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TABLE No. 3. Cost of Living in New Jersey-Comparison of Average Retail Prices,
Month of June, for 1898 and 1910.
Wages and Cost of Living Abroad.
The interest awakened throughout the State and the country by the chapter relating to the cost of living which appeared in last year's report, resulted in the receipt by the Bureau of large numbers of requests for copies of the same, and also for such other information having a bearing on the subject of food prices and wage rates at home and abroad, as might be available for public distribution. The larger number of these letters came from official and public bodies, among them, committees of Congress, of the legislatures of several States, Chambers of Commerce, and Boards of Trade of municipalities. Approval of the report as a timely contribution to the discussion of a most interesting economic topic, was freely expressed by all correspondents, many of whom asked for extra copies, and also for the forms used in procuring the data on which the report was based.
Encouraged by this display of general interest, an effort was made to secure authoritative figures relating to wages and living expenses in other countries, which, through the courtesy of the United States Department of Commerce and Labor, and also a number of our Consular representatives in Germany, met with a fair degree of success. A very complete schedule of wage rates for a wide range of mechanical occupations was obtained from Germany and Austria, together with current prices of food supplies in the district to which the wage data applies.
The American Vice-Consul at Reichenberg, Austro-Hungary, reports that the Chamber of Commerce of that municipality, with the largest membership of any like organization in the dual monarchy, has suggested to all other Chambers of Commerce throughout both countries the expediency of opening an inquiry into the causes that have brought about the present high prices of food. Acting on this suggestion, the following statement, showing former and present prices of the necessaries of life was prepared and issued by the magistracy of Reichenberg.
By “former prices” is meant prices which prevailed about ten years ago; present prices apply to the early part of 1910.
As shown by the above figures the retail price of beef has increased during the past ten years, 41.6 per cent.; that of veal, 46. I per cent.; pork, 69.2 per cent. ; wheat flour, 25 per cent.; sugar, 14 per cent. ; geese, 67.7 per cent,; beer, 57.1 per cent., and anthracite coal, 57.6 per cent.
The high prices of meat in this district are attributed chiefly to the fact that the supply of cattle and other meat producing animals has not kept pace with the growth of population. While prices have risen enormously as shown by the table, the average wages, which is less than one-half those of American workmen, have remained practically stationary during the past twenty years.
In Hamburg, Germany, according to a report of the American Consul-General at that city, the prices of meat have undergone a marked increase during the past few years; the figures supplied by him were furnished by an average dealer of good repute, whose prices are neither the highest nor the lowest. The prices per pound in American money now prevailing are as follows:
32.4 22.6 to 25.9 47.6 to 51.9 22.6 to 25.9
Ham, smoked: For boiling, sliced.
From Plauen, Saxony, come figures furnished by the American Consul at that place, which show meat prices varying but slightly from those appearing in the above table. Local prices generally, including house rents, transportation and luxuries, have gradually risen, and the consumption of meat is decidedly less because of higher prices. The market quotations furnished by the Consul are for the wholesale trade, and a few of them given below, will convey an idea of the prices paid by the consumer when the middleman's profits are added :
An American Consul, resident of Hanover, Germany, sends a review of food prices in that part of the German Empire, which shows them to be as high there as in the United States, although he says that “on the basis of income, the German in competitive occupations with the American workman, should not pay more than 50 per cent. of the prices he now pays for food, while in fact he pays practically the same as the American, with the exception of milk and vegetables, and these are kept down only by the labor of women on the farms."
“High price conditions are met by certain self denials, and by the economies of the German housekeepers, who in an ordinary household would be almost able to live well on the waste of many American families of similar position in life.”
The Consul-General at London, England, furnishes an extensive list of food prices in that city, covering the articles that are consumed daily by the great majority of English people. The prices were obtained in widely separated parts of London, but do not include inferior provisions, such as are used only by the very poorest classes. The list, which includes practically everything in the line of table supplies, is too long to be reproduced here in its entirety, and therefore only the principal cuts of meat are given below, with four per barrel. In presenting the prices English money has been converted into American, on the basis of one penny equaling two cents.
The prices quoted in the several preceding lists were recorded during the past six months, and if any change has taken place in the meantime, it is almost certain that most of them are now somewhat higher. In general it will strike the American housekeeper who examines them, that while some are higher and others lower in about the same proportion, the average prices do not differ materially from our own.
As showing the resources at command of workmen in continental Europe to meet the increased and increasing cost of living, wages paid per day or per week, to men engaged in various trades in Germany and Austria, are given in the subjoined tables :
The first table gives daily wages in Germany for 1898 and 1908, the increases and decreases which occurred during the ten year period being noted in absolute amounts and percentages; the second gives wages per week for adult males engaged in the various wood working industries, and the third shows the daily wage rates for workmen of various occupations in Vienna, Austria.
Trend of Wages in Germany from 1898 to 1908.