Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/261

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257
EFFICIENCY WAGE STANDARDS

EFFICIENCY WAGE STANDARDS
By Professor SCOTT NEARING

UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

EFFICIENCY, when applied to personal capacity, signifies a maximum of return with a minimum of outlay; hence one man is more efficient than another if, with a given expenditure of energy, time, raw material or capital, he can secure a larger, though equally good, product. The term efficiency is thus purely relative, since there is no known limit to human possibilities.

Each progressive employer aims to promote the efficiency of his working force, for unless he secures a maximum return in product for a minimum outlay of administrative ability, he himself is inefficient. That manager who, other things being equal, produces the highest net return for his outlay is looked upon as the most efficient manager. Yet in producing this outlay no one factor plays a more important part than the efficiency of the labor force which the manufacturer has at his command. How then can he increase this labor efficiency? How insure a maximum productive power among his workers?

Several attempts have recently been made to answer this question practically and definitely by inquiring, "How much money is necessary to maintain an efficiency standard of living?"—that is, how much money is required to supply food, clothing, housing, education, recreation and the other necessaries of life in sufficient quantities to enable the recipient and those dependent upon him to maintain normal health, strength and intellectual acumen. A successful answer to this question will, in a measure, enable the employer to gauge the efficiency possibilities of his labor force.

Several very careful studies have recently been made, which are remarkably uniform in their conclusions as to the amount necessary to maintain efficiency in the various cities under consideration. Of these studies, by far the most exhaustive is that made in New York City in 1907 and 1908.[1]

An analysis of the family budgets of four hundred workingmen, together with an exhaustive study of food values, housing, clothing and the like, led to the conclusion that: "An income of $900 probably permits the maintenance of a normal standard, at least so far as the physical man is concerned. . . . Whether an income between $800 and $900 can be made to suffice is a question to which our data do not warrant a

  1. "The Standard of Living among Workingmen 's Families in New York City," Robert C. Chapin, New York: Charities Publication Com., 1909.