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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
WOMEN'S BUREAU
Bulletin No. 108

,

THE EFFECTS OF
THE DEPRESSION ON WAGE
EARNERS' FAMILi ES
A SECOND SURVEY OF SOUTH BEND


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UNITED STATES DEPARTMEN T OF LABOR
FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary

WOMEN'S BUREAU
MARY ANDERSON, Director

THE EFFECTS OF
THE DEPRESSION ON WAGE
EARNERS' FAMILIES
A SECOND SURVEY OF SOUTH BEND

By
HARRIET A. BYRNE

BULLETIN OF THE WoMEN's BuREAu, No.

108

UNITED STATES
GOVERNME T PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1936

For 1ale by the Superintendent of Documents, Washington, D. C.


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• - • • • • • • -

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CONTENTS
!'age

Letter of transmittaL __________ __________________________________ _
Introduction ______ ____________ _______________________ ____________ _
Scope and method ______ ._____________________________________ __
Summary ____________________________________ ______ _________ _
Households ____________________________ ___________________ ______ __
_C om3~:b~~ison of households-in 1932-and-1930 _ - -- - -- -- - - - - -- - - Number of family groups __________________ ______________ __
Personal data concerning workers ____________ ____ __ ___ _______ __ _
Age and nativity of women ___________________ __ __ ________ __
Marital status and relation to family __________ ______ _______ _
Housing __________________________________ __ ________ ___ _____ _
Home tenure in 1932 as compared with 1930 __________ _______ _
Changes in number of rooms or occupants ________________ ___ _
Changes in monthly rent or payment_ __________________ ____ _
Adjustments made _______________________________________ __ __ _
Retrenchments ___ ____________________________ _______ ____ _
Financial arrangements __________________________________ _ _
Employment ____________________________________________________ _
Households _________________________________________________ _ _
Employment in the year August 1, 1931, to July 31, 1932 _____ _
Employment as of August 1, 1932 __________________________ _
Employment of young persons _____________________________ _
Employment of women _______________________________________ _
Employment in the year August 1, 1931, to July 31, 1932 ______ _
Employment status as of August 1, 1932 __. __________ ________ _
Employment of men ______________________________ _____ _______ _
Employment during year August 1, 1931, to July 31 1 1932 ____ _
Full-time and part-time employment ___________________ _
Employment as of August 1, 1932 ___________________ _. ______ _
The 4 weeks previous to interview ________________________.__________ _
Status of household __________________________________________ _
Employment
______________________
~----------------------_
Earnedincome
___________________________________________
Other income ____________________________________________ _
Status of women __________________________ ___ _________________ _
Employment ________________________ •--. ______ ___ _______ _
Earnedincome __________________ ______ __ _____________ ~--- Status of men __ ___ ______________ ________ ________________ _ ___ _
Employment _________ __ ____ _______ ____ ______________ __ __ _
Earned income ___________________________________________ _
Data from employers. ___________________________ ---------------~-Time worked ________________________________________________ _
Earnings in 1931 _______________ ... _____________________________ _

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IV

CONTENTS

TEXT TABLES
Page

1. Number of persons in the households, b y size of household and according to whether members were under 16 years of age or 16 years a n d
over _______________ ____ ___ __________________ _________ ____ __
2. Relation to family of women and men scheduled.__________________
3. Time in arrears on shelter- households that were renting or buying
homes_______________ __ _____ ___ ____ _____ ____________ ________
4. Time in arrears on taxes____ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
5. Number of households that lost or encumbered their homes between
1930and 1932 _____ ____ ____ _____ ____________________ ___ __ ___
6. Households reporting change in rent or purchase payments, 1930 to
1932 ____ __ _____________ ____ __________ ___ ___ ________ ________
7. Expenditures for r elief, South Bend, 1929 to 1932_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
8. Number and sex of persons employed during scheduled year, by size
of household _______ ______ ______ ____ __________ _____ _______ ___
9. Relation between normal employment and employment in scheduled
year, by size of h ousehold_ __ ____ ___________ _______ ____ ________
10. Number and sex of normally employed persons in the household ___ __
11. Number of persons per household normally employed and number
employed August 1, 1932_________________ ___ ____________ _____
12. Average number of persons in household per member employed
August 1, 1932, by size of household _____ ___ ______________ __ ___
13. Industry in which women scheduled were employed or had last b een
employed _______________ ________ _____ ______________ ___ ______
14. Employment of women in 12 months ended July 31, 1932, by marital
status______________ _____ ___ _____________________ __ __ ____ ___
15. Industry in which women scheduled were employed or had been employed, and employment status as of August 1, 1932_ _____ ___ ____
16. Marital status of women scheduled and employment status as of
August 1, 1932___ ___ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___ __ __ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ ___ _ _ _ _ ___
17. Industry in which scheduled men usually were employed and extent of
employment in such job in the 12 months ended July 31, 1932_ ____
18. Relation to family and employment status as of August 1, 1932, of
men who were scheduled _____ _______ ___ __ ______ ______ __ ______
19. Number of persons per household normally employed and number
employed during 4 weeks previous to interview___________ __ ____ _
20. Earned income of household in 4 weeks previous to interview, by
number of persons in the household ___ __ __________ ___________ __
21. Earnings of women in 4 weeks previous to interview, by number of
weeks employed ___ ____ _________ _____ ___ ____ ________ ____ _____
22. Proportion women's earnings formed of total household income in 4
weeks previous to interview, by earnings of household __ ______ ____
23. Maximum and minimum week's earnings of scheduled women in 4
weeks previous to interview_________ ___ _____________ ___ ___ ____
24. Earnings of men in 4 weeks previous to interview, b y number of weeks
employed_______ _______________ _____________ ____ __ __________
25. Maxim?m and_ mini~um week's earnings of scheduled men in 4 weeks
previous to mterv1ew _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
26. Hours per week worked by women in four plants, year ended July 31,
1932 __ ________ ___ ___ _______ __ __ _____ _____ ____________ ____ __
27. Hours per week worked by men in threeplants,year ended July 31, 1932_


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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
WOMEN'S BUREAU,

Washinfjton, November 22, 1935.
I have the honor to transmit a report showing the effects
of the depression on wage earners' families in South Bend and Mishawaka, Ind.
A survey of the community was made by the Women's Bureau in
1930, and this second survey of the same households has been made
to ascertain what changes the later phases of the depression had
brought about in employment, earnings, and the social a.nd economic
status of the families. The findings are eloquent testimony of the
need of legislation for social security.
A number of employers gave access to their pay rolls, and this
cooperation, like that of the men and women in the households, is
greatly appreciated.
The survey was directed by Caroline Manning, industrial supervisor, and the report has been written by Harriet A. Byrne, assistant
editor.
Respectfully submitted.
MARY ANDERSON, Director.
Hon. FRANCES PERKINS,
Secretary of Labor.
MADAM:

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THE EFFECTS OF THE DEPRESSION ON
WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES
INTRODUCTION

To ascertain what the continued depression had meant to the
families of women workers included in the survey by the Women's
Bureau in 1930 in South Bend and the adjoining town of Mishawaka,
Ind.,1 the Bureau conducted a second survey of the same community
in the late summer and the fall of 1932. As originally planned, the
first study was designed to show to what extent technological changes
in industry were causing human waste, but as soon as the survey got
under way it resolved itself into a study of part-time employ-Il}ent
and, in many cases, complete unemployment during a penod of
depression.
In passing, it may be said that the conditions found in this industrial
community are not peculiar to this district, but would be found to
exist in many industrial sections in almost any part of the country.
South Bend and Mishawaka, together comprising an important
industrial unit of the Middle West, had a population of about 133,000
in 1930. In normal times they offered many diversified employment
opportunities to both men and women. According to the United
States census, close to one-fourth of the females 10 years of age and
older were gainfully employed in 1930, about one-fourth of the working
population being women. The large man-employing industries were
automobile factories and machine shops, while the woman-employing
industries were wearing apparel (including shoes and rubbers), antomobiles and automobile parts, and machinery and electrical products.
Scope and method
This study was carried on almost entirely through home interviews
with members of households scheduled in the earlier study, a definite
attempt being made to locate a representative proportion of the
women interviewed in 1930. In that survey 2,852 households, with
3,245 women who had been employed at some time in the previous
12 months, were scheduled. During the course of the present study,
1,120 of these 2,852 households were revisited and work histories of
1,468 women were secured. Mention should be made here that in 30
of these 1,120 households a woman was living alone. Seven-eighths
of the 1,468 women had been surveyed previously; others had not
been included because they (1) were not members of the households in
1930,. (2) were less than 18 years of age, or (3) were engaged in occupations not covered, such as home work, domestic service, or the professions. In addition to the work .histories of women, data regarding
men's work were obtained for 1,399 men in 982 of the households.
1 Women's Bureau Bulletin No. 92, Wage Earning Women and the Industrial Conditions of 1930. A
survey of South Bend, 1932. 84 pp.

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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

Visits were made to several hundred other homes in which women
had been included in the earlier survey, but for one reason or another
no women were scheduled. In some cases they had left the city
entirely; in others they were still in South Bend but their addresses
were not known.
Though the first study threw some light on the family situation,
in the later survey greater emphasis was given to the socio-economic
status of the households of which these women were a part. The
make-up of the households as to the age of the members; the number
of wage earners, with data as to sex and occupation; changes in the
composition of the family during the past 2 years; and changes in
economic status, with special reference to home tenure, debts, and
retrenchments resulting in lowered standards of living were inquired
into. In a special effort to secure valuable data as to the financial
sta,tus of the family at the time of visit, facts were obtained regarding
the earned income of the various members of the household for the 4
weeks previous to interview.
In addition to the survey of homes, five plants ,vere visited, and
these s upplied data as to time worked. From one of them, year's
earnings were obtained.
SUMMARY

The survey was made in the months of August to November 1932.
It was confined to households in South Bend and Mishawaka visited
in the earlier suryey (1930).
HOUSEHOLDS VISITED

The 1,120 households visited had 5,231 members, 3,824 of whom
were 16 years of age and over. Of these persons 1,468 women and
1,399 men supplied information on their employment and earnings.
In addition, figures on size of family, tenure of home, employment and
income, and retrenchments in expenditures were obtained from most
of the families.
WOMEN SCHEDULED

About 40 percent of the women reporting their ages were under 25;
only 18 percent were as much as 40.
Forty-three percent were single, 47 percent married, 10 percent
widowed, separated, or divorced.
About 66 percent were factory workers; 14 percent were in the
various lines of work classed as domestic and personal service; 13 percent were clerical workers; less than 6 percent were saleswomen; and
2 percent were in other employment.
More than one-fifth (22 percent) had had no employment in the
12 months preceding the snrvey. Almost three-fourths of those who
had been employed had worked only part time.
Two-fifths had had no employment in the last 4 weeks of the year.
Of those reporting their earnings in the 4 weeks, only one-third had
earned $40 or more.
·
MEN SCHEDULED

Seventy-one percent of the men who reported their occupations
were factory workers; about 10 percent were evenly divided among
public utilities, the building trades, und selling jobs in trade; and
almost one-fifth were scattered through a va,riety of industries.


