage rates of more than $500 per year ($10 per week) are out of the question. The great bulk of them are paid from $250 to $500.

 

VII. The Incomes of Wage-Earners in Certain Manufacturing Industries

Whatever their failure to provide adequate statistics covering wages in other gainful occupations, state and federal authorities have vied with one another in their efforts to prepare wage statistics for the manufacturing industries. The figures are as yet far from complete; there are still many loopholes through which unjustifiable conclusions may slip unaware; yet, all things considered, the wage figures for the manufacturing industries are far superior to those for other occupations. They point the way, showing what may be done in the compilation of wage data.

Convenience leads to a grouping of the figures for manufacturing industries into three classes. Those for special industries, such as steel, textiles, etc.; and those for certain states which publish the best wage statistics; and those published by the Census.

The past three years have added materially to the statistics for special industries. The public demand for facts which arose out of labor disturbances, and the activity of certain public commissions vested with inquisitorial power, have led to the collection of considerable wage data of the greatest value. These data are peculiarly important because in many cases the investigation has been made from the pay rolls of the company or industry in question. In certain cases these pay-roll data have been extensively compared with pay envelopes. The purpose of this section will be served by a review of only the most important of the recent wage investigations.

The most complete, and in all ways the most satisfactory, of the recent studies is that of the iron and steel industry, appearing in four volumes.[33] Each occupation in the steel industry was carefully studied. The investigation included plants in every part of the country, and was minute and painstaking in the last degree. In so far as the wage figures are important at this point, they may be briefy summarized as follows: The investigation covered 172,706 employees; their wage rates per year (computed from the per hour rates given for May, 1910) were, under $500, 8 per cent.; under $750, 60 per cent.; under $1,000, 85 per cent.; and under $1,500, 97 per cent.[34] These rates are somewhat higher than the rates previously derived for Bethlehem,[35] where the wage rates for that one plant were (January, 1910) in a third of the instances less than $500 per year, in two thirds of the instances less than $625, and in only 8 per cent, of the instances $1,000 and over. In explaining this difference allowance must be made for the fact that the Bethlehem works are in a small city, while many of the plants are located in great centers of population.

Although the wages in the iron and steel industry are higher than the wages paid in many American industries, they seem fairly representative of the situation in those branches of manufacturing which afford employment to men only. In the industry where women as well as men are employed, the wage scale is lower. The wage formula for the steel industry may be taken as a representative of the man-employing industries.

Labor troubles and tariff controversies have combined to attract public attention to the wage rates paid in the textile industries, consequently the data for these industries are now fairly well authenticated. The Tariff Board made an extensive investigation of wage rates in the cotton industry.[36] The information, secured from 76 establishments, covered 18.67 per cent, of all cotton spinning and weaving employees enumerated by the Census (p. 633). An arbitrary division between the northern and southern mills draws a line of marked distinction as to wages. Among the males sixteen years of age and over, in the north 5 per cent., and in the south 22 per cent., received a wage of less than $250. Half of the northern men and over four fifths of the southern men were paid at a rate of less than $500 per year. The highest wage rate in the schedule was twenty-eight cents per hour (about $750 per year). In the north 6 per cent., and in the south 3 per cent., earned more than this amount. The figures for women range much lower than the figures for men. The highest class in the women's schedule is eighteen cents per hour (about $500 per year). In the north, one fifth, and in the south, two per cent., receive more than this amount.

These rates for the cotton industry are similar to those for the woolen and worsted industry. The Tariff Board reports for dyeing and finishing woolens and worsteds[37] that the wages of male dyers are in four fifths of the cases under $500, and in nine tenths of the cases under $700. The highest wage class given in this schedule is twenty-five cents per hour (about $700 per year). Eight per cent, of the male dyers, 15 per cent, of the male finishers, and 3 per cent, of the female finishers received wage rates above that amount. This investigation is obviously faulty in the comparatively small proportion of the employees included. It is suggestive, however; and corroborated as it is by the records of other investigations, it must go almost unchallenged.

