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The wage fund of $117,144,984 in 1890 had increased, in 1902, to $193,552,175, but the number of persons employed had advanced from 270,195 in 1890 to 420,781 in 1902. The number of days in operation in 1890 was 290 and in 1902 296, a gain of six days' production. The proportion of business done in 1890 as compared with largest possible product (or 100 per cent) was 73 per cent; in 1902 it was 70 per cent.
If we examine columns 7 and 8 in the table last presented, we shall see the fluctuations in the percentages of industry product going, respectively, to the wage fund and to the profit and minor expense fund. In 1891 and 1892 combined the wage fund lost 1.52 per cent, but in 1893 it gained 2.13 per cent. In 1894 and 1895, combined, it lost 1.10 per cent but gained 1.38 per cent in 1896. In 1897, 1898, 1899, and 1900 it lost, combined, 5.24 per cent, gaining 0.42 per cent in 1901, and losing 1.53 per cent in 1902. In 1902 as compared with 1890 the wage fund had fallen from 53.01 per cent to 47.55; the profit and minor expense fund had risen, in the same time, from 46.99 per cent to 52.45, a gain equal to the wage fund decrease.
In 1902 the average yearly earnings were $459.98 as compared with $133.56 in 1890, or a gain of six per cent. The average profit and minor expense fund per employé increased from $384.26 in 1890 to $507.40 in 1902, a gain of 32+ per cent.
It is evident that these figures, instructive as they are, and based on official records, do not reach to the root of the question. To solve the problem it will be necessary to go still deeper.
The question now presents itself — What part of the profit and minor expense fund is profit and what part expense ?
Part IV of the Bureau Report for 1890 was entitled “ Net Profits in Manufacturing Industries.” The tables therein were based upon certified returns from 10,013 manufacturing establishments.
As in the present article “ Stock” and “ Wages” were deducted from the “ Value of Goods Made,” and the remainder became the “ Profit and Minor Expense Fund.” The following items of expense were returned on the 10,013 schedules : Salaries, rent, taxes, insurance, freight, new equipment, repairs, and “ other expenses.” When the aggregate of these items was subtracted from the profit and minor expense fund, the excess of selling price above cost of production was obtained. This figure was again reduced by allowances for interest on cash and credit capital, for depreciation on machinery, implements, and tools, and for selling expenses and losses by bad debts.
Figures to show "expenses" and " allowances” for any year since 1885 are not in existence, and for that reason it is impossible to separate the profit and minor expense fund into its constituent parts.
Whether it is advisable to require manufacturers to supply information that will disclose the net profits made by them is a question for the legislative power to consider, but until such information is secured it will be impossible to determine whether such “ net profits” are inordinate, or whether labor receives its proper share of the “ industry product."
It is interesting and instructive to note, in conclusion, that during the recent strike in the cotton mills at Lowell, the manufacturers submitted their books to the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration which decided, after the books had been examined by financial experts, that the net profits made by the mills would not warrant them in increasing the wages of their employés. The fact that the plan of arriving at “net profits” was the one adopted to settle the dispute, would seem to prove the assertion hereinbefore made that the only way to determine whether the industry product is fairly divided between the wage fund and the profit and minor expense fund is to obtain returns of expenses, and thus arrive at the percentage of net profit on the total capital invested.
REVIEW OF EMPLOYMENT AND EARNINGS.
FOR Six MONTHS ENDING OCTOBER 31, 1903.
The following review presents a summary by industries of the conditions affecting employment and earnings for the six months ending October 31, based upon special reports and comparisons made by agents of the Bureau, relating to the principal industrial centres of the Commonwealth. The statistics of persons employed and of earnings are based upon comparisons of identical establishments for the weeks ending April 11 and October 10, 1903.
Boots and Shoes. Demand excellent all over country except in Southern and Western Texas. Domestic trade has fallen off somewhat and foreign market continually growing less. Summer business kept up well to September 1. Business situation not as good as for previous six months — Spring is generally most active season — and, on the whole, trade is not quite up to the corresponding period in 1902, although manufacturers report large duplicate Fall orders and Spring orders coming in well. One manufacturer reports retarded business and inability to obtain help on account of labor troubles. Better grade of counter being used by shoe manufacturers. Establishments are being run on full time and to about 60 per cent of full capacity; wages remain practically unchanged, individual concessions being made and lasters benefiting on the average about three per cent; little change in cost of stock; downward tendency on soles and hides, goat lower, linings higher; selling prices about the same as last Fall; collections only fair, large buyers are slow and small buyers, as a rule, good. Prospects bright.
The shipment of shoes from Brockton for the six months ending Oct. 10, 1903, aggregated 290,991 cases against 300,079 cases for the six months ending April 11, 1903, and 292,026 cases for the corresponding period in 1902, the half year ending Oct. 11.
