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gated as compared with New York, the mean of the predominant rents in that city being taken as the base or 100.
RELATIVE RENT LEVEL IN SPECIFIED TOWNS OF THE UNITED STATES AS COM
PARED WITH NEW YORK CITY.
In both the United States and England and Wales the dwelling of four rooms is the most common type; in fact, the only one found in all of the cities investigated, although the dwelling of five rooms is in both countries very common. On the other hand, the six-room dwelling is relatively far more common in the American reports, 71 per cent of the American cities showing dwellings of this size to be common as compared with only 41 per cent of the cities in England and Wales.
In the following table the predominant rents for dwellings of three, four, five, and six rooms in the United States are given in comparison with those for England and Wales (exclusive of London):
PREDOMINANT WEEKLY RENTS OF WORKING-CLASS DWELLINGS IN ENGLAND AND
WALES (EXCLUSIVE OF LONDON) AND IN THE UNITED STATES COMPARED.
In both the United States and in England and Wales the rent paid is, as regards rates and taxes, an inclusive charge, and to this extent comparison on the basis of expenditure is free from complications.
It will be observed that the mean predominant rents in the cities of the United States are considerably higher than those of England and Wales in the case of dwellings of larger size, the mean of the ratios for five and six room dwellings being 216.5 as compared with 202.5 for those of three and four rooms.
A further basis of comparison of rents as between the two countries is afforded by taking the mean of the various predominant ranges and comparing the average rent per room for the whole series. By this method the weekly rent per room in the United States is found to be 63.9 cents as compared with 30.4 cents in England and Wales, equivalent to a ratio of 210 to 100.
In regard to the comparison of cost of rents in the United States and England and Wales, the report concludes:
The rental figures obtained in the United States are, as stated, for February, 1909, and the question arises as to how far these may be comparable with the rentals for England and Wales collected for October, 1905. No exact answer can be given to this question, but there is a considerable amount of evidence to show that if the American figures had been collected for February, 1907—that is for a period two years earlier than that actually selected—they would have shown in many places a somewhat higher level, inasmuch as the industrial depression which followed the financial crisis of October, 1907, and continued throughout the following year, led to a decline on the levels reached during the preceding period of prosperity and active immigration. Taking into account the further fact that, even in the United States, rents do not move on a large and general scale rapidly, it seems highly improbable that any possible variations due to the different dates at which the particulars were collected in the two countries would affect appreciably the general comparisons presented. It is believed, therefore, that for practical purposes the ratio given above of 207:100 may be taken as representing with approximate accuracy the level of rents paid by the working classes in the United States and England and Wales respectively.
The explanation of the higher rentals in the American towns investigated must be looked for in various directions, but principally in the higher cost of building as expressed by labor and materials, in the more generous allowance of ground space per dwelling, except in congested areas, in the more modern character of a greater proportion of the fittings and conveniences of the dwelling, as illustrated by the more frequent provision of bathrooms, in a higher general level of material prosperity that is able effectively to demand such increasing variety and completeness of accommodation, and in the shorter life that is expected from the individual dwellings.
Information in regard to the prices most commonly paid by wageearning families for a variety of food commodities, for coal, and for kerosene was obtained from representative stores in different districts in each city. In all over 1,000 returns, containing more than 17,000 quotations of prices for February, 1909, were obtained.
The following table shows the predominant retail prices of certain principal articles of food and of coal and kerosene in February, 1909, for the 28 cities covered by the investigation, considered as a whole. It should be observed that in this table the predominant price is expressed by a single amount in one case only, that of cheese, the ranges quoted both here and in the table giving prices for the individual cities constantly indicating that not any single figure, but a series represents the prices most usually paid, a series to some extent reflecting differences in taste or in spending power of the purchasing classes. Broadly, an identical price may be assumed to represent an approximately similar commodity, but sometimes, either as regards cities as a whole, or even in quarters of a single city, when position, environment, the class of consumer, or other cause involves some special advantage or disadvantage on one side or the other, and thus a special strength or weakness in competition, the qualitative significance of the price equivalent may be weakened.
PREDOMINANT RETAIL PRICES IN THE UNITED STATES IN FEBRUARY, 1909.
1 In 10 of these 11 towns the predominant prices were 18 cents and 20 cents; 19 cents occurred very seldom. 2 English measure. 3 The prices relate to purchases by the ton. Smaller units are not sufficiently frequent to permit the establishment of a predominant range.