The report on the wages in the woolen, worsted and cotton mills of Lawrence, Mass.,[38] (November, 1911) is corroborative, for one town, of the general situation as suggested by the Tariff Board's general report. Half of the men received a wage rate of less than $500; seven eighths, of less than $600. More than four fifths of the women fell in the group under $500, and 94 per cent, received less than $600. The schedule grouped all earnings above $600 in one class. These figures represent the actual earnings of males and females eighteen years of age and over during one month in 1911.

Similar wages were compiled for the textile mills (largely hosiery mills) of Little Falls, N. Y.[39] These figures represent actual earnings during parts of September, 1912. Among the total of males employed, three fifths earned at the rate of less than $500, while nine tenths earned at the rate of less than $750 per year. Of the 2,736 women, 99.8 per cent, earned at the rate of less than $750 per year, while three quarters fell below $500. This period under investigation is described by the report as one of normal working conditions.

The inferences from these figures for special towns are corroborated, in large measure, by the special publication of the United States Department of Labor, dealing with the textile industry. These figures, while incomplete and open to question because of the uncertainty as to the manner in which the factories and employments under consideration were selected, are nevertheless suggestive of the general situation. In the cotton industry, three fifths of the males, and four fifths of the females received wage rates of $500 per year; while 97 per cent, of the males, and 99 per cent, of the females had wage rates of less than $750 per year.[40] The wage rates in the woolen industry are considerably higher, though at about the same level as that for the special reports. The wage rates reported for the textile industries in Massachusetts and New Jersey amply confirm the results derived in these special investigations.

The textile industries show an unusually low scale. Practically none of the men receive more than $1,000; with the exception of woolen finishers, only a tenth receive more than $750. Among the women the rates are even lower. For them a wage over $750 is not found much oftener than once in a hundred times, while a wage of less than $500 is paid in three fourths or four fifths of the cases.

Although so many data have been compiled for textiles, the other industries have not been neglected. A number of wage figures are available for lumber and kindred industries. The Tariff Board published a report on the wages for certain selected occupations in the paper industry,[41] and the Bureau of Labor has a study of wages in the lumber and furniture industries. The men employed in the paper industry receive rates of less than $750 in four fifths of the instances, and of less than $1,000 in nineteen twentieths of the instances. The wage rates in the lumber, millwork, and furniture industries are approximately the same as those for pulp and paper, although lumber falls lower than either of the other two. Two fifths of the men in the lumber industry receive less than $500 per year; nine tenths receive less than $750. Millworkers receive less than $750 in three fifths of the cases, and less than $1,000 in three fourths; while furniture makers (male) receive less than $750 in half of the cases, and less than $1,000 in nine tenths of the cases.

The data presented by the Department of Labor for the clothing industry are so meager as to be almost unusable. The total number of persons included in the statement is six thousand women, and seven thousand men.[42] Since there is no certainty as to the manner in which the selection was made, and since there is little or no corroborating evidence, the material must be passed over.

The study of wages in the cigar industry, which the Department presents, is somewhat more illuminating, because it is more careful and detailed.ibid., pp. 5-25. Still, the number of employees for whom evidence is submitted is woefully small. Among the 3,615 males, three tenths received a wage of less than $750, and half a wage under $1,000, Four fifths of the 7,551 females received less than $750. Any one who takes the pains to examine these figures can not help feeling that they do not adequately represent the cigar industry.

