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THE EFFECT OF
MINIMUM

//Me

DETERMINATIONS

IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES
U. S. Department of Labor—Bulletin of the Women's Bureau, No. 166




UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary

WOMEN’S BUREAU

'

MARY ANDERSON, Director

+

THE EFFECT
OF MINIMUM WAGE
DETERMINATIONS IN SERVICE
'
INDUSTRIES
Adjustments in the Dry-Cleaning and
Power-Laundry Industries -

!' -fvg'l
s0£.
Bulletin

of the

Women’s Bureau, No.

166

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1938

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.




Price 10 cents




CONTENTS
Page

Letter of transmittal-----------------------------------------------------------------------------Introduction----------------------------------------------------Purpose of study________
Tile problem of relating effect and cause
2
Salient findings concerning benefit of minimum wage_______________
Effect of minimum wage in the dry-cleaning and dyeing industry_______
Conditions throughout the industry
9
New equipment introduced----------------------------------------------------Shifts in proportion of sales to employees----------------------- -------Small units a factor in industry----- ------------------------------------------Scope of survey------------------------------------------------------------------------------Places covered----------------------------------------------------------------------Data secured-----------------------------------------------------------------------Type of establishment included----------------------------------------------Firms operating for 3 years--------------------------------------------------Lack of records
12
Changes in numbers of employees, 1934 to 1937------------------------------Changes in total numbers employed, and volume of sales_ __
Women’s and men’s employment changes
13
Effects on individual women’s employment____________________
Changes in hourly earnings, 1934 to 1937
Ohio’s fair wage standard-----------------------------------------------------Comparison of earnings in identical firms over the 3 years and in
any firm reporting for any of the 3 years------------------------------The lower-paid group in Ohio
15
The higher-paid group in Ohio
16
Comparison of hourly earnings in Indiana_______________________
Comparison of changes in men’s and women’s hourly earnings__
Changes in hours worked, 1934 to 1937-----------------------------------------Changes in weekly earnings, 1934 to 1937-------------------------------------Comparison of women’s weekly earnings in Ohio and Indiana___
Increased weekly earnings due largely to increased rates_______
Occupational earnings
18
Comparison of men’s and women’s weekly earnings____________
Earnings in border-city establishments compared with establishments
elsewhere in Ohio
19
Adjustment of Ohio dry-cleaning and dyeing industry to minimum
wage and other changes, 1934 to 1937
Effect of minimum wage in the power-laundry industry________________
General conditions in the laundry industry in New York and
Pennsylvania
23
Scope of study------------------------------Changes in numbers of women employed, 1933 to 1935---------------------Changes in earnings, 1933 to 1935
New York’s minimum-wage standard---------------------------------------The lower-paid operatives in New York
29
The higher-paid operatives in New York---------------------------------Comparison of hourly earnings in Pennsylvania----------------------Hours worked---------------------------------------------------------------------Changes in weekly earnings in New York and Pennsylvania-----Earnings according to occupation
Appendix—Tables




in

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29
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30
30
31
33

XV

CONTENTS
TABLES
Page

I. Number of establishments visited in 1937 and number in business
in 1934 and 1935, with number of men and women they em­
ployed—Dry cleaning and dyeing, Ohio and Indiana___________
II. Changes in employment of men and women from 1934 to 1935 and
1937, identical establishments—Dry cleaning and dyeing, Ohio
and Indiana-------------------------------------------------------------------------III. Hourly earnings of women in all establishments reporting hours
worked for any of the 3 years 1934, 1935, and 1937, and in
identical establishments reporting for each of the 3 years—Dry
cleaning and dyeing, Ohio and Indiana
34
IV. Hourly earnings of men and women in the various occupations in
identical establishments in 1934, 1935, and 1937—Dry cleaning
and dyeing, Ohio and Indiana
34
V. Hours worked in the week reported by women on production and
by women sales and store clerks, all establishments reporting
for any of the 3 years 1934, 1985, and 1937—Dry cleaning and
dyeing, Ohio and Indiana-----------------------------------------------------VI. Week’s earnings of women in all establishments reporting for any
of the 3 years 1934, 1935, and 1937—Dry cleaning and dyeing,
Ohio and Indiana
35
VII. Week’s earnings and hours worked of women on production and of
women sales and store clerks, identical establishments reporting
for each of the 3 years 1934, 1935, and 1937—Dry cleaning and
dyeing, Ohio and Indiana
36
VIII. Week’s earnings of men and women in the various occupations in
identical establishments in 1934, 1935, and 1937—Dry cleaning
and dyeing, Ohio and Indiana
37
IX. Week’s earnings and hourly earnings of women in Ohio border
cities and in other Ohio cities in 1934, 1935, and 1937—Dry
cleaning and dyeing, Ohio and Indiana-----------------------------------X. Comparison of number of establishments, number of wage earners,
amount of pay rolls, and receipts in 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935'—
Power laundries, New York and Pennsylvania_________________
XI. Change in proportion of women employed from 1933 to 1935,
identical establishments—Power laundries, New York and
Pennsylvania___________________________ ____________________
XII. Hourly earnings of women in all establishments reporting hours
worked for any of the 3 dates in 1933 and 1935—Power laundries,
New York and Pennsylvania-------------------------------------------------XIII. Hours worked in the week reported by women in all establishments
reporting hours worked for any of the 3 dates in 1933 and 1935—
Power laundries, New York andPennsylvania---------------------------XIV. Week’s earnings of women in identical establishments in 1933 and
1935—Power laundries, New York and Pennsylvania----------------XV. Week’s earnings and hours worked in November 1935—Power
laundries, New York and Pennsylvania
44
XVI. Hourly earnings of women in certain occupations in .1933, in 1935
(Pennsylvania), and in 1937 (New York)—Power laundries,
New York and Pennsylvania
44

33
33

35

38
39
40
41
42
43

CHARTS
1. Average hourly earnings of women in the dry-cleaning and dyeing
industry of Ohio and of Indiana, before either State had a
minimum-wage order and after Ohio had such an order but
Indiana had not-------------------------------------------------------------------- Pacing 1
2. Average hourly earnings of women in the power-laundry industry of
New York and of Pennsylvania, before either State had a minimumwage order and after New York had such an order but Pennsylvania
22
had not




LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
United States Department of Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, August 15,1938.
Madam : I have the honor to transmit the report of a study of the
effects of minimum-wage laws, undertaken to determine whether such
laws attain their objectives when put into operation at a time of
business depression or of fundamental changes in an industry.

No other State has put a minimum-wage law into effect under such
adverse business conditions as still obtained when New York passed
its first wage law and its laundry order in 1933, and no other wage
order has been issued when such fundamental readjustments were
being made in an industry as were going on in dry cleaning when
Ohio made mandatory its order for that industry in 1935.
The findings show conclusively that minimum-wage legislation for
women, rightly framed, does not interfere with equal opportunity to
work, but does interfere with the unsocial tendency to oppress women
workers at the expense of the welfare of the State.
Respectfully submitted.
Mary Anderson, Director.
Hon. Frances Perkins,
Secretary of Labor.




CHART 1.—AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS OF WOMEN IN THE DRY­
CLEANING AND DYEING INDUSTRY OF OHIO AND OF INDIANA, BE­
FORE EITHER STATE HAD A MINIMUM-WAGE ORDER AND AFTER
OHIO HAD SUCH AN ORDER BUT INDIANA HAD NOT
(See appendix table III.)

CZ1 Before

Ohio had any minimum-wage order
IHB After Ohio's minimum-wage order became mandatory
OHIO
Hourly earnings

0 ______ 10

20

Percent 40
30

50

60

C
Under 35 cents

>

35 cents

Over 35, under 4o cents

40, under 50 oents

50 cents and over

INDIANA

Percent

01020304050

Under 35 cents

35 cents

Over 35, under 4o centB

4o, under 50 cents

50 cents and over




60

THE EFFECT OF MINIMUM-WAGE
DETERMINATIONS IN SERVICE
INDUSTRIES
Adjustments in the Dry-Cleaning and Power-Laundry Industries

INTRODUCTION
PURPOSE OF STUDY

Does minimum-wage legislation for women, which regulates the
wage extremes below which health is put in jeopardy, attain its ob­
vious social objectives under any and all economic conditions? Re­
peatedly the Women’s Bureau and other official agencies have assessed
favorably the value to large numbers of women workers of the
minimum-wage laws enacted and enforced from 1913 through 1920—
years of general business development. But repeatedly the question
arises as to whether minimum-wage regulations put into effect m 1933,
1934, and 1935, in response to the demand on the part of the worker,
of business, and of society for governmental enactment of wage laws
to correct social and economic maladjustments caused by the 1931-33
business depression, actually have served this end. Unquestionably,
such legislation must be reviewed as it operates under fluctuations in
business conditions and under scientific advancement in industrial
processes and commercial practices before its value to women can be
distinguished sharply from changes in women’s status due to other
influences.
. .
Only two States, New York and Ohio, issued mandatory1 minimumwage orders between the fall of 1933 and the fall of 1935, and these
orders were issued only for the laundry industry in New York and for
the laundry and the dry-cleaning and dyeing industries in Ohio. In
the decision of the Women’s Bureau to assess the results of legislation
passed in the depression years, it was deemed advisable to study the
experiences in this limited field, for no other period will provide
answers to the questions concerning the value of legal-wage enactments
as assurance of a living wage to women under such depressed business
conditions as prevailed in 1933 and 1934. No other minimum-wage
law has been put into effect under such adverse business conditions as
those found in New York in 1933 when the State department of labor
issued its first directory order for a minimum wage in the powerlaundry industry. No other wage order was issued at a time when an
industry was undergoing such fundamental equipment and commer-i
i A tew States Issued directory orders tor certain industries or occupations.




1

2

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

cial readjustments as were occurring in the dry-cleaning industry
when the Ohio Department of Industrial Kelations issued its manda­
tory wage order for the industry in 1935. The appraisal of the effect
of these two regulations in these two States is a test of this type of
regulation under the most severe conditions.
THE PROBLEM OF RELATING EFFECT AND CAUSE

The State of Ohio issued a minimum-wage order for women em­
ployed in dry-cleaning and dyeing establishments during a period in
which the industry everywhere was undergoing fundamental change.
Important developments in industrial cleaning processes occurred at
the same time that consumer buying power was curtailed by the busi­
ness depression of 1931-33. These two forces, scientific and economic,
occasioned and made feasible a reduction of cleaning prices far below
price levels of earlier years. Together making possible and requiring
more efficient plant management, these forces continued in operation in
succeeding years and are still operating today.
Wage adjustments were initiated specifically to benefit the woman
worker, whereas shifts in industrial processes and commercial prac­
tices were instituted without regard to the workers, though they
affected employment and working conditions materially. In a review
of employment and wage changes taking place over such a period, it is
not possible to relate the changes to one specific cause. However, it
is feasible to make a comparison of the conditions in two States, Ohio
and Indiana, in both of which the same scientific and business adjust­
ments were taking place within the dry-cleaning industry, but in only
one of which wage legislation was in effect.
New York issued its directory laundry order in October 1933, to
become mandatory August 6,1934. According to census data, the year
1933 saw a great decline in laundry receipts from those of 1931 within
the State, due partly to decreased use of laundry service and partly to
price cutting. The total amount paid in wages dropped heavily in the
same period. Power laundries in the neighboring State of Pennsyl­
vania suffered a reduction in receipts from 1931 to 1933 almost identi­
cal with that of New York, though Pennsylvania laundries began to
lose business before the depression was noted in New York, and their
workers earned very much less in 1931 than in 1929. In both States
laundry business began to recover in 1934, and this upward trend
continued in 1935. New York State had placed a legal floor under the
wage structure of the laundry industry during this period, but Penn­
sylvania laundries could pay whatever rates they desired. Did New
York’s action cause women laundry workers’ earnings to increase at a
faster pace in that State than they did in Pennsylvania without such
aid ? Did State action benefit women workers or was it a hindrance
in their efforts to earn a better livelihood ?
It was through a comparison of employment and wage changes in
power laundries in 1933 and 1935 in New York and Pennsylvania, and
through a comparison of such changes in the dry-cleaning industry in
1934 and 1937 in the minimum-wage State of Ohio and its neighboring
State Indiana, that the Women’s Bureau weighed afresh the effect of
minimum-wage orders.




INTRODUCTION

3

SALIENT FINDINGS CONCERNING BENEFIT OF MINIMUM WAGE

When business and equipment changes reduce women’s bargaining
power to new low levels, do minimum-wage decrees benefit many
women ?
How many and to what extent ?
Do they lead to their displacement by men ?
Are the wages of the more skilled women leveled to meet the addi­
tional expense of raising the wages of the less skilled ?
How is industry affected by minimum wages at such a period ?
The detailed statistical analyses appearing on pages 9 to 32, from
which the following findings are drawn, afford detailed and conclusive
answers to all these questions for the dry-cleaning and power-laundry
industries. Each of the conclusions will be found to contribute
definitely to the answer to the chief inquiry: Do minimum-wage de­
crees benefit many women when business and equipment changes
reduce their bargaining power to lowest levels?
I. How are service industries affected by minimum-wage orders during a
period of business adjustment ?

The enactment of State minimum-wage orders causes the offi­
cials of service establishments to examine their businesses with a
view to meeting the wage increases made necessary by such orders
without undue disturbance of the balance between tlie total wage
bill and the total receipts.
In Ohio dry-cleaning establishments available figures indicate
practically no change in the proportion wages formed of receipts
in 1934 and in 1937, or before and after a minimum-wage order
was in effect. As a group, Ohio dry-cleaning establishment
managers met these wage increases by improved operating and
managerial efficiency and by an increased volume of business.
New equipment made possible a greater output of work per em­
ployee, and lower prices increased the actual volume of work
to be done.
In New York wages of workers in all power laundries con­
sumed slightly more of the receipts in 1935, 15 months after
the State minimum-wage order became mandatory, than in 1933.
Here too the increase in pay rolls was kept closely in alinement
with receipts by a smaller proportionate increase in wage earners
employed than in business done.
Minimum-wage orders bring about more efficient business manage­
ment. They also 'protect employers who wish to pay a fair wage
from the unfair trade practice of price undercutting through wage
undercutting.
II. What is the effect of minimum-wage orders during a period of vital
business adjustments on the employment of all workers in the service
industries ?

