Jessie Fothergill.

The Encyclopædia Britannica : a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information (Volume 32) online

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the principal districts from 1909 to 1917 are shown in Table 8.

Table 8. Piece-rates in coal-mines (expressed as percentages of
their amount) in July 1914.





-o




.1










c




+J






Si




l2




tfi






a




1




Q


J




o

r>




i




"S


j2


o


a




3
H


03

J3


1

o


j=


c


|

<u




IM

Q


^


o


3


o


c






Q




u.


1


1


CJ

o


End of 1909 .


86


92


91


8 9


86


90


1910 .


87


91


91


91


86


90


1911


84


88


91


90


86


89


1912 . .


92


93


94


95


97


94


July 1914 .


IOO


IOO


IOO


IOO


IOO


IOO


1915


109


107


nsf


in


118


"3


1916 .


141


I2O




132


136


129


Feb. 1917


'47


132


132!


146


136


136



In Sept. 1917 the adjustment by percentages in the different
districts was given up, and, the mines being controlled by the
Government, uniform movements over the whole country were
arranged. In Sept. 1917 and also in June 1918 uniform increases
of is. 6d. per day or shift were granted to all men, and a further
increase of 2s. in Jan. 1919 resulted from the reports of the
Coal Industry Commission. Evidence to this Commission
showed that the average of all workers before the war was 6s. 6d.
per shift and in Nov. 1918 as a result of the percentages increases
and the bonuses of 33. was 123. 6d. In July 1919 the maximum
time of a shift was reduced from eight to seven hours, piece-
rates being increased to compensate for the shorter time. In
March 1920 an increase of 20% on the wages paid before Sept.
1917 was added, bringing the average to nearly i~s. a shift; in
Oct. 1920 after a strike further increases in proportion to any
increase in output were arranged; in the early months of 1921 the
demand for export coal fell off, and when control was removed on
April i the miners refused to work at the lower rates offered.

Iron and Steel Manufacture. Wages in these industries are
generally related by a sliding scale to the selling price of the
product. The movements in different districts have been so
divergent that it is not possible to give a summary account of
their results, but the following figures are illustrative.

In Cleveland (Yorks) ironstone mining, on Aug. 1917 piece-
rates had risen 60% over those of July 1914; from that date to
April 1920 the same additions were made as in coal-mining.

In Cleveland and Durham pig-iron manufacture, blast-furnace
operators' wages were in successive Julys, 1915 to 1919, respec-
tively 8, 31, 44, 57, and 92% above July 1914, and in Oct. 1919
108% above. In Nov. 1919 a new percentage basis was changed.
In addition a bonus of 50!. per shift was added in Feb. 1915 and
raised to tod. in April 1917, and a war wage of is. 6d. per shift
was added in Aug. 1918.

In Northumberland, Durham, and Cleveland iron manufac-
ture, iron millmen's rates were in Julys, 1915 to 1920, respectively
7^> 5) 67J, 82!, 1475, and 187 J% above those of July 1914; some
bonuses were granted but merged in subsequent increases.

Minimum Wage under the Trade Boards Acts. Under the
Trade Boards Act of 1909 minimum wages were established in
the following industries. Chairmaking (1910), lace finishing



WAGES



943



(1911), paper box making (1912), tailoring (1912), confectionery
(1915), shirtmaking (1915), tin box manufacture (1915), hollow
ware (1916). Under a subsequent Act of 1918 new powers were
given to the Ministry of Labour, and a number of other indus-
tries in which the organization of the workers was imperfect
and the wages low were included in the scope of the Acts.
The Acts are not confined to women's wages only, but affect
numbers of men in tailoring and other industries.

The hourly rates fixed in 1912-6 for women varied from 2jd.
to 3id., the lowest in 1914 being zfd. The rates rose gradually
during the war, but in many cases, owing to the higher earnings
possible to women in munitions and other work, more than the
minimum rates were in fact paid. More considerable increases
took place in 1919 and 1920, and by the end of 1920 8|d. or gd.
was the common rate. A normal week, usually 48 hours, has been
fixed, after which higher overtime rates are payable. Piece-rates
arc fixed so as to give an average worker more than the minimum
time-rate.

Wages in other Countries. Apart from the United States, there
are very few authentic computations of the general movement of
wages or earnings during the war. Sporadic statements of
wages in particular industries exist, but they are of little use
when a general view is desired. So- far as the information goes it
indicates that wages in the neutral and Allied countries followed
much the same course as in the United Kingdom. The nominal
weekly rates increased later than prices in 1914-8 and gained
rapidly (in spite of reduction of hours) in 1919-20, till at the be-
ginning of the depression in the autumn of 1920 it was doubtful
whether wages expressed in commodities were higher or lower
than in 1914.