An interesting analysis of the work of women in the finishing department of the glass industry appeared in connection with the study of "Woman and Child Wage-Earners." The study, which covered the glass industry with a degree of thoroughness, shows 2,774 women engaged in finishing, for whom satisfactory data could be secured. The chief interest in these figures lies, not in the wage scale which they reveal—there is nothing unusual in that—but in the fact that Mr. Manly, in making the study, procured for this group of women the actual earnings, as well as the wage rates. Thus far, in the course of this study, wage rates have been considered almost exclusively, and the yearly rate has been derived by multiplying the weekly wage rate by fifty-two, and the monthly wage rate by twelve. Under these circumstance, no allowance is made for loss of time due to sickness, shortage of orders, and other causes of unemployment. The following table for the glass industry makes the contrast in excellent form:

Table IV
Earnings of Women in the Finishing Department of the Glass Industry
[43]

Total Em-
ployed
Earnings per Year of Less Than
$250 $500 $500 and Over
Full time 2,774 38.9 97.4 2.6
Actual earnings 2,774 56.5 98.1 1.9

The wage scale shown by this table for the glass industry would lead one to conclude that two fifths of the women were receiving less than $250 per year. As a matter of fact, the proportion of women whose earnings were less than $350 per year was nearly three fifths. Deductions in one form or another nearly always drag a wage scale considerably below its face value.

The wages actually paid in the Chicago slaughtering and meat packing industry are given in a most satisfactory way by J. C. Kennedy in a recent study. Mr. Kennedy obtained access to the pay rolls, and was thus able to discover the wages actually paid during a long period. The figures are peculiarly interesting, relating, as they do, to one of the chief centers in which one of the great industries in the country is carried on. It is, indeed, difficult to overemphasize their importance as portraying the present income situation in a leading industry.

Table V
Weekly Wages Actually Paid in Certain Packing Plants of Chicago
[44]

Total
Employed
Per Cent. Receiving Wages per Year of Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000
Males 7,096 12 39 83 96
Females 1,064 27 92 99 . .

A quarter of the women and a tenth of the men are paid less than a $250 rate; two fifths of the men and nine tenths of the women fall under $500. These figures would be further modified if they made allowances for unemployment throughout the year. As they stand they are the result of a simple process of multiplication.

The wage rates for the manufacturing industries are, for convenience, summarized in Tables VI. and VII. Practically all of the figures show wage rates rather than earnings.

 

Table VI

Compensation Wages foe Male Wage-earners in Certain Manufacturing Industries
Total
Employed
Per Cent, of Males Receiving Wage
Rates Per Year of Lets Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000 $1,250 $1,500
Iron and steel industry (1910) 172,706 . . . . 8 60 85 . . . . 97
Textiles—cotton (1910-11),
North 11,041 5 54 94 . . . . . . . . . . . .
South 3,784 22 85 97 . . . . . . . . . . . .
Woolen and worsted (1910-11),
Dyeing 791 . . . . 87 92 . . . . . . . . . . . .
Finishing 1,644 2 76 85 . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lawrence (1911) 11,075 5 56 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Little Falls (1912) 2,502 7 63 87 96 . . . . . . . .
Woolen (Bureau of Labor 1910-11) 17,178 1 30 77 97 . . . . . . . .
Cotton (Bureau of Labor 1910-11) 28,478 8 57 97 . . . . . . . . . . . .
Pulp and paper industry (1910) 9,173 . . . . 32 83 94 96 96
Lumber (1910-11) 59,228 . . . . 39 91 96 . . . . 99
Mill work (1910-11) 32,405 . . . . 14 57 74 . . . . 98
Furniture (1910-11) 34,095 . . . . 10 47 93 . . . . 99
Cigar (1910-11) 3,615 . . . . 6 29 53 . . . . 96
Meat packing (1910-11) 7,096 12 39 83 96 . . . . . . . .
 

Table VII

Compensation Bates for Female Wage-earners in Certain Manufacturing Industries
Total
Employed
Per Cent, of Females Receiving
Wage Rates Per Year of
Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000
Textiles—cotton (1910-11)
North 12,424 9 81 . . . . . . . .
South 2,337 47 97 . . . . . . . .
Woolen and worsted (1910-11), Finishing 2,886 13 86 97 . . . .
Lawrence (1911) 8,320 8 86 . . . . . . . .
Little Falls (1912) 2,736 13 78 99.8 . . . .
Woolen (Bureau of Labor 1910-11) 18,144 5 53 97 . . . .
Cotton (Bureau of Labor 1910-11) 38,445 19 83 99 . . . .
Cigar (1910-11) 7,551 11 44 86 96
Glass finishing (1909) 2,774 39 97 . . . . . . . .
Meat packing (1910) 1,064 27 92 99 . . . .

