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so complicated that changes are not reported. This is especially true in the immense clothing industry, where new schedules of rates are made up once or twice a year and then are maintained for relatively brief periods at a time. For several seasons, therefore, the table of changes in rates contains only an incomplete account of changes in actual earnings. The following table discloses the actual earnings per day of employment in 1903-5 averaged for each industry:
TABLE 16.-AVERAGE WAGES OF MEN, PER DIEM, IN ORGANIZED INDUSTRIES OR Groups OF TRADES.
In some cases there is noticeable a considerable variation in the two averages for the same year. No changes in rates of pay were made in the interval of sufficient importance to occasion such variations, and the explanation is therefore to be sought in changes in the composition of the groups. Thus in the transportation group the seamen and truckmen and other workers paid at a considerably lower rate than the railway men were more largely represented in one quarter than in the other, and therefore brought down the average for the group. For this reason general averages of any large group are not of great value, as they are subject to considerable fluctuations merely as a result of changes in the representation of different occupations. The apparent decline in the average of all trades from $2.74 to $2.69 in 1903 was due not to reductions in the rate of wages (of which there were few if any in this period), but to the inclusion in the statistics of a larger number of low-paid workmen in one quarter than in the other. The same illusion appears in the averages of Group I for the two quarters of 1904; the average per diem wages apparently decreasing from $3.41 to $3.22. As a matter of fact, the average for the skilled trades increased from $3.52 to $3.74, but the effect of this increase was overbalanced by the
addition to the division of building laborers of 14,000 excavators earning but $1.50 a day, which reduced the average for the division from $2.64 to $2.04 per diem. Some part of the increase in the 1905 averages may likewise arise from the disappearance of unions of unskilled workmen or of skilled workmen in the smaller communities where wage rates are below the standard of the metropolis and the other large cities.
From the fact that the average wage for each day's work was close to $3 in the latter part of 1905, it might be inferred that the annual income of organized workingmen would aver age between $900 and $1,000. Indeed, it has frequently been pointed out in the public prints that bricklayers employed at the standard rate in New York City ($5.60 for each day of eight hours) would earn upwards of $1,500 if they worked only 300 days a year. As a matter of fact, the bricklayers of New York City (Manhattan) worked less than 200 days in the year and earned only $1,000* instead of $1,500 each. Their earnings moreover are exceptional and have to be contrasted with an average income for male workmen of $600 in the clothing and textile trades and $571 in cigar making, as shown in the following table:
TABLE 17.-AVERAGE EARNINGS OF MEN AND WOMEN FOR SIX MONTHS
The average earnings of all male members of labor unions for one-half a year were $406, and for female members $225. The women, however, are not sufficiently represented in this average to make it of much value. As far as the men are con
*Their earnings averaged $142 in the first quarter and $381 in the third quarter, or a total of $523 for six months, which may be regarded as representative of the year.
cerned, there is apparent some loss of time in the winter months in nearly all industries; the theatrical and musical workers being the only ones who earned more in the first quarter than in the third. But in most of the indoor trades the difference was small.
In the next table is shown the distribution of the working people according to the amount of their earnings. In the first quarter, about 9 per cent. of the men earned less than $75 while in the third quarter the proportion dropped to 1.3 per cent. Between 70 and 80 per cent. made $150 or more, and of these fully one-half in the third quarter earned upwards of $225. This was an unusually large proportion, which has not even been approached in any other recent year.
TABLE 18.-ORGANIZED WAGE WORKERS CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO AMOUNT OF QUARTERLY EARNINGS.
THE TREND OF REAL WAGES.
If the value of money remained constant, the real wages of labor would be identical with money wages; but as is well known the value of money, as measured by the price level of goods, fluctuates from year to year, so that a dollar earned at labor may buy either more or less than a dollar at some other time. To ascertain real wages, we must therefore calculate the purchasing power of the money wages actually earned; that is, determine the fluctuations in prices of those commodities or services that influence the cost of living.
The first task, however, is to determine the trend of money wages, an indication of which is given in the following table covering the last six years:
TABLE 19.-DISTRIBUTION OF EACH 100 MALE MEMBERS OF LABOR ORGANIZATIONS ACCORDING TO AMOUNT EARNED IN THE
GRADES. 1900. 1901. 1902. 1903. 1904. 1905. 1900. 1901. 1902. 1903. 1904. 1905. Less than $75 6.1 6.5 3.8 3.9 7.5 8.9 4.5 2.3 1.6 3.1 4.2 1.3 $75-$149.... 29.1 26.6 27.0 23.3 27.4 21.0 34.0 22.6 24.0 23.7 22.5 15.7 $150-225... 41.9 41.1 41.8 46.7 41.7 43.3 47.1 42.9 43.0 43.9 42.0 41.1 Over $225... 22.9 25.8 27.4 26.1 23.4 26.8 14.4 32.2 31.4 29.3 31.3 41.9 Total....100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
The table reveals an increase in the proportion of workingmen earning the larger amounts, especially in the busy months of the third quarter (July, August, September). In 1900, a small majority (61.5 per cent.) of the union men of the state earned what then might be called "a living wage"-$150 for three months ($50 a month), but in 1905 the proportion earning at least $150 had increased to 83 per cent.
For comparative purposes, the average furnishes the most convenient expression of a statistical fact but it can only be employed with assurance when considerable care is used in explaining its precise meaning. Given the total earnings of a specified number of workmen in the ranks of organized labor, it appears to be a simple matter of division to fix the average earnings of each. But some of these workmen are highly skilled, earning perhaps $5 or $6 a day, while others earn less than $2 a day. Without any change whatever in wage rates, the average wage may rise or fall according as the proportion of the skilled men to the unskilled increases or diminishes.