In Ohio and in Indiana dry-cleaning establishments the in­
creases in volume of receipts from April 1934 to April 1937 were
approximately alike. In the minimum-wage State of Ohio the
increase in numbers of employees over the 3-year period in iden93563°— 3 ------- 2
8




4

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

tical dry-cleaning establishments was 11 percent, whereas in the
non-minimum-wage State of Indiana it was 24 percent.
In 1935, receipts of New York and Pennsylvania power laun­
dries had been restored to approximately the same extent in
comparison with 1929 receipts in the two States.2 The total num­
ber of wage earners, on the other hand, had increased very slightly
(by 1 percent) in the minimum-wage State of New York but
had decreased in the non-minimum-wage State of Pennsylvania.
When marked advances in methods of operation occur at the same
time that minimum-xcage orders are being applied, such application
may speed up the adoption of the new labor- and cost-saving equip­
ment, thereby resulting in the employment of a smaller number of
workers for a given volume of sales. When no marked changes occur
in processes or equipment, little difference takes place in the numbers
employed for a given volume of sales in minimum-wage and non­
minimum-wage States.
III. What is the effect of minimum-wage orders during a period of vital
business adjustment on the proportion of women employed ?

In the same establishment or in various establishments the sev­
eral operations in dry cleaning have been and are being done by
either women or men. In both Ohio and Indiana the proportion
of women among all employees was practically the same after
as before the Ohio minimum-wage law. About 55 percent of the
employees in identical Ohio dry-cleaning establishments in April
1934 and in April 1937 were women, and in Indiana in both
periods about 53 percent were women.
In the power-laundry industry there has been a distinct de­
marcation of the work usually done by women from that done
by men, the women performing ironing operations and the men
the washing operations and collection and delivery. In both
New York and Pennsylvania the proportion of'women employed
in identical establishments in May 1933 dropped very slightly by
November 1935—1.6 points and 0.5 of a point, respectively.
Laundrymen stated that such slight shifts either way are without
any significance and are of continuous occurrence from week to
week.
The forces that called for increases in total numbers employed
from 1,934- to 1937 in Ohio and Indiana dry-cleaning establishments
and from 1933 to 1935 in New York and Pennsylvania power laun­
dries obviously did not shift the work between the sexes. Nor did the
minimum-wage orders for women in full effect in 1937 in Ohio and
in 1935 in New York cause substitution of men for women.
IV. What is the effect of minimum-wage orders in a period of vital business
adjustment on employment of individual women ?

While the general business trend and the general employment
trend in dry-cleaning establishments and power laundries in the
2 Because laundry receipts decreased earlier In the depression in Pennsylvania than In
New York it is necessary to make comparisons of receipts and numbers of employees from
an earlier date than one immediately preceding minimum-wage order. See discussion on
page 24.




INTRODUCTION

5

States studied were upward, some plants in each State suffered
a decline in business for various reasons and some decreased the
numbers employed. When a wholesaling business was discon­
tinued, unprofitable receiving branches were closed, a plant was
burned, and illness and death or other reason caused shifts in
management; when ironing machines kept in partial operation
were dismantled, or a new machine was installed requiring a
smaller number of operators, some men and women lost employ­
ment temporarily.

When such business or equipment changes are inaugurated as
a minimum-wage order is put into effect in the plant, the mini­
mum-wage order sometimes is given as the cause of the temporary
misfortune of the individual workers affected.
The few women who were dismissed from Ohio’s dry-cleaning
establishments during the period of minimum-wage application
were interviewed; all who desired employment had found it, more
than three-fourths of them at higher wages than before dismissal.
While the application of minimum-wage orders in service indus­
tries may serve as the immediate occasion for dismissal of a relatively
few employees by some firms, the more deep-seated cause of such dis­
missal usually is found to be a generally bad business situation in
the particular establishment that had required adjustment even before
there were minimum-wage orders.
V. What is the effect of minimum-wage orders on women who are employed
at the lower earnings levels in service industries ?

Almost half of the women employees in Ohio dry-cleaning
establishments were paid less than 35 cents an hour before the
enactment of minimum-wage legislation. After 35 cents became
the legal minimum, the mass of women working for less than 35
cents had their rates raised to 35 cents, some to 40 cents or more.
At the later date, nearly three-fifths of the women in Indiana’s
dry-cleaning establishments still were earning less than 35 cents
an hour; in fact, the proportion earning below 30 cents had in­
creased materially from 1934 to 1937.
New York’s wage order fixed a minimum rate of 31 cents for
laundries in the New York City area and of 27% cents in the
remainder of the State. Before the order was in effect, 84 per­
cent of the women in the metropolitan area earned less than 31
cents an hour. After the order had been mandatory for 15
months, 45 percent earned 31 cents an hour and 38 percent earned
between 31 and 35 cents. In 21 other New York cities, more than
three-fourths of the women employees earned less than 27%
cents before the minimum-wage order. After the order had
been in effect 15 months, 28 percent earned 27% cents and 45
percent earned between 27% and 31 cents.
Minimum-wage orders in service industries raise very materially
the level of rates paid to women workers.
VI. Are the wages of the more skilled women leveled to meet the additional
expense of raising the wages of the less skilled ?

Before any minimum-wage order was in effect in Ohio dry­
cleaning establishments, 23 percent of the women employees



6

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

earned 40 cents but under 50 cents an hour and 6 percent earned
50 cents or more. After the mandatory minimum-wage order had
been in effect 2*4 years, more than 35 percent received 40 but
under 50 cents, and 11 percent received 50 cents or more.
Before any minimum-wage order was in effect in New York’s
power laundries, only 3 percent of the women received 35 and
under 40 cents an hour, and only 3 percent received 40 cents and
over. After the mandatory minimum-wage order had been in
effect 15 months, the proportions of women receiving these higher
rates more than doubled.
Women in the higher-earnings brackets in the service industries
receive increases in rates of pay at the same time that the rates of
less-skilled women are being increased by minimum-wage orders.
VII. Is the total amount in the weekly pay envelope increased by minimumwage orders that have increased the rates of pay ?
After the mandatory minimum wage had been in effect in Ohio
for 214 years, women’s average week’s earnings in dry-cleaning
establishments were more than 20 percent above the pre-mini­
mum-wage level. In Indiana establishments, during the same
period, they had increased by 10 percent.
The average (midpoint! of the week’s earnings of women in
New York power laundries moved up $2.55 in 1935, after the
minimum-wage order was in effect. In Pennsylvania there was
an increase in the corresponding average of $2.25. In New York
in November 1935 average earnings of women were $13.15 a week;
in Pennsylvania, $10.65 a week.
The increase in wage rates following upon minimum-wage orders
causes material increases in total earnings of women workers.
VIII. To sum up in answer to the chief inquiry: When business and equip­
ment changes in service industries reduce women’s buying power
to low levels, do minimum-wage decrees benefit women ?
Even when women’s bargaining power is at its lowest ebb,
minimum-wage orders, rightly framed, increase the rates of pay
and total earnings of the mass of women employed in service
industries.
They do not cause any substitution of men for women.
They do not decrease the total numbers of women employed.
Some individuals whose misfortune it is to be employed in
establishments whose business is unprofitable may suffer dis­
missal at the time minimum-wage orders are put into effect;
but their number is small and in a period of business increase
they are readily employed elsewhere.

IX. And finally: Why is minimum wage needed for women more than for
men in the service industries?
Indiana has no minimum-wage law for women. From April
1934 to April 1937 the average hourly earnings of men in
identical dry-cleaning establishments increased by 19 percent,
whereas those of women in the same establishments increased but




INTRODUCTION

7

10 percent. In Ohio dry-cleaning establishments, where the law
established a minimum below which women must not be paid,
the average of women’s rates increased in this period by 14 per­
cent and the average of men’s rates by about 8 percent.
The wage scale in the service industries is lower for women than
for men. A minimum wage for women does not bring a wage for
the same work equal to that of men, but it does ap-ply a force to
women's lower wage scale that brings it somewhat nearer the level
of that of men.
Minimum-wage legislation for women, rightly framed, does not
interfere with equal opportunity to work. It does interfere with the
unsocial tendency to oppress women workers at the expense of the
welfare of the State.




’.I)

A •

- -1

S S: j!




fev i
irSni
.■ , -

■■

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN THE DRY-CLEAN­
ING AND DYEING INDUSTRY
The effect of the minimum-wage order in the dry-cleaning and dye­
ing industry must needs be reviewed against the background of
vital changes taking place in the industry—not only in Ohio and
Indiana but in all States—during the period within which the order
was put into operation in the State of Ohio.
CONDITIONS THROUGHOUT THE INDUSTRY

New equipment introduced.
Through 1929 the cleaning and dyeing industry experienced con­
tinuous expansion, a sales expansion equaling 278 percent in 10
years, according to the United States Census. Reduced volume of
sales occurred in 1931, followed by sharp price cutting and continued
sales losses in 1933. During this period and later, noninflammable
chlorinated hydrocarbons were substituted for the highly inflam­
mable petroleum hydrocarbons as solvents of grease and loose dirt
in cleaning. The introduction of the synthetic solvent brought with
it newly designed equipment. Small machines, called '‘open plants,”
were built for small establishments, while closed and automatic
plants were put on the market for large-volume work.
The automatic system requires only that the articles to be cleaned
be put into the machine and that they be taken out after they have
been cleaned and dried. The cleaning fluid is added electrically, the
washer is turned electrically, goods pass to the extractor and then
to the dryer automatically. In the open machine the fluid and the
clothes are put in by hand and the clothes are taken out without
being subjected to hot-air drying.3 Obviously the amount of work
per tender that can be done on the automatic machine exceeds that
which can be done on the open machine or with the old-model ma­
chines. But the “spotting,” or removal of water soluble stains, is
a separate garment hand-process following the machine cleaning.
Pressing also continues to require handling each garment separately,
though the new press-bed machine and the steam iron have been
substituted for the more exhausting older equipment.
Shifts in proportion of sales to employees.
Though chlorinated hydrocarbon costs approximately twice as
much as the inflammable petroleum solvent, the technical changes
described so increased the volume that could be handled per em­
ployee in a given time, both in machine cleaning and in pressing,
that operating costs decreased noticeably. In order to get a greater
b Experiments of the Drs. Smyth show that no health hazard is induced by concentra­
tions of carbon tetrachloride in the air breathed of 100 parts per million or 0.01 percent.
The closed dry-cleaning machine keeps the concentration below this figure, but care must
be taken to provide ventilation where open machine is used.—Journal of the American
Medical Association, November 21, 1936: ;‘Safe Practices in the Industrial Use of Carbon
Tetrachloride,” by Henry Field Smyth, M. D., and Henry F. Smyth, Jr., Ph. D.




9

10

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

amount of business, prices of cleaning were cut practically in two.
Had this not been done, the increase in unit volume made possible
by more efficient equipment would have materially decreased the
number of employees in the industry from 1929 to 1935. The in­
crease in total physical volume brought about by greatly reduced
prices made possible, throughout the industry, the retention of ap­
proximately the same number of workers as before. Sales per wage
earner decreased by about one-tliird, as did total money receipts for
dry cleaning. Total wages paid per employee decreased to about
the same extent, so that the total pay roll was the same proportion
(38 percent) of receipts in both 1929 and 1935. Thus did the in­
dustry as a whole adjust to the conditions resulting from a marked
business depression.
Small units a factor in industry.
Another factor that must be taken into account when considering
the effect of minimum wage in this industry is that the cleaning of
garments and other textiles has always lent itself to small-unit op­
eration, often carried on by a family. In 1929 more than half the
establishments reported by the census did a business of less than
$20,000 4 and averaged fewer than four wage earners. Though large
in numbers, the business and employees of these establishments com­
prised less than 18 percent of the total. Only 393 establishments did
a business of $100,000 or over, but these gave employment to 38 per­
cent of the workers and did about 40 percent of the business. While
no figures are available for later years, there is evidence that the
proportion of small establishments has not decreased. The non­
inflammable fluids made it possible for “press shops,” that is, shops;
doing sponging and pressing only, to install the open machine. But
the same factor of noninflammability has caused power laundries
to install the large cleaning and drying machine and operate a clean­
ing unit as an adjunct to the laundry, thus offsetting to some extent
the press-shop influence in the industry.
. As has been stated on page 2, with such material changes in an
industry, each bearing on the employment and earnings opportuni­
ties of women and men, only a comparison of working conditions in
neighboring States, sharing the same equipment and business changes
but the one having a mandatory minimum-wage decree and the other
without any legal wage control, could yield facts from which conclu­
sions could be drawn as to the changes after minimum-wage deter­
minations. For this reason, the Women’s Bureau surveyed working
conditions in dry-cleaning establishments in the minimum-wage State
of Ohio and in the neighboring State of Indiana that has no mini­
mum-wage law.
SCOPE OF SURVEY

Places covered.
All dry-cleaning and dyeing establishments in 62 cities and towns
in Ohio and in 51 cities and towns in Indiana were visited by field
investigators of the Women’s Bureau. In Ohio these cities included
all but five of those of 25,000 or more population, not far from onehalf of those of 10,000 but under 25,000, 29 percent of those of 5,000
* No information aa to those doing less than $5,000.




DHY CLEANING AND DYEING

11

but under 10,000, and 16 percent of the towns of under 5,000. In
Indiana all cities of 25,000 or over were included, all but one city of
10,000 and under 25,000, and well over half those of 5,000 but under
10,000. In both States the smaller towns to be visited were chosen
with the aid of the Dry Cleaners Association.
Data secured.
Data concerning the number and sex of the employees in each occu­
pation, the hours they worked and amounts they earned, and the re­
ceipts from the business done by the establishment were requested
of each firm for a pay-roll period in April of 1934, of 1935, and of
1937. The first period antedated the minimum-wage order in this
industry in Ohio, the second period was 3 months after the minimumwage order had been made mandatory, and the third was after the
decision of the United States Supreme Court assured the country of
the constitutionality of minimum-wage laws for women. April was
chosen because, according to unpublished figures from the Ohio Divi­
sion of Labor Statistics, the record of employment in the industry of
1935 showed April to be an active business month. ■
Type of establishment included.
The Department of Industrial Relations, State of Ohio, defined
“Cleaning and Dyeing Trade” as follows: “1. Cleaning, dyeing,
pressing, or processing incidental thereto, for compensation, of cloth­
ing (including hats), household furnishings, rugs, textiles, fur,
leather, or fabric of any kind whatsoever; 2. the collecting, sale, re­
sale, or distribution at retail or wholesale of cleaning, dyeing, and
pressing service by cleaning, dyeing, pressing establishments, laun­
dries, department stores, hotels, or by any other type of establishment,
or institution.”
It was necessary, therefore, that there be included in this survey
not only establishments using mechanical power in cleaning or dye­
ing, such as are covered by the United States Census, but pressing
shops that only sponge and press garments, and distribution shops
that serve as collection and distribution centers only and send all
cleaning and pressing elsewhere to be done.
In Ohio, of 388 establishments visited in 1937, 76 percent performed
all processes of garment dry cleaning, 22 percent did nothing but
pressing or finishing, and 2 percent wrere collection and distribution
shops only. In Indiana, 70 percent of the firms in business in 1937
carried on all dry-cleaning processes, 28 percent were press shops,
and the few others were retail outlets only. Forty-four percent of
the establishments in Ohio and 72 percent of those in Indiana were
family shops; that is, one or more members of the owner’s family
worked at cleaning or pressing or as sales clerk. In both States the
proportion of family shops in 1934 and 1935 was approximately the
same as in 1937.
Firms operating for 3 years.
Obviously, only firms in business when the survey was made in 1937
could be included. Of the 388 Ohio firms visited, 315 were in business
in 1935 and only 298 were in business in 1934. Of the 290 visited in
Indiana, only 184 were operating in 1934. To what extent these 30
percent and 58 percent increases in numbers of firms over 3 years
93563°—38------3




12

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

approximate the real increases in established firms cannot be ascer­
tained, as there is no record of the number of firms that went out of
business in any year considered. Consequently, the exact changes in
employment within the industry will remain unknown. However, the
shiftings in individual firms are indicative of the fundamental trends
taking place in the industry during this period.