There is every difficulty in the way of generalizing from these scattered instances. On the face of the returns, the wages for men are much higher than the wages for women. Both appear distributed over the wage scale in varying proportions, depending upon the industry. With the exception of the finishing departments of the woolen mills, the wages paid in the textile industry appear to be lower than those paid in any other of these industries; the wage rates fall in the vast majority of instances for the men, under $1,000, and for the women, under $750. In most industries, from a third to a half of the men receive less than $500; and usually at least three quarters receive less than $750. Four fifths of the women are paid less than $500. Women working in the manufacturing industries receive, for the most part, wages varying from $250 to $500.

 

VIII. Wage Rates Paid in the Manufacturing Industries, as Reported by Certain States and by the United States Census

Much emphasis has been placed upon the wage figures derived in the course of special wage investigations, because in most cases these figures represent actual conditions at a definite time. There remain the general figures for manufacturing industries published by certain states and by the United States Census Bureau. In neither case do these figures materially alter the conclusions which were derived as a result of the study of special wage investigations.

The wage facts secured by many states are grossly inadequate.[45] Nevertheless, there is a growing body of usable information relative to the wage scales paid in certain states. As regards the excellency of their figures, New Jersey and Massachusetts are well in the lead. Several other states are making strenuous efforts to duplicate or better their good work.

The state wage figures are usually given in two forms. First, in the form of wages for the entire state; and second, in the form of wages for certain industries. Several states present, in addition, wages for the larger cities. The figures for the entire state are meaningless in one sense, because of the great diversity of industries. In another sense, they are profoundly significant. The wage statistics, for example, of Massachusetts show for six hundred thousand men and women (out of a total population of 3,366,416 in 1910) what the wage scale is in the manufacturing industries. There could be no more effective metrical test applied to the community, unless the actual family incomes were measured. The wage scale for the manufacturing industries of a manufacturing state shows at least roughly the economic background of the people living in the State. For both New Jersey and Massachusetts, two of the six leading manufacturing states, there are extant sufficient wage figures to paint the economic background of the great body of the industrial population in these states.

An examination of the figures for various states, and for all of the leading industries of the country, corroborates the conclusions already made from the special reports. The wage rates are such that, making no allowance for unemployment, about one tenth of the males receive more than $1,000 per year, and about one eighth of the females more than $500 per year. At the same time, from a quarter to a third of the males receive less than $500 per year, and from a tenth to a fifth of the females receive less than $250 per year. Thus the great bulk of the males are paid wage rates varying from $500 to $1,000, while the great bulk of the females are paid wage rates of from $250 to $500. To this general statement, Oklahoma and California are exceptions. The wage rates there are considerably higher than in the east.

The figures for the manufacturing industries, in the states compiling such figures, include practically all of the persons occupied in the manufacturing industries within a given state. The Census figures include only a fraction of the employees engaged in the manufacturing industry. The Census figures are interesting chiefly because they include a wide geographical range. They virtually cover an industry for the entire country. They differ in no essential particular from the conclusions already derived from the state and special wage figures.

 

IX. The Income of Wage-Earners Engaged in Public Utilities

Recent studies have made available a few figures which show the scale of wages paid by public utilities. These wages are higher than the wages for industry in general, but they are not materially higher than the wages paid in the other man-employing industries.

