1920s >> 1926 >> no-268-december-1926

Yankee Prosperity

The New York correspondent of the Daily News quotes from a report issued by the National Catholic Welfare Conference of America to show the falsity of many of the extravagant tales of high wages said to be paid to workers in the U.S.A. We give below an extract from the Report (Daily News, November 17th) :

  The chorus of voices proclaiming that because of high wages we can now look forward to the indefinite continuation of prosperity misses several plain facts.
High wages are not nearly so common as is assumed. Great numbers of men are making as low as three and four dollars a day. Great numbers of women are making as low as 12, 13. and 14 dollars a week. Great numbers of both men and women are out of work and are making no money at all.
The level of wages is higher now than at any time in the past, but even now close upon half of the men working for wages are not making a family living wage, and close upon half of the women working for wages are not making enough to support themselves in reasonable comfort.
Great numbers of men and women working for a weekly or monthly salary are below the line of reasonable existence, and still greater numbers have not shared proportionately in the increased productiveness of American industry and agriculture.
Farmers are a third of the consuming public, and their buying power has actually decreased in the last seven years. Along with low-paid wage and salaried workers in cities they stand as a handicap to city prosperity, and a sure cause of inevitable industrial depression in this country.
Much of the phenomenal selling of goods at home is based on instalment buying by wage and salaried workers, who are mortgaging an essentially insecure future to buy goods now.

Those who saw in America an example of the way in which a more efficient capitalism abolishes working class poverty will need to continue their search for a “prosperous” working class.
Edgar Hardcastle