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

Twenty-eight percent of the men reporting on this had had no work
in their usual employment in the past 12 months. However, of those
who had had some work, three-fifths had been employed for at least
9 months.
Forty-five percent had had no employment in the last 4 weeks of
the year. Of those reporting income in the 4 weeks, about 39 percent
had earned $40 or more. The proportion paid as much as $50 was
31 percent of the men, in contrast to only 16 percent of the women.
HOUSEHOLDS
COMPOSITION

The households varied greatly as to number and ages of those
comprising the group. In the 1,120 households visited there were
5,231 persons, the size of household ranging from 1 member to 14.
As already mentioned, there were 30 cases of a woman living alone, a
considerably smaller proportion than in the first study. Somewhat
more than one-third of the households were composed of less than
4 persons, and close to one-half had more than 4. The average was
about 4. 7 persons.
The proportion of children under 16 was only slightly less in this
study than in the one made previously. Excluding the 30 women
who lived independently, just over one-fourth (27.1 percent) of the
5,201 persons in the households were children under 16. In the earlier
study the corresponding percentage was 28.5.
TABLE

!.-Number of persons in the households, by size of household, and according
to whether members were under 16 years of age or 16 years and over
Number of persons

Number of persons in household

Number of
households

U nder 16
years

Total
TotaL ___________ ________ _______ ___ __ ___ _
l_ _ - -- - ---- - ------ ---------- -- ----- - - ---- -- ---')

- - ---- --------- - - - ---------- -- --- - - - -------- --

3_ - - ------- -- -- - -- ---- --- -- -- - - - ----- - - ---- -- - -

4_ - ---------- --- - ------- - - - -- - - -- - ------- - - - - - 5_ - - -- - - -- - -- - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - -- - -- - - 6 _- - ----- -- - - -- - - - - - -- - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - -- - - --- 7 - - ------- ---- -- --- -- -- - - - - - ----- ---- ---- -- ----

8_ - - -- --- --- --- - - - - - - -- - -- --- - -- - -- - -- - -- -- - --9_
- ----- ---- - - -- -- -- ----- - - -- __
- - -____________
-- -- --- -- - --_
10 -to
14 _____
____________________

1,120

5, 231

30
177
193
205
171
134
67
60
34

30
354
579
820
855

49

804
469
480

306
534

1,407

-------------6
118
194
259
215
141
159
100
215

16 years and

over
3,824
30
348
461
626
596
589
328
321
206
319

Comparison of households in 1932 and 1930
The make-up of the households showed some changes as to number,
new members, and those who were no longer part of the household
when they were revisited in 1932. M ore than three-fifths (63.3 percent) of the 1,101 households reporting numbers were of the same
size in 1932 as in 1930; almost equal proportions, about one-fifth,
were smaller and were larger. When households of 4 persons or less
were compared for the 2 years, about one-fifth had fewer in 1932
than 1930, and about one-tenth had more persons. In comparing
the larger households, those of 5 or more, about 1 in 7 had fewer
persons in 1932 than in 1930, and close to three-tenths had more.
35662 °-36 - 2


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4

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

Strange to say, in practically four-fifths of the households there
had been no additions since 1930. The additions reported in 210
households were accounted for chiefly by births, though there were
appreciable increases by marriage, or by sons or daughters, and in
some cases their families, returning home to live.
Removals from the households were largely attributable to marriage, but there had been some deaths, and some sons and daughters
and other relatives had left home.
Number of family groups
Though there had been some doubling up of families in the 1,120
households, more than seven-tenths (800) were simple groups comprising only the immediate family of parents and children or a widow
with children. In a number of cases families or other groups had
merged because they were unable to maintain separate homes during
this trying period. Brothers or sisters or widowed fat hers or mothers
and in a few instances nonrelatives, were living with the single family
group in 103 households. In an even larger number, 169 instances,
2 family groups comprised the household, and in 18 there were 3
living together. In close to one-half of the 122 households in which
there were some additional persons they were widowed fathers or
mothers, and in almost the same number they were other relativessisters, brothers, nephews, and nieces. In seven cases they were not
relatives.
There were 1,295 family groups, and of these 1,057 had men as heads
of the groups and 238 had women. As already mentioned, 30 women
were living alone.
Total households ________________________________ 1, 120
Women alone________ ______ _______________________ ____
Households with no additions ____ ________ _____ ____ ______
Households with additions__ _ ____ __ ______ _____ _________
Households with widowed father or mother ____ ____ ___
Households with sister, brother, nephew, niece, or other
relative___ ______ ___ ___ __ _______ ___ ____ _____ ____
Households with nonrelatives_______________________

30
968
122
58
57
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PERSONAL DATA CONCERNING WORKERS

Since the Women's Bureau is interested chiefly in women, some
facts regarding these women's ages, nativity, and marital status are
presented here. Such data were not obtained for men. However,
for both sexes information regarding relationship to the family was
secured.
Age and nativity of women
When the ages of the scheduled women were inquired into they
were found to be in general a young group. Two-fifths of them were
not yet 25, though less than 7 percent were under 20. However,
something over one-sixth (18.1 percent) were as much as 40 years old.
These age groups are fairly similar to those in 1930, though in that
study there were proportionately more young women.
All but four of the women reported as to color and nativity. Close
to four-fifths were native white, one-fifth were foreign white, only
eight were Negroes. A somewhat larger proportion were found to


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

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be foreign born than was the case in ·the _p revious study, probably
due to the older relatives.
Women
Age (years)

.

Number

Percent

1,443

100.0

T ota) ___ ___ _____ __ -- - - __ - - - -- - - ---- --- -

1 -- - - 1 - - -- - 1

92
488
267
335
186
64

16, under 20_ --- - - - - - ----- --- -------- - -- --- -20, under 25_ -- - - -- - ----------- - - - - - --- - ---- 25, u nder 30_ - ---------------- - --------- - - - -30, under 40_ ----- - - - -- - - - -- -- ---- - --- - - ----40,
under 60
50_________________
- --- -- -- -- -- - - - -____
-- --- --________
- -------_
50, under
____
60 and over _____ ______ ___ __ _______ ________ ___

6. 4
33. 8
18. 5
23. 2
12. 9
4. 4
.8

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Marital status and relation to family
In a comparison of marital status of the women surveyed in 1932
with those in 1930 it was found that the proportions of single and
married women were reversed. Of the 1,468 women, 43 percent were
single, about 47 percent were married, and the remaining 10 percent
were widowed, separated, or divorced.
Women
M arita l status

•Percent

N umber

1, 468_, _ ___
100. 0 ,
___

T otaL ___ .--- ---------------- -- -- - ---- --- ,
Single_---- - -- -------- --- - - -- - - -- ----- - - -- --M arried______________ ________ ________ _____ __
Widowed, separated, or divorced ____ __ _____ _

43. O
46. 9
10.1

631

688
149

Considerably over one-half (55.5 percent) of the women were wives
or mothers or both. Approximately two-fifths were daughters or
sisters in the household, most of whom were single. The small
remainder bore some other relationship to the household or were
alone. L arger proportions in 1932 than in 1930 were mothers.
About two-thirds (67.7 percent) of the married women in the lat er
year, as compared with 55.6 percent in 1930, and as many as 85.2
percent of the widowed, separated, or divorced women in 1932, as
compared with 66 percent of those in 1930, had children to be supported.
TABLE

2. -Relation to family of women and men scheduled
Women

Men

R elation to family
Number

Percent

Number

P ercent

TotaL ___ __________ ______ ___ _____________ __ _____ _

1,468

100. 0

1,399

100. 0

Wife and mother; husband and father _______ __ ______ __
Wife; husband ___ ______ __ _______ __ __________ __ ____ ___ __
Mother; father __ ________ ___ ____ ______________________ _
D au ghter ; son ____ __ ____________________ __ ____________ _
Sister; brother ______ ___________________________ ______ __
Other __ ________________ -- -- -------- - -------------- -- __

466
222
127
566
38
49

31. 7
15. 1
8. 7
38. 6
2. 6
3.3

740
235
30
354
27
13

52.9
16. 8
2.1
25. 3
1. 9


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6

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

Somewhat more than one-half (52.9 percent) of the 1,399 men
interviewed were married and the fathers of families. About onesixth were married but had no children, and a very small number
were widowers with children. One-fourth of the total were sons in
the families surveyed.
HOUSING

As in this return survey only households in which women had been
interviewed previously were included, the districts selected were the
same as in the first study, neighborhoods in which industrial workers
predominated.
The houses of the workers in one section of South Bend were frame
cottages near the factories, making it possible for those employed
to walk to and from their work. In the central part of the city the
homes occupied by the workers were old residences that were deteriorating into tenements or rooming houses. The third area selected
was one of small modern homes that the families had been interested
in buying on the installment plan. In Mishawaka, two-story, onefamily homes were most common in the center of the city, while in
most of the outlying districts smaller bungalows, surrounded by
well-kept lawns and gardens, housed the workers interviewed.
Home tenure in 1932 as compared with 1930
Such anxiety over the future of their homes had been expressed by
the women in the previous study that questions regarding home tenure, rent, house payments, and taxes were asked in the later survey.
As indicated in 1930 in 1,145 families where the information was
volunteered, the industrial families were largely a group desiring
homes of their own; not far from three-fifths (55.5 percent) of all
the families either owned their homes, some clear, some with encumbrance, or were buying. The high-pressure salesmanship of realestate men in an "own-your-home" campaign was referred to,
many wage earners not having realized the obligations they were
assuming. Naturally it did not occur to these people that unemployment could bring such long-continued hard times to men and
women eager and able to work, and make owning a home a liability
rather than an asset. Close to three-fourths (72.8 percent) of the
families in the second survey owned their homes, but almost twothirds of them were encumbered.
That any irregularity in the receipt of the weekly pay envelope plays
havoc with wage-earning families' ability to make home payments
may be seen from the facts given here. Of 529 owners who still had
payments to make, only a little over one-third had ke'p t up their payments; the others were in arrears. One-half of those reporting time
in arrears were at least a year behind.
Of the 341 families delinquent in their payments that reported the
number of wage earners, about 45 percent had had less than the
normal number at work during the past year.
Of the 820 home owners reporting as to whether they were in arrears
in their taxes, 196-close to one-fourth-replied that they were.
More than three-fifths of the 169 households reporting the extent of
delinquency owed taxes for less than a year, but almost one-tenth
were behind as much as 2 years. More than one-half (52.6 percent)
of thos~ who owed bt\,ck; taxes had h"1d less than the normal number


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS ' FAMILIES

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of wage earners at work in the past year, as compared with well under
two-fifths (37.6 percent) of those who had paid their taxes.
TABLE

3.- Time in arrears on shelter-households that were renting or buying home,
Households reporting
tenure as-Time in arrears on shelter
Renting
Total reporting ___________ ________ ______ _______

529

269
1 ~- --

Not in arrears----- -· ----------- ------ ----- ---- -----In arrears ______ ____ ____ ____________ __________________

1-- -- - 1

141
128

Time in arrears _______________________________ __ _____
117
1- - -1 month ________ __________________ ______________ _
16
2 mont hs ___ _________ ______ _____________________ _
15
3 months ________ ________________ __ ____ __ _______ _
23
4 moifths . ________ ___________________ ___ ________ _
15
5 months _______ ___ _____________________________ _
13
6 months, less than 1 year ___________ ___ ___ _____ _
20
1 year, less than l½ years __ __ ___________________ _
10
l½ years, less than 2 years __ ____________________ _
2
2 years and longer_ ___________________ _____ ___ __ _
3
Time not reported ___ ______________ _____________ _

TABLE

Buying

185
344
307
1-----1

15
16
19
19
13
71
77
29
48

11

37

4.-Time in arrears on taxes
Households

Time in arrears on taxes

Number

Percent

820

100. 0

Total reporting ____________ __ ___________ _______

1 - - - - ~- - -- l

Not in arrears _____ ____ _____ _____ ____________________
In arrears ________ _______________ _____________________
Time in arrears __________________ ____ _________ ______ _

624
196

76.1
23. 9

169

100. 0

Less than½ year ____________ ___ __ ______________ _
½ year, less than 1 year_ ________ ________ ________ _
1 year_ __ ___ ___________ __ _____ ·__ _______________ _

15
89
41
10
14

52. 7
24. 3
5. 9
8. 3

~

~1e!::rs ~ : ::::::::: ==== ==== ====== ==== •== == ====
Time not reported ___ ___ _______________ _____ __ ___
1

8. 9

Includes 10 cases where taxes were paid by the holder of encumbrance.