Three states (New York, Oklahoma and Kansas) publish wage rates for public utilities. The New York figures are for the First District. There were in 1911 38,139 employees on the street railways of the First District. Of this number the wages of 9,635 men employed by "selected" companies are tabulated. Of the total, 5 per cent, received less than $500 per year; two fifths received less than $750; and nine tenths received less than $1,000.[46] The gas and electric companies in the same district report the employment of 16,741 men, for whom the range of wages is considerably higher than the range for street railway employees. Eight per cent, were receiving wage rates under $500, 45 per cent, under $750, three quarters under $1,000, and nine tenths under $1,250.[47]

The figures for the two Western States differ little from those for New York. The Oklahoma report, covering 1,129 adult males engaged in public utilities, gives the wage rates for two thirds as under $750, and nine tenths as under $1,000.[48] In Kansas, of the 702 adult males reported as employed, three quarters received less than $750, and 95 per cent, less than $1,000.[49]

The compensation rates of persons employed in public utilities are fairly uniform. These occupations apparently range among the better paid occupations of the country. The following summary shows the available figures:

Table VIII
Compensation Rate for Male Wage-earners in Public Utilities

Total
Employed
Per Cent, of Males Receiving
Wage Rates per Year of
Less Than
$500 $750 $1,000 $1,250
New York (First District),
Street Railway 9,635 6 42 89 . . . .
Gas and Electric 16,741 8 45 76 88
Oklahoma 1,129 7 65 89 . . . .
Kansas 702 24 74 95 . . . .
 

X. The Wage Rates for Mines and Quarries

The volume of the Thirteenth Census devoted to mines and quarries omitted any statement of classified wages. The only general data on the subject appear in the special Census report on mines and quarries issued in 1902.[50] The data contained in this volume are now so thoroughly out of date that only a brief reference to them will be made.

There were in 1903 581,728 wage-earners engaged in the production of all forms of minerals. The wage rates per day of these men are given by industries, by occupations, and by geographical divisions.

The tables showing the classified earnings of all wage-earners in the mining industry report 16 per cent, of the men as receiving less than $1.74 per day ($500 a year); 62 per cent, received less than $2.49 per day ($750 per year); and 93 per cent, received less than $3.49 per day ($1,050 per year). This showing, on its face, makes the wage scale in the mining industry correspond rather closely with that in the manufacturing and mercantile industries.

One further fact of the greatest significance must be borne in mind,—the ratio of unemployment in the mining industry, particularly in the coal-mining industry, is comparatively high.[51] The federal report on the production of coal in 1910[52] shows an average number of days worked in the bituminous coal mines of 217 out of a possible 306, and in the anthracite coal mines of 229 out of a possible 306 days. Under the circumstances it is not fair to make a direct comparison between the wage rates in manufacturing and in mining, derived by multiplying the day rate by 306. The proportion of unemployment, particularly in the coal mining industries, is very much higher.

Almost one half of the total number of persons employed in mining in 1902 were in the bituminous coal mines. Of the bituminous coal miners, 280,638, only 9 per cent., were paid less than $1.75 per day; 20 per cent, were paid less than $2.00 per day; 58 per cent, were paid less than $2.50 per day; and 95 per cent, were paid less than $3.50 per day. The rates of pay for anthracite coal mining (employing 69,691 men) were very much lower than the rates for bituminous coal mining. Thirty-one per cent, of the anthracite coal miners received less than $1.75 per day; 46 per cent, received less than $2.00 per day; 74 per cent, received less than $2.50 per day; and 95 per cent, received less than $3.50 per day.

The production of iron ore involved the employment of 38,851 men. These were paid less than $1.75 in 22 per cent, of the cases, less than $2,00 in 37 per cent, of the cases, less than $2.50 in 78 per cent, of the cases, and less than $3.50 in 99 per cent, of the cases.

