Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/19

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.
9

during the interval of these years by 39.9 per cent; or in a slightly smaller ratio of increase than was experienced during the same period in the industries of that district of England of which the city of Manchester is the center. The figures of the United States census of 1850 can not, however, be accepted with confidence.[1]

As respects agricultural labor in the United States, the assertion is probably warranted that, taking into account the hours of work, rates of wages, and the prices of commodities, the average farm-laborer is 100 per cent better off at the present time than he was thirty or forty years ago. In Massachusetts the average advance in the money-wages of this description of labor between 1850 and 1880 was 56 per cent, with board in addition. Between 1842 and 1846 the wages of agricultural labor in the United States sank to almost the lowest points of the century. According to the investigations of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average advance in general wages in that State from 1860 to 1883 was 28.36 per cent, while the conclusions of Mr. Atkinson are that the wages of mechanics in Massachusetts were 25 per cent more in 1885 than they were in 1860.

Taking the experience of the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as a basis, recent investigations also show a marked increase in the average wages of all descriptions of labor in the northwestern sections of the United States, comparing 1886 with 1875, of at least 10 per cent. In all railroad-work, the fact to which Mr. Giffen has called attention as a gratifying result of recent English experience also here reappears—namely, that the proportion of men earning the highest rates of wages is much greater than it was ten years ago, or more skilled workmen and fewer common workmen are relatively employed.

A series of official statistics, published in the "Annuaire statistique de la France," respecting the rates of wages paid in Paris and in the provinces of France in twenty-three leading industries during the years 1853 and 1883 respectively, show that, during the period referred to, the advance in average wages in Paris was 53 per cent and in the provinces 68 per cent, the figures being applicable to 1,497,000 workmen out of a total of 1,554,000 ascertained to be occupied in these industries by the French census of 1876.[2] M. Yves Guyot, the eminent French

  1. It is at the same time not a little significant that the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Bureau of Labor Statistics should have reported in 1884, as the result of his investigations, that while from 1872 to 1883 wages advanced on an average 9.74 per cent in Great Britain, they declined on the average in Massachusetts during the same period 5.41 per cent.
  2. "On the Comparative Efficiency and Earnings of Labor at Home and Abroad," by J. S. Jeans, "Journal of the Royal Statistical Society" (G. B.), December, 1884.