For renters the problem seemed less serious, as they had none of
their money invested in a home and were not consumed with the
constant fear of losing it. However, when they were unable to pay
their rent they faced eviction in some cases, though in others they
were permitted by considerate owners to remain. Of those whose
housing status in 1930 was reported, three-tenths were renters; of
those reporting in 1932, slightly under one-fourth were renters.
Almost one-half (47.6 percent) of the 269 renters in the later year
were behind in their rent. When the extent of indebtedness was
looked into, it was found that about three-tenths of those reporting
time in arrears were 6 months or more behind. Here, too, conditions
were found to be worse in the households where persons normally
employed were out of work. Not far from one-half of the 128 households where the rent was in arrears, as compared with not quite"three-


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8

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

tenths where it was not, had had less than the normal number of wage
earners at work in the year just J?ast.
Some families had changed their economic status during the 2 years
that intervened between the surveys. The number of renters was
greater, as was the number who owned their homes clear of encumbrance. In some cases the change involved moving from one house
to another.
Of the 1,120 households, including the 30 women living alone, 859
had owned their homes in 1930, though close to three-fifths (57.6 percent) of these had some encumbrance at the time. In 88 of the 859
households either the home had been lost or a mortgage had been
assumed---48 and 40 cases, respectively-in the 2 years.
TABLE

5.- Number of households that lost or encumbered their homes
· between 1930 and 1932
Houst!iolds
Tenure of home in 1930 and subsequent change
Number

Total reporting_______ _______ _______ ___________
Did not own home___________ __ ________ _______ ______

Percent

1, 119
260

Owned home______________ ___ __ ______________ _____ __

859

100. 0

1 - - - - 1- - -- 1

No encumbrance at either date____ ___ ____ ______ _
Encumbered at both dates_______ ___ __ __________
Encumbered since 1930_________ __ _____ ________ __
Home lost since 1930_____________ __ ___ ___ ________

282

32. 8

1495

56. 9

2

40
48

4. 7
5. 6

t Includes 6 encumbered in 1930 that added encumbrance since that date.
• Includes the 6 referred to in note I.

Of the 48 who had lost their homes, 15 had moved out voluntarily
and 7 had been evicted. All but 1 of the 26 other families were still
in the same houses, paying rent, living out the equity, or "just living
there" after foreclosure.
When it is borne in mind that in about two-fifths of the 1,112
households reported some of the persons usually employed had not
had a job for at least a year, such conditions are to be expected. In
one-half of the 87 households that had lost or mortgaged their homes
and that reported the number employed in the past year there were
persons who had been out of a job for a year or more; in 5 of these
households no one had been employed at all during the year.
Changes in number of rooms or occupants
Coincident with these changes in residence had come changes in the
number of rooms in the home lived in, and, as already noted, in the
number comprising the household group. In more than three-fifths of
the households there had been no change in the number of members,
but in 18 percent there were fewer persons in the group and in 18.7
percent there were more.
Close to seven-eighths of 1,084 households reporting had made no
change in the number of rooms occupied. The remainder, using
fewer or more rooms, were about equally divided. It is interesting
to note that more than one-sixth of those using the same number of
rooms had more occupants, and that weL over one-half of those with
fewer rooms had the same or a larger number of occupants. In
somewhat less than three-fifths (57.8 percent) of the households reporting there had been no change in the number of rooms or persons.


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

9

Changes in monthly rent or payment
About one-fifth of the 1,120 households had changed location since
1930. The largest number (77) of those that had moved had done
so to reduce their rent. A smaller number (56) had moved to have
a home of their own or to improve their location. Twenty had moved
in with relatives.
Of the 326 who reported a change in the amounts paid in 1932 as
compared with 1930, 307 reported decreases. The ext~nt of the
decreases varied, but close to two-fifths (37.5 percent) of those who
reported them were paying not more than one-half of what they had
paid in 1930. Approximately two-fifths (43.8 percent) of the 64 who
moved to secure cheaper quarters and for whom percent decrease
was reported had cut their housing expenses at least one-half.
TABLE

6.-Households reporting change in rent or purchase payments, 1930 to 1932
Households
Change in rent or purchase payment
Number

Percent

Reporting change______________________________
326
100. 0
1 - -- - 1 -- - - 1
Increase_ __ __ __ ____ ___ ___ __ __ __________ __ ______ ___ ___
19
5. 8
307
94. 2
Decrease ___ ___________ _______ __________ ___ __________
EXTENT OF DECREASE

Total reporting________________________________

307

100. 0

1----1------1

Less than 30 percent_________________________________
30, less than 50 percent______________________________
50, less than 70 percent_ ___ -------------------------70, less than 90 percent_ __ - --------- --- ---- ----------

101

91
101
14

32. 9
29. 6
32. 9
'- 6

ADJUSTMENTS MADE

Bearing in mind all the serious effects of the long-continued depression, it is not surprising to find that, in addition to the failure on the
part of many families to maintain their homes as they had done previously, various adjustments were found necessary. Among these
should be mentioned curtailment in expenditures for food, clothing,
fuel, lighting, recreation, and other living needs. Savings were
consumed, insurance policies were allowed to lapse, money was borrowed at extremely high interest rates, in an effort to continue to
exist. In some cases credit was extended by employers, and in some
the families had to accept relief.
Retrenchments
Many ways of economizing had been undertaken by the families;
some said they were economizin~ on e.v erything. More than five-sixths
of the 1,096 households reportmg had had to cut down the cost of
their food. Some did this by decreasing the quantity consumed,
others by buying a poorer quality, and still others by buying fewer
kinds of food. In a number of families with children the quantity of
milk had been cut down below actual needs. Of 1,114 families reporting, 741 (about two-thirds) had ~ardens and not far from two-fifths
of these could store some of their vegetables for use in the future.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

i0

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

Nearly all the households reported cutting down expenses in the
clothing purchased. A large proportion had bought no new clothes,
and still more had bought fewer than usual. Over three-fifths (62.7
percent) of the 1,068 households reporting had made some change
in the fuel and light consumed; 179 of these families had had less
heat and less fuel for cooking, and some of the families changed to a
cheaper kind of fuel. In 37 households no fuel was purchased, but
anything that could be picked up was burned. Electricity had been
cut off in 26 households. Other economies were initiated as to health,
recreation, and education.
Financial arrangements
Various lines of procedure were followed by the families in their
attempts to meet their financial obligations. Some were able to keep
their heads above water, but the large majority had had to augment
their meager incomes by some mode of financing. These will be
discussed in the following paragraphs.
Insurance and savings.- The families of the workers included in
the study had been thrifty people in times when work was to be had.
In addition to a large proportion owning or buying their homes, they
had planned in other ways for the future and any emergencies that
might arise, though no one had conceived of anything so serious as
the present depression and unemployment. Insurance as a means of
defraying the expenses of deaths and funerals, and in some cases to
make easy their declining years, had been carried by a large part of the
families .
. In all but about 5 percent of the 1,102 households reporting, one or
more persons had carried personal insurance in recent years. In
about three-fifths of 1,043 households answering the question, none
of the policies had been allowed to lapse, but in a small proportion
(7.5 percent) all the policies carried had been given up, and in almost
one-fifth some of them had lapsed. In the remaining cases, about
one-eighth of the total, some adjustment had been made- money
had been received on policy, cash from one had been applied to
another, and in some instances both of these had been done.
Not nearly so large a proportion of the 1,102 households had saved
something as had paid insurance premiums (an indirect way of saving)-somewhat less than three-fifths (55.8 percent) of the former as
compared with about 95 percent of the latter. Practically one-sixth
(104) of the 615 households that had saved had put all their savings
into a home, and over nine-tenths of these still owned their homes.
In addition to those whose savings were tied up in a home, one-fifth
still had theirs intact. One-fourth had had to use their savings to
pay running expenses, and practically three-eighths had lost their
savings in whole or in part or they still were held by closed banks.
Gredit.- Efforts were made by a considerable proportion, 371 of the
1,101 households reporting, to meet their living costs by borrowing
money. In 74 instances, or almost one-fifth, loans were obtained
without security, but in 145 and 122 cases, respectively, loans were
obtained on insurance and on furniture. A friend endorsed the note
in 22 cases and in 11 instances the borrower's own signature was
accepted. Where amount of loan was specified, close to one-half of
the 128 loans secured on insurance policies were for less than $100;
about one-eighth were for $300 or more. About two-fifths of the 118


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11

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

loans with furniture as security were for less than $100, and only about
one-twentieth ·were for as much as $300. Only 16 loans of $500 or
more were reported; 8 of these had no security, 5 were on insurance
policies, and the remaining 3 had a_n endorser or only the borrower's
signature.
The cause of needing a loan most frequently reported by the 367
who replied to this question was running expenses, but appreciable
numbers borrowed to pay taxes, to pay installments on homes, for
medical service, and other debts incurred.
As is always true, the rates of interest paid on these loans differed
widely, and in many cases the rate was exorbitant. Almost all the
loans secured on insurance called for 6 percent annual interest. Close
to two-thirds of those with furniture as security required as much as
3}~ percent monthly interest. The remaining rates with such security
were somewhat lower, though still extremely high; in about one-fourth
of the cases the rate was 2}~ percent monthly. Practically all of the
74 loans made without security bore no interest.
The situation brought about by the continued unemployment was
met to some extent by the empl'oyers, many of whom realized fully
the dire straits in which the workers found themselves. However,
only about one-sixth of the 1,118 households reporting on this had
any persons who had been extended credit by their employers. Of
the 185 households, almost one-half (47 percent) had repaid this
obligatjon.
Reliej.-In the summary following may be seen the increases from
year to year in the amounts expended for relief in South Bend in the
period 1929 to 1932; more than 10 times as much was spent in 1932
as had been spent in 1929. As would be expected, the per capita
expenditure from public funds increased tremendously, from 44 cents
to $5.75. That from private funds increased also, though to a much
less extent.
TABLE

7.-Expenditures for relief, South Bend, 1929 to 1932 1
TOT AL EXPENDITURE
Source

1929

1930

1931

1932

TotaL____ __________ ____ ____ _________________ __ _

$62,053

$138,036

$406,442

$633, 803

Public funds________ __ __ ____________________________ __
Private funds_______________ __ ________________________

45,161
16,892

111,442
26,594

363,312
43,130

598,916
34,887

$1. 32

$3. 90

$6. 08

AMOUNT PER CAPITA
TotaL_____ ____________________________________

$0. 60

1----1----1----1----

Public funds______________ _____________________ _____ __
Private funds _________ ----------______________________
1

. 44
. 16

1. 07
. 25

3. 49
• 41

5. 75
• 33

Figures supplied by Social Statistics Unit, U. S. Children's Bureau.