Among the 36,142 wage-earners engaged in gold and silver mining, 2 per cent, were paid less than $1.75; 8 per cent, were paid less than $2.50; and 67 per cent, were paid less than $3.50, There is thus a marked variation in the wage rates paid for mining in the different mining industries. The fairest comparison, if a comparison between wages in manufacturing and wages in mining industries is to be made, must recognize the geographical wage variations. Most of the wages from manufacturing industries relate to the North Atlantic and the North Central States. An examination of the figures for mining shows that the wage rates paid in these states are considerably lower than the wage rates in the Western States, where smelting and refining are the chief mining industries. Two fifths of the wage-earners employed in mines and quarries in the United States were in the North Atlantic States; a third were in the North Central States; and only an eighth were in the Western States. The great bulk of the mining work la therefore carried on in the North Central States,

The wages in the North Atlantic Division relate to coal mining, chiefly. They are somewhat lower than the wages reported for the North Central States, as appears in the following comparison:

Table IX

Wage Rate Per Day
Less Than
North Atlantic
Division
North Central
Division
$1.75 20 per Cent.  6 Per Cent.
$2.00 36 Per Cent. 19 Per Cent.
$2.50 69 Per Cent. 63 Per Cent.
$3.50 95 Per Cent. 96 Per Cent.

Although these figures for mines and quarries are so far out of date that no well-marked conclusions may be based on them, they indicate that in the mining industry wage rates are comparatively similar to the rates in the manufacturing industries in like geographical sections.

 

XI. Service Incomes in Organized Industry

The figures cited in this chapter are far from conclusive. They are, in many cases, woefully incomplete. They cover only a part of the industries in which men and women are gainfully employed. The most surprising thing about the figures is their uniformity. Collected by different organizations, and under essentially varied conditions, the product of general state and federal inquiry and of specific individual wage investigations, the figures agree marvelously. Wages in the west are generally higher than wages in the east.[53] Throughout the country lying east of the Rocky Mountains, and in the industrial sections lying north of the Mason and Dixon Line, the facts appear to be unquestionable and unquestioned. Subsequent investigation will reveal minor variations, but the large wage facts will still stand as they do in these summaries.

A comparatively small percentage of the persons gainfully employed in modern organized industry are on a salary basis. Of those so classified, the great proportion are foremen, assistant superintendents and managers, and clerks, whose salaries, for the most part, differ little from the salaries of the better-paid wage-earners. A small proportion of them are paid more than $1,000 per year, and a vanishing number receive more than $1,500. The vast majority of those gainfully employed in organized industry, certainly 95 per cent., are paid a wage or its equivalent. The figures showing that wage appear in the following brief summary:

 

Table X
Compensation Rates for Males in Certain Groups of Occupations

Per Cent, of Males Receiving Wage Rates
per Year of Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000 $1,250 $1,500
Bell Telephone System Leading Occupations (1908) . . . . 5 40 80 . . . . 99
Mercantile establishments, California (1911-12) . . . . 10 30 55 . . . . . . . .
Iron and steel, United States (1910) . . . . 10 60 85 . . . . 97
Textiles (1910-12) . . . . 60 90 95 . . . . . . . .
Miscellaneous (1910-11) . . . . 30 60 90 . . . . 98
Manufacturing:
Massachusetts (1910) 1 34 71 91 . . . . . . . .
New Jersey (1911) 2 36 71 89 . . . . . . . .
Kansas (1909) 2 26 70 91 . . . . . . . .
Wisconsin (1909) 2 32 77 94 . . . . 99
Oklahoma (1911) 1 17 68 90 . . . . . . . .
California (1911) 2 7 30 63 . . . . . . . .
Census (1905) 8 47 79 94 . . . . . . . .

The conclusions from these figures are inevitable. The great majority (almost nine tenths) of the adult males receive wage rates of $1,000 per year, or less. An equal proportion of females receive less than $750.

