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FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF CHICAGO
R E P O R T O F B U S IN E S S C O N D IT IO N S
IN T H E S E V E N T H F E D E R A L R E S E R V E D IS T R IC T
JULY 25, 1919
Compiled July 19, 1919

There is in evidence in some of the principal industrial centers of the Seventh Federal Reserve District
a rather pronounced feeling of labor unrest; nor is this confined to skilled labor, but apparently involves all
classes. In some instances it has resulted in strikes involving several thousand wage earners, or in cessation
of plant activity because of a refusal to meet the labor demands for a higher wage scale.
Chicago is just now in the center of this unrest, which appears to be an outcropping of the effect of the
continued high cost of living. Disappointment over the absence of a general decline in prices of articles en­
tering into the household budget, and the actual advances in retail prices in some instances are contribut­
ing to a decidedly disturbed labor situation.
In the industrial districts this unrest has manifested itself in the usual form. Some of the largest plants
in Chicago have ceased operation because of labor troubles. One plant in which there had not been a labor
strike in nearly three decades closed down, while demands for increased wages are pending in other indus­
trial plants.
Traction Demands at Chicago.
Demands were made by the employes of the Chicago elevated and surface street railway lines for a
sharp increase in the wage scale. This met with opposition on the part of the employers, who did not oppose
the increase in wages but took the position that such an increase in wages without a corresponding increase in
fares spells bankruptcy for the elevated and the street railway companies which, because of the high costs of
operation, have been showing earning3 insufficient to meet the usual normal time fixed and dividend charges.
The State Utilities Commission had refused an increase in fare for the surface lines, although an increase of
one cent (to a six-cent fare) was granted the elevated companies about a year ago.
Failure to appease the street railway employes necessarily would seriously menance Chicago’s industries,
because so large an element of the population is dependent upon this class of transportation to reach their
places of business or employment. This led to bringing to bear every possible effort to avoid an interrup­
tion in Intra-mural transportation at this time.
Building Operations Hampered.
The building industry, which has been progressing since the Armistice, although in a hesitating manner,
has been interfered with by the labor situation. The high cost of materials and high wages have been re­
tarding factors since the Government restrictions were removed from building operations, but despite this,
these operations continue to show substantial gains from month to month over the corresponding period of
the previous year, until in June Chicago’s building permits showed an increase of 180 per cent, over June of
1918.
The requirements for housing, in consequence of the long period of limited building, were sufficient to insure
active construction throughout the year, weather conditions permitting. The same situation prevails in nearly
all of the important cities throughout the district. During the last fortnight the building trades in Chicago
demanded an increase in wages varying in percentages. The demand of $1 an hour by the carpenters and the
offer of the employers of 92% cents an hour caused unrest elsewhere in the building trades it is claimed
by throwing wage scales out of line with each other, consequently certain trades became more insistent in
their demands for further increases, running from 25 to 50 cents an hour.
Furthermore, lumber has advanced in price, and the building situation, therefore, was very much disturbed.
Carpenter contractors, upon the failure of the carpenters’ union to accept the 92% cents an hour minimum
wage, locked out the carpenters, forcing out upwards of 100,000. The carpenters and other building trades,
however, have asked for a conference with the building employers.




Miners Want Big Pay.
There is another feature in the labor situation which has a bearing on the future industrial activities of
the district. Miners in the Indiana coal fields are demanding $7.00 a day minimum for a six-hour day and
five-day week, with price and a aalf for overtime and double price for Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. It
is reported that a similar demand will be made in the Illinois coal fields.
The campaign to induce the early purchase of next winter’s supply of coal, to relieve the congestion at
the mines and thus stimulate production for a time, is finding a better response; all classes of consumers
new seem to realize the danger of a coal shortage thi3 winter. There has been an unusually heavy summer
movement of the better grades for domestic purposes. Large users of steam coal who have been withholding
the placing of contracts in the hope of securing lower prices now have abandoned that policy and are making
arrangements for their year’s supply.
Strong Demand for Packing House Products.
Packing house stocks are heavier than a year ago but are being heavily drawn upon, consequently are
diminishing somewhat. The domestic demand in all lines of packing house products shows a steady in­
crease, while the foreign demand is also stimulated and the movement to the interior countries and Central
Powers of Europe is now on. Arrangements for financing seem to be progressing satisfactorily. The
packers agreed to continue the war-time wages for a period of one year subsequent to the signing of the
Peace Treaty, but there is some agitation for a demand by labor for a 30 to 50 per cent, increase.
High Eecord Prices for Hogs Prevailing.
Record prices on hogs are prevailing, while the market for cattle holds strong. There are some in the
packing industry who look forward to a further 10 per cent, increase in hogs this fall, and 8 to 10 per cent,
increase in cattle prices.
Receipts during June at the principal markets compared with the corresponding month of the previous
year showed a decrease of 21 per cent, in cattle, 9 per cent, in calves, and an increase of 20 per cent, in sheep.
Prices for cattle in June, compared with a year ago, showed a decline of 9 per cent, for choice and 14 per
cent, for common cattle. Prices for sheep showed a decilne of 30 per cent, and for lambs 16 per cent, com­
pared with the previous June.
What Six Months Has Brought About.
Receipts for the six months ended July 1 compared with the corresponding period of the previous year
showed a decrease of 7 per cent, in cattle, an increase o f l per cent, in calves and an increase of 18 per cent,
in sheep. Prices for cattle for the first six months of 1919 showed an increase of 20 per cent, for choice and
11 per cent, for common cattle, while the prices for sheep and lambs in the first six months showed a de­
cline of 12 per cent, and 4 per cent, respectively.
The average price of beef and mutton for .the month of June compared with the corresponding month of
1918 showed a decline of 14 per cent, in beef, 28 per cent, in mutton and 11 per cent in lambs. This decline
in live meat animals and the result in produce is attributed to the decreased prices in the local market,
caused by cessation of demand to feed the armies of our Government and its Allies and the decrease in the
domestic demand, due to the widespread desire to conserve inculcated in the previous months.
The demand for pork, however, is very heavy. The receipts of hogs in June, compared with a year
previous, at Chicago, Omaha, St. Joe, Milwaukee, St. Louis and East St. Louis, were 1,967,091; 1,451,028
in the previous June.
Receipts of live stock at Chicago for the four weeks ended July 12, compared with the corresponding
period of 1918, are as follows:
Hogs