Of the 1,117 households reporting as to whether they had received
any outdoor relief, close to three-fifths had had none and more than
one-fourth had had only private relief. The remaining 174 had had
some public outdoor relief, consisting of groceries in 94 percent of the
cases, though some fuel and clothing also had been received. Of the
138 households reporting the value of the groceries received, about
one-half (49.3 percent) gave the value as less than $4 weekly.
35662°-36--3


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

TABLE

8.-Num ber and sex of persons employed during scheduled year, by size of household
Number of households in which persons employed during the scheduled year were-

Number of persons in
household

t_:rj

Number of
3
households i----,----,-----1----,----,-----,-----1----,------,------,---1------------1---reportMen
M
Women Men
M
W
Men Total- Total- None
ing
Total Men Women Total M
onleyn W omen and
Total
en
d
T t I
en
omen and
Men
Men
only women
only
only w~~en
a
only
only women and
and
women women

°

- - - - - - - - - 1-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Total-Number __ 1, 113
23
315
174
141
514
18
49
447
182
9
8
165
61
1
1
59
12
6
Percent distribution ___ _ 100. 0
2.1
1.1
0. 5
28. 3 ------- --- ----- 46. 2 ------- -------- -------- 16. 4 --- - --- -------- ------- 5. 5 ------- -------- -------l _ --- - - --- - - - - - - - ----- --

2_ ----- -- --- - --- -------3_ -- - - --- --- - ---- ------4_ - --- -- -- -- -- -- - - -----5_ ---- - - - - - - -- -- - - - -- ---

6_ - --- - - -- -- -- -- ------ -7- ---- -- - - -- -- -- ------ -8_ ------ - - -- - --- -- -- - - -9_
-- 14
- - ___
-- -------- -_____
- ----_
10 -to
________

30
177
193
205
168
133
65
60
33
49

30
67
77
63
32
21
10
10
2
3

32
48

41
22
16
6
6
1
2

30
35
29
22
10
5
4
4

1
1

105
103
95
86
51
26
21
11
16

5
2
3
2
2
1
3

8
7
7
7
9

5
2
2
2

97
96
83
77
39
19
17
8
11

8 ------- -------33
2
38
1
42
3
2
18
3 ----- -- 17
1
1
13
1
13
1

-- --8 ----- -- ------- -------31
7 ------- -------36
7
37
16 ------- -------15
9 ------- - ------ 15
10 ------- -------12
2 ------- -------11
10
1 --------

--=-----7 --------------- ---------------

~

7
6
2 -- - ----3
16
3 -------- ------9 ------ -- -- - ----2
10
1
1
2
4
1 - --- --9
3
4 --- ----

Pzj
1-,j

t?:l

0

"3

U).

0

1-,j

t:::1

t_:rj
I'd
~
t_:rj
U).
U).
H

0

z

0

z

~

Q
t?:l

t_:rj

i
t?:l
~

U).

1-,j

~

H

t"
H
t?:l

rJl


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

13

Aid for others.-In spite of the sad plight in which many families
found themselves, some were able to help others. More than onefourth of those reporting on aid to others had given something to
help persons less fortunate than themselves. The aid given varied
greatly; some gave money, some food, some- clothing, some board
and room, and some various combinations of these.
EMPLOYMENT

Due to the extreme conditions found among the families in South
Bend in the 1930 survey, though the Women's Bureau is primarily
interested in the working woman, the family in its entirety was made
the subject of the 1932 investigation. Facts regarding employment
were secured for all employed or employable persons, both men and
women. Employment in the group as a whole will be discussed first
and then that of women and of men.
HOUSEHOLDS

Employment in the year August 1, 1931, to July 31, 1932
Though it is common knowledge that unemployment increased
considerably between 1930 and 1932, the following data are presented
to substantiate this statement. Not quite three-fifth~ of the 3,824
adults reported on in the 1932 survey had had some employment in
the 12 months preceding the study, though four-fifths of the 7,727
adults reported in 1930 had worked at some time during the year
prior to that survey. In the second study, 23 of the 1,113 households
reporting number of persons employed had had no one employed in
the preceding year, and in these households there were 90 persons.
Omitting women living alone and households in which no one was employed, in close to one-sixth (15.9 percent) of the 1,060 households,
representing 704 persons, women only had been employed during the
year, and in almost two-thirds (65.7 percent) of these 169 cases a
woman was the sole wage earner. The 111 households in which a
woman was the sole wage earner ranged in size from 2 to 10 persons.
In a much larger n,umber of households (202) no woman had been
employed at all during the year. About 1 in 10 of the households in
1932, as compared with 1 in 8 of those in 1930, had a woman as sole
wage earner during the year.
Normally employed persons, by size of household.-All but one of the
households reported that some person or persons usually were at
work, a total of 2,801 members. In 139 households women were the
only persons normally employed. Of 1,112 households reporting,
the number normally employed and the number employed at any .
time in the scheduled year, practically two-fifths (39.6 percent) had
fewer persons than usual at work during the year. Only 22, however
had no one at all at work. Households with only 1 or 2 workers
normally suffered less reduction in employment than did the households that usually had more wage earners, indicating that the need of
the family may have been taken into consideration when lay-offs
t ook place.


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9.-Relation between normal employment and employment in scheduled year, by size of household

TABLE

Number of households in which persons normally employed wereNum2
ber of
Number of housepersons in holds
Employed
household reportEmployed in
in scheduled
scheduled year
ing
year
ToTotal
tal
2

0

TotaL
1 ______ ____ _
2___________
- ------ ---_
3
4 __________ _
5_ - -- -------

6_ - --------7_ - --------8_ - --------9_ - ---- ----10 to 14 __ __ _
1

1

1,112 141
30
177
192

30
35

205
168

27
11
4

133
65
60
33
49

~o

14 112
2

30
30

2
6

25

3

6

1
2

1 ----

15

0

15 564
142
144
108
94

37
16
14
4
1 - -- - 5
3
1
1

2

7 174 378
3
2
1

37 102
50 90
39 66
25 68
12 25
4 11
5
9
1
3
1
4

3

4

Employed
Employed in scheduled
in scheduled
year
year
ToTotal
tal

3

2

3

4

5

8

21

47

43

2

1
3

3
10

1

8

16

2
1

3
3
1
2

5
6
2
5

7
7
11
7
7
1
3

0

5 214

2
2
1

5

17

18
56
40

2
6
1

43

4

21
18

1
2
1

IO

8

91 106 122

IO

22
13
17
11
8
5
5

Total

Employed in scheduled year

2

51

4

2
12
9
8

2
1

21

6

4

5

15

5

Total

19

Employed in scheduled year

2

3

4

3

2

3

I

ployed
Em in
schedTo- uled year
tal

6

5

6

6
28

14

26
22
9
8
4

21
36
18
17

3

5
11

1~

1
1 ----

1====

1
1

4

4
3

--4- ~

Excludes 1 household that had no one employed normally.

•


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

6

5

1 - - -- ---- ---- ---- --- - - --- - --- -- ------ - 2
1 ---- ---- ---- 1 -- -- ---- - --- ------

2 -- -- ---- --- - ---- --- - -- -- -- -- ---- - - - - ----- -

3 ---1
1

5

1 ---- ---- ---- ---8
2
2
1
2
9
1 ---- 2
2

1 - - -- - -------- 1 ---- - - -- -----4

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

15

Employment as of August 1, 1932
To ascertain the employment status of men and women as of a
specific date, August 1, 1932, was selected. Of the 3,824 adults, almost
three-fourths (73.2 percent) were reported to be persons "normally
employed" as of August 1. This does not mean, of course, that
they were at work but that they were wage earners supposed to be at
work, who would be at work under normal conditions, and so on. The
proportion is smaller than that noted in the previous study, where
four-fifths were so reported. In about one-eighth (12.6 percent) of
the households there was only 1 person, but in one-half (50.4 percent)
there were 2 persons, usually at work.
TABLE

10.-Number and sex of normally employed persons in the household
Households with specified number of persons normally employed

Number of persons normally
employed

All houl.'eholds
,_ _ _ _ _ __, Only men

Number

Percent

w~~!n
normally normally
employed employed

Both men
and
No one
women
normally
normally employed
employed

Total-Number_________ ____ _
1,120
139
929
1
100. 0
51
Percent dist ribut10n____ __ _________
100. 0 _____ __ ___ _
12. 4
82. 9
0.1
4. 6
1- - - - 1 - - - - 1 - - - - -1- - - - 1 --- -- 1- - None _____ ______ . _____ ________ ____.
1
.1
l_______ __________ ____________ __ ____
141
12. 6
42
99
2 ___ --- ___ -- ___ - --- - - _-- - - __ __ . __ - - _
565
50. 4
7
35
523 ---- - ---- -3 _____ --- _-- ______ - - _- - - _---- --- -- __
215
19. 2
1
4
210
4 __________ _-- ----- - - - _- - - _- - - - -- _-126
11. 2 ------ - ---125
1
5 ________ - --- -- - - - - - - _- - - - -- __ -- ____
52
51
4. 6
1 - -------- - 19
1. 7
19
6 ______ ---- _- - -- -- -- -- ------ -- -- _- - _
7 ------ -- _- - _- - __ --- - ----- ---- _____.

1

.1

1

The table following shows strikingly the contrast in the households
between the number of persons employed normally and the number
at work on August 1, 1932. In more than 10 percent of the households there was no one employed on August 1.
The households with but one worker or none at all had increased
in number from 142 (about 13 percent) in normal times to 627 (56
percent) in August 1932. Those with 3 or more workers had declined
from 413 (37 percent) in normal times to 129 (not quite 12 percent) in

August 1932.
TABLE

11.-Number of persons per household normally employed and number
employed Aug. 1, 1932

• Number of persons
normally employed

Households
reporting

Households in which perrnns employed Aug. 1, 1932, were-

Number Percent None
2
- - - - - - --1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - -94
Total-Number__
1, 120
30
3
2
100. 0
114
513
364
Percent dis tribution___ _
100. 0
8.4
2. 7
0.3
0.2
10. 2
45. 8
32. 5
None _______ __ ____ ____ _
1
.1
1 -------- -------- ------ - - ---- -- -- -------- -- -----1_______ - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - 141
12. 6
38
103 -------- --- --- -- ---- - --- -- - ---- - -------2_ ----- - - -- -- - -- - - - - - - - '.J ______ ___ - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4 _____ __-- - - - - - - - - -- -- - -

5______ - - - - - - --- - - - - - - - -

6______ ____ ___ __ -- --- - - -

7 _____ ___________ _____ __

565
215
126
52
19
1


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

50.4
19. 2
11. 2
4. 6
1. 7
.1

61

7
6

293
71

30
15
1

211 ------- - -------- - ----- -- - ----- --

93
45

12
2
1

44 -------- ------- - --··----29
16 ------- - ---- ---16
7
2 --- ----7
1
2
5

]6

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

In the case of the largest group-those in which 2 persons were employed normally, comprising one-half of the households-less than
two-fifths (37 percent) had 2 persons employed on August 1.
Full-time employment as of August 1, 1932.-When inquiry was
made as to the number of persons employed full time, the situation
was found to be even more serious. Of the 1,006 households that
had someone employed August 1, 1932, there were only 350 in which
anyone had full-time work. In other words, in close to two-thirds
(65.2 percent) of the households no one was employed full time. This
proportion was much greater than in 1930, when less than one-half
(46.8 percent) of the households with someone at work had no one
steadily employed.
In only 131, or slightly more than one-fourth (25.5 percent), of the
513 households where 1 person was employed, had that person fulltime work. Where 2 persons were gainfully occupied, almost twofifths (37.6 percent) of the 364 households had someone employed
full time, though only 26 had both persons so employed. In the
129 households where 3 to 6 persons were employed, more than threefifths (63.6 percent) had someone at work full time, but in only 8
households was this true of all those employed.
When the number employed on August 1, 1932, is compared with
the number of persons in the households, it is found that the average
was 3.1 persons per household for every person employed; that is to
say, for every employed person there were 2.1 persons not employed.
As the size of household increased, the average number per person
employed also increased, constantly until the households of 9 or more
are reached, when there is some irregularity. In the largest households there were 6.3 persons not employed for every 1 employed.
TABLE

12.-Average number of persons in household per member employed Aug. 1,
1932, by size of household