 

Table XI
Compensation Rates foe Females in Certain Groups of Occupations

Per Cent, of Females Receiving Wage
Rates Per Year of Less Than
$250 $500 $750 $1,000
Mercantile establishments:
California cities (1911-12):
Retail 10 35 75 95
Wholesale 3 20 60 90
Baltimore stores, Saleswomen (1909) 54 95 99 . . . . .
Washington stores. Saleswomen (1912) 25 87 . . . . . . . . . .
Textile manufacturing (1911-12) 15 85 98 . . . . .
Miscellaneous (1909-11) 25 90 98 . . . . .
Manufacturing:
Massachusetts (1910) 7 79 99 . . . . .
New Jersey (1911) 17 86 98 99
Kansas (1909) 25 88 98 100
Wisconsin (1909) 32 93 98 99
Oklahoma (1911) 8 84 97 99
California (1911) 9 40 82 97
Census (1905) 34 92 99 . . . . .

The wage rates of four fifths of the males fall below $750; a third below $500. Among female wage-earners the scale is much lower. Three quarters or four fifths are paid less than $500 per year. These statements make no allowance for unemployment, which is a constant irreducible factor. Unemployment due to lack of work alone is generally met with.[54] Add to this the unemployment produced by sickness, accidents and other personal causes, and the proportion is still higher.

These facts make one thing impossible. Hereafter no one need discourse at length on the theme of the spendthrift laborer and the ensuing hardship of his family. The wage scale of the country is so adjusted at the present time that the vast majority of the recipients of wages and salaries are paid a wage which, when compared with the cost of a decent or fair standard of living, appears in many instances insufficient, and in many others, barely adequate, to procure the decencies of life. The time may come when the laborer's condition is due to his extravagance and lack of foresight. For the present, the scale of service income offers an explanation so telling that it would require hardihood of unusual type to saddle even a major portion of the blame for the situation on the individual worker.

 

  1. Annual Report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners of Iowa, 1911, Des Moines, 1913, p. 498.
  2. Ibid., p. 516.
  3. Statistics of the Railways of the United States, 1911, Interstate Commerce Commission, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, p. 28.
  4. This computation is made because of general usage by virtue of which clerks are paid by the month. Their yearly earnings are usually less than those of the better-paid wage-earners.
  5. Ibid., p. 29.
  6. "Street and Electric Railways," 1907, Special Report of the Census, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910, p. 195.
  7. Thirteenth Census of the United States, Volume VIII., Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, p. 129.
  8. "Mines and Quarries," 1902, Special Report of the United States, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1905, p. 91.
  9. Biennial Report for 1911-12, Sacramento, 1912.
  10. Statistics of Railways, 1913, op. cit., pp. 26 and 28.
  11. Investigation of Telephone Companies, United States Bureau of Labor, Senate Document 380, 61st Congress, 2d Session, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1910, pp. 273-89.
  12. Report of the Public Service Commission, First District of New York, 1911, Volume III., p. 275.
  13. Statistics of Railways, 1911, op. cit., pp. 26 and 28.
  14. "Wages in the United States," Scott Nearing, New York, Macmillan Co., 1911, Chapter 8.
  15. Investigation of Telephone Companies, op. cit., pp. 273-89.
  16. Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of New York, First District, 1911, Volume II.
  17. For convenience of comparison, the figures given in the remainder of this study are stated, for the most part, in the following classification:

    Per Cent, of Persons Receiving Wage Rates Per Year of Less Than

    $250$500$750$1,000

    The percentage basis is substituted for the numerical basis because it results in greater clearness. The classification per year rather than month, week, or day, is adopted, because the figures appearing in the reports as rates per hour, day, week and year, can be reduced to a rate per year more readily than to any other rate. Observe that these figures do not represent earnings per year. No allowance is made for unemployment in any of its forms. The rate per week or per month is multiplied by 52, or by 12, in order to give a year rate. The reduction of all of the figures to a common basis militates somewhat against their accuracy (as when a per hour rate is converted into a yearly rate), but adds greatly to their clearness.