Lack of records.
In 1937 about 47 percent of the dry-cleaning firms in Ohio em­
ployed less than 5 workers, exclusive of family members; 28 percent
employed 5 and under 10 workers, and about 10 percent employed
10 and under 15. Only 11 percent had 20 employees or more. In
Indiana over 60 percent of the firms employed fewer than 5 persons
in 1937 and less than 7 percent employed 20 or more. Pay-rollrecord keeping is at a minimum in many of these small establish­
ments, especially when they are largely family enterprises. Among
the 388 Ohio firms visited, there were 154 that had no records for 1
or more of the 3 years covered by the survey. Of the 290 Indiana
establishments visited, 161 had no records for l or more years. The
numbers employed in any one of the no-record firms were negligible;
the importance of this absence of records, therefore, is far less than
would appear from the number of firms involved. Oral statements
as to numbers employed were accepted from these firm members, but
it is recognized that even where only three or four persons may be
concerned, memory may be inaccurate, so such statements were always
tabulated separately from pay-roll records. No oral statements of
earnings or hours were accepted.
CHANGES IN NUMBERS OF EMPLOYEES, 1934 TO 1937

Changes in total numbers employed, and volume of sales.
Dry-cleaning firms do not keep records of the actual numbers of
each kind of garment cleaned or pressed. Lack of information on
physical volume handled during the period studied is not a serious
omission, however, for so many firms installed new equipment, to
increase total physical volume as well as the volume that could, be
handled per employee, that a detailed comparison of numbers em­
ployed with volume changes would be of little value.
The Bureau attempted to determine the dollar volume of business
done by each firm during the period for which pay rolls were obtained,
not for purposes of direct comparison but as a general guide to busi­
ness conditions. There is no question that there was a material in­
crease in sales from April 1934 to April 1937. In firms reporting sales
that employed no members of the family, the increase in sales was over
40 percent in both Ohio and Indiana. ' The proportionate increase in
numbers employed in these firms was much smaller than the increase in
sales, due unquestionably to more efficient machinery and management
methods. In the Ohio establishments, which averaged 22 workers in
April 1934, the increase in total numbers employed in April 1937 was
11 percent; in Indiana, where the establishments averaged 18 workers
in 1934, their number increased by 24 percent in 1937. The family
shops in Ohio and Indiana added respectively 22 percent and 16 per­
cent to the numbers they employed. Unquestionably, paid service was
substituted for a part of family service as business improved.



DRY CLEANING AND DYEING

13

Women’s and men’s employment changes.
In this period of better business, more employment, and more effi­
cient machinery, what effect had these forces, plus a minimum-wage
law in Ohio, on women’s employment?
There is nothing inherent in the several operations carried on by
workers in dry-cleaning establishments that demands woman’s or
man’s special capabilities, nor has tradition assigned the tasks to one
or the other sex. In 13 percent of the Ohio establishments only women
were employed in 1934, in 6 percent there were no women. These pro­
portions shifted to 10 percent and 4 percent, respectively, by 1937. In
Indiana 16 percent and 17 percent employed only women in 1934 and
1937, respectively, and 13 percent and 8 percent had no women in these
years. In the larger establishments the entry clerk who marks, tags,
or enters and bills the garments to be cleaned is in most cases a woman,
but may be a man. The operator of the cleaning machine is in most,
cases a man but may be a woman, while the proportion of women is
greater in spotting. The pressers and finishers are women in about
two-thirds of the cases. Both seamstresses and men tailors work in
these shops. Velvet steaming, hat reblocking, glove cleaning, knitgoods blocking, are done by either sex. The final operations of inspect­
ing, bagging, and shipping are more often carried on by women but
may be done by men.
In Ohio and Indiana, for all firms covered, the proportion of women
among all employees was practically the same in April 1937 as in
April 1934. In Ohio, of the 3,162 employees in 298 establishments in
1934, and of the 4,105 in 388 establishments in 1937, 55 percent were
women; and in Indiana, of the 1,020 employees in 184 establishments
in 1934, and of the 1,842 in 290 establishments in 1937, about 53 percent
were women. When identical establishments only are considered, the
proportion of women still was about 55 percent in both years in Ohio,
but it declined by one point in Indiana (from 52.3 percent in 1934 to
51.3 percent in 1937).
The forces that called for increases in total numbers employed from
1931 to 1937 in Ohio and Indiana dry-cleaning establishments obvious­
ly did not appreciably shift the work between the sexes. Nor did the
minimum,-wage orders for women in full effect in 1937 in Ohio inter­
fere with the slightly higher ratio of women to men in that State as
compared with the ratio in the non-minimum-wage State of Indiana.
(See tables I and II.)
Effects on individual women’s employment.
Though the trend of business and employment of both sexes was
upward, were not a number of individual women affected adversely
by the Ohio minimum-wage order ?
Not all dry-cleaning plants in either Ohio or Indiana had increased
business. Some discontinued their wholesaling business, inefficient
stores were closed, a few devoted their attention to developing a
laundry branch, death and illness in family establishments lessened
output. Consequently, in neither State did all plants increase the
numbers employed. In Indiana, 7 percent employed fewer people in
1937 than in 1934 and 45 percent employed the same number. In
the first group, 8 of 13 firms lost some women employees; in those
whose total employment remained the same, 3 firms increased their




14

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

women and 2 dropped one or more women. In Ohio 18 percent of
the plants (52) reported a decrease from 1934 to 1937 in total num­
bers employed and about three-fourths of these decreased their num­
bers of women. Thirty percent (85 firms) reported no change in
total employment, though 8 of the 85 had increased and 7 had de­
creased the numbers of women employed. Of the remaining 154
plants (53 percent), which increased the total employment, only 7
reduced the numbers of women. The Ohio plants that decreased
the numbers of women in 1937 as compared with 1934 ranged in size
from 6 establishments employing but 1 woman in 1934 to 2 estab­
lishments having more than 100 in that year.
In every instance of a decrease in numbers of women, whether in
1935 or in 1937, the employer in Ohio was asked why each woman
was dismissed. When the employer pleaded ignorance, fellow em­
ployees were questioned. In 11 firms employers stated, and in 2
other firms employees stated, that as they recalled the situation some
women had not been kept on after minimum-wage rates went into
effect. Four of these establishments had employed but 1 woman and
four others fewer than 4 women, though one large chain dismissed
17 store clerks; in fact, a large proportion of the women reported
to be dismissed for this cause were women who tended retail outlets.
In the 13 firms there was some belief that a number totaling 45
women (of 1,745 women employed in the same firms in 1934) had lost
employment through the minimum-wage order.
The names and addresses of these 45 women were secured. Every
effort was made to locate the women, and 31 were found and inter­
viewed. The statements of these women as to the conditions under
which they resigned or were dismissed, together with the statements
of employers, indicate that a number of causes other than the mini­
mum-wage order had a part in bringing about individual employ­
ment shifts. One firm was closing out unprofitable retail outlets and
was dismissing retail clerks as a matter of course. Another employer
said: “When the court made me pay back wages, it closed me up.”
In still another firm, the dismissed employees reported: “We all liked
to work for him but he always seemed short of cash.” And in still
another, testifying against the employer because he did not pay the
minimum caused several girls to leave either voluntarily or involun­
tarily. In some instances the girls did not regard themselves as
permanent employees.
It may be said in passing that of the 31 women interviewed whose
dismissal was reported by employer or fellow employee as due to the
minimum-wage order, all but 3 had found employment after such
dismissal. Eleven went back to dry cleaning, several with their old
employers; 5 went into laundry departments of their dry-cleaning
establishments; and 12 entered other pursuits. Six had lost no time
in getting jobs and 15 others had lost less than 2 months. Twentytwo were paid higher wages in the new job than in their earlier
employment. It would not appear that this group had been injured
by the minimum-wage order, whether or not that was the real cause
of their change vn position and wage.
The three who had not been reemployed made the following state­
ments : Mrs. A. had not looked for work again, as she had two sons
living with her who were liberal providers. Mrs. B. said: “I was




*

DRY CLEANING AND DYEING

15

in the employer’s confidence and those girls whose names you have
were laid off because they were the most inefficient people anybody
ever employed. I was not laid off. I quit in 1935 under doctor’s
orders and have not been able to wrnrk since; ” and Mrs. C. said that
she had taken the job when her husband was unemployed, and that
they want her back, but her health is poor.
In a period of general business activity in the industry, apparently
not even an individual experienced woman need have remained
unemployed had she chosen to continue working.
CHANGES IN HOURLY EARNINGS, 1934 TO 1937

Ohio’s fair wage standard.
The Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standard for women and minors
in dry-cleaning and dyeing occupations follows: 35 cents an hour or
$14 a week for a full workweek of 40 hours for all but store clerks, and
35 cents an hour or $16.80 a week for a full workweek of 48 hours for
store clerks. Time and one-half, or 52y2 cents an hour, must be paid
for overtime. Women whose earning capacity has been impaired may
be licensed to work for 80 percent or more of the minimum fair wage
standard, but such licenses may be issued to not more than 5 percent
of the employees in any establishment.
How did rates vary in Ohio in a busy month without any minimumwage order, in the same month shortly after the order became manda­
tory, and in the same month after more than 2 years of operation
under the minimum-wage order? While most of the women em­
ployees in dry-cleaning and dyeing establishments are paid on an
hourly basis, average hourly earnings of all others are given also in
the following analysis in order to include any who may have worked
on a piece-rate basis or who may have been paid the overtime rate.
Comparison of earnings in identical firms over the 3 years and in
any firm reporting for any of the 3 years.
As has been stated, of the 388 Ohio firms scheduled in 1937, 298
were in business in 1934 but only 173 of these had records of numbers
employed for all 3 years. Furthermore, not all of these had records
of hours worked for any year and only 106 had such records for all
3 years. Comparison can be made between hourly earnings of the
employees in the 106 Ohio firms that had records for these 3 years
and also in all firms having records for any 1 year; that is, for 114
firms in 1934, 160 in 1935, and 249 in 1937. A glance at table III
will indicate that either comparison reveals the same trends in hourly
earnings of women.
The lower-paid group in Ohio.
In April 1934 almost half of all women in Ohio dry-cleaning and
dyeing establishments with hour records earned less than 35 cents
an hour, but in April 1935, 3 months after the minimum-wage order
of 35 cents became mandatory, only 4 percent earned less than 35
cents. The hundreds who worked for less than 35 cents in 1934 had
their rates raised to 35 cents, some to 40 cents, in 1935. Only some­
thing over one-fifth (22y2 percent) earned 35 and under 40 cents in
1934, but in 1935 two-thirds had such earnings. Only 15 percent
were paid the exact minimum wage of 35 cents in 1937.




IQ

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

The higher-paid group in Ohio.
Earnings received by women in the higher-wage brackets remained
in those brackets in 1935. In both 1934 and 1935, 29 percent earned
40 cents or more, but April 1937 showed an advance to some women
who had been raised to the minimum-wage rate in 1935. In 1937
less than one-half, in contrast to two-thirds in 1935, were paid 35
and under 40 cents, 35i/2 percent were earning 40 and under 50 cents,
and 11 percent were earning 50 cents and over. A comparison among
identical firms shows even greater proportions of the women in the
higher brackets. (See table III and chart 1.)
Not only did the minimum wage almost eliminate 'payments of less
than 35 cents an hour to women in the industry, but after 2 years of
operation idemlical firms showed that women earning Ifi cents and
more had increased from 30 percent in 1935 to 51 percent in 1937.
Comparison of hourly earnings in Indiana.
Did the women in Indiana enjoy similar increases in hourly earn­
ings ? As in Ohio, the proportions earning specific amounts differ but
little whether the base for comparison is identical firms or the total
numbers of firms reporting in the various years.
In April 1934, more than two-thirds of the women workers in In­
diana dry-cleaning and dyeing establishments earned less than 35 cents
an hour. This proportion shifted but slightly in April 1935, when the
payment of less than 35 cents was almost eliminated in Ohio by that
State’s minimum-wage order. In April 1937, nearly three-fifths of the
women in Indiana dry-cleaning establishments still were earning less
than 35 cents; in fact, the proportion earning less than 30 cents had
increased materially. There was practically no shift over the 3-year
period in the proportion earning 35 and under 40 cents, the figures
being about one-sixth in the various establishments and roughly onefifth in identical establishments. In other words, while Ohio women
who had been paid less than 35 cents were advanced, very few Indiana
women in the lower brackets had higher hourly rates in 1935 and 1937
than in 1934.
In the case of earnings of 40 cents and over, in Indiana the propor­
tion of women increased from 16% percent in identical firms m 1934
to 27 percent in 1937, whereas in Ohio the shift was from 29 percent in
1934 to 51 percent in 1937.
The same general equipment changes and price changes, with re­
sultant shiftings in occupational demands and volume of business, took
place in Indiana as in Ohio. Yet in the latter State rates of less than
35 cents to women were practically eliminated, while Indiana firms con­
tinued to employ over half their women at these wages. At the same
time the proportion of women in the higher-earnings brackets in­
creased by 11 points in Indiana but by 22 points in Ohio.
Can there be any question that the minirrmm-wage orders in Ohio
furnished the power to force upward the hourly earnings m the lowerwage brackets and did not hinder material increases i/n the proportion
whose earnings reached into the higher-wage brackets? (See tables
HI and IV.)
‘
Comparison of changes in men’s and women’s hourly earnings.
In neither State were men’s rates of pay in dry-cleaning and dyeing
establishments subject to wage orders. In Ohio, the median or mid­