The following paragraphs summarize the available statistics.
For their relation to prices see COST OF LIVING.

Nonvay. Up to the summer of 1918 wages as a whole appear to
have increased about 90% since 1914. For April 1919 we have de-
tailed statements such as follow, which indicate a general increase
of 160 to 180 %. Wage rates are compared with those in 1914 taken as
loo. Bricklayers, urban 254, rural 271 ; carpenters, urban 282, rural
279; bricklayers' labourers, urban 291; excavators, urban 301, rural
281; urban painters 281, bakers 288, shoemakers 309, tailors 244,
carters 282, dressmakers 238, laundry workers 229; agricultural
labourers (not provided with food and lodging) 279 ; State employees,
railway guards, etc., 276, gangers and pointsmen 264, head engine
drivers 231, assistants 261, postmen 258. By new collective agree-
ments in April and May 1919 hourly earnings in factories were
increased till in July 1919 they are stated at 341 (1914 = 100), but
weekly hours were reduced from 55^ to 48. Unskilled labourers' rates
are stated as 388 in Nov. 1919.

Finally an employers' association estimated that in May 1920
skilled adults' hourly wages were 382 in export industries, 398 in
other industries, 349 in handicrafts, and for women generally 407, as
compared with too in 1914.

Denmark. Hourly wages generally: 1914, 100; 1918, second
quarter 170, third quarter 200; 1919, first quarter 224, second 257,
third 338, fourth 352; 1920, first quarter 358, second 376, third 398.
During 1919 daily hours were reduced till they were generally 8 in
1920 as compared with 10 in 1914. In 1919 (third quarter) hourly
wages on the same basis were for male workers, skilled 330, unskilled
366, and for women 353. In April 1920 collective agreements made
future changes proportional to the cost of living.

Greece. The Minister of National Economy (Greece) gives the
figures shown in Table 9 for Athens as corresponding closely with
those for other parts of Greece.

Table Q. Wages in Greece.





Drachmas


Daily wage-earners:


1914


1920


Dockers ....


3-50 to 4


30 to 40


Bricklayers


4 to 4-75


18 to 20


Carpenters


4 to 7


18 to 25


Painters ....


5 to 6-50


20 to 25


Smiths ....


4 to 6


15 to 20


Printers ....


3


171025


Turners ....


3-80 to 6-50


8 to 15


Boiler-makers .


3-50 to 6-50


12 to 15


Fitters ....


2-50 to 6-50


6 to 16


Tailors ....


6 to 7


25


Miners ....


3 to 5


5 to 10


Monthly wage-earners:
Corn mill workers .


100 to 140


305 to 420


Textile operatives .


180 to 200


720 to 820



Germany. It is estimated that earnings including overtime had
increased 34% in industries generally between March 1914 and
Sept. 1916, while hourly rates had probably increased 25%. In
Sept. 1918 the average daily wage of male adults is stated as 12-46
marks and of women 6-01 marks, compared with 5-17 and 2-28 marks
in March 1914 (241 and 264 if the earlier wages are taken as 100).
The Federal Statistical Office gives weekly earnings for male adults as
35 marks for the year ending July 1914; if this is taken as loo subse-
quent figures are Aug. 1919 286, Feb. 1920 486, Nov. 1920 686.
Factory inspectors at the end of 1919 reported a tendency to approxi-
mation between wages of unskilled and skilled workers.

Austria. The Austrian Trade Union Commission reported that in
Oct. 1920 men's wages (in currency) were from 22 to 27^ times the
rates in July 1914 and women's 20 to 25 times.

New Zealand. The Official Year Book for 1919 contains an elab-
orate analysis of the minimum wages payable from 1901 to 1919 in
26 occupations. Wages do not necessarily move exactly with their
minima, but in unskilled trades they are in fact generally the rates
paid. The results are shown in Table 10, the level in 1911 being taken
as 1000 in each occupation.

Table 10. New Zealand. Minimum hourly rates.