The total cases of boots and shoes shipped from Haverhill for the six months ending Oct. 9, 1903, numbered 221,598 as compared with 251,192 cases for the previous six months and 226,847 cases for the corresponding six months in 1902 ending Oct. 11.
Building. Less building activity than six months previous and as compared with last Fall there is not so much work in the market. Strikes in the building trades together with the high cost of material have affected building operations adversely. Considerable heavy work in market but little residential work. Greatest activity in municipal and government work. Two builders report so little being done that they have temporarily given up the business. Advances in rates of wages are noted : Carpenters from 35 to 3712 cents per hour; soft-stone cutters from 44 to 50 cents per hour; masons from 50 to 55 cents per hour; laborers from 28 to 30 cents per hour. Cost of stock is lower, especially iron ; bricks and cement lower; hard pine easier. Collections fair.
Clothing. Trade about the same as for previous six months but better than a year ago. One firm reported scarcity of help. Establishments running on full time and from 50 per cent to full capacity; no change in rate of wages; cost of stock has slightly increased; selling prices practically the same; collections good. Outlook favorable.
Confectionery. Business situation excellent; better than for previous six months and demand largely increased over corresponding period last year. This summer showed big volume of business; more candy being consumed each year. Good help scarce; one manufacturer reports inability to fill orders owing to scarcity of chocolate dippers. Factories running full time and nearly to full capacity; rates of wages unchanged but individual increases have been granted ; cost of stock and selling prices remain practically unchanged; collections good.
Cotton Goods. The business situation in the cotton industry not as prosperous as a year ago with very poor Summer and Fall demand ; practically nothing being done at the present time. Independent spinning mills quite active; cloth mills affected adversely. Most of the large mills in Lawrence and Fall River shut down in August or September from two to five weeks; in most cases this was done for purpose of curtailment, while in some mills extensive repairs were made and large additions built. One large factory had spinning room shut down one and one-half days a week during August, September, and October. Generally conceded that curtailment of production did not relieve the situation as was expected. High cotton, high wages, high money, and Southern competition have been attributed for poor condition of the cotton trade. Cotton mills running on full time and from 80 per cent to full capacity ; raw cotton advanced ; selling prices slightly higher but do not parallel cost of production. Collections good. On Nov. 11, announcement was made of a 10 per cent reduction in wages of operatives of the Fall River cotton mills (except the Fall River Iron Works *), to go into effect Nov. 23; reduction equal to advance granted on March 17, 1902 ; about 25,000 workers affected. New Bedford cotton manufacturers ordered 10 per cent reduction in wages — return to wage schedule in force prior to April, 1902 — to go into effect Dec. 7; about 10,000 affected.
Leather.. Fall activity not as great as a year ago, about the same as at the close of our last review, and good summer trade. Foreign market good, foreign demand being better than domestic. Production has fallen off somewhat, not from the fact that goods could not be sold, but
Announcement made on Nov. 21 of 10 per cent reduction in wages to go into effect Nov. 30.
that raw stock is so high that manufacturing cannot be done at a profit. Activity shown in split cow hides, trade in enamelled leather increasing. Wool skins for pulling rather scarce during summer. India-tanned skins are very slow; prices of raw India skins have been prohibitive. Establishments running on full time and nearly to full capacity; individual concessions made in wages; cost of stock a little easier with selling prices about the same as in the Spring; collections fair. Brisk outlook.
Liquors (Bottled) and Carbonated Beverages. In temperance drinks, very poor business reported, worst summer trade ever experienced, due to unfavorable weather. Fall trade not up to that of last year. Establishments running full time, capacity worked being from 15 to 25 per cent; wages the same; cost of stock slightly advanced ; selling prices the same; collections good.
Liquors: Malt. Volume of business in the brewing industry not as active as in 1901, which is the year comparable, as the brewers' strike last summer prevented us from making comparisons. Unseasonable weather is the reason assigned for poor summer trade. Breweries running on full time and from 50 per cent to nearly full capacity ; wages of engineers increased $3 per week, carpenters also advanced ; malt a trifle higher, and hops much higher due to failure of European crop; selling prices the same; collections good.
The following statement gives the number of barrels of malt liquors brewed in the District of Massachusetts for the months of April, May, June, July, August, and September, for the years 1901, 1902, and 1903.
The foregoing comparison indicates an increase in the number of barrels brewed during the specified six months in 1903 as compared with corresponding period of 1902 of 198,081. As compared with 1901, a decrease is shown in 1903 of 18,575 barrels.
Machines and Machinery. On the whole, business not as good as for previous six months and not up to the level of corresponding six months in 1902, with not very favorable prospects. Individual manufacturers report good season and business steadily increasing with fine outlook in general repairing and improvements, but little new work on market. One firm has had erected a large plant for manufacture of leather machinery. Establishments running full time with the exception of one which has reduced working hours from 58 to 5212 a weck; about 75 per cent of full capacity being worked ; rates of wages about