DR ST CLEANING AND DYEING

17

point in men’s hourly earnings in identical firms was 48.8 cents in 1934
and 52.5 cents in 1937, an increase of 7.6 percent. In these identical
firms the midpoint of women’s earnings increased by 14 percent, from
35 cents to 40 cents. In identical firms in Indiana men’s median earn­
ings increased from 35 cents to 41.7 cents from April 1934 to April
1937, or 19 percent, whereas women’s median earnings increased but
10 percent, or from 30 cents to 33 cents. It appears, therefore, that the
minimum-wage order caused firms in Ohio to increase the hourly earn­
ings of their women employees, allowing a smaller relative increase to
men, whereas in Indiana men were the greater beneficiaries of wage
increases over the 3-year period.
Even so, Ohio women employed in the same occupations in which
men are employed still earn materially less than men do. In April
1937 the median earnings of women cleaners and spotters were 46.1
cents, of men cleaners and spotters 54.2 cents. Women pressers and
finishers had a median of 40 cents and men of 59.8 cents. Women
markers and checkers had median earnings of 40 cents, while men
markers and checkers earned 45 cents. While the same occupational
classification does not indicate that the work done by men and women
is identical in all particulars, the main task is the same and the skills
required are equal.
A minimum, wage, for women does not give them a wage equal to
that of men, but only applies a force to their lower wage scale that lifts
it a little nearer to the level of men's earnings on the same types of
work. (See table V.)
CHANGES IN HOURS WORKED, 1934 TO 1937

At the time of the survey the Ohio hour law limited women’s work­
week to 50 hours. The minimum-wage order does not specifically
limit the hours a woman may work but rather places a penalty on
overtime by exacting time and one-half rates for hours in excess of
48 for store clerks and in excess of 40 for all other women workers in
cleaning and dyeing establishments.
In actual operation, during April, a busy month, no attempt was
made to limit the hours of operatives to 40, for in 1937 less than 10
percent of the women operatives, as compared with 12 percent in
1934, worked exactly 40 hours. In fact, the proportion working 44 to
over 50 hours was 42 percent, as compared with 20 percent in 1934.
In the retail outlets of dry-cleaning establishments, however, the.
tendency was to decrease the hours that they were kept open. In
1934, 64 percent of women store clerks worked 48 hours; in 1937 only
24 percent worked these hours, the largest proportion working
between 44 and 48 hours.
A comparison of hours worked by men and women in identical
establishments in Ohio in 1937 indicates that a larger proportion of
women (28 percent) than of men (19 percent) worked short time,
that is, less than 40 hours. Approximately equal proportions—about
10 percent—worked 40 hours. Seven percent of the women exceeded
their legal limit of 50 hours, but as many as 27 percent of the men, not
covered by the hour law, worked more than 50 hours.
When comparison is made with Indiana it is obvious that the Ohio
type of order does prevent overlong hours for many women. In
Indiana in 1937, 20 percent of the operatives, as compared with




18

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

iOi^ percent m Ohio, worked at least 50 hours, and an additional 21
percent, as compared with 8 percent in Ohio, worked 48 and under
50 hours. (See table V.)
CHANGES IN WEEKLY EARNINGS, 1934 TO 1937

Comparison of women’s weekly earnings in Ohio and Indiana.
Increased rates of pay and longer hours of employment brought
about weekly earnings in April 1937 materially in excess of earnings
in April 1934. In all Ohio firms having records the increase in
women’s average earnings in the 3 years was over 20 percent, and
in identical firms the increase was about 23 percent. In Indiana
the increase in the 3 years in women’s average earnings in all firms
was 10 percent, in identical firms 16y2 percent!
In Ohio about 19 percent of all women employed in 1937, as com­
pared with 7 percent in 1934, had week’s earnings of $20 or more.
Fifty-nine percent had earnings of over $14 but under $20 a weekj
in contrast to 38 percent with such earnings in 1934. Only 3 percent
of all women employed earned $14, the official minimum for opera­
tives, in either 1935 or 1937. Obviously, the minimum fixed by wage
order did not become even a usual amount. And it was so far from
becoming a maximum amount that over three-fourths of all women
workers earned more than $14 a week in 1937.
In contrast to these figures are the following, from the non-mini­
mum-wage State of Indiana: Less than 11 percent of Indiana women
in dry-cleaning work earned $20 or more in the week of April 1937,
only 39 percent earned over $14 but under $20, and 7 percent earned
$14. Amounts below $14 were earned by 44 percent of the women
in Indiana in contrast to 19 percent of those in Ohio, and even this
19 percent was due prin arily to the fact that the hours worked by
these women were less than 40. (See table VI.)
Increased weekly earnings due largely to increased rates.
The increase in weekly earnings in Ohio is due to higher wage
rates far more than to an increase in hours of employment. Not
only is this fact borne out by the changes in hourly earnings already
discussed, but from table VII may be seen the extent to which the
weekly earnings increased when the same hours were worked in the
three comparative periods in identical firms. Women operatives
who worked just 40 hours had an increase in week’s average earn­
ings from April 1934 to April 1937 of 17y2 percent; those who worked
fewer hours had a percentage of increase almost as high, and con­
siderable increases are indicated for those who worked over 40 hours.
Store clerks in these establishments who worked 48 hours had an
increase in average weekly earnings of 20 percent, and those who
worked shorter hours enjoyed an increase of 21 percent. (See table
VII.)
Occupational earnings.
In identical Ohio establishments, in April of all 3 years, spotting
and cleaning, that is, removing spots or stains by hand and tending
the cleaning machine, yielded the highest week’s earnings received
by women. In 1937, women engaged in these tasks averaged $19.65,
as compared with $16.10 in 1934, an increase of 22 percent. In the




DRY CLEANING AND DYEING

19

establishments reporting actual hours worked, 72 percent of these
employees earned 40 cents and more, not far from one-half earning
at least 50 cents.
The pressers and finishers were the largest group of women work­
ers. Their median earnings were $17.05 in 1937, as compared with
$13.70 in 1934 and $14.65 in 1935. In 1937 equal proportions, 41.4
percent, earned 40 and under 50 cents and earned 35 and under 40
cents. Inspectors and markers and checkers also had median earn­
ings of over $17 in 1937, while seamstresses and store clerks averaged
$16.65 and $16.25, respectively. The midpoint in earnings of each
occupation represented a gain of 19 percent or more from 1934 to
1937.
While the earnings of women in the several occupations in Indiana
held the same relative position as did those in Ohio, that is, cleaning
and spotting was the. highest-paid occupation and sales clerks were
the lowest-paid group, Ohio earnings exceeded Indiana earnings in
every occupational group where comparisons can be made. In iden­
tical establishments in Indiana, in 1937, women pressers’ and fin­
ishers’ median earnings were $15.80, whereas in Ohio such earnings
were $17.05; Indiana markers and checkers averaged $14.55, com­
pared with $17.25 in Ohio; Indiana store clerks $13.85, compared
with $16.25 in Ohio.
Comparison of men’s and women’s weekly earnings.
.
neither State did the week’s earnings of women equal the earn­
ings of men in the same occupations, primarily because women’s
hourly rates were lower, as is shown on page 17. In Ohio men
spotters and cleaners had median earnings of $27.15, women spotters
and cleaners of $19.65; men pressers and finishers had median earn­
ings ot $26.50, women of $17.05; men markers and checkers of $21 30
women markers and checkers of $17.25.
’
In Indiana also, men’s wages were always higher than women’s
wages. But while the median earnings of women pressers and fin­
ishers increased by only 19 percent from April 1934 to April 1937
those of men pressers and finishers increased by 40 percent. In these
identicai establishments, median earnings of all women increased by
14i/2 percent, while men’s median increased by 30 percent over the
3-year period. (See table VIII.)
EARNINGS IN BORDER-CITY ESTABLISHMENTS COMPARED WITH
ESTABLISHMENTS ELSEWHERE IN OHIO

The location of establishments close to neighboring States was
regarded by some persons as a factor wielding an important influ­
ence on wages in border cities. Separate tabulations were made, there­
fore, of the data from establishments in Cincinnati, Hamilton Ports­
mouth, Steubenville, East, Liverpool, Martins Ferry, Marietta, and
Bellaire, called border cities” for purposes of comparison, to deter­
mine whether wage rates across the border had affected industries
m these areas m Ohio. The dry-cleaning establishments in these 8
border cities with pay rolls reported in 1937 numbered 46. Only
26 of these had records for all 3 years and only 34 had 1935 pay-roll
records.
rj
93563°—38------ 1




EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

The women employees in firms from which records were obtained in
1934 showed 65y2 percent in the border cities, compared to 471/2 per­
cent in places elsewhere in Ohio, earning less than $14 a week. By
April 1935 the proportion first mentioned had been reduced to 28
percent and by April 1937 it was 16 percent, in favorable contrast
to other Ohio cities, where as many as 21 percent still were earning
less than $14 in 1937. The proportion earning $14—the legal mini­
mum—was but 2 percent in the border cities, as compared with 4
percent in other places. In the border cities in 1937 the largest
group of women workers, 57 percent, earned between $14 and $18.
In other places in the State there was a somewhat wider distribu­
tion of weekly earnings in the higher-earnings brackets.
When hourly earnings are compared, which in this industry cor­
respond to rates, it is found that while 70 percent in the border cities
earned less than the minimum of 35 cents in 1934, this proportion
was reduced to less than 4 percent by 1935 and continued at a lowproportion in 1937. About 12 percent earned the minimum rate in
1935 and in 1937, but over 80 percent earned more than the minimum.
While the proportion in the higher-earnings brackets in 1937 was
smaller in the border cities than elsewdiere, it was more than double
the proportion will) such earnings in 1934 and represented a marked
increase in earnings for many women.. (See table IX.) It is evi­
dent that dry-cleaning establishments in these cities adjusted to the
wage minimum as imposed by lawT to the advantage of all employees
as they did in towns and cities in other parts of the State.
ADJUSTMENT OF OHIO DRY-CLEANING AND DYEING INDUSTRY TO
MINIMUM WAGE AND OTHER CHANGES, 1934 TO 1937

As has been stated on page 10, the increase in physical volume of
cleaning that could be handled by each employee, accompanied as it
was by price decreases, made no change in the proportion that total
pay rolls formed of total sales in dry-cleaning plants in the United
States from 1929 to 1935 though the dollar sales per person decreased
by one-third. This was equally true in Ohio, though the minimum
wage brought about such a marked advance in women’s rates and
earnings.
_
In order that the family shop may not confuse the picture—ob­
viously, numbers and earnings of family members are not included in
pay-roll data—these shops have been separated from those operated in
each of the 3 years without family assistance in the following
.
comparisons.
In the 75 Ohio dry-cleaning and dyeing nonfamily establishments
reporting sales for April 1934, April 1935, and April 1937 there was
A 4014-percent increase in dollar sales in 1937 over 1934. The total
pay roll increased about 36 percent. These establishments were able
to keep their sales-volume increases just a little above their pay-roll
increases. The increase in numbers employed was but 10 percent, how­
ever, for by larger volume per man-hour and longer hours of work the
401/2-percent increase in dollar sales was handled by a relatively small
staff increase.
The family establishments—those in which relatives of the proprie­
tors worked at other than clerical tasks for one or more of the three




DRY CLEANING AND DYEING

21

years—also enjoyed an increase of more than 40 percent in dollar vol­
ume of sales from April 1934 to April 1937. Their pay rolls increased
in about the same proportion while employment increased about 22
percent. The greater relative increase in pay roll and employment in
family shops undoubtedly is due to the fact that less work is done by
wife or daughter when sales are better.
Shops doing pressing only were later excluded from the figures
given above, but the volume of business and size of pay roll was too
small to affect the results given.
These pay-roll and sales comparisons leave no doubt that Ohio dry­
cleaning proprietors and managers as a group were able to meet the
wage increases necessitated by the State minimum-wage order for
women by increases in operating and managerial efficiency, or by in­
creases in volume of business, or by both these measures.




EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

22

CHART 2.—AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS OF WOMEN IN THE POWERLAUNDRY INDUSTRY OF NEW YORK AND OF PENNSYLVANIA, BE
FORE EITHER STATE HAD A MINIMUM-WAGE ORDER AND AFTER
NEW YORK HAD SUCH AN ORDER BUT PENNSYLVANIA HAD NOT
(See appendix table XII.)
Before New Yorfc had' any minimum-wage order
After New York's minimum-wage order became mandatory
PHILADELPHIA

NEW YORK CITY

Percent

Hourly earnings

20

Percent
ho

Under 25 cents

25, under 27^ cents

27i, under

cents

31 cents

Over 31»
under 35 cents
35, under ho cents

ho cents and over

21 OTHER CITIES IN NEW YORK STATE
0

Percent

Under 20 cents

20, under 25 cents

25, under 27b cents

27b cents
Over 27b,
under 31 cents
31, under ho cent6

40 cents and over

l/Less than one-half of i percent




20

ho

_____

26 OTHER CITIES IN PENNSYLVANIA

Percent

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN THE POWERLAUNDRY INDUSTRY
The history of minimum wage in New York’s laundry industry is
divided into two periods, one prior to June 1, 1936, the date on which
the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the New
York minimum-wage law of April 1933, and the other after the favor­
able decision of that court on March 29,1937, in the Washington mini­
mum-wage case.
New York passed its first minimum-wage law in April 1933. This
law defined a fair minimum wage as one “fairly and reasonably com­
mensurate with the value of the service or class of service rendered,”
and an oppressive and unreasonable wage as one “which is both less
than the fair and reasonable value of the services rendered and less
than sufficient to meet the minimum cost of living necessary for health ”
Under this statute the New York Department of Labor held hearings
in the laundry industry and issued a directory wage order, effective
October 2, 1933, to become mandatory August 6,1934. An indictment
of a Brooklyn laundry manager for noncompliance followed in Novem­
ber 1934. This man sued for a writ of habeas corpus in April 1935
but it was denied by the Supreme Court of New York in June the’
court declaring the law constitutional. The case was taken to the
Court of Appeals in March 1936, when the decision of the State Su­
preme Court was reversed and the law was held unconstitutional The
case was at once appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which
sustained the New York Court of Appeals in June of that year.
It is obvious, therefore, that a cloud of uncertain legality hung over
the New York laundry minimum-wage order almost from its inception
and must have affected complete and continuous compliance with mini­
mum-wage decrees of the New York power-laundry industry. How­
ever, new wage orders for the laundry industry following the favor­
able decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Washinoton
case were not recommended by the New York Denartment of Labor
until January 1938. Only the earlier period of the" State’s experience,
therefore, will serve to indicate the effect of a wage order on labor
conditions when the industry is struggling to lift itself out of its first
real business depression. The Women’s Bureau undertook a study of
labor conditions in the power-laundry industry in New York State
C0™Parative PurP0ses, in Pennsylvania, at three dates—May
1933, November 1933, and November 1935, respectively before the issu­
ance of any minimum-wage order in New York, immediately after the
issuance of the directory order, and somewhat more than a year after
the order became mandatory.
GENERAL CONDITIONS IN THE LAUNDRY INDUSTRY IN NEW YORK
AND PENNSYLVANIA