General




Skilled
occupations


Semi-
skilled
occupations


Unskilled
occupations


average
(weighted in
proportion
to the num-










bers in oc-










cupations )


1901


929


915


940


932


1905


964


939


955


954


1910


992


991


IOOI


996


1912


1009


1006


1004


1006


1913


1024


1067


1025


1036


1914


1073


1078


IIO2


1087


1915


1073


1086


III3


1094


1916


1095


1147


H93


1152


1917


1124


1188


1250


I2OO


1918


1208


1247


1297


1258


1919


1352


1439


1451


1418



The occupations included are bakers, boiler-makers, bookbinders,
paper- makers, bootmakers (male), bricklayers, builders' labourers,
butchers, carpenters, coach-builders, coal-miners, drivers (horse),
engineers, fell-mongers, flour millers, freezing works employees, fur-
niture makers, grocers' assistants, iron and brass moulders, painters,
plasterers, plumbers, seamen, slaughtermen, tailoresses, waterside
workers, and woollen mill operatives (male). The Year Book for
1920 (p. 279) gives statistics for average wages in all but the small-
est factories and workshops (Table n).

Table n. New Zealand. Average annual wages.





Males


Females


Amount


Percentage


Amount


Percentage


1900-1
1905-6
1910-1

1915-6

1918-9


81-9
88-5
115-1
133-5
159-4


71

77

TOO

116
139


3i-3
41-9
50-6

56-7
68-8


62
83

IOO
112

136



Australia. The Official Year Book for 1920 contains two state-
ments relating to recent movements of wages from which Tables 12
and 13 are compiled. About 240,000 males and 80,000 females of
all ages are included in the returns.

Table 12. Australia. Average annual payment per~employee.





Males


Females


Amount


Percentage


Amount


Percentage


1913
1914

1915

1916

1917
1918


123-3
126-9
128-0
133-7
143-5
146-1


97
too

IOI

105
113
115


^47-7
49-5
50-2
50-8
54-5
58-4


97

IOO
IOI

103

no
118



Table 13. Australia. Average weekly wages in industries.





Adult Males


i
Adult Females


Rate


Percentage


Rate


Percentage


1914 April
1914 Dec.

lyiS
1916
1917
1918
1919


s. d.
55 2
55 7
56 6
60 8

64 2

66 5
74 II


IOO
IOI

1 02
no
116

120

136


s. d.

27 2

27 5
27 4
28 5
30 5
31 9
j57 i


IOO
IOI
IOI

105

112
117

137



(A. L. Bo.)



944



WAGES



United Slates. That a large proportion of unskilled workers
in the United States was paid wages, even in 1921, far too low
for decent self-support is a fact confirmed by many wage investi-
gations and well known even to those only slightly familiar with
industrial conditions. Before the era of unprecedentedly high
prices caused by the World War, it was the consensus of expert
opinion that a weekly wage of $8, or more, was necessary under
urban conditions for the maintenance of a self-supporting woman
in simple decency and working efficiency, and that a man with a
wife and three children needed $15 to $20 weekly. Yet a study
made in 1914 of women's wages in the United States led to the
conclusion that 75% of female wage-earners received less than
$8 weekly, 50% less than $6 and 15% less than $4; and that the
incomes from these wages were further reduced approximately
20% through lost time and unemployment. The pay of un-
skilled male workers was at a correspondingly low level. Frank
H. Streightoff, in his discussion of American standards of living,
estimated that at least 6,000,000 adult males, married as well
as single, received less than $600 a year, or $12 a week. More
intensive investigations bore out these figures. The U.S.
Immigration Commission in 1907-10 studied many typical
households of both native- and foreign-born, in 16 industries,
and found that more than half the male heads of families earned
less than $500 a year, and nearly two-thirds less than $600. The
New York State Factory Investigating Commission examined
the pay-rolls of over 2,000 stores and factories during the
autumn, winter and spring of 1913-4, a year which may be
regarded as normal, and found that of 57,000 women and girls,
approximately 34,000, or 60%, earned less than $8 in a typical
week. Of 14,000 married men, 7,000 earned less than $15. The
causes of these low wages were: the lack of strong labour or-
ganizations and collective bargaining among this group of wage-
earners; the belief of unskilled women wage-earners that their
work was temporary;- and the competition of married women
who were only partially self-supporting; also a failure on the
part of employers to recognize a relation between wages and
productivity. In the United States, until the outbreak of the
World War, the situation was further complicated by the stream
of immigration, which furnished an abundant supply of cheap
labour and provided still another barrier, in the shape of diver-
gent language and customs, in the way of union organization.

