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RELATIVE LEVEL OF WEEKLY WAGES IN SPECIFIED CITIES OF THE UNITED STATES
AS COMPARED WITH NEW YORK CITY.
These comparisons are restricted to occupations common to nearly all cities. The rates of wages ascertained for these occupations show in general no very marked divergence and, according to the report, the differences are "certainly not greater than those shown to exist as between the towns of England and Wales."1 In some towns, in he Middle West especially, the New York rates are exceeded in certain occupations. Omitting New York, the highest general wage levels occur in the Middle West towns, the lowest in the New England group.
A conspicuous feature of the situation commented on in the report is the rough apportionment of the tasks of unskilled labor on the one hand to the immigrant classes, largely to those of more recent arrival, and on the other hand to the colored race. The absorption into the ranks of the unskilled or semiskilled of the greater part of immigrant labor tends, according to the investigators, to leave skilled labor comparatively unaffected by the competition of foreigners. This fact, combined with the size, wealth, and comparatively recent development of the country, tends, in the opinion of the investigators, to maintain the rates for skilled labor at their present high level. The report further notes as a special characteristic of the unskilled labor supply that, owing partly to the comparatively modern char
See also page 562 of this Bulletin.
acter of urban development in the United States and partly to the large influx of labor that is physically sound and morally enterprising, the proportion of deteriorated labor unfit for employment is relatively small. The mobility of labor is noted as unusually great. In fields of employment that are well known as centers toward which great numbers of foreigners drift and in which much of the labor is unskilled, in which organized relationships are almost absent, and in which the work is especially laborious, as in iron and steel works, or especially intermittent, as in the stockyards and packing houses of Chicago, the constantly changing stream of labor that passes through is a conspicuous feature of the situation.
UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND AND WALES COMPARED. The predominant rates of weekly wages in the printing, engineering, and building trades of the United States (industries which were found in all of the cities investigated) are in the following table brought into contrast with the rates of weekly wages paid in similar trades in England and Wales. The wages for the United States, it will be observed, relate to February, 1909, while the corresponding data for England and Wales are for October, 1905.
The wages as given for England and Wales are, as is shown by the first report of the series, that relating to cost of living in the United Kingdom, exclusive of London. PREDOMINANT WEEKLY WAGES OF ADULT MALES IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS IN ENGLAND AND WALES (EXCLUSIVE OF LONDON) AND IN THE UNITED STATES COMPARED.
1 The wazes stated for the building trades are for a full week in summer in both countries.
. In arriving at the trade and general index numbers, bricklayers and stonemasons have been regarded as one occupation, and carpenters and joiners and fitters and turners as two, respectively, as in the earlier foreign inquiries.
The level of wages in the building trades was, according to the report, the same in England and Wales in 1909 as in 1905, but the rates in the engineering trades had been raised by about 1} per cent between October, 1905, and February, 1909, and those of compositors by about 2} per cent. The effect of these changes would be to lower the mean ratio for the combined trades represented in the above table from 232:100 to 230:100.
In the building trades, the rates for the United States are based upon actual returns from employers, but many of these returns embody the locally accepted standard rates in the relatively highly organized group.
In the case of the engineering trades, the English wages are the standard time rates recognized by the unions concerned. The American ranges, on the other hand, are based, in the absence of standard rates, on reports obtained from employers of actual earnings in an ordinary week, and consequently the two sets of figures are, according to the report, not strictly comparable.
In the printing trades, the rates for hand compositors engaged on job printing are given. The American figures represent predominant time rates ascertained to be paid in practice, while those for England and Wales are, as in the case of the engineering trades, the standard time rates recognized by the trade unions.
In no case in the table are the comparative ranges seriously complicated by the distinction as between time and piece rates, and in the case of the building trades and the printing trades, not at all. Neither are the comparisons invalidated by differences in the character of the work done by those who fall into similar classes in the two countries. It will be seen that in the building trades the mean of the predominant range in the United States is in no case less than double that of the corresponding English grade of wage earners. For the whole group, the wages in the United States are 143 per cent above those in England and Wales. In the engineering trades, the index numbers are in no case less than double the English figure, and the combined figure is 113 per cent above the English figure. For the compositors, wages in the United States are 146 per cent above the English level, as compared with 132 per cent for all of the occupations included in the table. It will be remembered that these figures are subject to slight modification, in view of the different dates to which the reports relate, as previously noted.
In regard to the question as to whether the foregoing figures fairly represent the level of wages for adult males in the cities investigated in the United States as compared with the cities covered by the corresponding investigation in England and Wales, or whether the ratio based upon the same occupations as have been used in the preceding international comparisons is one that may either exaggerate or minimize the existing difference, the report concludes as follows:
While the combined ratio yielded by the figures in the above table appears to give an approximately correct general indication of the relative rates of remuneration for town occupations as between the two countries, so far as they can be determined within the limits of the present inquiry, the comparative figures appear to be somewhat weighted in favor of the United States and should not be pressed to an undue extent. It must be remembered that the position of the building trades in the United States involves a selection of a group of occupations for comparative purposes that is probably slightly favorable to the United States, and the whole basis of comparison is not a very wide one. The proportion of unskilled or of semiskilled labor employed in industry in the United States is greater than in this country and it may be noted that this fact would affect the comparison of trades as a whole, while it is clear that, in order to ascertain the comparative level of wages in the two countriestaking into account the proportions employed at high and low rates in both cases-a general census of wages would be required.
“Although the proportion of those who may be roughly classed as the unskilled or semískilled in comparison with the skilled workers is greater in the United States than in England and Wales, it should be observed that the evidence of the town reports indicates that the proportion of men in the community who in an industrial classification would fall below any of these three classes as representing a class of relatively unemployable labor, be it through premature deterioration or through old age, is smaller than in this country. The comparatively recent character of American urban development and a rapid growth of population, largely due to the influx of those in the prime of life or who, having passed the more uncertain years of childhood, have not yet reached their prime, are the main general considerations that underlie the above conclusion.
HOURS OF LABOR.
The weekly hours of labor for the individual occupations and cities have been shown in connection with the rates of wages in a preceding table. The hours stated below summarize the conditions for all of the cities taken together and show the number of cities with each specified number of hours per week, exclusive of intervals and without overtime. In the case of the building trades the hours are for a full week in summer. In other cases they refer to February, 1909.
WEEKLY HOURS OF LABOR OF ADULT MALES IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS IN THE
UNITED STATES IN 1909.
[The hours of labor of Negroes have been excluded.]
Number Number of towns in which the usual hours of labor of towns
per week (excluding intervals) were-
BUILDING TRADES.1 Bricklayers.
2 12 Stonemasons.
1 1 Plumbers.
2 2 Structural iron workers.
1 1 Hod carriers and bricklayers' laborers... 18 4
1 3 ENGINEERING TRADES. Iron molders.
27 Machinists (fitters and turners).
24 Pattern makers.
22 PRINTING TRADES. Hand compositors (job work)..
UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND AND WALES COMPARED. In the table which follows a comparison is made of the hours of labor in the United States and in England and Wales. As in the other international comparisons of this report the figures for the United States relate to February, 1909, while those for England and Wales refer to October, 1905.
WEEKLY HOURS OF LABOR OF ADULT MALES IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS IN
ENGLAND AND WALES AND IN THE UNITED STATES COMPARED.
· The hours of labor stated for the building trades are for a full week in summer in both countries.