New York power-laundry business increased in volume from 1929 to
1931, but from 1931 to 1933 a heavy decrease in receipts occurred,




23

24

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

due in part to decreased use of laundry service and in part to price
cuts.5 This decrease was somewhat smaller in New York City, where
hotel and apartment-house living lessens the ease with which laundry
can be done at home, than throughout the State. By 1935 recovery
of receipts was 4 percent in the metropolis but over 10 percent for
the entire State. (See table X.)
.
_
Naturally, employment was affected by these shifts in business vol­
ume, though to a far less extent than might have been expected.
In the State of New York, where receipts were reported as having
decreased by 31 percent from 1931 to 1933, employment decreased by
only 12 percent. Wages, however, decreased by about 28 percent.
Obviously, the policy of power laundries was to dismiss as few
employees as possible but to keep total wage payments in close rela­
tion to money intake. In 1931 wages were 42 percent of receipts,
in 1933 they were 43.9 percent. With the upturn in business in 1935,
the increase in wage earners was closely related to the increase in
business receipts, but the wage increase exceeded slightly the receipts
increase. In 1935, therefore, wages comprised 44.4 percent of receipts
as compared with 41.6 percent in 1929 and 42 percent in 1931.
A comparison of these New York State totals with Pennsylvania
power-laundry totals for the same period indicates that the New York
minimum-wage order was exerting some influence over the industry
in New York in 1935.
>
Pennsylvania laundries suffered a loss in business before the de­
pression was noticed in New York, for in 1931 a. 13-percent decrease
in receipts is noted, with decreases also in number of establishments,
number of wage earners, and amount of pay roll. The loss of busi­
ness from 1931 to 1933 was almost identical with that in New York,
and undoubtedly from similar causes. This longer and deeper de­
pression in Pennsylvania was counteracted, however, by a larger
pickup in business from 1933 to 1935 than occurred in New York. As
a consequence, 1935 receipts in Pennsylvania and New York bear
roughly the same relation to 1929 receipts: In each State, receipts in
1935 were approximately 25 percent less than receipts in 1929. _
Pennsylvania’s laundry pay rolls decreased in 1931 and again in
1933 almost to the same degree as did receipts; but when the upturn
came, the increase in total wages was not quite equal to the increase in
receipts, whereas in New York the pay-roll increase was larger than
the receipts increase. In 1935 Pennsylvania’s wages were 42.2 per­
cent of receipts, as compared with 44.4 percent in New York State.
A detailed view of the part the New York minimum-wage decree
played in protecting women laundry workers as these business ad­
justments were occurring is presented in the following pages by an
examination of the wage and employment changes in this period in
power laundries in New York State as compared with power
laundries in Pennsylvania.
5 The decrease is given in the census report as 31 percent, but the report explains that
“due to the fact that some of the firms reported in 1931 had failed to do so in 1933, this
percent undoubtedly is too large.” That the decrease nevertheless was very great. is
indicated by the fact that a survey by the Women s Bureau m 1934 of power laundries
in 22 cities east of the Mississippi found that laundry receipts declined by 25.3 percent
in the 4 years from 1929 to 1933.




POWER LAUNDRIES

25

SCOPE OF STUDY

The Women’s Bureau study covered conditions in 131 New York
power laundries employing over 7,500 persons, and in 116 Pennsyl­
vania power laundries employing about 7,000 persons, in November
1935. (See table XI.) The New York Department of Labor had
made a survey of the wages and hours in the industry in that State
in May 1933, prior to the calling of a wage board to consider the
establishment of a minimum wage for the industry. On October 2,
1933, the directory order became effective, under which failure to
comply with the wage provisions called for publicity as the principal
means of enforcement. In November the department requested all
laundries to submit pay rolls in order that it might observe the
extent to which employers were complying with the wage provisions
of this directory order. While compliance was reported by 73 per­
cent of the laundries reporting throughout the State, in power
laundries in the New York metropolitan area the percent of com­
pliance was slightly less than this.6 A mandatory order, under which
failure to comply with the minimum-wage provisions became a mis­
demeanor, was issued on August 6, 1931. The Department of Labor
called for a second filing of pay-roll records in November 1935, 15
months after the mandatory order went into effect.
With pay rolls for the three periods described available in the
files of the New York department, the United States Women’s Bu­
reau considered it inadvisable to duplicate this material by its usual
form of field survey. Instead it requested the State department of
labor to furnish it with wage data for identical firms reporting in
May and November 1933 and in November 1935 in the following
areas: New York City area, including New York City, Yonkers,
White Plains, Richmond, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, and Hemp­
stead ; Buffalo, with a population of over 500,000; Albany, Rochester,
Syracuse, and Utica, cities in the 100,000 and under 500,000 popula­
tion group; Schenectady and Troy, in the 50,000 and under 100,000
group; 4 cities in the 25,000 and under 50,000 group; and 10 places
of less than 25,000 population. This request was granted.
In Pennsylvania the Women’s Bureau agents visited power laun­
dries and secured data from those that had records over this 3-year
period. Cities in this State were chosen to correspond as closely
as possible in the type of laundry work required to that handled by
laundries in cities m New York State that had been included in the
survey. The Pennsylvania survey included power laundries in Phila­
delphia and Pittsburgh, with populations of over 500,000; in Scran­
ton, Erie, and Reading, cities 6f 100,000 and under 500,000; in eight
cities of 50,000 and under 100,000; in seven cities of 25,000 and under
50,000; and in seven places of less than 25,000.
In all laundries included in the study the numbers of all employees
and of women employees in May 1933, in November 1933, and in
November 1935 were secured, as were the earnings and hours worked of
women employees. Wherever there appeared, in the New York
• New York Department of Labor, Division of Women in Industry, Report of the
Industrial Commissioner, July 2, 1934, pp. 24—26.




EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

Department of Labor records, a decrease in the proportion of women
employed over this period, the laundry in which the decrease occurred
was visited and any changes taking place in the specific laundry that
may have affected the shift were ascertained.
CHANGES IN NUMBERS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED, 1933 TO 1935

About three-fourths of the employees in power laundries are “pro­
ductive workers,” that is, workers employed in actual laundering
operations. The work done by women productive workers usually is
distinct from the work done by men productive workers. The men
are in the washing department, preparing the wash liquids and tend­
ing washing machines. The women are in the ironing departments,
ironing the washed clothes. There is some overlapping of the sexes
in the minor occupations of marking and sorting incoming articles
for identification and in sorting the finished work for delivery.
The next most numerous group of workers employed by power
laundries are routemen, who collect and deliver laundry bundles,
often selling the laundry service. This work is done by men, as is
the power-plant and other mechanical work. General laboring work
about a power laundry usually is done by men, also, though occasion­
ally a woman is employed at such tasks. Office workers are not
included in this comparison.
In spite of this sharp demarcation of women’s work and men’s
work m power laundries, there are differences from laundry to
laundry in the proportions of the sexes employed. The type of
laundry work done determines the relative number of ironers re­
quired per washer or per routeman. Where damp-wash and par­
tially-ironed service to families is an important part of the laundry’s
business, very few ironers are required. When linen service to hotels,
apartments, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and office buildings is added,
for each washer a number of operatives on flat-work ironers would
be needed. And when garments are finished by hand, the number
of hand ironers naturally increases.
The New York State Department of Labor reports New York City
as having 1,440 hand laundries, as compared with 428 power laundries.
Unquestionably much of the shirt and collar and women’s garment
work reaches these hand laundries, so the power laundries require
fewer hand ironers than such laundries require in cities where the
hand laundry is almost nonexistent. Only power laundries were
included in this study. In the New York City area women com­
prised 59 percent of the workers in 81 power laundries in 1933; in
other New York localities women were 69 percent of the workers in
50 laundries. In Philadelphia women comprised 63 percent of the
staff in 50 laundries in 1933, and elsewhere in Pennsylvania they were
66 percent of the staff in 66 laundries. In each case the office workers
were excluded.
When business began to pick up and employees were taken on in
1934 and 1935 in individual power laundries, men were reemployed
at a somewhat faster rate than women. The result was that in the
New York City area in November 1935, women comprised a smaller
percentage of the staff (1% points less) than in May 1933. In in­




POWER LAUNDRIES

27

dividual establishments outside metropolitan New York the propor­
tion was 0.7 of a point less. In Pennsylvania power laundries also
a similar slight shift had occurred.
An examination of this situation revealed that in actual numbers
more power laundries in New York State had increased the pro­
portion of women than had decreased such proportion, and that the
same condition existed in Philadelphia. Though these shifts in
proportion of the sexes appeared to be merely such adjustments as
might occur in the normal course of daily business of any establish­
ment, agents of the Women’s Bureau visited in person all New York
laundries whose records showed a percentage decrease of more than
two points in 1935 from the proportion of women in May 1933 or
November 1933, to examine thoroughly the conditions that may have
led to this shift.
The results of these personal interviews concerning business and
equipment changes or adjustments following the minimum-wage de­
cree reveal clearly that minimum-wage laws do not operate in a
vacuum; that they become a factor of much or of little importance
in individual establishments depending on the business conditions at
the particular time in each particular establishment.
Fifty power laundries in New York State were visited in person by
the Bureau’s investigators. Of this number only five reported mak­
ing any shifts in operating staff from May 1933 to November 1935
because of the minimum-wage order. The shifts made by these five
firms, and the reasons for such shifts, were as follows:
Laundry No. 1 —Business decreased by 12.8 percent. Women decreased bv
26 percent (15 women) ; men, 1 added.
“After minimum wage became effective it was too expensive to spread the
work so much, as the hourly rates was higher when short time was worked,7 so
ijPJ116 °t the women were laid off and those remaining worked fuller time,
the men did not change, because a certain number are necessary to get out
the work and deliver it whether sales go up or down.”
Laundry No. 2.—Business decreased by 8.7 percent. Women decreased by 20
percent (9 women) ; men remained as before.
“In
three flat-work ironers employing 18 women part time.
When minimum wage came in, one flat-work ironer was closed down Could
do all the work on two ironers in 40 hours with 12 women. As minimum-wage
law made me pay higher hourly wage for short time, it was too expensive to
keep a lot of girls for 20 or 25 hours.”
Laundry No. 3 —-Business increased by 23 percent. Women increased by 25
percent (11 women) ; men increased by 52 percent (13 men).
“Because of the minimum-wage law, we replaced a few women with men
because we could work men longer without bothering with an overtime rate
1110 men were hired for general work and worked wherever needed ”
Laundry No f—“Business increased steadily” by about 36 percent from
November 1933 (no report for April 1933). Women increased by 82 percent
(45 women) ; men increased by 32 percent (13 men).
“Put in men as classifiers and assemblers in place of women because of the
strict hour provisions relating to women under the minimum-wage law, which
required the payment of time and a half for overtime. Manager found it more
profitable to pay men a slightly higher rate and work the longer hours as
needed, paying time and a quarter, than to keep women.”
In spite of this shift, women advanced in this case from 57 percent of the
total in November 1933 to 65 percent in 1935.
for" ?oTo45rhoms,VNew York Cit^ama18 "" h°Ur f°r leSS 11,311 37 hours- and 31 cents




28

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

Laundry No. 5.—Gross sales declined, amount not stated. Women decreased
bv 15 percent (9 women) ; men remained as before. .
“Had substituted men on flat-work ironer because of arbitrary provisions
as t,o undertime and overtime of minimum-wage decree.
[Agents note: No
evidence of such change in record up to May 1935.]

In 21 of the New York power laundries visited, a shift in numbers
of women was of such a transitory nature that a later week in
November 1935 showed the same or a larger proportion of women
than were employed in May 1933.
...
In several other laundries, while changes had occurred m tins 2 /2year period, the owner or manager was unaware of any condition
that could have influenced the proportion of women. As one em­
ployer stated: “A change of 5 or 6 percent m numbers has no
significance, as it is probably due to fluctuation in business.
In 13 laundries, managers recognized that certain changes had
taken place within their establishments that may have shifted the
proportion of women employed as compared with men. these
changes, illustrations of adjustments that may be taking place daily
in various laundries quite without regard to wage orders, were as
follows:
Temporary factors.
“Laundry had a fire in September 1935. Men continued to collect washing,
and to wash it, but it had to be sent to other laundries to be ironed, as the
Dresses "were bll^Il6d.,,
.
‘‘Strike of routemen interfered with business, so could run only one flat-work
ironer instead of two as before.”
Management changes.
t
“New manager in 1934 let out a whole lot of employees to save money.
“New manager eliminated one flat-work ironer and its crew of women as
business did not require use of so many. ’
Character of business changed.
“Increase in family-bundle service made it necessary to supply helpers to
"^‘Laundry is now doing hand laundry on wholesale basis for small laundries,
increasing staff of both men and women, adding few men for shirt finishing
and as press operators.”
, . . „
“Laundry has gradually been doing less mangle work, which means reductl0‘‘Wet-washndepartment installed, adding five or six men, and other changes
brought about increased use of men.”
New equipment installed.
“Two new shaking machines have been installed, which has eliminated about
f2 sirls ^
“New’ shirt unit and handkerchief ironer saved work of one girl.”
“New equipment installed that increased the efficiency of each unit. Substi­
tution to get greater speed.”
...
One firm reported a partial substitution of men for women on presses because
they were faster.” A second firm remarked that as their business increased
they were adding men to their ironing department.

From the foregoing statements, it is obvious that 4 out of 50 laun­
dries had put men on women’s ironing work or on marking and sort­
ing. While only two of these related their action to the overtime
provisions of the minimum-wage order, the effort to use men _ as
ironers marks a departure from traditional laundry practice.
Whether these workers will prove as satisfactory as women and
not more costly in spite of minimum wage, further experience alone
will indicate.