  18. Ibid., p. 334.
  19. Ibid., pp. 272-74.
  20. Ibid., p. 129.
  21. General Report on Manufactures, Thirteenth Census, Volume VIII., p. 239.
  22. "Hours, Earnings and Employment of Wage Earning Women in the District of Columbia," United States Department of Labor, Bulletin 116, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, pp. 22 and 23.
  23. "Wages in the United States," op. cit., Chapter 7 and Chapter 9, Section II.
  24. Annual Report of the Department of Labor of Oklahoma, 1911-12, p. 232.
  25. Investigation of Telephone Companies, 1910, op. cit.
  26. "Wages in the United States," op. cit., pp. 96-108.
  27. Investigation of Telephone Companies, op. cit., pp. 273-289.
  28. Biennial Report for 1911-12, Sacramento, 1912. Figures compiled from, the tables.
  29. The reader should bear in mind the fact that wages in California are perhaps a fifth or a fourth higher than wages for corresponding occupations in the East.
  30. "Saleswomen in Mercantile Stores," E. B. Butler, Baltimore, 1909, New York, Charities Publication Committee, 1912.
  31. "Hours, Earnings and Employment of Wage-earning Women in the District of Columbia," op. cit., pp. 22 and 23.
  32. Biennial Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 111., 1908, Springfield, 1910, pp. 413-592.
  33. Report on Conditions of Employment in the Iron and Steel Industry in the United States in four volumes, 62d Congress, 1st Session, Senate Document 110, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912.
  34. Summary of Wages and Hours of Labor in the Iron and Steel Industry, United States Department of Labor, Senate Document 301, 62d Congress, 2d Session, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912.
  35. "Wages in the United States," op. cit., pp. 108-112.
  36. Report of the Tariff Board on Cotton Manufactures, 62d Congress, 2d Session, House Document 643, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912, Volume II., pp. 637-651.
  37. Export of the Tariff Board on Schedule K, House Document 342, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912, Volume II., pp. 810-811.
  38. Report on the Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, Mass., Charles P. Neill, Senate Document 870, 62d Congress, 2d Session, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1912.
  39. "The Little Falls Textile Dispute," New York State Department of Labor, Advance Report of the Bulletin for March, 1913, Albany, 1913, pp. 10-11.
  40. "Wages and Hours of Labor in the Cotton, Woolen and Silk Industries," United States Department of Labor, Bulletin 128, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, pp. 30-34.
  41. Report on Paper and News-print Paper Industry, 62d Congress, 1st Session, Senate Document 31, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1911, p. 111.
  42. "Wages and Hours of Labor in the Cigar and Clothing Industries, 1911 and 1912," United States Department of Labor, Bulletin 135, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, pp. 25-80.
  43. "Woman and Child Wage-earners in the United States," Charles P. Neill, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913, Volume III., p. 405.
  44. "Wages and Family Budgets in the Chicago Stock Yards District," J. C. Kennedy, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1914, p. 12.
  45. "Wages in the United States," op. cit., Chapters 1 and 2.
  46. Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of New York, op. cit., pp. 334-339.
  47. Ibid., Volume III., pp. 280.
  48. Annual Report of the Department of Labor, Oklahoma, 1911-32, p. 209.
  49. Annual Report, Kansas Bureau of Labor, 1909, Topeka, 1910, p. 21.
  50. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1905, pp. 90-101.
  51. "Unemployment in the United States," Scott Nearing, Quarterly Publications of American Statistical Association, Volume II., September, 1909, p. 534.
  52. "Mineral Resources of the United States," Washington, Government Printing Office, 1911, p. 41.
  53. "Wages in the United States," op. cit., Chapter 8.
  54. An idea of the extent of unemployment may be gained from the reports of the New Jersey and the Massachusetts Labor Bureaus, showing the number of days worked in the various industries. See Bureau of Statistics of New Jersey, 1913, Paterson, 1914, pp. 125-128. Also Statistics of Manufactures for 1911, Bureau of Statistics for Massachusetts, Public Document 36, Boston, 1913, p. 137.