Number of persons in household

Total
Total :perNumber
sons m
employed
h ouseh OId s households
Au g 1 1932
· '

TotaL ____ ___ ___________________________________ _

1,120

5,231

1,670

l _- - - --- - -- -- - - - - - - -- -- - - - - -- -- - - ---- -- - -- - -- -- -- - - ----

30
177
193
205
171
134
67
60
34
23
15

30
354
579
820
855
804
469
480
306
230
165
139

24
205
243
284
265
233
124
102
80
47

2_ - ---- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - -- - - - - -- -- - - - -- - - - - - -- - - -- -- -3_ - -- -- -- - - - - - - ---- - - - - - - - --- --- - - - - - -- -- - - - - -- ---- - - --

4_ - ---- -- - --- - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - -- -- -- - - - - - - - - ------- ---- -5_ - - - -- - -- --- -- - - - -- - - - -- - -- - - - - - - - - - -- - - - --- -- ---- - - - -

6_ - -- -- - --- -- ---- -- - - -- -- - - - -- - - - - - - - -- - - -- -- - ------- -7- - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - ---- -- - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - --- - - - - -- -- - - ---8_ ----- - ----- - - - ----- -- - ---- --- -- --- --- - ------ --- -----9_- - - - - - - -- -- -- -- --- - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - --- -10 ___ -- - - _-- __ ---- __ - - - -- -- -- ______ -- -- -- -- -- _-- - - - - _-11 ___
- --____
--- ___________________________________________
- - __ -- -- -- __-- -- ___ -- __ --- - __ -- ___ - - -- - - --- -_
to 14
12

t

11

44

19

Average
n~0
P
h Id
house 0
per person
employed

h;: {:;

3. 1
(!)
1. 7
2.4
2. 9
3. 2
3. 5
3. 8
4. 7
3. 8
4. 9
3. 8
7. 3

Average not computed; base less than 50.

Employment of young persons
In close to one-fifth of the households reporting on the number of
young people (but over 16 years) who were able to work and desirous
of securing employment, there were young persons unemployed. A
large part of these households, more than four-fifths, had 1 such person, and the remainder had 2 or more; in all, a total of 241 young
persons desirous of work were found in 203 households.


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

17

EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN

As was noted in the earlier survey, the great majority of the women
were engaged normally in some industrial pursuit: Two-thirds (65.6
percent) of the total were or had been employed in manufacturing.
Of the remainder, the largest part, 13.9 percent of the total, were
engaged as domestic and personal workers, 12.9 percent in clerical
service, and 5.7 percent as saleswomen. An almost negligible number reported having businesses of their own. Almost all (96.8 percent) who reported the number of industries in which they had been
employed in the scheduled year had worked in only one.
TABLE

13.-Industry in which women scheduled were employed or had last been
employed
Women who were
scheduled
Industry

Total reporting_______ ______ _______ ___________ _

Number

Percent

1,463

100. 0

1- - - - 1 - - - - 1

Manufacturing______ ______ ____ ____ _____ ___ __ ___ ___ __
D omestic and personal service_ _________ ________ ___ __
Clerical service____ __ __________ _______ ___ _____ _______
Trade (sales)________ _________ ____ ______ ___ _____ ___ __
All other ______ __ ___ __ _________ __ __ ________ __ ______ __

959
204
188
83
29

65. 6
13. 9
12. 9
5. 7
2. 0

Employment in the year August 1, 1931, to July 31, 1932
The conditions of employment were better for women than for the
adult workers as a whole. More than three-fourths (77 .6 percent) of
all the women had had some employment in the scheduled year, as
compared with not quite three-fifths of the men and women workers
taken together.
Though comparable data were not available for the earlier South
Bend study, about three-fourths (74.6 percent) of the women reporting their work history for the 5 years preceding that survey had
been employed practically the entire time. Four-fifths of the women
had worked at least 5 months in the first half, and three-fourths had
worked that long in the second half, of the year immediately preceding
the survey.
It must be remembered that in the earlier study there was the
element of fairly regular full-time work, while in 1932 the proportions
given are for any women employed at all, regardless of type or extent
of employment.
It was found that married women and those who had been married
fared worse than single women during this time of unemployment.
Not quite one-tenth of the single women, as compared with onefourth of those widowed, separated, or divorced, and one-third of
those married, had been out of work the entire year. Further, the
proportion of single women who had been at work the whole year was
larger than that of married or of widowed women.
Extent of employment in scheduled year.-The proportions of women
employed for only part of the year varied greatly. The largest proportion, more than two-fifths, had worked for 9 months but not for
the full year; 6 percent had had work for less than 3 months, and


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18

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

about double this percentage for 3 and less than 6 months and for 6
and less than 9 months. Just over one-fourth had been employed
the whole year.
TABLE

14.-Employment of women in 12 months ended July 31, 1932, by marital:
status
Women scheduled

Employment status and time
employed in 12 months

Number
TotaL _______________________ _

Single

Total

1,468

Percent

Number

---

-

100.0

Married

Percent

Number

Percent

Widowed,
separated,
and divorced
Number

--------

631

43. 0

688

46. 9

149

Percent

-ti

EMPLO YMENT
Total reporting _______________
Employed ___ ________________ - - _-- __
Not employed ________ ______________

1,445

100. 0

622

100.0

677

100.0

146

100.0

323

22.4

59

9.5

228

33. 7

36

24. 7·

-- -- -- -- - -90.5
-1,122
--77.-6
449
563
66. 3
110
75. 3
TIME EMPLOYED

Total reporting ___ ____________
Less than 3 months _____________ ___ _
3, less than 6 months ________________
6, less than 9 months ____ ____________
than 12 months _______________
91 ! less
months ___________________________

1,122

100. 0

563

100.0

449

100.0

110

100.0

129
149
480
294

11. 5
13. 3
42.8
26.2

65
54
249

11. 5
9. 6
44. 2
29. 0

54
78
179
103

12. 0
17. 4
39. 9
22.9

10
17
52
28

9.1
15. 5
47. 3
25. 5

- - - -- -- - - - - - - -6. 2
32
5. 7
35
7.8
70
3
2. 7
163

Full-time and part-time employment.-Though the length of time
that the women were employed during the year is of interest, the
type of employment as to full time or part time is even more significant.
Of the 1,119 women reporting type of employment in the year,.
slightly more than one-fourth h ad had some full-time work. However, only about 9 percent had had a full-time job throughout the
year, and a larger proportion (12.8 percent) had had only part-timeemployment for that period. Three-fourths (74.6 percent) of the 823
women who reported as to length of part-time employment had been
so employed for 6 months or more. By far the largest number (80. 7
percent) of the women reporting type of part-time employment had
worked irregularly.
Of the 1,039 women who reported loss of time during the year,.
more than three-fifths (62.6 percent) had lost time through both
short and idle weeks, and about equal proportions, close to one-fifth,
through one or the other of . these.
.
In the earlier study, close to two-thirds had lost some time due to
idle weeks from industrial causes in the previous year. For considerably more than one-half, however, such lost time was less than
4 weeks. A large part of the 1,955 women who had lost time due to.
short · or to idle weeks had been unemployed for both reasons.


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

19

Employment status as of August 1, 1932
At the date selected for determining the employment status of the
workers, August 1, 1932, two-fifths of the women who reported on
the subject were out of work, though all but about 5 percent of them
were employed normally.
TABLE

15.- lndustry in which women scheduled were employed or had been em,.
ployed, and employment status as of Aug. 1, 1982
Women scheduled
Reporting industry

Employment status as of
Aug. 1, 1932

Total
Total reporting

Manufacturing

Domestic and
personal service

Number Percent Number Percent Number Pereent Number Percent.

- - - - - - - - - -,---- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Total_ _________________

1,468 _________

1,463

100.0

959

65. 6

204

13. 9

Total reporting_____ __ _______
Employed ____ ______ ________ _
Full time _________ _____ __
Part time _______________ _
Time not reported ______ _

1,466

100. 0

1, 461

100.0

g57

100. 0

204

100.0

872
213
657
2

59. 5

872
213
657

59. 7

549
22
525
2

57.4

118
56
62

57. 8

Not employed __________ ____ _
Personal reason __ ___ ____ _
Industrial reason __ ___ __ __
Reason not reported ____ _

594
119
472

40. 5

589
119
470

40. 3

408
79
329

42. 6

86
15

EHPLOYMENT STATUS

2

----------------------- --------- --------

(2.2

---------------

71
3 --------- - -- - ----- --------- ------ --- --------- --------- --------

Not report ing _______________ _

2 ----- ----

Women scheduled-Continued
Reporting industry- Cont'd.
Employmen t status as of Aug. 1,
1932
Clerical service

Trade (sales)

Not reporting

Other

Number Percent Number Percent Number Percent
TotaL __________ ___ ___________ _

188

12. !l

83

5. 7

Total reportin g __ ______ _______ __ ____ _

188

100. 0

83

100. 0

Employed _____ ______ _______________ _
Full time ____________ ___________ _
Part time _____ __________________ _

126
94
32

67. 0

59
30
29

71.1

62

33.0

24

28. 9

29

2.0

EMPLOYMENT STATUS

Not employed ___________ __ __ __ ______

ii _________

29

5

20 ----- -- - - -- -------11
9

9

5

i __ ::::::_ --------- 23

f;J~~i:la1ier~~s~n:===============
1~ _________
Reason not reported ____________ _ ____ _____ _____ __ _______ ___ _________ _ _____ _____ ________
1

Not computed.

B ase less than 50.

When a tie-up was made between the normal occupations of
women and their employment status as of August 1, great differences
were noted. Two-third$ (67 percen t) of the clerical workers were


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20

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION. ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

employed on this date, about three-fourths of these as full-time
workers. Just over seven-tenths (71.1 percent) of the women in
sales work were employed on August 1, one-half of them on full time.
Not quite three-fifths of the domestic and personal workers were
employed but not far from one-half of those employed were on full
time. Contrasted with these figures, it is interesting to note that
though close to three-fifths of those in manufacturing were employed
on August 1, only 4 percent of those employed had full-time jobs.
Of those in the making of automobiles or automobile parts only
about one-half were employed on August 1 and only about 1 percent
were on full time.
Age and marital status.-The age of the women seemed to have no
very close relation to their employment status, as may be seen from
the following: Two-thfrds (66.2 percent) of the 488 women who were
20 and under 25 years, slightly over one-half (52.7 percent) of the
334 who were 30 and under 40, and more than three-fifths (61.5 percent) of the 260 who were 40 and older were employed at that time.
When marital status was considered with employment conditions as
of August 1, it was noted that single women fared better than others,
close to three-fourths of them, in contrast to about three-fifths of the
widowed, separated, or divorced women and somewhat under onehalf of the married women, being employed on that date.
T ABLE

16.- Marital status of women scheduled and employment status as of Aug. 1,
1932
Women scheduled

Employment status as of Aug. 1,
1932

Total

Single

Married

Widowed, separated, and
divorced

Num- Percent Num- Percent Num- Percent NumPercent
ber
ber
ber
ber

--------------

Total. ________________________

1,468

100. 0

631

43.0

688

46. 9

149

10.1

EMPLOYMENT STATUS
Total reporting ___ ________ ________ __
Employed . _____________________
Not employed __________________

I 1,466 1 100.0
872
59. 5
594

40.5

631
461
170

100.0
73. 1
26. 9

686
320
366

100. 0
46. 6
53. 4

149
91
58

100.0
61.1
38. 9

Em~~e~~eporting time _________
Part time _______________________

870
213
657

100. 0
24. 5
75. 5

461
140
321

100. 0
30. 4
69. 6

318
264

100. 0
17. 0
83. 0

91
19
72

100. 0
20. 9
79. 1

Not employed-Reporting reason __ _
Personal. _______________________
Industrial.. _____________________