During the war the wage level was appreciably raised, but
owing to the great rise in prices that accompanied the change
it is doubtful whether real wages were materially increased,
except perhaps in a few war industries and in certain occupations
covered by especially liberal Government wage awards. The aver-
age rate of wages failed to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
Between Nov. 1918 and Jan. 1919 a study by the New York
Industrial Commission of the earnings of 32,000 women in the
same industries which had been covered by the Factory Investiga-
ting Commission in 1913-4 indicated that 60% of those in fac-
tories and 61 % of those in stores received less than $14 a week,
the equivalent of $8 in 1913. The average weekly wage of both
sexes in many representative New York factories was $24.83 in
Sept. 1919, while in eight large industries for which data were
collected by the National Industrial Conference Board, the
average weekly wage for male workers was $24.24 in Sept. 1918
and $23.37 in March 1919. In the skilled trades the effect of
trade unionism was to increase wage rates: union minimum rates
as provided in agreements with employers rose above the 1913
rate 99% for hourly rates and 89% for full-time weekly rates,
exclusive of overtime, paid for at an increased rate.

The demand for increased wages has been the most frequent
cause of strikes since 1915, as was to be expected in a time of
steadily advancing living costs. Many of the strikes or threatened
strikes were settled by Government agency. Considerations
which influenced the arbiters were: the concept of a minimum
living wage; increases in the cost of living; the desire for stand-
ardization, both within a given industry and in a given terri-
tory; increase in productive efficiency; and the effect of overtime
work in increasing weekly wages. The National 'War Labor
Board created a Cost of Living Section associated with the



Bureau of Labor Statistics. The minimum requirement for an
average American family of five members was found to be, for
New York City, in June 1918, $1,350 to $1,400; in Dec. 1918,
$1,500. Therefore, if the eight-hour day were observed, 55-60
cents an hour would be the lowest which might properly be
received by the breadwinner. It was, however, expected that
overtime would be worked, and lower rates were set, 40-45
cents an hour.

Before the war there were inequalities in wage rates in different
parts of the country and between union and non-union workers;
the tendency of war-time adjustments was to establish standards.
But the rates of pay of the unskilled rose more rapidly than
those of the skilled. Wages of unorganized common labourers
increased 100 to 200%. These men had formerly been paid less
than enough to maintain an " American standard of living."
During the war there was such a demand for their services that
wages rose as employers bid against each other. In certain cases
the Government agencies fixed arbitrary standards to prevent a
flow of labour back and forth between localities and between
establishments. There were great differences in wage increases
gained by skilled workers. The least increases were in the build-
ing trades, which before the war had been among the best-paid
employments; but men engaged in shipbuilding received in-
creases greater than the average for the trade. The U.S. Bureau
of Labor Statistics estimated that the cost of the working-class
standard of living doubled between 1913 and 1920. The cost of
food increased 118%, as calculated from the prices of 22 food
articles reported to the Bureau. The accompanying table shows
the increase per cent for both cost of living and wages. This wage
index is computed by the present writer on the studies of wages
in 12 important industries, made by the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. The index number computed is a simple, unweighted,
arithmetical average of average full-time wages, with 1913 used
as a basis. Increases in the trades studied were as follows: bakery
trades, 1913 $18.14, I9 2 $41-28; boot and shoe, 1913 $17. 28^
i920$29-32; building trades, 1913 $24.33, *92 $44-i8; cotton
manufacturing, 1913 $10.17, 192 $29.05; iron and steel, 1913
$28.47, 1920 $68.84; metal trades, 1913 $21.62, 1920 $42.37;
mill work, 1913 $14.48, 1920 $41.19; printing, 1913 $19.56, 1920
$35.89; silk manufacturing, 1913 $12.39, 1919 $21.99; woollen,
1913 $10.14, 19 20 $35-i8; farm labour, without board, 1913 $7.58,
1920 $16.24; railroads, 1913 $21.94, Jan. 1920 $25.91.















Cost of Living


Wages ,


1913
1914

1915

1916

IOI7












100

103-0
107-4

II3-3
140-5


loo

100-2

103-3
H7-5
J 34'4


1918
1919
1920












165-8
190-2

208-2


157-5
185-5
206-4



The increase of the cost of living was in advance of the in-
crease of wages for the whole period from 1913 through 1919,
except possibly during 1916. The discrepancy was greatest in
1918. The purchasing power of wages, measured by the cost
of food, fell more in 1917 than in any year since 1890. The drop
was one of 17-7% in the purchasing power of 1913. From the
middle of 1008 to the middle of 1921 the purchasing power of
wages continued to be less than in the period 1890-1907. The
purchasing power of wages (" real wages ") was greatest in 1896
and in 1900. Total " real income," however, was not necessarily
greatest in these two years, due to changes in the volume of
employment. It appears that the prices of labour are influenced
by the changes in business conditions, but to a less degree than
the prices of commodities. In general, the average wage declined
after 1893, recovered in 1896, and dropped again for the years
1897 and 1808. In 1899 the wage began to advance, halted in
1904, and dropped slightly after 1007; beginning with 1909 the
upward course was resumed, with a slight drop in 1914. This
upward movement continued to 1920, and was especially rapid
after 1916. In the various industries there were differences in
the degree of the movement of wages. The fluctuations in the



