Food and Wages

Food and Wages

U. S. Commissioner of Labor Charles P. Neil found that for the week ending November 25, 1911, 22,000 textile employees—including foremen, supervisors, and office workers—averaged about $8.76 for a full week’s work in Lawrence. Not everyone worked a full week.

The MA Labor Commission found that “the lowest total for human living conditions for an individual…was $8.28 a week.” A third of Lawrence families earned less than $7.00.

“It is obvious,” the Massachusetts State Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded in 1911, “that the full-time earnings of a large number of adult employees are entirely inadequate for a family.”

Families often survived on bread, molasses, and beans. One worker testified during the March 1912 Congressional investigation of the strike that, “When we eat meat it seems like a holiday, especially for the children.”