Sheep

1919 .............................................................................
1918 ..................................................................................................................

Cattle
229,179
245,286

49.318
55,618

648,312
568.068

328,042
285,473

Increase ..................................................................................................

*16,107

*6,300

80,244

42,564

•Decrease.




Calves

The trend of prices of live hogs and their products compared with a year ago for Chicago alone follows:
Average price of live hogs June, 1918, $16.60; June, 1919, $20.40.
Cash lard, June, 1918, ranged from $23.87% to $25.35, while in June, 1919, the range was
from $35.67% to $38.85.
Cash ribs in June, 1918, ranged from $21.35 to $23.50, while in June, 1919, the range was
from $28.12% to $30.
Merchandising and Manufacturing Conditions Active.
Stocks of merchandise are comparatively low, being moved from merchants’ shelves about as rapidly
as they can produce them. There is a shortage especially in the finer quality of materials and goods, for
which there is an immense demand. This demand reflects itself in the rapid movement of inferior goods,
“seconds,” and in substitutes which can be used to fill the gap.
The public continues to buy heavily, regardless o f price, and the demand seems to be for quality, not­
withstanding that in many instances prices have trebled compared with 1912 and 1913. Raw materials are
on hand in many plants, manufacturers being compelled to provide themselves with large stocks during the
war, but apparently there is not much over-stocking and there is a healthy demand for manufactured pro­
ducts, which is rapidly assuming a pre-war basis. General business conditions are good in this district and
there is a marked activity in all lines.
Adverse Weather Conditions Affect Crop Yield.
Reports of agricultural conditions throughout the district Indicate that the expected yield of some grains
will not be entirely realized, due to rust and adverse weather conditions. The winter wheat crop is somewhat
disappointing, averaging about 20 bushels per acre on threshings at date of report, while the spring wheat
crop in this district is far from satisfactory. The acreage of both is very large, and this in part will offset
the decline in yield.
The corn crop is reported in good condition, and the promise is for a large production, while hay and
forage crops have been exceptionally good.
Foreigners Withdrawing Savings.
There is a distinct movement on the part of the foreign element to withdraw
and remit it to their native countries. Ordinarily this would be regarded as an
when consideration is given to the enormous requirements of those countries, in
funds as are sent abroad by aliens from this country tend to reduce the amount
covered by credits later on.

savings from the banks
unfavorable feature, but
the way of lr.ahs, such
which may have to be

Bank deposits as a whole, however, are increasing, and while the withdrawals by aliens have tended to
hold down savings deposits, they are still making a satisfactory showing in the aggregate compared with a
year ago.
Activity in the farm land movement continues, with acre prices in all sections of the district steadily
advancing as farmers reinvest the proceeds of previous sales, and necessarily this demand is attended by
some participation by land speculators.
There is a good and steady demand for money. The credit situation is regarded as generally good and
collections are prompt. Investment bankers report a much better inquiry for municipal securities and
wide selling of good bonds at attractive prices, with a prospect of improvement in the buying demand.
How Banking Statistics Compare.
Gross deposits of the twelve leading member banks in Chicago aggregated $1,027,900,000 on July 17, com­
pared with $991,000,000 on June 17 last, an increase of $36,900,000. Loans, exclusive of bonds, aggregated
$635,300,000 on July 17, compared with $634,200,000 a month previous, an increase of $1,100,000.
Chicago bank clearings for the first eighteen days of July (comprising fourteen business days), aggre­
gated $1,500,300,000, an increase of $173,443,000 compared with a year ago, while the exchanges at the nine­
teen leading clearing houses, outside of Chicago, for the first fifteen days of July aggregated $2,010,695,000,
an increase of $11,415,000 compared with a year ago.




SELECTED MEMBER BANK STATISTICS— SEVENTH DISTRICT
(O O Omitted)
O ’s
Chicago
------ 44 Member Banks
Jan. 3.
July 11.
June 6.
Loans—
$74 950
$76,399
Secured by U. S. war obligations.$61,160
887,760
895,200
A ll other loans and investments. .846,008
Reserve Balance with Federal..........
113,957
118,061
Reserve Banks .................................... 108,825
40,011
43,268
Cash in vault .......................................... 44,555
Deposits—
830,932
865,443
Net demand ........................................ 794,396
164,762
166,357
Time ........................................................ 149,859
98,499
50,262
Government ............................................ 13,962
Bills Payable and Rediscounts—
37,348
55,630
Collateral Notes ................................ 37,735
5,215
12,215
Bills Rediscounted .............................. 10,186

Detroit
-12 Member BanksJan. 3.
June 6.
July 11.
$ 8,720
$10,620
$12,517
244,085
261,098
281,407

Other
14 Member BanksJan. 3.
June 6.
July 11.
$13,420
$16,369
$15,608
280,939
293,074
291,708

21,886
13,821

23,303
12,425

25,004
14,513

25,241
15,811

26,584
14,567

29,434
14,705

162,048
155,896
13,964

174,849
173,487
15,204

187,922
175,580
11,213 •

209,707
89,211
6,189

228,232
97,573
15,298

243,232
97,800
10,642

12,154
412

22 980
811

31,317
407

18,380
16,191

20,974
3 355

10,086
1,904

RECEIPTS AND SHIPMESTS OF IMPOKTAST COMMODITIES AT CHICAGO
(O O Omitted)
O ’s
-Receipts— May—
— June—
1919
1918
1919
1918
Flour, barrels ..............................................
901
659
747
487
W heat, bushels ............................................ 1,727
190
856
126
Corn, bushels ................................................ 3 334
5,894
8.077
7,656
Oats, b u s h e ls ................................................... 5,838
9,030
10,113
8,208
27,301
16,764
29,835
Cured Meats, pounds.................................. 19,081
Fresh Meats, pounds................................... 107.948
100,527
125,734
96,826
10,057
23,355
9,753
Lard pounds
. .................................. 24,142
Cheese, pounds ............................................ 18,961
12,028
22,807
17,411
Butter pounds .............................................. 29,266
20,780
46,331
36,173
Eggs, ’cases .................................................... 1.212
926
1,080
732
Hides p o u n d s................................................ 20,897
14,495
18,420
14,883
Lumber, 1.000 feet........................................
162
252
184
230
Potatoes, bushels ........................................ 1,505
1,102
1,191
935

■May—
1919
497
7,760
2,964
7,032
96,561
190,121
51,322
11,252
31,692
404
21,153
66
592

■Shipments

1918
376
356
3,203
7,436
63,612
139,341
22,404
7,410
18,992
194
14,984

121
369

—June—

1919
501
1,040
2,228
6,211
118 564
256,126
58,736
16,186
33,700
243
16,021
80
454

1918
280

211

2,370
3,162
80,983
107,112
12,660
5,598
20,519
215
14,088

111
314

BUILDING PERMITS OF SEVENTH FEDERAL RESERVE DISTRICT CITIES
------ June, 1919------

No. of
Buildings.
...................
52
................... 900
................... 110
...................
84
................... 143
...................2,411

City.

...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................
...................

97
225
804
97
159
495
I ll
233
118
168
88

Terre Haute, Ind........................

Estimated
Cost.
$ 190.000
11,415 600
245,750
230,925
532.140
6,649.045
285,695
245,143
637,010
1,044,260
149,315
234,260
1,407,640
1,127,765
246 235
820,475
961,878
173,390
80,545

------ June, 1918------

No. of
Buildings.
25
277
67
33
66
899
4
42
108
420
59
20
301
26
22
35
91
49
75

Estimated
Cost.
5 153,000
4,062 500
69,887
54,960
143,099
3,012,975
2,680
123,155
91,580
541,651
58,916
20,470
635,898
103 430
22,309
139.150
63,148
63,285
77,745

Per Cent. Per Cent.
Gain.
Loss.
24
180
251
320
271
120
10560
99
595
92
153
1044
121
990
1003
489
1421
174
3

COMPARATIVE STATISTICS OF BUILDING AND ENGINEERING OPERATIONS
Contracts awarded in States north of the Ohio and east of the Missouri Rivers, from January 1 to July
1, 1919.
$989,904,000
911.714.000
831.402.000

1919
1918
1917

1916
1915
1914

$596,583,586
413,532,600
382,532,000

1913
1912
1911

$472,372,500
406,011,000
416,227,813

Contracts awarded in Seventh Federal Reserve District States—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and
Wisconsin—also Northern Missouri and Eastern Kansas.
$401,195 000
188.343.000
344.419.000

1919
1918
1917

Note:




1916................................................ $219,237,086
1915................................................. 119 020,600
1914................................................. 104,656,000

1913
1912
1911

Building and Construction statistics compiled by the F. W. Dodge Company.

$106,531,000
59.402,000
80,822,313


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102