Women Wage-Earners eBook

Helen Stuart Campbell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 208 pages of information about Women Wage-Earners.


[21] Report for 1872, pp. 59-108.

[22] Report for 1875, pp. 67-112.


Present wage-rates in the united states.

Under this heading it is proposed to include, not only the trades just specified as coming under the investigations recorded in “Working-Women in Large Cities,” but also such data as can be gleaned from all the labor reports which have given any attention to this phase of the labor question.  Naturally, then, we turn to the report of the Massachusetts Bureau for 1881, the first statement of these points, and compare it with the results obtained in the last report from Washington, as well as with the returns from the various States where investigation of the question has been made.

Exceptionally favorable conditions would seem to belong to the year in which the report for 1884 appeared.  The financial distress of 1877, with its results, had passed.  New industries of many orders had opened up for women, and trade in all its forms called for workers and gave almost constant employ, save in the few occupations which have a distinct season, and oblige those engaged in them to divide their time between two if a living is assured.

A distinction must at once be made in the definition of earnings.  In speaking of them, there are necessarily three designations,—­wages, earnings, and income.  Wages represent the actual pay per week at the time employed, with no reference to the number of weeks’ employment during the year.  Earnings are the total receipts for any year from wages.  Thus, for example, a girl is paid $5 a week wages, and works forty weeks of her year.  Her earnings would then be for the year $200, though her wages of $5 per week would indicate that she earned $260 a year; while in fact her average weekly earnings would be for the whole year $3.84.  Income is her total receipts for the year from all sources:  wages, extra work, help from friends or from investments; in fact, any receipts from which expenses can be paid.

In preparing the tables of these reports, the highest, the lowest, the average, and the general average were brought into a final comparison.  Often but one wage is given, and it then becomes naturally both highest and lowest; but all figures are made to indicate an entire occupation or branch of industry, and not a few high or low paid employees in that branch.  It is only with the final comparison that we are able to deal, the reader being referred to the reports themselves for the invaluable details given at full length and including many hundred pages.

The divisions of occupations are the same as those of the tenth census, and the tables are made on the same system.  To determine the general conditions for the twenty thousand at work, it was necessary to have accurate detail as to one thousand; and, in fact, 1,032 were interviewed.  Directly after the work in this direction had ended, and before the report was ready for publication, a general reduction of ten per cent in wages took place, and this must be kept in mind in dealing with the returns recorded.  In this, recapitulation is given in full, and, as will be seen, includes all occupations open to women.

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Women Wage-Earners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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