POWER LAUNDRIES

29

CHANGES IN EARNINGS, 1933 TO 1935

New York’s minimum-wage standard.
The New York minimum-wage order for women and for minors
under 21 years of age employed in laundry occupations, effective
October 2,1933, established minimum rates of 31 cents an hour in the
New York City area and of 27% cents an hour in the remainder of
the State for a basic week of 40 hours. In both cases overtime rates,
required for work beyond 45 hours in any one week, were set at one
and one-half times the basic minimum. A 10-percent hourly bonus,
making the rate 34X1<J cents an hour in the metropolitan area and
30% cents an hour elsewhere, was set for a week of less than 37
hours. This order became mandatory on August 6, 1934.8
How did earnings shift in the New York City area and in other
places from May 1933, before there was any minimum-wage order, to
November 1933, when the directory order had been in effect 1 month,
and to November 1935, when the mandatory order had been in effect
15 months'?
The lower-paid operatives in New York.
In power laundries where records were obtainable for May 1933,
November 1933, and November 1935, more than 55 percent of the
women workers, whether in the metropolitan area or elsewhere in the
State, earned less than 25 cents an hour in May 1933. In the New
York City area, 84 percent of the women earned under 31 cents an
hour. In 21 other cities in the State, 78 percent of the women earned
less than 27% cents an hour, and about 90 percent earned less than
31 cents, in May 1933. By November 1933 the women earning less
than 25 cents had almost disappeared from the pay rolls of up­
State laundries, and in the New York City area the proportion
with such earnings had dropped from well over one-half to some­
what less than one-eighth. By November 1935 no woman operative
was earning under 25 cents an hour in the laundries covered.
Table XII indicates that by November 1933, under the directory
order, some shifting from lower to higher rates had taken place, but
that the mandatory order and a longer period of adjustment were
required before the payment to women of less than 31 cents an hour
in the New York City area and of less than 27% cents in the other
parts of the State was practically eliminated. Under the mandatory
order, in 1935, 83 percent of these women earned 31 and under 35
cents an hour in the metropolitan area, and 73 percent earned 27%
and under 31 cents in the other places.
The higher-paid operatives in New York.
In the New York City area only 7 percent of the women powerlaundry operatives had hourly earnings of 35 cents or more in May
1933; in November 1935 about 16 percent earned such amounts. In
21 other New York cities combined, 10 percent of the women oper­
atives earned 31 cents or more in May 1933; by November 1935 24
8 The new directory order, effective March 14, 1938, and made mandatory August 22,
1938, makes certain increases in rates—for example, for New York City, $14 for a
week of 40 hours or less, 35 cents for over 40 to 45 hours—establishes a system of zones,
and makes other changes.




30

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

percent had such earnings. Obviously, the level of earnings was
lifted for almost all women workers during this period.
Comparison of hourly earnings in Pennsylvania.
Did the women laundry operatives in Pennsylvania enjoy the same
increases in hourly earnings from 1933 to 1935? Table XII offers
an answer to this question also.
Both in Philadelphia and in 26 other Pennsylvania cities combined,
87 percent of the operatives earned under 27(4 cents an hour in May
1933. By November 1935, 71 percent and 76 percent, respectively, still
had earnings at this low level, whereas less than 1 percent of the
women in New York State were paid such amounts. The fact that
the N. R. A. code for power-laundry operatives of February 16, 1934,
fixed 25 cents an hour as a minimum for the largest cities in Pennsyl­
vania unquestionably lessened the number paid below 25 cents in
November 1935, but it did cause a concentration at 25 cents.
Nor were the women who had earned the higher amounts in Pennsyl­
vania laundries noticeably better off in 1935, for in Philadelphia only
5.5 percent earned 35 cents and over as compared with 16 percent in
the New York City area. In 26 other Pennsylvania cities only 11
percent earned 31 cents and over, in contrast to 24 percent earning
such amounts in the 21 New York cities.
Can there be any question as to the effect of the New York minimumwage order on women’s hourly earnings ?
Hours worked.
The effect of the requirement of an overtime rate of time and onehalf is very noticeable in the hours worked by women laundry opera­
tives in New York. As has been stated, the time and one-hair rate
began after 45 hours. In the New York City area in May 1933, before
any wage order, 48 percent of the women laundry operatives worked
46 hours or more; 36 percent worked 37 and under 46 hours, and 16
percent worked less than 37 hours. In November 1935 only 12 percent
worked 46 hours or more, and 75 percent worked 37 and under 46 hours.
There was little change in the proportion working under 37 hours.
(See table XIII.)
In 21 other New York cities there had been much short-time work
prior to the mandatory minimum-wage order. This was decreased
considerably in 1935, and hours of 37 and under 46 were worked by
63.5 percent of the operatives as compared with 34.5 percent in May
1933. Forty-six hours or more were worked by only 10 percent of the
women in November 1935 as compared with 27 percent in May 1933.
In Pennsylvania, laundries were permitted by law to operate 54
hours. That only 13 percent of the women workers were employed 46
hours or more in November 1935 is a clear indication that such long
hours are not necessary to the successful operation of a laundry. In
fact, Pennsylvania women laundry workers were faced with the prob­
lem of undertime rather than overtime, for in November 1935 as many
as 28 percent of the women operatives, in contrast to 17 percent of those
in New York State, worked under 37 hours.
Changes in weekly earnings in New York and Pennsylvania.
Increased rates of pay and shorter hours of work for New York
women laundry operatives brought increased weekly earnings in 1935




POWER LAUNDRIES

31

over 1933. In the New York City area the median or midpoint of the
week’s earnings moved up from $11.10 in May 1933 to $12.25 in No­
vember 1933, and to $13.50 by November 1935. In that metropolitan
area the proportion of women earning less than $12 a week (the mini­
mum wage for a 40-hour week, set in October 1933, was $12.40) de­
creased from 61 percent in May 1933 to 12 percent in November 1935.
The proportion earning $13 or more increased from 28 percent to 64
percent in the same period. (See table XIV.)
In 21 other New York localities, the midpoint in week’s earnings
advanced from $9.30 before the minimum-wage order to $11.85 at a
date 15 months after the order became mandatory. Though before
the wage order went into effect 71 percent of the women operatives
in the laundries reporting earned under $11 (the minimum set for
a 40-hour week), only 21 percent earned under $11 in November 1935.
A material increase occurred in the proportion in each 1-dollar group
from $12 a week up.
In Pennsylvania the midpoint in the week’s earnings in power laun­
dries was $2.20 less than that in New York in May 1933 and $2.50
less than in New York in November 1935. At the latter date 36 per­
cent of the women in Pennsylvania laundries earned less than $10, as
compared with 8.5 percent in New York State; and 57 percent in
Pennsylvania earned less than $11 a week, while in the neighboring
minimum-wage State only 12 percent had such earnings. The propor­
tions in the upper brackets were materially greater for the women
in New York State; 29 percent, as compared with 10% percent in
Pennsylvania, earned $14 and over.
When week’s earnings are related to actual hours worked, the im­
portance of the minimum-wage order in raising earnings for New
York women laundry operatives is emphasized further. Women
working 41 and under 46 hours in the New York City area had median
earnings of $13.75 a week in 1935, as compared to the $11.20 median
lor Philadelphia operatives working the same hours. In the 21 places
elsewhere in New York the week’s earnings for these hours were
as compared to $11.15 in the 26 other localities in Pennsylvania.
1 he effect of time and one-lialf rates for hours in excess of 45
carried in the New York order also is apparent in table XV. For
women in the New York City area who worked 46 hours or more
average earnings were $15.30; in other places in the State the average
was $13.70. In Philadelphia women employed 46 hours or more
averaged but $12.20, and in other places in the State $12.40.
Earnings according to occupation.
The Women’s Bureau transcribed earnings by occupation for
women workers in Pennsylvania laundries in the three periods under
consideration. Comparable data were not available in New York
lor 1935, but the New York Department of Labor did secure occupa­
tional data m September 1937. A comparison of median earnings for
all women m the Women’s Bureau 1935 survey and all women in New
York btates 1937 survey shows a difference of only 2 cents an hour
v i 66W
area ar|d of 1 cent an hour elsewhere in New
lork {state There is value in the comparisons in table XVI of the
occupational earnings in New York and Pennsylvania in Mav 1933
and ol those m Pennsylvania in November 1935 and New York in




32

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

September 1937, but it must be borne in mind that New York has a
slight advantage in these comparisons.
In the New York City area in 1937 the hand irollers’ median earn­
ings were the highest, at 35 cents an hour, the sorters and classifiers
following with a median of 34 cents, and press operators having
practically the same. Flat-work operators had a median of about
32 cents. In Philadelphia the sorters and the press operators earned
27y2 cents and 27 cents an hour, respectively. Occupational earnings
in other Pennsylvania cities varied little from those in Philadelphia,
but the up-State cities in New York had average earnings in the
various occupations of 30 to 32 cents, as compared to an occupational
range in the metropolitan area of 32 to 35 cents.




APPENDIX—TABLES
I.—Number of establishments visited in 1937 and number in business in
1934 and 1935, with number of men and women they employed—DRY GLEAN­
ING AND DYEING, Ohio and Indiana
.

Table

Ohio

Year

Indiana

Establish­
ments em­
ploying
men

Establish­
ments em­
ploying
women

Total Total
num­ num­
ber of ber of
estab­ em­
Num­
lish­ ploy­ Num­
ber of Num­ ber of Num­
ments
ees
estab­ ber of estab­ ber of
lish­
lish­ wom­
men
en
ments
ments

Establish­
ments em­
ploying
men

Establish­
ments em­
ploying
women

Total Total
num­ mimber of
estab­ em­
lish­ ploy­ Num­
ber of Num­
ments
ees
estab­ ber of
lish­
men
ments

Num
ber of Num­
estab­ ber of
lish­ wom­
en
ments

All establishments visited
298
315
388

3,162
3, 228
4,105

260
276
348

1,405
1,465
1,838

281
296
372

1,757
1,763
2,267

184
215
290

1,020
1,208
1,842

154
185
241

488
590
866

160
191
267

Establishments with pay-roll records for the year specified1
1934
1935
1937

176
210
312

2, 760
2, 970
3,893

164
198
290

1,200
1, 298
1,729

173
205
305

1,560
1,609
2,164

66
86
228

644
829
1,688

63
84
207

289
388
796

60
81
209

356
441
892

100

177
177
84

Establishments without pay-roll records far the year specified
1934.
1935.
1937.

122
105
76

402
321
212

96
78
58

205
167
109

108
91
67

197
154
103

118
129

62

376
379
154

91
101
34

199
202
70

110

58

1 Records for all 3 years were reported by 234 establishments.

II.—Changes in employment of men and women from .1934 to 1935 and
1937, identical establishments—DRY GLEANING AND DYEING, Ohio and
Indiana1

Table

291 Ohio establishments
Men em­
ployees
Year

1934
1935
1937

Total
em­
ployees

3,144
3,133
3,495

Num­
ber

1,399
1, 413
1, 565

181 Indiana establishments

Women em­
ployees

Per­
cent of
change
from
1934

Num­
ber

4-1- 0
+11.9

1,745
1,720
1, 930

Per­
cent of
change
from
1934

-1.4
+10.6

Men em­
ployees
Total
em­
ployees

1,004
1,062
1, 249

Num­
ber

478
519
608

Per­
cent of
change
from
1934

+8.6
+27.2

Women em­
ployees

Num­
ber

526
543
641

Per­
cent of
change
from
1934

+3.2
+21.9

1 As the number of employees covered by the Bureau’s survey was approximately the
same as that reported by tne U. S. Census, these survey figures were used throughout
the report.




33

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES
III.—Hourly earnings of women in all establishments reporting hours
worked for any of the 3 years 1934, 1935, and 1931, and in identical establish­
ments reporting for each of the 3 years—DRY CLEANING AND DYEING,
Ohio and Indiana

Table

Indiana

Ohio
Number of women
with hours
worked reported

Hourly earnings (cents)

1934

1935

1937

Percent distribu­
tion
1934

1935

1937

Number of women
with hours
worked reported
1934

1935

1937

Percent distribu­
tion
1934

1935

1937

All establishments reporting for any year
Number

of

establish160
249
114
1,273 1,388 1,889 100.0 100.0 100.0

Total women
Under 35------------------------35, under 40--------------------40, under 50
50 and over . - -

32
212

44
255

91
428 100.0 100.0

4.3
49.2
35.5
11.0

146
35
24
7

171
43
32
9

247
71
83
27

620
286
294
73

55
928
310
95

81
929
671
208

48.7
22.5
23.1
5.7

4.0
66.9
22.3
6.9

68.9
16.5
11.3
3.3

100.0

67.0
16.9
12.5
3.5

67.8
16.6
19.4
6.3

100.0

Identical establishments reporting for each year
Number

of

establish106
106
106
1, 247 1,246 1,395 100.0 100.0 100.0

Total women
Under 35................................
35
Over 35, under 40_ _____
40, under 50_______ _____
50 and over...

614
97
180
283
73

47
211
610
287
91

45
136
506
544
164

49.2
7.8
14.4
22.7
5.9

3.8
16.9
49.0
23.0
7.3

3.2
9.7
36.3
39.0
11.8

26
187

26
193

26
223 100.0 100.0

121
21
14
24
7

121
27
11
25
9

115
25
22
44
17

64.8
11.2
7.5
12.8
3.7

62. 7
14.0
5.7
13.0
4.7

51.5
11.2
9.9
19.7
7.6

IV.—Hourly earnings of men and women in the various occupations in
identical establishments in 1934, 1935, and 1937—DRY CLEANING AND
DYEING, Ohio and Indiana

Table

Women

Occupation

7Jf Ohio establishments reporting hours ivorked
All employees-------- 1,072
Cleaners and spotters___
Pressers and finishers-----Tailors and seamstresses..
Markers and checkers—

66
399
160
29
174
15
13

35.0 1,042

36.0 1,157

40.0

694

48.8

682

50.0

729

52.5

40.0
35.0
34.8

44.0
36.5
36.0

61
419
194
35
194
13
9

46.1
40.0
38.0

278
201
47
3
48
44
11

50.0
50.0

274
197
39
5
62
31
12

50.0
60.3

277
213
41
9
59
33
14

54.2
59.8

62

44.0

56
6

42.4

80
3

42.2

35.0

117

41.7

54
42

30.0

35.0

63
380
160
28
175
13
11

36.0

Other production workSales and store clerks

26
190

28.5

25
187

35.1

41
191

40.0

35.1

40.0

45.0

15 Indiana establishments ° reporting hours worked
All employees___ __

149

Cleaners and spotters___
Pressers and finishers------

7
52

30.0

162

33.3

9
63

30.0

175

35.0

9
61

33.0

109

35.0

47
40

35.0

115
46
48

i The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown; not com­
puted where base less than 50.
.
* All occupations but those shown had too few reported for the computation of average earnings.




APPENDIX

35

Table V.—Hours

ivorked in the week reported by women on production and by
women sales and store clerks, all establishments reporting for any of the S
years 1934, 1935, and 1937—DRY GLEANING AND DYEING, ' Ohio and
Indiana
Ohio
Number of wom­
en with hours
worked reported

Hours worked

1934

1935

1937

Indiana

Percent distri­
bution

1934

1935

1937

Number of wom­
en with hours
worked reported
1934

1935

1937

Percent distri­
bution
•
1934

1935

1937

Women other than sales and store clerks
Total______________ 1, 050 1,153 1,557 100.0 100.0 100.0
Under 32................................
32, under 40
40
Over 40, under 44
44, under 48_______ _ __
48_________ _____________
Over 48, under 50
50 and over

145
326
129
241
167
19
11
12

192
355
119
207
159
17
36
68

184
349
151
223
358
36
92
164

13.8
31.0
12.3
23.0
15.9
1.8
1.0
1.2

16.7
30.8
10.3
18.0
13.8
1.5
3.1
5.9

11.8
22.4
9.7
14.3
23.0
2.3
5.9
10.5

209

250

28
81
14
45
23
4
5
9

29
67
14
55
52
4
13
16

412 100.0 100.0
30
40
20
56
94
45
43
84

13.3
38.8
6.7
21.5
11.0
1.9
2.4
4.3

11.6
26.8
5.6
22.0
20.8
1.6
5.2
6.4

16

o)

(0

100.
7.5
9.7
4.9
13.
22.
10.
10.
20.4

Women sales and store clerks
223
Under 40 __
40
Over 40, under 44 ______
44
Over 44, under 48 ........... .
48..............................................
Over 48............. ...................

235

30
10
5
10
24
143
1

49
13
23
15
81
50
4

332 100.0 100.0 100.0
44
40
16
25
110
81
16

13.4
4.5
2.2
4.5
10.8
64.1
.4

20. 9
5.5
9.8
6.4
34.5
21. 3
1.7

13.2
12.0
4.8
7.5
33.1
24.4
4.8

2

m

10
1

1
1
4

1
1
3

i Percents not computed.

VI.—Week’s earnings of icomen in all establishments reporting for any of
the 3 years 1934, 1935, and 1937—DRY CLEANING AND DYEING, Ohio and
Indiana

Table

Ohio

Week’s earnings

Number of wom­
en with earnings
as specified
1934

1935

1937

Indiana

Percent distri­
bution

1934

1935

1937

Number of wom­
en with earnings
as specified
1934

1935

1937

Percent distri­
bution

1934

1935

1937

Total......... ............... 1,556 1,600 2,150 100.0 100.0 100.0
351
437
890 100.0 100.0 100.0
Average week’s earnings A $13. 85 $15. 20 $16. 70
$13.15 $13. 70 $14. 50
Under $10...............................
$10, under $12.....................
$12, under $14.......................
$14
Over $14, under $16_ ___
$16, under $18._ .............
$18, under $20.
______
$20, under $25.$25 and over

187
192
443
35
275
196
113
87
28

171
103
248
53
398
311
147
124
45

141
98
179
70
397
486
375
322
82

12.0
12.4
28.4
2.2
17.7
12,6
7.2
5.6
1.8

10.7
6.4
15.5
3.3
24.9
19.4
9.2
7.8
2.8

6.6
4.5
8.3
3.3
18.5
22.6
17.4
15.0
3.7

48
70
104
27
65
19
10
5
3

57
74
101
36
86
40
25
13
5

116
110
162
60
158
107
83
78
16

13.7
19.9
29.6
7.7
18.5
5.4
2.8
1.4
.9

1 The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown.




13.0
16.9
23.1
8.2
19.7
9.2
5.7
3.0
1.2

13.0
12.4
18.2
6.7
17.8
12.0
9.3
8.8
1.8

36

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

VII.—Week’s earnings and hours worked of women on production and of
women sales and store clerks, identical establishments reporting for each of
the 3 years 193^, 1935, and 1937—DRY CLEANING AND DYEING, Ohio and
Indiana

Table

Women other than sales and store clerks

Year

Women with
Under 40
Over 40, under 50 hours and
hours
40 hours
hours worked
50 hours
over
Num­
reported
ber of
estab­
lish­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
ments
age
age
age
age
age
report­ Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s
ber
ber
ber
ber
ber
ing
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
ings 1
ings i
ings i
ings »
ings i

Ohio
1934
1935
1937

1,025 $13. 95
1,024 15.10
1,173 17. 20

454 $11. 65
477 12. 85
367 13.60

128 $14. 25
100 15.00
100 16.75

431 $15. 90
381 16. 75
568 17. 90

23.3

106
106
106

16.7

17.5

12.6

Percent of increase in
earnings, 1937 over
1934......... ......................

12
66
138

(*)
$20. 20
20. 65

«

Indiana
1934_____ ____________
1935 __________ _____
1937____ _____________

26
26
26

187 $12. 60
193 13.25
223 15. 50

Percent of increase in
earnings, 1937 over
1934

99 $11. 30
82 11.30
(>)
28

m

23.0

(a)

m
m

71 $14. 40
85 14. 50
145 15.60

m

14
12
9

8.3

3
14
41

(3)
0)
0)

(*)

Women sales and store clerks

Year

Women with
Over 48, under 50 hours and
hours worked Under 48 hours
48 hours
50 hours
over
Num­
reported
ber of
estab­
lish­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
ments
age
age
age
age
age
report­ Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s
ber
ber
ber
ber
ber
ing
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
ings 1
ings i
ings 1
ings
ings i

Ohio
1934
______________
1935
1937........... ........... ............

222 $13. 70
222 15. 45
222 16. 20

78 $13.10
169 15.15
160 15. 85

143 $13. 75
w
49
54 16. 50

18.2

38
38
38

21.0

20.0

Percent of increase in
earnings, 1937 over
1934

1
3
1

(a)
(i
2)
(a)

<»)

Indiana
1934
______________
1935_____ ____________
1937
Percent of increase in
earnings, 1937 over
1934

11
11
11

3
6
2

(a)
(*)
(a)

3
1
2

(2)
(2)
<»>

5

(■)

o

i The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown.
* Not computed; base less than 50.
3 Not obtainable.




1
7

(■)

«

APPENDIX

37

VIII.—Week’s earnings of men and women in the various occupations in
identical establishments in 1934, 1935, and 1937—DRY CLEANING AND
DYEING, Ohio and Indiana

Table

Week’s earnings of women
1934

1935

Week’s earnings of men

1937

1934

1935

1937

Occupation
Num­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­
ber
ber
ber
ber
ber
ber
age
age
age
age
age
age
of wo­ earn­ of wo­ earn­ of wo­ earn­
of
of
of
earn­
earn­
earn­
men ings1 men ings 1 men ings1 men ings1 men ings1 men ings1
172 Ohio establishments
All employees.. . .
Total on production_____
Cleaners and spotters...
Pressers and finishers. ...
Tailors and seamstresses..

1, 545 $13. B5 1, 505 $15. 25 1,679 $16. 95 1,181 $20.90 1,191 $22. 55 1,302 $25.90
1,239 14. 00 1,231 15.10 1,410 17.20 1,175 20. 95 1,178 22.60 1,286 26.00

Other production workers.

92
594
203
36
236
26
21
31

Sales and store clerks.........

306 13. 70

Markers and checkers. _. -

16.10
13. 70
13. 40
14.10

88
586
206
39
236
24
21
31

16.90
14.65
14. 75
15. 55

274 15. 60

89
642
256
48
277
28
22
48

19. 65
17.05
16. 65
17. 25

269 16. 25

456
371
79
7
63
81
38
80

21.90
20.60
21.90
17.70
15. 05
20.00

6

459
382
76
7
81
64
37
72

23.70
22.20
23.90
17.90
15. 85
20. 75

13

485
398
78
11
80
75
47
112

27. 15
26. 50
28.85
21.30
16.15
21.15

16

64 Indiana establishments
All employees.

351 $13.15

358 $13.60

428 $15. 05

284 $17.25

$17. 75

Total on production.

300 13. 00

308 13.60

373 15.15

17.35

307 17.80

22.40

Cleaners and spotters. .
Pressers and finishers..
Tailors and seamstresses..
Inspectors____________
Markers and checkers.
General workers______
Supervisors___________
Other production workers.

19
141 13.25
43
40
43
8
3
3

18
151 13.40
39
38
46
8
2
6

21
158 15.80
67 13. 90
38
71 14. 55
11
1
6

108 17.80
115 16.75
8

112 18.45
129 17.60
7
2
5
27
10
15

132 21.00
134 23. 50
11

51 13.50

50 13. 65

55 13.85

Sales and store clerks..

1

5
24
9
12

345 $22.35

2
5
27
13
20

1 The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown; not computed
where base less than 50.




38

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

IX.—Week’s earnings and hourly earnings of women in Ohio border cities
and in other Ohio cities, in 1934, 1935, and 1937—DRY CLEANING AND
D YDING, Ohio and Indiana,

Table

Other Ohio cities

Ohio border cities 1

Week’s earnings

Number of women
with earnings re­
ported
1937

Percent distribu­
tion

1934

1935

1937

1934

1935

Total women.......................

26
461

34
435

46
497 100.0 100.0 100.0

Under $10..............................
$10, under $12----—
$12, under $14
-------$14.._______ ____________
Over $14, under $16
$16, under $18
_ -------$18, under $20
$20, under $25----- -----------$25 and over...----------------

71
65
166
5
63
46
21
17
7

40
21
59
14
150
74
30
33
14

22
18
38
8
139
142
65
48
17

Number of women
with earnings re­
ported
1934

1935

1937

Percent distribu­
tion

1934

1935

1937

Establishments reporting

15.4
14.1
36.0
1.1
13.7
10.0
4.6
3.7
1.5

9.2
4.8
13.6
3.2
34.5
17.0
6.9
7.6
3.2

4.4
3.6
7.6
1.6
28.0
28.6
13.0
9.7
3.4

Number of women
with hours worked
reported

Percent distribu­
tion

1934

1935

1934

Total women....................

17
417

23
386

35
452 100.0 100.0 100.0

Under 35 cents---------------35, under 40 cents
40, under 50 cents........... ..
50 cents and over_______

293
50
63
11

14
255
85
32

21
252
132
47

Hourly earnings

1937

1935

1937

147
171
259
1,095 1,165 1,653 100.0 100.0
116
127
277
30
212
150
92
70
21

131
82
189
39
248
237
117
91
31

119
80
141
62
258
344
310
274
65

Number of women
with hours worked
reported
1934

1935

1937

10.6
11.6
25.3
2.7
19.4
13.6
8.4
6.4
1.9

11.2
7.1
16.3
3.3
21.3
20.4
10.0
7.8
2.7

100.0
7.2
4.9
8.5
3.8
15.6
20.8
18.7
16.6
3.9

Percent distribu­
tion

1934

1935

1937

Establishments reporting

i For list of cities see p. 19.




70.2
12.0
15.1
2.7

3.7
66.1
22.0
8.2

4.7
55.8
29.2
10.4

97
137
214
856 1,002 1,437 100.0 100.0
327
236
231
62

41
673
225
63

60
677
539
161

38.2
27.6
27.0
7.3

4.1
67.2
22.5
6.3

100.0
4.2
47.1
37.5
11.2

APPENDIX

39

Comparison of number of establishments, number of wage earners,
amount of pay rolls, and receipts in 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935—POWER
LAUNDRIES, New York and Pennsylvania1

Table X.

Laundries

Year

Wage earners
(average for
year)

Pay rolls

Per­
Per­
Per­
cent of
cent of
cent of
change
change
Num­
Num­ change
from
from
Amount
from
ber
ber
date
date
date
pre­
pre­
pre­
ceding
ceding
ceding

Beceipts

Amount

Per­
cent
Wages
Beceipts wages
Per­
cent of per wage per wage were
of re­
earner
change earner
ceipts
from
date
pre­
ceding

Neio York State
1929
1931
1933 2___
1935

776
31,391
$35,173,329
778 +0.3 32, 725 +4.2 35; 652', 025 +1.4 84,967,707 +0.6
613 -21.2 28, 826 -11.9 25, 724,000 -27.8 58, 595,000 -31.0
727 +18.6 31, 684 +9.9 28, 798,471 +12.0 64,806, 585 +10.6

1929
1931..,__
1933 ®___
1935

365
13, 034
12, 294, 858
337 -7.7 12, 492 -4.2 10, 920,291 —11.
291 -13.6 10,949 -12.4 7, 526, 000 -31.
319 +9.6 12,209 +11.5 8,885, 695 +18.

1,089. 44
892. 39
909. 50

$2, 691. 23
2, 596.42
2, 032. 71
2, 046. 70

41.6
42.0
43.9
44.4

943. 29
874.18
687. 37
727.80

2,201. 60
1,997. 39
1, 563. 25
1, 724.43

42.8
43.8
44.0
42.2

1,135. 21
937. 42
939. 06

2, 710. 34
2,110.16
2, 070. 24

41.9
44.4
45.4

969. 41
891. 98
713. 96
739. 53

2, 253. 22
2,020. 37
1, 602. 44
1,735. 87

43.0
44.1
44.6
42.6

Pennsylvania
28, 695,641
24, 951, 396 -13.0
17,116,000 -31.4
21,053,597 +23.0

Netv York City
1929____
1931
1933
1935

372
20, 666
397 +6.7 22,330
339 -14.6 20, 724
377 +11.2 21, 987

1929____
1931
1933
1935

134
123
112
121

24, 421, 757
+8.1 25,349, 344 +3.8 60, 521, 847 +3.5
-7.2 19,427, 000 -23. 4 43, 731, 000 -27.7
+6.1 20,647,114 +6.3 45, 518, 283 +4.1

Philadelphia1 2
-8.2
-8.9
+8.0

5,884
5,856 -0.5
5, 667 -3.2
6, 238 +10.1

5,704,037
13, 257,961
5, 223, 454 -8.4 11,831,262 -10.8
4,046, 000 -22. 5 9,081,000 -23.2
4, 613,192 +14.0 10, 828, 333 +19.2

1 U. S. Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census, 1930. Manufactures: 1929, vol. II, pp. 1394, 1395, 1396Census of Manufactures: 1931. Power Laundries, Dry-Cleaning and Bedyeing Establishments, 1933’.
Pp. 4, 5, 6; Census of Manufactures: 1933. Power Laundries, Cleaning and Dyeing Establishments. Bug­
Cleaning Establishments. 1935. Pp. 3, 4, 5, 6; Biennial Census: 1935. Power Laundries. 1937. Pp. 6, 8
213.8 percent of the New York establishments that had reported in 1931, and 5.6 percent of those in Penn­
sylvania, failed to supply information for the census of 1933. Their omission reduced the number of wage
earners and thereceipts by respectively 9 percent and 9.6 percent in New York and respectively 3 percent and
2.3 percent m Pennsylvania. To what extent these plants were closed down is not known. The census
report explains that because of the omission of these plants in 1933 the amount shown as decrease in receipts
from 1931 to 1933 “undoubtedly is too large.”




40

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES
XI.—Change in proportion of ivomen employed from 1933 to 1935, identical
establishments—POWER LAUNDRIES, New York and Pennsylvania

Tabus

Total employees

Month

Women em­
ployees

Percent
of
Number change Number Percent
of total
from
1933
New York State (131 laundries)

November 1933____ _______
November 1935 _

7,096
7,377
7,561

+4.0
+6.6

4,383
4', 554
4,552

61.8
61.7
60.2

New York City area (81 laundries)

May 1933
November 1933
November 1935_____ __

...

