« PreviousContinue »
TABLE III.-YEARLY RELATIVE PRICES OF COMMODITIES, 1890 TO 1910,
AND MONTHLY RELATIVE PRICES FROM JANUARY TO DECEMBER 1910-Continued. (For explanation and discussion of this table, see pages 349 to 361. Average for 1890–1899–100.0.)
1830. 1891 1892 1893. 1894 1895 189 1897. 1898. 1899 1900. 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906. 1907. 1908. 1909.. 1910.
110.3 109.4 106. 2 105.9 99.8 94.5 91.4 92.1 92.4 97.7 109.8 107.4 114.1 113.6 111.7 112.8 121.1 127.1 119.9 125.9 133.1
Jan. Feb. Mar Apr. May. June July. Ang.. Sept Oet. Nov Dec.
88.3 85.7 85.7 85.7 93. 7 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0 96. 4
118.6 118.6 118.6 118.6 118.6 118.6 118.6 118.6 118. 6 118.6 118.6 118.6
117.9 117.9 117.9 113.9 113.9 113. 9 113.9 113.9 113.9 113.9 113.9 113.9
118.3 118. 3 118.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116.3 116. 3
131.8 130.6 132. 2 135. 1 136.9 136. 1 133.8 135.4 136.6 130.6 129. 2 129.2
REPORT OF BRITISH BOARD OF TRADE ON COST OF LIVING IN THE PRINCIPAL INDUSTRIAL CITIES OF THE UNITED STATES.
The report, a summary of which is presented in the following pages, is the fifth of a series issued by the British Board of Trade concerning the conditions of living of the wage-earning population in the more important industrial towns of various countries, and dealing particularly with the wages and hours of labor, rents and housing conditions, retail prices of food, and the expenditure for food of the families of wage earners. The first of these reports related to Great Britain. The succeeding reports, in the order of issue, related to Germany, France, and Belgium. The main object of these foreign inquiries has been stated to be in all cases identical, namely, to obtain a collection of data comparable with those presented in the first report relating to the cost of living in the United Kingdom.
The methods adopted in the present investigation relating to the United States, including the collection of the statistical material in regard to wages and hours of labor, rents, prices, and family expenditure for food were so far as possible the same as in the former investigations. The important difference in the date to which the statistical data relate was deemed necessary owing to the lapse of time between the beginning of the investigation in Great Britain in 1905 and its completion in the United States in 1909. Supplementary inquiries were made for the purpose of making the adjustments necessary in order to ascertain approximately the differences in the results which were due to the different dates of the investigations in England and in the United States. With this information figures are presented making international comparisons of conditions in England and Wales and in the United States.
In considering the scope and method of the present investigation it is necessary to bear in mind that its purpose was to make comparisons between the United States and England and Wales, and, secondly, to make comparisons between the various sections of the United States. This purpose, as the report points out, has made necessary certain limitations in its scope and method. This has reference especially to the selection of industries and occupations for which
1 Cost of Living in American Towns. Report of an Inquiry by the Board of Trade into Working Class Rents, Housing, and Retail Prices, together with the Rates of Wages in certain Occupations in the Principal Industrial Towns of the United States of America, with an introductory memorandum and a comparison of conditions in the United States and the United Kingdom. London, 1911. (Cd 5009.)
* See Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor No. 77 July 1908. pp. 336-354; Bulletin No 78, September, 1908, pp. 523–548; Bulletin No. 83, July, 1909, pp. 66-87; and Bulletin No. 87, March, 1910, pp. 608-625. See also pages 557 to 570 of this Bulletin.
comparable wages and hours of labor could be secured. It is carefully pointed out in the report that while the industries and occupations selected rank among the more highly organized and more highly skilled, they do not appear to occupy a substantially higher relative position in the United States than they do in England and Wales, and that the selection of these occupations for the purposes of international comparison is not less suitable in the United States than in the other foreign countries which have been made the subjects of similar reports by the Board of Trade.
Throughout the summary of the report, which is given in the following pages, it has been the purpose to present fully and fairly the conclusions of the original report with whatever of the details is most important from the standpoint of the American reader. In order to express exactly the findings of the British investigators, as presented in their report, the text of the report has been freely drawn upon both by direct quotation and by statements somewhat condensed for the sake of brevity. The conclusions and comment throughout are according to the original report.
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION.
The present investigation, relating to conditions in the United States, was carried on by agents of the British Board of Trade during the year 1909. The data forming the basis of the report relate to February, 1909.
Twenty-eight cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul being counted as one) were covered by the investigation. These cities were chosen “because of their representative industrial character or their intrinsic importance, and an attempt was also made to select those that would fall in the few groups framed on broad lines of geographical distribution." No cities were included west of St. Louis and Minneapolis. The cities included within the inquiry were as follows: New York.
Central towns-Concluded. New England towns:
Pittsburg. Fall River.
Middle West towns: Lawrence.
Milwaukee. Other eastern towns:
Minneapolis-St. Paul. Baltimore.
St. Louis. Newark.
Southern towns: Paterson.
Augusta. Central towns:
New Orleans. Detroit.
It will be noticed that New England is represented by six cities, five of which are in Massachusetts, while the State of New York has only one city, namely, New York. Pennsylvania is represented by two cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburg; Illinois by one only, Chicago, and Indiana by one only, Muncie. The South is represented by six cities, three of which are in Georgia.
The industries which form the basis of the information in regard to wages and hours are the same as in previous investigations of the Board of Trade, namely, the building trades, engineering (that is, foundries and machine shops), and hand compositors on job work in the printing trade. While the principal comparisons are based entirely upon these occupations, the report contains much detailed information in regard to earnings and hours in other occupations in the individual cities.
In regard to housing and rents of wage-earning families, information was secured covering approximately 90,000 tenements.
In order to arrive at some estimate of the standard of living prevalent in industrial communities in the United States, 7,616 family budgets were secured showing the expenditure for food in the normal week representative of numerous occupations and of the various grades of income. The information in regard to prices is chiefly limited to such principal articles of food as permit of comparison between city and city and between the United States and England and Wales. Prices are also presented for coal and for kerosene.
RATES OF WAGES.
Information in regard to wages and hours of labor was obtained mainly from individual employers, but to some extent also from public authorities. In some cases trade unions also furnished information as to current local rates. The industries and occupations concerning which data as to wages and hours of labor were obtained were those that were considered as “most widely distributed and those of chief local importance; the former being chosen mainly as affording a basis for internal and international comparisons; the latter as being best calculated to make the investigation of local industrial conditions adequate.”
February, 1909, was taken as the period for which wages and hours of labor were obtained, and employers were asked to give for the principal classes of adult male labor in their service the predominant earnings or the predominant range of earnings for a full ordinary week without overtime. In the case of workmen not paid by time the amount most frequently earned on some other basis, generally piecework, during an ordinary week was obtained. Separate returns of wages and hours were obtained from about 1,300 representative employers.
In the following table are given the predominant range of wages for an ordinary week in February, 1909, in the case of the engineering and printing trades and for an ordinary week in summer in the case of the building trades for the entire group of cities covered by the investigation:
PREDOMINANT WEEKLY WAGES OF ADULT MALES IN CERTAIN OCCUPATIONS IN
THE UNITED STATES IN FEBRUARY, 1909.
[The wages of Negroes have been excluded.]
The wages stated for the building trades are for a full week in summer.