591

100. 0

170
15
155

100. 0
8. 8
91. 2

363
94
269

100.0
25. 9
74.1

58

100. 0

10
48

17. 2
82. 8

119

472

20.1
79. 9

54

c:-:
Reasons for unemployment.-Four-fifths of the 591 women who reported the reason for their unemployment on August 1, 1932, had
lost their jobs for industrial reasons, and most of these were out of
work at that date because they could not find a job. Some of the
women who had left their jobs for personal reasons were not able to
get back because of industrial reasons, but 99 did not want work.
However, 73 who did want jobs could not firid any.
More than one-half (54 .8 percent) of those unemployed on August
1 had not been employed in the scheduled year. Practically all


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

21

(95.2 percent) of those who left their jobs for industrial reasons were
still unemployed for the same cause.
Only about one-fourth of the women employed as of this date had
full-time work. Somewhat more than one-third of them had been
employed the entire 12 months, but more than three-fifths had had
only part-time jobs.
EMPLOYMENT OF MEN

Employment during year August 1, 1931, to July 31, 1932
As a departure from the custom of the Women's Bureau, data for
men and their employment, as well as for women, were secured in
this study. This plan was decided on because of the wid&-spread
unemployment among men as well as women and its effect on the
families surveyed. Information was secured for all men who usually
were employed, regardless of their status at time of interview or
during the past year. For men the details regarding jobs were, for
the most part, for the last employment at their usual work, while
for women the last jobs held, of whatever sort, were analyzed.
The usual employment of more than seven-tenths of the 1,371 men
for whom industry and occupation were reported was in manufacturing. About three-tenths (29.5 percent) of those whose work was
thus classed had had no employment in their regular jobs for over a
year. Somewhat over one-fifth (21.9 percent) had had employment
in this industry for less than 6 months of the year, only about onesixth (17.4 percent) for the full year.
TABLE

17.- Industry in which scheduled men usually were employed and extent
of employment in such job in the 12 months ending July 31, 1932
All men
scheduled

a a:;;
e
s::l

0

s

b.O~

.st':~

Industry of regular job

00

...

Cl)

.0

z~

Total- Number __ ____ _ 1, 399
Percent distribution ___ ______

g
8
Q)

p.,

- -

-------

----

Men reporting industry ___ __ 1,371
Manufacturing ____ __ __ ____ __
972
Domestic and personal service ___ _____ ____ _____________
21
Clerical service _____ _________
30
Trade (sales) __ _____________ _
43
All others ______ _______ _____ _ 305
Own business ___ ________
61
·B uilding t rades _____ ___ __
45
Public utilities ___ _______
45
Other ____ __ ____ ___ ______
154

--

Men employed in regular job

Cl)

P.""
ei:.

.s

...

Cl)

8

s::l,o

+S.o

s.::. ~~
-as ......

bl>-~

~

..,

i:l

£"'i:l

s

s

0

0

<O

C')

0 ::l
p.b.O

Q

Cl)CI)

£

Cl)

o3

.s

§

Ol

£"'s::l

s

;::

0

s

0

0,

s::l

0

100.0

1,361

70. 9

960

1. 5
2. 2
3.1
22. 2
4. 4
3. 3
3. 3
11. 2

21
30
43
297

58
43
45
151

380

63
6
27
6

282
28.4

268

118

4
8
4
33
5

3
15
17
126
41

19

65

137
13. 8

181
18. 2

16
27
33
234
52
16
39
127

2

2
3
7
23
3
3
1
16

5

24

24
1
12
1
10

0

318
32. 0

76
7. 6

1

;::l

1c,;-

994
100.0

1

~

1..;

-- -- - - --364
- -987
74
137
180
-102
- -143- 283
677
46
5
3
10

£

1
Of)

1,374

~

Ol

£

z
!
E-<
~
-----------0

"'

Q

Ol

£

~-S

:5s::l

------4
28
2
1
8
17

s

--

- -317
279
- --

-----9- ------20

No other employment stood out as giving work to considerable
n~~bers of men. About one-tenth of the men, practically equally
d1v1ded, were reported as workers in public utilities, the building
trndes, or in sales jobs. Only small numbers were in clerical work
or any kind of domestic and personal service.


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22

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON' WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

About one-eighth of the 1,079 men reporting had worked at other
than their regular jobs. Of 796 who had worked for 6 months or
longer, all but about 4 percent worked only at their regular jobs,
while of those who had worked for less than 6 months, only about
three-fifths (63.3 percent) were employed exclusively at their regular
jobs.
Full-time and part-time employment.-More than one-fourth (2 7. 7
percent) of all the men had had no employment in their regular jobs
during the scheduled year. Of those who had had some such employment, less than three-tenths had been employed the entire year,
and less than one-half (4 7 .9 percent) of these worked full time for
the year. About one-third of the men had worked at their regular
jobs 9 months but less than a year, and close to one-fifth for 6 and less
than 9 months. Well over two-fifths (43 .5 percent) of the 395 men
who had worked full time on their regular jobs had been so employed
for less than 6 months.
The proportion of men who had had no employment in a regular job
in the scheduled year was somewhat larger than that of women '"·ho
had had no employment of any kind-27.7 percent as compared to
22.4 percent. For three-fifths of the men who had had some work on
their regular jobs, such work was for only part time. Further, even
their part-time work was irregular in almost four-fifths (77 .6 percent)
of the 735 cases reported.
Of the 1,088 men reporting on full time in any job in the scheduled
year, close to three-fifths had worked only part time and only oneeighth had had a full-time job for the whole year. One-eighth of the
1,080 reporting duration of employment had worked for less than 3
months, only slightly over one-fourth for the whole year.
When the industries in which the men were regularly employed
were related to full-time work in such jobs, some interesting facts
were disclosed. Nearly all (about 97 percent) of the machinery and
electrical-products workers, almost nine-tenths of the men whose
work was in plants making wearing apparel, and a little over four-fifths
of those whose regular job w.as in the making of automobiles or
automobile parts had had either no job at all or no full-time job.
Employment as of August 1, 1932
Slightly over two-fifths (41.3 percent) of the 1,389 men reporting
on separation from the regular job were not employed at their regular
job on August 1, 1932. Of the 574 for whom time since the loss of the
regular job is known, almost two-thirds (65 percent) had had no work
on their regular jobs for a year or longer, close to two-fifths (39.2
percent) for as much as 2 years. Almost all (568 of the 574) had lost
all the time from their regular jobs because of industrial reasons.
Somewhat over one-third (36.6 percent) of the 164 men formerly
employed in wearing-apparel factories, about 40 percent of the 486
who had been in automobile or automobile-parts factories, and close
to three-fifths (56.9 percent) of the 218 in machine- and electricalproducts plants were not working on their regular jobs on August 1,
1932.
When an analysis was made of the number of men employed in any
job on August 1, it was found that a little over two-fifths, a. slightly
larger percentage than that of the women, had no employment. Of
the 799 men who were employed, only about one-fourth had full-time


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23

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS ' FAMILIES

jobs at that date . All but 2.5 percent of those who were not employed
were out of work for industrial reasons . Only 15 men had left their
jobs for personal reasons and were still unemployed at this time .
The proportions of employed and unemployed men of v arying family
responsibilities showed great diversity. Three-fifths of those who were
employed, as compared with two-fifths of the unemployed, were
m arried men with children. A little more than one-sixth of the employed men, as compared with more than two-fifths of those unemployed, were single.
TABLE

18 . -R elati on tofarnily and employment status as of A ug. 1, 1932, of men who
were scheduled
M en scheduled who reported employmen t stat us as of
Aug. 1, 1932

Men
scheduled

Emp loyed

Not employed
Relation to family
N umber

Percen t

Number
Total
r eporting
status N um- Perber
cent

T otal
Per- Inusson al dtrial
rea- rea- Num- P ersons sons
ber
cen t

Husban d and father_ _____
Husband ____ ________ ____ _
F ath er ____ ____ ___ ____ __ ___
Son _______________________
Brother _________ ___ ___ ____
Other _______ _____ ________ _

100. 0

---- 740
235
30
354
27
13

52. 9
16. 8
2. 1
25. 3
1. 9
.9

1, 395
-

739
234
30
352
27
13

P art
time

-- -

-

596

100. 0

15

581

799

100. 0

208

591

257
80
7
222
20
10

43. 1
13. 4
1. 2
37. 2
3. 4
1. 7

11
2

246
78
7
220
20

482
154
23
130
7
3

60. 3
19. 3
2. 9
16. 3
.9
.4

104
40
10
50
2
2

378
114
13
80
5
1

-------- Total. ___ ____ _______ 1,399

F ull
time

---

-

-- -- -

- ------2

-----------

10

-

- -

- -

-

THE FOUR WEEKS PREVIOUS TO INTERVIEW
STAT US OF HOUSEHOLD

Employment
The situation in the households during the 4 weeks imm ediately
preceding the interview showed much unemployment and, as a result,
very low incomes. In practically one-tenth of the 1,120 households
reporting there was no one employed during these 4 weeks. In more
than one-fifth (238) of the households there had been 1 or more weeks
in which no one was employed. T hough the employment and earned
income of the women and men will be discussed separately later,
mention should be made here of the number of households in which
women alone or men alone were the wage earners during this period.
In almost three-tenths of the 1,013 households with some member
employed , no women were at work in the 4 weeks; in a slightly larger
proportion, 31.6 percent, no men were at work.
When inquiry was made as to the number of persons employed in
this period, it was found that in somewhat under one-half of the 1,120
households, including 30 women living alone, it was 1 person; in about
one-third it was 2 persons ; and in about one-eighth it was 3 or more.
Of the 107 households where no one at all had been employed, close
to two-thirds ordinarily had 2 or more persons at work. Almost
one-fourth of the 514 households with only 1 person employed during
the 4 weeks had 3 or more employed usually, and well over one-half
generally had 2. The same trend was noted for households in which


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24

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

2 or more persons had been employed during the period. Though
under normal conditions almost three-eighths (36.9 percent) of the
households had 3 or more wage earners, only one-eighth had as many
as 3 during the 4 weeks. Viewed from another angle, only threefifths (60.4 percent) of the persons normally employed had worked
in the 4 weeks just before the interview.
TABLE

19.-Number of persons per household normally employed and number
employed during 4 weeks previous to intervi ew

Total
Households in which persons employed during 4 weeks
households
previous to in terview wereNumber of persons per
household normally 1-----,- -- i-- - -- - -- - - - ---,--- - - em ployed
N umber Percent None
2
6

- - - - - -- ,- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

--- --1
Total-Number_ _
1,120
100. 0
107
514
359
106
30
3
100. 0 _______ ___
9. 6
45. 9
32. 1
P ercent d istribution_ ___
9. 5
2. 7
0. 1
0.3
1 - - - 1 - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - None ________ _____ ____ _
1
.1
1 -- ---- -- -- -- -- -- ------- - ------- - ---- --- - --- ----141
12. 6
36
103
2 -- - -- -- - - - - - - --- --- - -- - - -- -- ---1 - -- - - - - - -- - - - ----- - - --565
50. 4
56
291
215
3 ---- - --- - - - - --- - - - - - -- - 2_-- - - -- - - - -- - --- ------21 5
3 __ _- - - - ---- -- ---- -- -- - 19. 2
10
68
91
44
2 ----- - -- -- --- - - 126
11. 2
3
34
35
39
15 -- ------ - - - - - --4_- --- - --- - - -- - - - -- - - - - 52
.. 6
1
16
13
11
9
2 - --- - - -5_- -- ----- - - -- -- -- - -- -- 6 __ ______ _- --- -- ---- --- 19
1. 7 ---- ---2
2
9
4
1
1
1
7- -- - - --- -- -- - - - ---- - - - .1 --- ----- - ------1 - -- --- -- -- - ----- ------- - - - ---- --