The price of tea shows a wide range in the different cities, from 25 cents a pound as a lowest usual price up to 60 cents as a highest. The former price is in no case the sole predominant, and appears in fact only as the lowest figure in the ranges quoted for Lowell and Providence, whereas 60 cents is the actual predominant for Atlanta, Augusta, Cincinnati, Louisville, and Muncie. It may probably be assumed, in view of the low price at which it is possible to purchase tea, that did this beverage enter more largely than it does into household consumption a lower general predominant would result than the figure actually quoted, 41 to 56 cents; but an average weekly family consumption of from less than one-fourth pound to a little less than one-half pound, respectively, in the lowest and highest income classes in the American-British budget, although this is a quantity considerably in excess of a general working-class average for the whole country, still leaves tea among the commodities that rank among the less important from the point of view of family expenditure.
In coffee the range in prices, both absolutely and relatively, is much less marked, never falling below 18 cents a pound, this figure only appearing as the lower predominant price for Baltimore, and never exceeding 35 cents, a maximum that is only reached in the higher predominant figure in four of the New England cities-Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, and Lowell. The predominant range of from 20 to 25 cents is the actual predominant in Chicago, Cleveland, Duluth, Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Savannah; while in seven cases, including Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and New Orleans, 20 cents is the most usual local price, and in five cases, including New York, it is 25 cents.
The general uniformity prevailing in the price of sugar is a reflection of the extensive control exercised over this particular market by a single company. The predominant prices for white granulated, the kind that is in by far the most general use, are 51 and 6 cents a pound. Brown sugar, when purchased, appears to be often used in cooking and sometimes for making candy. Loaf sugar was still less frequently sold, and for this no predominant price can be quoted.
Bacon is not so extensively consumed as in England, fresh pork taking relatively a more important place in the family dietary. The comparatively high range for bacon in Chicago—a great center of its production-of from 18 to 22 cents a pound is noticeable. The general predominant range is from 17 to 20 cents.
Eggs are consumed in America in great quantities, and in February, 1909, when new-laid eggs were often very dear-quotations of, for instance, from 36 to 42 cents a dozen, being certainly not above the ranges for that season of the year-storage eggs were those most generally consumed. It may be observed that the normal effects of geographical position on price were found to be almost, if not quite, eliminated; the most usual price in Minneapolis-St. Paul, for instance, 24 to 29 cents a dozen for storage eggs, was exactly the same as that being paid in Brockton, Louisville, Memphis, and Savannah; while the price of eggs at Duluth of 24 to 36 cents a dozen was identical with that for New York and somewhat lower than that for New Orleans, where 36 cents a dozen was the maximum.
The cheese to which the price quoted in the above table refers and which has been described throughout the city reports as "American cheese," in order to distinguish it from cream cheese as understood in England, is that known as “full cream,” by which is really meant full milk, that is, not skim milk. As will be observed, the most usual price of cheese of this description—20 cents a pound-shows great uniformity.
Butter, as in the case of cheese, is a commodity in which the usual prices paid are very regular, and geographical position, again owing to the combined agencies of cold storage and efficient transport, has no appreciable effect on the predominant range, which runs from 32 to 35 cents a pound. The highest usual price quoted is included in the wide Pittsburg range of from 30 to 40 cents a pound, and the lowest is that of from 28 to 32 cents for Providence.
Potatoes are dear in the United States and the highest prices were quoted in the Southern group of cities (where, however, as compared with sweet potatoes they are of least importance) and in New York and Paterson. They were lowest in the cities of the Middle West, with the exception of St. Louis, in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburg, and in the New England cities, other than Boston. In these 13 towns the extreme range was from 91 to 14 cents per 7 pounds and the predominant range was from 11 to 14 cents, as compared with the general predominant of from 111 to 17 cents per 7 pounds.
The brands of wheat flour most usually consumed are western and the market is highly sensitive and highly centralized. The differences in the most usual prices are thus mainly explained partly by local preferences for particular brands, and partly by geographical position, great distances from the wheat-growing areas sending prices for the same qualities slightly, but only slightly, upward. In the group of Middle Western cities the highest usual price never exceeded 25 cents per 7 pounds, which was approximate to the customary starting point for most of the New England and other Eastern cities, including New York. The general predominant price is from 23 to 27 cents per 7 pounds. The most general unit by which wheat flour was purchased by the working classes was the bag of 241 pounds (one-eighth barrel). In some cases, however, it was stated that the bag contained only 24 pounds, and it was not found possible to distinguish with certainty in which towns a 24-pound bag was more usual. Accordingly the bag has been taken throughout at its nominal content, viz, 241 pounds, any resultant error being very small.
As is clearly shown by the separate city reports, bread is sold in great variety and ranges, from the big rough rye loaf, as retailed in Jewish quarters in New York at 3 cents a pound, and the "half rye" loaf of various sizes and prices, to the pure wheat loaf. This also