5, 252
5,489
5, 729

+4.5
+9.1

3,114
3, 266
3, 305

59.3
59.5
57.7

21 other New York localities (50
laundries)
May 1933
November 1933______ _____
November 1935_______




1,844
1,888
1,232

+2.4
-.7

1, 269
1,288
1,247

68.8
68.2
68.1

Total employees

Women em­
ployees

Percent
of
Number change Number Percent
of total
from
1933
Pennsylvania (116 laundries)
6,765
6, 827
7, Oil

+0.9
+3.6

4,348
4,346
4,474

64.3
63.7
63.8

Philadelphia (50 laundries)
3,882
3, 959
4, 075

+2.0
+5.0

2,434
2,451
2, 536

62.7
61.9
62.2

26 other Pennsylvania localities
(66 laundries)
2,883
2,868
2,936

-0.5
+1.8

1,914
1,895
1,938

66.4
66. 1
66.0

APPENDIX

41

XII.—Hourly earnings of women in all establishments reporting hours
worked for any of the 3 dates in 1933 and 19351—POWER LAUNDRIES, New
York and Pennsylvania

Table

Number with
hours worked re­
ported

Percent distribu­
tion

Number with
hours worked re­
ported

Percent distribu­
tion

Hourly earnings (cents)
No­ No­
No­ No­
May vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
1933
ber
ber
1933
ber
ber
1933 1935
1933 1935

No­
No­
No­ No­
May vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
1933
ber
ber
ber
1933
ber
1933 1935
1933 1935

New York State

Penns'1jrivania

Number of establish­
ments___ ____ ______ _
100
131
131
Total women............
3,171 4,505 4, 549 100.0 100.0 100.0
Under 20___ ____________
5C1
89
15.8
2.0
29, under 25
1, 260
313
39.7
6.9
25, under 27^
573
268
37 18.1
5.9
.8
27)4—...................................
2
928
348
.1 20.6
7.7
Over27)4,under31_. ... 393 1,050
610 12.4 23.3 13.4
31............................................
8
587 1, 512
.3 13.0 33.2
Over 31, under 32V6
102
327
690
3.2
7.3 15.2
32J^, under 35.....................
133
432
682
4.2
9.6 15.0
35, under 40
109
320
347
3.4
7.1
7.6
40 and over....................
90
191
323
2.8
4.2
7.1

65
87
87
2,314 3, 214 3,118 100.0 100.0
876
13
37 37.8
.4
581
44
461 25.1
1.3
562 2,536 1,793 24.3 78.9
9
37
,3
171
349
430
7.4 10.9
11
23
11
.5
.7
40
53
71
1.7
1.6
25
84
107
1.1
2.6
36
73
109
1.6
2.3
12
30
62
.5
.9

New York City area
Number of establish­
ments_____ ■_.......... ..
58
81
81
Total women _..
2.079 3, 217 3, 302 100.0 100.0
Under25. _________ ... 1.157
382
65.7 11.8
324
25, under 27H................. 167
1 15.6
5.2
27J6, under 31. ______
268 1, 061
46 12.9 33.0
31....................
5
572 1,488
.2 17.8
Over 31, under 35
181
635 1, 243
8.7 19.7
35, under 40_________
76
250
266
3.7
7.8
40 and over............
68
150
258
3.3
4.7

Philadelphia

loo.o
(2)
1.4
45.1
37.6
8.1
7.8

21 other New York localities

158
446
249
127
90
22

2
18
101
350
567
209
41

36
348
564
234
65

14.4
40.9
22.8
11.6
8.2
2.0

.2
1.4
7.8
27.2
44.0
16.2
3.2

18
30
32
1,105 1,636 1,542 100.0 100.0
757
7
258 68.5
.5
208 1,293
834 18.8 79.0
88
200
263
8.0 12.2
9
17
7
.8
1.0
23
72
95
2.1
4.4
18
32
52
1.6
2.0
2
15
33
.2
.9

2.9
27.9
45.2
18.8
5.2

47
57
55
1, 209 1,578 1, 576 100.0 100.0
360
12
340
38
354 1, 243
4
83
154
62
112
10
15

1 New York establishments identical for November 1933 and November 1935
2 Less than one-half of 1 percent.




100.0
16.7
54.1
17.1
.5
6.2
3.4
2. 1

26 other Pennsylvania localities

Number of establish­
ments..............
.............
42
50
50
Total women___ ...
1,092 1, 288 1,247 100.0 100.0 100.0
Under 20 _
20, under 25..........................
25, under 27J4........... ...........
27)4______ _______________
Over 2714, under 31
31, under 40
40 and over_______ _

100.0
1.2
14.8
57.5
1.2
13.8
.4
2.3
3.4
3.5
2.0

11
229
959
23
181
144
29

29.8
28.1
29.3
6.9
5.1
.8

.7
2.4
78.8
.3
9.8
7.1
1.0

100.0
.7
14.5
60.9
1.5
11.5
9.1
1.8

42

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES

XIII.—Hours worked in the week reported by wom-en in all establish­
ments reporting hours worked for any of the 3 dates in 1933 and 19351—
POWER LAUNDRIES, New York and Pennsylvania

Table

Number with
hours worked
reported

Percent
distribution

Number with
hours worked
reported

Percent
distribution

Hours worked
No­ No­
No­ No­
May- vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
ber
ber
ber
ber
1933
1933
1933 1935
1933 1935

No­ No­
No­ No­
May vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
1933
ber
ber
1933
ber
ber
1933 1935
1933 1935

New York State

Pennsylvania

Total ----------- ------- 3,171 4, 505 4,549 100.0 100.0 100.0
747 1,129
775
Under 37______ _________
37, under 41
390 1,377 1,117
41, under 46. __________
740 1,808 2,139
48 and over-------------------- 1,294
191
518

23.5
12.3
23.3
40.8

25.0
30.6
40.1
4.2

17.1
24.6
47.0
11.4

2,314 3, 214 3,118 100.0 100.0
895 1,369
354
834
509
989
556
22

Total

28.3
28.2
30.7
12.8

1,105 1,636 1,542 100.0 100.0

100.0

Philadelphia

2,079 3, 217 3,302 100.0 100.0 100.0
327
443
689
235 1,012
725
518 1, 341 1, 739
999
175
395

Under 37
37, under 41.
41, under 46
46 and over

15.8
11.3
24.9
48.1

21.4
31.5
41.7
5.4

13.5
22.0
52.7
11.9

21 other New York localities
Total

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

Under 37_____ ____ ______
37, under 41
41, under 46....
46 and over................. .........

440
365
467
16

332
392
400
123

38.5
14.2
20.3
27.1

34.2
28.3
36.3
1.3

333
236
283
253

540
500
589
7

26.6
31.4
32. 1
9.9

30.1
21.4
25.6
22.9

33.1
30.6
36.0
.5

1,209 1,578 1, 576 100.0 100.0
562
118
226
303

829
334
400
15

1 New York establishments identical for November 1933 and November 1935.




357
474
488
223

23. 1
30.7
31.6
14.5

26 other Pennsylvania localities

1,092 1,288 1,247 100.0 100.0 100.0
420
155
222
295

38.6
15.3
22.0
24.0

100.0

42.6
25.9
30.8
.7

New York City area

883
879
958
398

526
405
470
175

46.5
9.8
18.7
25.1

52.6
21.2
25.3
1.0

100.0
33.3
25.7
29.8
11.1

APPENDIX
Table

43

XIV.—Week’s earnings of women in identical establishments in 1933 and
1935—POWER LAUNDRIES, New York and Pennsylvania
Number of
women with
earnings as
specified

Number of
women with
earnings as
specified

Percent
distribution

Percent
distribution

Week’s earnings
No­ No­
No­ No­
May vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
ber
1933
ber
1933
ber
ber
1933 1935
1933 1935
New York (131 laundries)
Total
Average week’s

No­ No­
No­ No­
May vem­ vem­ May vem­ vem­
1933
ber
ber
1933
ber
ber
1933 1935
1933 1935
Pennsylvania (116 laundries)

4,383 4, 554 4,552 100.0 100.0 100.0

4, 348 4, 346 4, 474 100.0 100.0 100.0

$10. 60 $12.00 $13.15
Under $5______ __________
$5, under $10-_ -------------$10, under $11------- ------$11, under $12-.................
$12, under $13_____ ____ _
$13, under $14
$14, under $15................
$15 and over__________-

197
130
71
1, 641
758
316
593
524
162
491
861
541
449 1,142 1,032
338
446 1,099
242
255
592
432
438
739

$8. 40 $10. 40 $10. 65
4.5
37.4
13.5
11.2
10. 2
7. 7
5.5
9.9

2.9
16.6
11.5
18.9
25. 1
9.8
5.6
9.6

1.6
6.9
3.6
11.9
22. 7
24. 1
13.0
16.2

621
183
161
2, 359 1,636 1, 466
460
903
915
348
927
747
230
305
503
106
131
212
75
87
156
149
174
314

New York City area (81 laundries)
Total_________ 3.114 3, 266 3, 305 100.0 100.0 100.0
Average week’s
earnings 1_____
$11.10 $12. 25 $13. 50
Under $5
$5, under $10
$10, under $11
$11, under $12-- .. ----$12, under $13.____ _____
$13, under$14...
$14, under $15. ________
$15 and over

124
951
452
377
345
286
209
370

87
553
372
412
890
375
218
359

44
155
87
115
775
982
519
628

4.0
30.5
14.5
12.1
11. 1
9.2
6. 7
11.9

2.7
16.9
11.4
12.6
27.3
11.5
6.7
11.0

1.3
4.7
2.6
3.5
23.4
29.7
15. 7
19.0

21 other New York localities (50 laundries)
Total ____________
Average week’s

14.3
54.3
10.6
8.0
5.3
2.4
1.7
3.4

4.2
37.6
20.8
21. 3
7.0
3.0
2.0
4.0

3.6
32.8
20.5
16.7
11.2
4.7
3.5
7.0

Philadelphia (50 laundries)
2,434 2,451 2,536 100.0 100.0 100.0
$8. 65 $10. 65 $10. 90
347
1,257
291
208
149
63
39
80

88
758
574
611
188
83
41
108

87
740
503
454
329
136
99
188

14.3
51.6
12. 0
8.5
6.1
2.6
1.6
3.3

3.6
30.9
23.4
24.9
7.7
3.4
1.7
4.4

3.4
29.2
19.8
17.9
13.0
5.4
3.9
7.4

26 other Pennsylvania localities (66
laundries)

Under $5 _
___
$5, under $10-----------$10, under $11
$11, under $12___________
$12, under $13
$13, under $14
$14, under $15................ .
$15 and over______ .
„

1,269 1,288 1,247 100.0 100.0 100.0

1,914 1,895 1,938 100.0 100.0 100.0

$9. 3C $11. 55 $11.85

$8. 20 $9. 90 $10.40

73
690
141
114
104
52
3S
62

43
205
152
449
252
71
37
79

27
161
75
426
257
117
72
111

5.8
54.4
11. 1
9. C
8.2
4. 1
2.6
4.9

3.3
15.9
11.8
34.9
19.6
5.5
2. £
6. 1

2.2
12.9
6.0
34.2
20.6
9.4
5.9
8.9

274
1,102
169
14C
81
43
36
69

95
878
329
316
117
48
46
66

74
726
412
293
174
76
57
126

14.3
57.6
8.8
7.3
4.2
2.2
1.9
3.6

1 The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown.




5.0
46.3
17.4
16.7
6.2
2.5
2.4
3.5

3.8
37.5
21.3
15.1
9.0
3.9
2.9
6.5

44

EFFECT OF MINIMUM WAGE IN SERVICE INDUSTRIES
XV.—Week's earnings and hours worked in November 1935—POWER
LAUNDRIES, New York and Pennsylvania

Table

Women with
46 hours and
Under 37
37, under 41
41, under 46
hours worked
hours
hours
hours
over
Num­
reported
ber of
estab­
lish­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
ments
age
age
age
age
age
report­ Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s Num­ week’s
ber
ber
ber
ber
ing
ber
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
earn­
ings i
ings 1
ings 1
ings 1
ings 1

Place

New York City area.
Philadelphia ---------21 other New York
localities______
26 other Pennsylvania localities____

1,739 $13. 75
488 11.20

81
32

3, 302 $13. 50
1,542 10. 65

443 $10. 25
8. 35
357

725 $12. 65
474 10.35

50

1,247

11.85

332

9. 70

392

11.65

1,576

10.30

526

8.05

405

10. 35

123

13.70

11.15

470

$15. 30
12. 20

12. 60

400

55

395
223

175

12.40

1 The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown.

XVI.—Hourly earnings of women in certain occupations in 1933, in .1935
{Pennsylvania), and in 1937 (New York)—POWER LAUNDRIES, New York
and Pennsylvania1

Table

Sorters
and
Packers 4
classifiers3

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earnings 5 (cents)

N u m b er

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earn in g s 6 (cents)

N u m b er

j

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earn in g s 5 (cents)

N u m b er

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earn in g s 5 (cents)

N u m b er

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earnings 6( cents)

earnings 5 (cents)

N u m b er

N u m b er

A v e ra g e h o u rly

A v e ra g e h o u rly
earn in g s 6 (cents)

N u m b er

Place and date

Menders

i

Hand
ironers

1

Press
All em­ Flat-work
ployees 2 operators operators

New York State
635 24
May 1933 .
__________ - 1, 248 25
September 1937 fl...------- - 3, 420 32.6 1,131 31.7

157 26
814 33.6

129 25
541 33.6

112 26
261 32.3

46
57 34.3

15
50 32.0

499 21.5
582 26.8

341 25. 1
468 25.0

262 26.2
453 27.3

67 22.8
75 25.0

36
61 25.0

Pennsylvania
800 18.9
2,310 21. 8
November 1935 ---------------- 3,114 25.0 1,025 25.0

New York City
414 24
2, 251 33.4

273 22
791 31.9

50 25
547 33.9

48
358 35.0

7
97 34.0

12
36

4
25

1,102 20.6
1.542 25.0

433 18.0
582 25.0

291 20.2
316 27.0

199 25.1
254 25.0

99 27.0
255 27.5

21
19

14
30

834 25
1,169 30.7

362 25
340 30.1

107 26
267 31.7

81 26
183 30.7

105 26
164 31.0

34
21

11
25

................. 1. 208 22.9
1.572 25.0

367 20.9
443 25.0

208 23.7
266 25.0

142 25.2
214 26.6

163 25.8
198 27.0

46
56 25.6

22
31

Philadelphia
May 1933

Other New York localities
May 1933

________

Other Pennsylvania
localities
May 1933

i Figures for New York from published reports of Industrial Commissioner; those for May 1933 are rates,
not earnings.
a Totals exceed details, since only comparable occupations are shown separately.
3 Markers and sorters for Pennsylvania; sorters for New York 1937 figures.
4 Checkers and packers for Pennsylvania.
* The median or midpoint, with half the earnings below and half above the amount shown. Not com­
puted for numbers below 50.
# Week ending Sept. 4.




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