In only about three-fifths (62.5 percent) of the 897 households in
which there were fathers or husbands who normally were employed
had they all worked in the 4 weeks-9 of these receiving no incomeand in about three-tenths (31.7 percent) no father or husband had
worked. In the remaining households some of these men had been
employed, some unemployed. Thirty-eight of the 80 households in
which sons or brothers normally were employed reported all at work.
However, in 30 of these households no sons or brothers had been
employed during the 4 weeks previous to interview.
Earned income
Not far from one-third (31.6 percent) of the 1,013 households where
someone was employed reported women as the only breadwinners, and
in about three-fourths (74.8 percent) of the cases women earned from
one-half to the whole of the income in the 4 weeks.
Of the 1,029 households reporting on income in the 4 weeks and
number of persons in the household, more than one-tenth (108) reported no income of any sort. One of the 108 had had one person
employed but no pay had been received. For about one-tenth of the
households the earned income was less than $10, and for a like proportion $10 and less than $20. About one-eighth reported $20 and
less than $30, and another one-eighth $30 and less than $40. To
recapitulate, more than one-half (54.3 percent) of the 921 households
reporting some earnings had had an earned income for the entire 4
weeks of under $50, close to three-tenths (28.1 percent) some amount
between $50 and $100, and only about one-sixth (17.6 percent) of the
households as much as $100. The median earned income for the
whole group was $45.45 fur the 4 weeks, or about $11.35 a week.
The earnings of the women living alone (4 had earned nothing at
all during the 4 weeks) ranged from less than $10 to some amount ·
from $80 to $90.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

25

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

The highest proportion of households with no income was for the
four-person group, where about one-seventh (14.6 percent) had had
no earned income. Two-person and three-person households had
nearly as large proportions.
The median earned income over this 4-week period varied considerably with size of household. For households of 2, 3, and 4 persons
it was from $41 to $46.45, for 5 to 8 persons it was from $41.65 to
$50.70, and for 9 persons and more it was $57.
TABLE

20·. -Earned income of household in 4 weeks previous to interview, by number
of persons in the household
Households

Households in which number of members was-

reporting

Earned income of household in
4 weeks preceding interview

Total _____________________
No income. _____ _____ __________

Number

Percent

1

-

1,029
108

---------------

3

2

28
4

166
21

4

173
22

-

185
27

6

5

124
13

161
16

9

8

7

63
2

14

-

52
1

l0to

32

45
2

-----

INCOME DISTRIBUTION

Households reporting __ __
Less than $10 ____ ___ ____________
$10, less than $20 _______________
$20, less than $30 _______________
$30, less than $40 _______________
$40, less than $50 _______ ________
$50, less than $60 ________ ___ ____
$60, less than $80. ________ ______
$80, less than $100 ________ ______
$100, less than $150 __ ___________
$150, less than $200 _____________
$200 and more ______ ____________

921

100.0

- --84
9.1
96
116
117
87
69
117
73
125
21
16

10.4
12.6
12. 7
9. 4
7.5
12. 7
7.9
13.6
2.3
1. 7

24
1
4
6
7
2
1
2
1

---------

i45

- 13

11
24

23
15
10
18
7
22
2

----- -----

-

151
17
15
20
19
16
11
14
16

19
3
1

158

145

- 16 - 13
16
16
22
14
7

27
11
22
4
3

11
15
15
18
15
22
13
18
3
2

-

111
13
12
13
10
11
9
12
8
16
4
3

-

61
5
9
9
5
2
7
6
7
9
1
1

-

51
2
10
6
7
3
4
4

3
10
1
1

-

32
3
1
1
2
4
2
6
3
7
1
2

-

43

1
7
6
7
2
3
6
4
2
2
3

Where only one person had been employed during this time, the
numbers of men and of women were about equal. In a large part,
almost four-fifths (78.6 percent), of the 359 households where 2 persons were employed, 1 man and 1 woman had been working. Where
there were 3 employed, a larger num~!3r of women than of men were
found, and in those of 4 or more the number of women employed also
was greater, though not markedly so.
In the households where only I person had been employed in the 4
weeks, the median income was $30.60; 2 persons employed, $60.30;
3 persons employed, $92.15. F or the 34 households with larger numbers employed, medians were not computed; however, none of these
households had an income of less than $60 and 13 had as much as
$150.
By rent or home payment.-When the expenditures for rent or home
payments were correlated with the medians of earned income during
the 4 weeks previous to interview it will be seen that the families
included were paying out a much larger proportion of their income
for this purpose than was economically sound. This problem is one
that always becomes urgent during a time of depression and-as
shown in the discussion on page 6 results disastrously for some of
those concerned. D uring the past few years efforts have been made
by the Federal Government to assist home owners.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

26

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

More than three-tenths (31.6 percent) of the 253 households renting
homes and reporting the amount of rent were paying $10 to $15 a
month, and almost as many $15 to $20. A smaller proportion, only
about one-sixth, were paying less than $10, and practically one-fourth
were paying $20 to $40. The median earned income for the 4 weeks
previous to interview for those who had any income and who were
renters was $42.05. For those who paid less than $15 rent it was
$34.60, for those who paid $15 and less than $20 rent it was $47.85,
and for the renters paying as much as $20 the median earned income
was $50.
Of 404 households that reported monthly amount paid in buying
their homes, slightly over two-fifths made a payment of less than $20,
about one-fourth paid $20 and less than $30, about one-sixth $30
but under $40, and about one-eighth $40 and over. The median
earned income for the 4 weeks for those households with amount
reported was $51.35 for those paying less than $20, was $46.45 for
those whose payments were $20 and less than $30, and was $44 for
those paying $30 and more.
Other income
Less than one-fifth (18.9 percent) of the 1,114 households reporting had sources of income other than earnings. The most usual other
source was insurance; the next was returns from investments, such
as real estate, stocks, bonds, and so forth, and others were roomers or
boarders, pensions, and earnings of newsboys (not previously included).
STATUS OF WOMEN

Employment
As previously noted, a large proportion of the women scheduled
had had no employment in the 4 weeks immediately preceding the
interview. Of the 1,462 women reporting on employment during
this time, close to two-fifths (39.5 percent) had had no work at all.
Well over four-fifths (84 .2 percent) of those who had had some
employment were occupied for the 4 weeks.
Earned income
Almost one-eighth of the 859 women reporting. as to their earnings
in the 4 weeks had earned less than $10, and about one-sixth had
earned $10 and less than $20. Larger proportions had received $20
and less than $30, $30 and less than $40, and $40 and less than $50.
Only about one-sixth of the women had earned as much as $50.
For all the women who had worked at some time during this
4-week period the median earnings were $30.75, or an average of about
$7. 75 a week. Thirty of the 40 who had worked only 1 week had
earned less than $5 . For those whose employment was of 2 weeks'
duration, the median earnings were $11.05, or practically $5.50 a
week. Twenty-one of the 44 who had worked for 3 weeks had
received less than $15. For those employed the full 4 weeks the
median was $34.45, or approximately $8.60 a week. Six women
employed for all 4 weeks had earned $100 or more, but in contrast
to these are 26 women who also had worked the fu1l time but bad
earned less than $10.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS, FAMILIES
TABLE

27

21.-Earnings of women in 4 weeks previous to interview, by number of
weeks employed
Women whose employment in 4 weeks wasWomen
reporting

Earnings of women in 4
weeks previous to interview

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4weeks

1- - - - - 1 - - - - - 1 - - - - - - 1 - - - - - 1 • - - - - -

PerPer•
Per·
Per·
PerNum• cent Num• cent Num- cent Num• cent Num- cent
distri• ber distriber distri- ber distriber
ber
distribution
bution
bution
bution
bution

-- TotaL .. · ---·· ······
Median earnings . ······---

1 857

Less than $10_·--- - - --·---$10, less than $20 . ______ __ _
$20, less than $30 ______ ___ _
$30, less than $40 __ _____ __ _
$40, less than $50 _____ ___ __
$50, less than $60 _________ _
$60, less than $100 ________ _
$100 and more·-- ----·----- -

99
142
169

11. 6
16. 6

161
146
68
66

18. 8

$31

100. 0

19. 7

(2)

( 2)

40

- -·--- ·

--- - - - - - - --- - 55 100. O
$11. 05 __ __ ___
25
18
8
3
1

36 - --- - - 4 -- -----

17.0

6

45. 5
32. 7
14. 5
5. 5
1.8

7. 9
7. 7
.7

44

(2)

(2)
_ _ _____

12
15 ------10 ------5 ------2 - ------

718
100. O
$34. 45 __ __ ___
26
105
151
153
143
68
66

3. 6
14.6

21.0
21. 3
19. 9
9. 5
9.2

.8

6

1 Of the 1,468 women scheduled, 577 were not employed in the 4 weeks and 34 did not report complete
data.
, Not computed; base less than 50.

Just over three-tenths of the 814 women who reported their earnings and the proportion their earnings formed of the household's
income were the sole breadwinners in the household in the 4 weeks
previous to interview. Practically 1 woman in 4 had earned one-half
but less than all of the household income, 3 in 10 had earned onefourth but less than one-half, and 1 in 7 had earned less than onefourth.
By proportion of household income furnished.-More than two-fifths
of those who had earned less than $10 during the 4 weeks had contributed all the household earnings, and 5 of the 6 who had earned
$100 and over had done so. Smaller proportions, varying from about
one-fifth to two-fifths, of those earning amounts between these
extremes had contributed the sole income of the household.
TABLE

4

22.-Proportion women's earnings formed of total household income in
weeks previous to interview, by earnings of household
, vomen whose earnings formed, of the household
income-

Earnings of household in 4 weeks
previous to interview

Total. _.---· - · --------- ---·----- - --

Women i - - - - , - - - - - - - : - - - - - , - - - - - , - - - reporting
¾, less
H, less
¾, less Less than
All
than all
than ¾
than ¼
¾
1814

249

59

140

249

117

- -- -1 - - ' - - - - 1 - - - - - - j 1 - - - - - - - - -

Less than $10---- -- -- --- --- - -·· · ···· ··· ···
$10, less than $20 ... ..... ...... .. . ... . ... .
$20, less than $30 . ···-········ .. . . ... .... .
$30, less than $40 ........ . ..... . ......... .
$40, less than $50 ........ ....... ......... .
$50, less than $60 ... · - - · ··-···· ·· ·· · ······
$60, less than $100·----· ·· ·-· · ·•· ······-··
$100 and more....... - · --· ····· ··· ······-··
1

40
34
49
58
34

1

1

12

6
8
9
19

44

66

14

8

58

15

18
29
20
32
20
20

95

134
156
156
143
6

8
5 ------·· ·· · - · · - · · · ··

56
53
46
22
15
1

41
32
14

16
12
2

Of the 1,468 women scheduled, 577 were not employed in the 4 weeks and 77 did not report complete

data.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

28

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES

By marital status.-When marital condition was considered with
the earned income for the 4 weeks preceding the interview, it was
found that the largest group contributing all the household income
was that of the widowed, separated, or divorced women, 53.3 percent,
as compared with 34.9 percent of the married women and 23.5 percent
of the single women.
By time worked.-From the summary that follows, some facts
regarding the minimum and maximum week's earnings of 755 women
who had worked as much as 2 of the 4 weeks may be seen. Of the
307 who reported their maximum week's earnings as $5 and less than
$10, three-tenths had a minimum of less than $5. Almost two-fifths
of those whose maximum week's earnings were $10 and less than $15
had minimum earnings of less than $10, in 1 in 5 of the cases less
than $5.
TABLE 23.-Maximum and minimum week's earnings of scheduled women in 4
weeks previous to interview

Women em•
ployed 2 weeks
or more
Maximum week's earnings
in 4 weeks previous to
interview

.