WAGE-SYSTEM IN INDUSTRY



945



iron and steel industry were numerous, as were also those in silk
and cotton manufacturing. On the other hand, changes in the
bakery and building trades were less noticeable. However, no
industry escaped a reduction in wages after 1893, and none
failed to register a large advance after 1916.

From 1914 to 1918 the purchasing power of hourly wages
seems to have decreased considerably. But, due to steadiness of
employment and to the overtime worked, actual weekly earnings
may have increased. In 1919 and the early part of 1920 wages
and wage rates rose more rapidly than the cost of living. The
conservative and carefully compiled budget for 1918, drawn up
by the Philadelphia Bureau of Municipal Research, specified
$1,637 as necessary to support a family of five in the " mini-
mum standard of health and comfort." This standard is lower
than the " standard of health and decency " adopted by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cost of living is no higher, and may
be lower, in Philadelphia than in other industrial centres. The
Philadelphia budget in Nov. 1919 required $1,803 and in Aug.
1920 $1,988. If the increase was distributed evenly throughout
the nine months, the average wage in manufacture was insuffi-
cient to support this standard. The deficiency in the case of
textiles was between $450 and $570; in boots and shoes and paper
manufacturing and in printing, more than $400; and in furniture
manufacturing, more than $700. By 1920 the situation was better;
although only in one industry studied, the manufacture of rubber
goods, was the average full-time yearly income able to support
[the standard. If retail prices of food are taken as an index of
living costs, union hourly real wage rates in 1918 were 20% lower
than the average for 1890-9, and full-time real union weekly
earnings probably 25% lower, due to the decrease in the number
of hours worked. Allowance must be made for the fact that food
prices rise more rapidly than cost of living as a whole, and for
ithe fact that the figures here refer to union scales of wages, which
often represent the minimum wage actually paid. The total
(income of most workers increased during the war period, due to
isteady employment; to the overtime work, usually at increased
rate of pay; and to the fact that the war called into industry
Imore members of the family than are ordinarily wage-earning.
It is necessary to call attention to the fact that unemployment
thas never been taken into consideration in computing " real
iwages." Until a coefficient of unemployment has been found,
no chart of " real wages " will be able to show the actual state
of well-being of the wage-earning class. The average retail price
oljfood in 1920 was 103% higher than in 1913. During 1920 it
continued to rise; the highest point reached was 119% higher
than in 1913, in June and July 1920. After that the prices fell
and reached a point in April 1921 52% greater than in 1913.
According to the philosophy of employers, as living costs fall,
wage rates also should fall. However, by April 1921 earnings
had already decreased owing to the decrease in available employ-
ment. It is not agreed that the 1913 standard of living was
adequate: workers who have .emerged from the "minimum of
subsistence " level are loth to return to an acceptance of insuffi-
cient purchasing power.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported changes in rates of

5 between July i 1920 and March 31 1921. The total num-
l;ri of changes reported was 2,714, of which 1,689, nearly two-
lliinls, were increases. Two-thirds of the increases in the three

ths of 1921 were in the printing and publishing industry.

largest number of decreases were in the textile industry.
The largest number of decreases reported were in Jan. 1921, the
largest number of increases in July, Aug. and Sept. of 1920. The
most frequent cut in wage rates was between 10 and 20%; 30%
also was reported in a large number of cases. It must be re-
. membercd that per capita earnings decreased still further, due to
the decrease in the volume of employment. Under the agree-
ment between employers and union in the men's clothing industry
in Chicago, wages were reduced in April 1921 5% for those who
had received a 5 % increase in 1919 and 10% for all others, except
that no wages were to be reduced below $15 for the full-time
week. In the same month the board of referees in the ladies'
garment industry in Cleveland ordered the restoration of the



July 1919 wage scale, with some exceptions. The reasons given
were, first that the cost of living had not continued to rise as had
been expected but had fallen, and, second, the serious business


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Online LibraryJessie FothergillThe Encyclopædia Britannica : a dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information (Volume 32) → online text (page 346 of 459)