Women whose minimum week's earnings in 4' weeks
were-

,---,---1----,------r----.-----,----,------

- -- -- - - -1--- - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - TotaL___ ___ ___ ______
Less than $5 __ __ __ _____ __ __ _
$5, less than $10 ___________ _
$10, less than $15 _________ __
$15, less than $20 ____ _____ __
$20, less than $22. __ _____ ___
$25, less than $26. __ _____ __ _
$36, less than $37 ___ __ _____ _

1

755

100. 0

219

103

13. 6
40. 7
35. 2
9. 0
1. 2

103

307
266
68
9
1
1

93
21

300

182

45

214 -- - - - - - - - ----- - - ---- - -- - - ----- -- - - ----- -

82
163 ------- - - ----- -- - - - --- -- --- - - -- 1
4
19
44 -- -- --- - - - - - - - -- --- - - -- 1 - --- - --- - ---- - - 1
7 -- - - --- - -- ----- -

.1 - - ---- -- - --- - -- - - ----- -- -- - - -- -- --- --- -1 -- ---- -.1 -- ----- - - ---- - -- ------- - ----- - - - - - -- --- - - - - ----1

1 Of the 1,468 women scheduled, 577 were not empf~yed in the 4 weeks, 40 worked only 1 week, and 96
did not report complete data.

From unpublished figures it is apparent that the earnings actually
varied from less than $1 to about $37. More than two-fifths of the
women had earned the same amount each week, but there was a
great deal of variation among the remainder. One woman whose
maximum week's earnings had been as much as $20 had earned as
little as $3 another week. Two women who had earned as much as
$13 a week received for another week's work as little as $2 and $3,
respectively. A woman who had earned as much as $15 in 1 week had
earned $4 in another.
STATUS OF MEN

Employment
During the 4 weeks prior to interview an even larger proportion of
men than of women, not far from one-half (45.3 percent), had not
been employed. Seven-tenths (70.9 percent) of the men who had
had employment had worked in all 4 weeks.
When the relationship that the men bore to the family is considered in connection with unemployment in the 4 weeks preceding
intel'view, it is seen that the young men-sons, brothers, or other
relatives-were much worse off than the fathers or husbands. More
than three-fifths (63.8 percent) ·of the 1,005 men who were or had
been married had been employed, m contrast to only one-third (33
percent) of the 394 single men.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

29

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES
TABLE

24.-Earnings of men in 4 weeks previous to interview, by number of week3
employed
Men whose employment in 4 weeks was-

Men reporting

Earnings In 4 weeks
previous to interview

1 week
PerNum- cent
Perdistriber
bution Num- cent
distrlber
bution

TotaL ___________
I 685
Median earnings _______ $29. 50
-Less than $10 ___________
120
$10, less than $20 __ ____ _
139
$20, less than $,30 ___ ____
88
$30, less than $40____ ____
71
$40, less than $50 _______
53
$50, less than $60 ______ _
148
$60 and more ___________
66

2 weeks

Num
ber

3 weeks

4 weeks

PerPerPercent Num- cent Num- cent
distridistridistriber
ber
bution
butlon
bution

- - --- - - --- - - - - - - -

-- - -

100.0

63
$5. 50

100. 0

95
$11. 75

100.0

59
$17. 50

100.0

468

100.0

20.3
12. 8
10.4
7. 7
21. 6
9. 6

8
1

12. 7
1. 6

39

41.1
11.6
2. 1
3. 2
4. 2

20
16

33. 9
27. 1
8.5
5.1
5. 1

72
60
64
47
141
66

15. 4
12. 8
13. 7
10.0
30.1
14.1

15 ------------------- -$43.
------------- -18- - ---- - --12
20.3
3.8
17. 5
85. 7
36
37.9
54

-------- --------------·------------ -------------- -------

11

2
3
4

5

3
3

-------- ------- -------- -------

1 Of the 1,399 men scheduled, 626 were not employed in the 4 weeks, 2 had no earnings, and 86 did not
report complete data.

Earned income
The week's earnings of the men employed during the 4 weeks varied
from less than $1 to $44. Sixty-four men worked only 1 week in the
4, and though a few earned $15 or more, well over one-third (36.5
percent) earned less than $4 . As the earnings for the whole group of
men showed great latitude, so did the earnings of the individual men.
One man had earned as little as $3 in one week and as much as $17
in another; a second had earned ·$5 in his poorest week and $23 in his
best; other contrasts were $6 and $25, $8 and $26, and $9 and $28.
By number of weeks worked.-The median earnings of the men
who had worked 1 week were $5 .50 ; for those employed 2 weeks the
median was about $5.90 a week, and it was $5.85 for those who had
worked 3 weeks. Considerably higher earnings vrere noted for those
who had been employed all 4 weeks-$43.15, or an average of about
$10.80 a week.
TABLE

·

25.-Maximum and minimum week's earnings of scheduled men in 4 weeks

previous to interview

r:~:~cfr

1
~ir~

Maximum week's earnings
in 4 weeks previous to interview

Num•
ber

Men whose minimum week's earnings in 4 weeks were-

Per$5,
$10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35, $40,
Less less
cent
less less less less less less less
distri- than than than than than than than than than
$5
bution
$10
$15
$20
$25
$40
$30
$35
$45

--- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -53
12
28
25
7
6
TotaL-- -------------1 532
100. 0
174
156
72
- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - 1 - - - - 1 - - - + - - 1 - Less than $5 _______________ _
99
18.6
99
$5, less than $10 ____________ _
170
32.0
63
107 ------ --- - -- ------ ------ ------ _, ____ -----$10, less than $15__ ____ _____ _
84
15.8
39 ____________________________ ::
$15, less than $20 ___________ _
71
13. 3
$20, less than $25 ___________ _
47
8.8
4
6
10
27 -- --- - ------ ------ - ---- $25, less than $30 ___________ _
32
6.0
6
1
3
1
21 ------ ------ ----- $30, less than $35___________ _
16
3.0 ------ ------ -----1
4
11 ------ -- - --$35, less than $40 ___________ _
7
1. 3 ------ ------ ------ ----- - ------ -----1
6 - ----$40, less than $45 ___________ _
1.1 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ - - -- - 6
1
5

lg i~ i~

1 Of the 1,399 men scheduled, 626 were not employed in the 4 weeks, 64 worked only 1 week, 2 had n o earnings, and 175 did not report complete data.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

30

EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS ' FAMILIES

By proportion of household income provided.- ot far from twofifths (3 7.6 percent) of the 687 men who reported the proportion their
earnings for the past 4 weeks had formed of the household income
furnished the sole funds for the household. About 18 percent in each
case had supplied less than one-fourth, one-fom.:th but less than onehalf, and one-half but less than three-fourths of the total income. As
the total earnings increased, the proportions of men who provided
the sole income of the family also increased, though somewhat
irregularly. Only just over three-tenths of the 116 whose earnin~s
for the 4 weeks were less than $10 were the sole contributors, m
contrast to more than one-half of the 64 whose earnings were $60 or
more.
By relation tofamily.- In addition to the facts that have been presented, data for men were correlated with relation to the family.
Two-thirds of the single men, as compared with something over onethird of those who were or had been married, had had no earnings.
The median earnings for all the men employed in the 4-week period
were $29, an average of $7.25 a week. For married or widowed men
with children they were slightly less, $28.55, while for married men
with no children they were considerably higher, $38.35. When all
men who were or had been married are considered together the median
is $30.65; for all single men it is $23.55, the lowest of all.
In approximately two-fifths (38.9 percent) of the 435 cases of
married or widowed men with children who answered the question,
the husbands and fathers were the only ones in the household who
had earned any money in the 4 weeks preceding the interview. A
larger proportion, somewhat under one-half (46.8 percent), of the 139
married men with no children had supplied all the earned income.
As would be expected from the facts concerning employment, only
about one-sixth (17.7 percent) of the 113 single men were the sole
earners in their households, though more than two-fifths (43.4 percent) contributed one-half or more of the family income.
DATA FROM EMPLOYERS
Though this study is primarily one in which the data were secured
from the workers themselves, some information regarding time worked
and earnings was secured from the employers' records. From the
facts given below it will be seen that the plants supplying any data
· as to time worked or earnings were operating on a short-time basis.
Time worked
By women.-For 4 plants in which 805 women were employed, data
regarding hours worked per week during the year ending July 31,
1932, were secured. In these plants from about one-fifth to not far
from one-half of the weeks worked were of 24 hours or less. About
one-third of the weeks reported in 2 of the plants were of more than
24 and up to 40 hours; in the other 2, more than one-half were of such
length. In 3 plants from one-eighth to one-fifth of the weeks reported
exceeded 40 but not 48 hours, and small proportions-6 percent to
14 percent-exceeded 48 hours.
The average hours per week worked by women ranged from practically 26 to 34 hours; the average weeks worked during the year
tanged from 35 to 45 .

•


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EFFECTS OF DEPRESSION ON WAGE EARNERS' FAMILIES
TABLE

26.- Hours per week worked by women in

Plant

r_ __ ___ __- - -- -- -- -- -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - -

IL _____ - ___ - _- _- - -- ______ - _______ -- - - -- __
III_ ___ _______________________ . __ ____ __ ____
IV ____ ___ ___ - __ _- - __-- - ___ -- __ - _____ - _- _- _

31

4 plants, year ended J uly 31, 1932

Percent of weeks that wereTotal weeksi - - - - - , - - - - - : - - - -----,--- worked, all
women
24 hours or Over 24 to Over 40 to
Over 48
less
40 hours
48 hours
hours
5,878
5, 643
18, 681
3, 569

40. 2

35. 2

38. 5
20. 8

33. 2
53. 3
53. 8

46. 0

16. 3
13. 8
20. 0

.2

8. 3
14. 5

5. 9
.1

By men.- Data on the employment of men were available for two
of the plants specified and for a third not reporting for women. These
3 firms, employing 397 men, reported respectively about onethird, two-fifths, and nine-tenths of the weeks worked to have been
24 hours or less. Varying proportions-under one-tenth, close to
three-tenths, and about four-tenths-had been weeks of more than
24 and up to 40 hours. Two plants reported one-seventh and one- ·
eighth of the weeks, respectively, as of more than 40 and including
48 hours, but the third had less than 1 percent in this class. In two
firms, about one-fifth and one-seventh of the weeks, respectively,
were of more than 48 hours, but the third plant had only 1 percent
of its weeks as long as this.
·
For men the average hours per week ranged from about 16 to 33.
The average weeks worked per man varied from 39 to 4 7.
TABLE

27.-Hours per weelc worked by men in

Plant

A ________ ____ _____ __ -- -- ---- -- - - - - - - - -- - -B ________ _____ ____ _- - - - ---- - - --- -- - - - - --- -

c ________________--------- -- -- -- -------- --

!1J

plants, year ended July 31, 1932

Percent of weeks that wereTotal weeksi------:-----:------,---worked, all
men
24 hours or Over 24 to Over 40 to
Over 48
less
W hours
48 hours
hours
2,605
11, 446
2,154

32. l

37. 8

89. 8

39.1
29. 6

8. 7

14. 4
12. 9

.5

14. 3

19. 8
1.0

Earnings in 1931
For about 100 men and about 350 women year's earnings in 1931
were obtained from firm records. The median for men was $810 and
that for women was $530.

0


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


https://fraser.stlouisfed.org
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


https://fraser.stlouisfed.org
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis