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Teachers College Library

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
WOMEN’S BUREAU
Bulletin No. 109

THE EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
IN THE SEWING TRADES
OF CONNECTICUT
HOURS AND EARNINGS
EMPLOYMENT FLUCTUATION
HOME WORK




UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
FRANCES PERKINS, Secretary

WOMEN’S BUREAU
MARY ANDERSON, Director

THE EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN
IN THE SEWING TRADES
OF CONNECTICUT
HOURS AND EARNINGS
EMPLOYMENT FLUCTUATION
HOME WORK
By
CAROLINE MANNING
AND

HARRIET A. BYRNE

Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, No.

109

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON : 1935

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




Price 5 cents




CONTENTS
Letter of transmittal____________________
Part I.-—Introduction
Summary
Part II.—Women employed in factories
Scope
Standard hours
Hours worked
Earnings-.
Distribution of week’s earnings
Year’s earnings
11
Fluctuation of employment and of earnings
13
Migration of industry
15
Contract shops
16
Method of payment
18
Ages of women
18
Marital status
20
Time with the firm__________________
Nativity and country of birth
21
Nativity of dress-shop workers
21
Home visits to young workers
22
Part III.-—Industrial home work
25
Data secured in home interviews
25
Rates and earnings
26
Case stories
29
Reasons for choice_____________________________
Condition of homes
31
Number in family and number of wage earners________________
Information from factory pay rolls__
One week’s earnings of 295 home workers______________________
Year’s earnings, nine establishments
34
Labor costs of home work and of factory work_________________
Part IV.-—Lighting in clothing factories
41
Levels of lighting at work positions
41
Lighting equipment
44
Other features_______________

Pag?

v
1
1
3
3
4
5
6
9

21

31
32
33
33
35

45

TABLES
1. Number of establishments visited and number of men and women they
employed, by branch of industry
2. Median week’s earnings and hours worked, by branch of industry___
3. Median week’s earnings and hours worked, by occupation___________
4. Earnings distribution, by branch of industry
10
5. Earnings distribution, by hours worked
11
6. Year’s earnings, by number of weeks worked
12
7. Number of contract shops and number of regular factories, by branch
of industry
16
8. Median of week’s earnings of women who worked 40 hours and longer
in contract shops and in regular factories, by branch of industry____
9. Age distribution, by occupation
19
10. Average hourly earnings of home workers, according to whether
individual or group earnings and by branch of industry-—homeinterview data
28
11. One week’s earnings of 295 home workers, by branch of industry—
pay-roll data
33
12. Year’s earnings of 68 home workers, by number of weeks in which
work was done—pay-roll data
34




in

4
6
8

17

IV

CONTENTS

CHARTS
Fluctuation in employment and in per capita weekly earnings, 14 firms
supplying a year’s figures------------------------------------------------------------------Labor costs of home work and of factory work—4 firms:
Children’s apparelChildren’s underwear
37
Neckties
39
Garters
40




Page
14
36

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

Washington, February 28, 1935.
I have the honor to transmit a report on the various phases
of women’s employment in the sewing trades of Connecticut.
A preliminary report on factory hours and earnings was made
shortly after the survey, but, owing to pressure of more urgent work,
the other findings have not been prepared for publication until now.
Three subjects discussed here—home work, employment fluctuation,
and year’s earnings—have advanced instead of losing place in public
interest. An unusual type of data in the home-work report is a com­
parison of the factory and home-work pay rolls of 4 establishments,
week by week for periods ranging from 7 months to a year. The report
on the lighting of clothing factories is a contribution to the scanty
literature on that subject.
I appreciate greatly the courteous cooperation extended by employ­
ers, workers, and various State agencies in the course of this study.
_ The survey was conducted by Caroline Manning, industrial super­
visor, and the report has been written by Miss Manning and Harriet A.
Byrne, assistant editor.
Respectfully submitted.
Mary Anderson, Director.
Hon. Frances Perkins,
Secretary oj Labor.
Madam:




y

THE EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN THE
SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT
Part I.—INTRODUCTION

At the request of Governor Cross, a study of the economic status of
women engaged in the manufacture of wearing apparel in the State
of Connecticut was made in the fall of 1931 by the Women’s Bureau
of the United States Department of Labor. The preliminary report of
the findings as to earnings and hours, with its testimony as to the
migration of industry from adjoining States and the employment of
girls under 20 at starvation wages, marked the beginning of the public
indignation against sweatshops that spread so rapidly in the months
that followed.
Certain other information secured in the survey—notably year’s
earnings, fluctuation in employment and earnings, industrial home
work (with pay-roll as well as home-interview data), and lighting con­
ditions in the factories—is presented in the pages following. Because
of the constant rise in the past 2 years in the level of public intelligence
where economics and labor matters are concerned, each of these types
of information is of greater interest in 1935 than at the time of survey.
And in each of them the data, secured through, the courtesy of em­
ployers and workers, constitute valuable material of an uncommon
sort.
SUMMARY
Time of survey: September 1931 to January 1932.
FACTORY WORKERS

Firms included in the study, 106.
Median of the week’s earnings (7,631 women):
All industries, $12.35; highest median (neckties and cravats), $16.15; lowest
(men’s shirts), $9.65.
Actual week’s earnings (7,631 women):
Less than $10, 33 percent (8 percent, less than $5); $15 and over, 33 percent.
Median of the year’s earnings (513 women), $670.
Scheduled weekly hours (7,631 women):
Under 48, 32 percent; 48 and under 52, 61 percent; 52 and over, 6 percent.
Hours worked (4,812 women):
Less than 40, 24 percent; less than 48, 62 percent; 52 and over, 14 percent.
PERSONAL INFORMATION

Age (4,638 women):
Under 20 years, 32 percent; 20 and under 40, 49 percent; 40 and over, 19
percent.
Marital status (4,604 women):
Single, 56 percent; married, 34 percent; other, 10 percent.
Nativity (4,756 women):
Native born, 69 percent; foreign, 31 percent.




2

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

Time with the firm (4,736 women):
Less than 1 year, 29 percent; less than 5 years, 74 percent; 10 year or more,
12 percent.
Home interviews with factory workers under 21 years old, 44.
HOME WORKERS

Interviews with home workers, 144.
Type of work done (144 women):
Garters, 37; neckties, 32; embroidery, 28; ribbon ornaments, 17; other, 30.
Average hourly earnings (126 women):
Earnings and hours worked on 209 home-work jobs produced these averages—
Of 173 cases of individual earnings, 100 averaged less than 16 cents an hour,
19 of them less than 5 cents. Only 31 paid 30 cents or more.
Of 36 cases of group earnings, 8 averaged less than 15 cents an hour; only 13
paid 30 cents or more.
Pay-roll data:
Week’s earnings were reported for 315 women home workers and year’s earnings
for 68.
Total factory labor cost and total home-work labor cost, in most cases week by
week, for periods of 7 to 12 months, were supplied by 4 firms.
LIGHTING OP FACTORIES

Number of factories surveyed, 32.
Readings taken by foot-candle meter, 935.
Very large proportions of the readings were below the least amount of light
approved by authorities.




Part II.—WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

At the time of the survey, Connecticut, though it surpassed all
other States in the number of wage earners in felt-hat factories and
stood second in the making of corsets, was outranked by several States
in most lines of clothing manufacture. When 1931 census figures
became available, it was found, however, that in some industries the
number of wage earners had increased considerably between 1929 and
1931; in the shirt industry, for example, by 21 percent, in men’s
furnishing goods by 58 percent, and in women’s clothing by 14 per­
cent. In some branches of the sewing trades there had been practically
no change in numbers.1
SCOPE

A total of 106 firms furnished the pay-roll data for hours and wages
that form the basis of the report on women in factories. Two-thirds
of the firms were in cities on Long Island Sound, in Stamford, Nor­
walk, Bridgeport, Milford, New Haven, and New London, and almost
three-fourths of the employees worked in these cities.
The 10,009 employees of the 106 establishments comprised between
60 and 65 percent of the State’s wage earners in the clothing indus­
tries—about 60 percent if based on the 1929 figures of the census of
manufactures and 64 percent if based on the 1930 census of occupa­
tions. The representation of women was especially good, those
employed in the factories surveyed constituting more than 80 percent
of the State’s total as reported by the census of occupations.
The depression had hit all these plants, some harder than others,
but the consensus of opinion in the garment factories seemed to be
that in the very early fall of 1931 the plants had operated fairly well
for a few weeks, although the season had been very much shorter than
usual. In rare cases had there been any overtime, and some persons
stated that even their best weeks had been on an undertime basis,
with numbers employed also far below normal. With these conditions
in mind, an especial effort was made by the agents of the Women’s
Bureau to select as representative data as possible, and the pay-roll
records taken were for the week recommended by the firm as having
been normal or as nearly full time as any. The date of the week thus
selected varied slightly from firm to firm, but the great majority were
in September and a few in October.
The firms included in the report have been classified along rather
broad lines according to the type of products manufactured. Numbers
employed in men’s suits and trousers and in women’s coats were so
small and scattering that for discussion these have been combined and
called “tailored garments.” Furthermore, to have a representative
number, workers on children’s dresses, play suits, and underwear form
another group. Included in “women’s dresses” are silk and wool
dresses and silk blouses, and “women’s underwear” covers one or two
1 U. s. Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census, 1930: Manufactures, 1929, vol. II, dd 291 356-403ibid., Census of Manufactures: 1931, Wearing Apparel.
x
’
119759°—35---- 2




3

4

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

firms manufacturing cotton house dresses and aprons. In the last
group, men’s furnishings, are several smaller establishments making
men’s overalls, pajamas, athletic underwear, bathrobes, collars, and
handkerchiefs. With garters are grouped other types of elastic sup­
porters, and with corsets are classed other allied garments. The
manufacture of hats covers both felt and straw products, but felt
hats predominate.
Table

1.—Number of establishments visited and number of men and women they
employed, by branch of industry
Number and sex of employees
Number
of estab­
lish­
ments

Branch of industry

Women
Total

Men
Total

Under 16 16 years
and over
years

i 106

Total
Tailored garments - ....................................
Children’s apparel- ----------------------------Women’s dresses---- ------------------ --------Women’s underwear......................................
Corsets
Garters.
Men’s shirts.. -----------------------------------Men's furnishings. . -......................... .........

10,009

2,234

7, 775

144

7,631

12
12
30
9
6
5
8
5
6
14

721
820
1,760
1,083
1,415
259
1,252
581
1,584
534

200
43
232
103
269
38
89
55
1,137
68

521
777
1,528
980
1,146
221
1,163
526
447
466

4
29
26
24
2
5
32

517
748
1,502
956
1,144
216
1,131
526
447
444

22

1 Details exceed total, as 1 firm had both a hat and a necktie department.

From table 1 it is apparent that with the exception of the hat fac­
tories these were chiefly woman-employing plants, more than threefourths of the wage earners being women. In hat factories men were
employed in large numbers in making the felts and shaping the hats,
while women were engaged chiefly in trimming. Women predomi­
nated even in the tailoring establishments, where men are often in
the majority, but their numbers bulked most heavily in dress, under­
wear, corset, and shirt factories. More than three-fifths of the women
were in these four groups. Less than 10 percent in each case were in
establishments making garters, hats, neckties, men’s furnishings, or
tailored garments.
There was a great range in the size of plants; in some there were no
more than 20 employees and in others there were several hundred.
While the average size of the factories was about 95 employees for the
group as a whole, this figure varied widely with the different branches
of the industry. In the dress factories the average was just below 60,
but in the corset factories it was well over 200 and in the hat factories
it was over 250.
STANDARD HOURS

In normal busy times only 16 of these firms had a standard work­
day as short as 8 hours. The customary full-time standard for over
half the firms was 9 hours or more, two firms reporting a 10-hour day.
The standard for the working week also was long. Over 60 firms, or
about three-fifths, reported the normal week as more than 48 hours,
and 10 had a standard of more than 50 hours.
During the week studied almost two-fifths of the women whose
hours worked were reported had been employed 48 hours or more.




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

5

That these standards for work hours in Connecticut were longer
than those prevailing in the same industry elsewhere may be seen by
reference to reports by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a bulletin, Trade Agreements in 1927, this authority makes the
statement that the 44-liour week is practically the rule in several
trades, and clothing is noted specially.2 In the 1931 Handbook of
Labor Statistics the average full-time hours in 212 representative
firms making men’s clothing are shown to have been 44.3 in 1930.3
These firms represented 12 large cities and two groups of smaller
cities, one group in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey. Further­
more, the 1929 report of the Statistics of Labor for Massachusetts
shows that the 42-hour and 44-hour week prevailed in the men’s cloth­
ing and ladies’ garment factories in that State as a result of oral or
written agreements.4 In tailoring establishments in western Massa­
chusetts the standard was 48 hours.
HOURS WORKED

For more than one-third of the women for whom records of earnings
were available in the survey, there was no record of the number of
hours worked during the week for which the pay roll was copied. In
many plants there was no record of hours for those paid on a piece­
work basis, the only time record available being for those paid by the
hour. Not only did the completeness of pay-roll records vary from
plant to plant, but some branches of the industry had better office
records than others. In corset, garter, hat, and necktie factories
hours were reported more generally than in the other types of plants.
For example, a correlation of hours and earnings could be made for
less than one-fourth of the employees in the shirt factories, for less
than two-fifths of those in men’s furnishings, and for only about onehalf of those in cliildren’s apparel and women’s underwear.
However, records of time worked were available for nearly 5,000
women, almost half of whom worked 44 and less than 52 hours. At
the two extremes below and above these points are found many
hundred women who had worked unmistakably undertime periods
and a few hundred who had worked longer then normal. Over 1,000
women, but less than a fourth of the total, worked less than 40 hours
during the week, many of them much less than 40 hours, and this
group undoubtedly is representative of the undertime unusual for
this season of the year and due in large part to the depression. Every
branch of the industry had a group of undertime workers. It is sur­
prising to find at the other extreme that 665 women worked as long
as 52 hours or more, in some cases excessively long hours, and in a few
cases work had continued even through 7 days of the week. The dress
factories were outstandingly responsible for such long hours.
As stated before, an effort was made to select for pay-roll study
what had been a busy week in the early fall, a season that year after
year shows peak employment. By this uniform policy of selecting for
each firm a week showing good production, conditions as nearly nor­
mal as possible are described here.
3 U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Trade Agreements in 1927. Bui. 468, pp. 3-4.
3 Ibid. Handbook of Labor Statistics, 1931 edition. Bui. 541, p. 789.
4 Massachusetts Department of Labor and Industries. Time Rates of Wages and Hours of Labor in
Massachusetts, 1929, pp. 4,20-21. (Pt. II of the annual report on the statistics of labor for the year ending
Nov. 30, 1929.)




6

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

EARNINGS

Owing largely to the method of payment, piecework prevailing and
hourly rates being common, there appears in table 2 a consistent rise
in earnings as the number of hours worked during the week increases.
This is true not only for the total group but in each industry group
where a comparison is possible. For example, the median for those
employed in women’s dress factories increases steadily from $4.70 for
women working less than 36 hours to $16.70 for those working more
than 55, most of the employees being paid by the hour. For the
largest groups of women in the three classes that together cover 40
and less than 52 hours, the medians of the week’s earnings ranged
from $13.60 to $14.10—not high, to say the least, for although half
the women in each group were earning more than the specified median,
the other half were earning less. And these three hour groups may
in all fairness be regarded as representative of the best conditions pre­
vailing in the wearing-apparel industries in Connecticut in the fall
season of 1931.
Table 2.—Median week’s earnings and hours worked, by branch of industry
[Median not computed where number is less than 50]
Median week’s earnings of 7,631 women
Hours worked
Branch of industry
Total Total
ported

Total:

Tailored garments:

7,631 4,812
$12.35 $12. 95

Less
than
36

36,
less
than
40

40,
less
than
44

32

11

19

748
395
$11.15 $10.05

44

12

30

1,502 1,098
$14. 50 $14.15

140
$4.70

42

956
498
$9. 75 $10.85

Women’s dresses:

48,
less
than
52

86
$4. 75

26

1,144 1,046
$13. 90 $14. 10
Garters:

Hours
reOver not ted
pui
55

93
109
$8.20 $15. 40

2,819
$11. 30

18

188
$13.05

17

353
$12. 55

91
157
168
192
308
$13. 55 $15.15 $15. 75 $16. 40 $16. 90

404
$15. 50

47

93
160
$9. 70 $12. 30

Women’s underwear:

Corsets:

52 to
55

697 1,120 1,184
450
830
316
215
$8. 45 $11.45 $13. 60 $13.80 $14.10 $15. 00 $16. 35

517
329
$13. 20 $13. 30

Children’s apparel:

44,
less
than
48

39

65
289
$10.30 $12. 50

8

100
370
243
181
151
$9. 60 $11.85 $14. 55 $15.70 $15. 85

1

98
$11.65
13

22

2

458
$8.65

203
216
$13. 65 $13. 55

29

18

25

119
$14. 40

8

4

257
$9. 50

37

24

40

116
$10. 75

21

14

443
109
526
$16.15 $15. 60 $12.85

27

49

159
61
$14.10 $20. 20

38

177
53
447
369
$14. 75 $13.85 $11. 60 $14. 50

31

78
$20. 35

19

7

4

78
$16.85

20

8

44

73
$11.10

1

270
$11.15

Men’s shirts:
1,131
$9. 65
Neckties and cravats:

Hats:

Men’s furnishings:




444
$10. 05

174
$7.35

25

3

5

874
$9.75
83
$18. 70

WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTOBIES

7

The amounts of the medians vaiy with the different branches of the
trade. In tailored garments and women’s dresses—each, and espe­
cially the latter, with outstandingly long hours—the highest medians
fall m the groups working 52 hours or more, but the highest medians
in these groups are much less than the $20.35 for employees in hat
factories working 44 and less than 48 hours or the $20.20 for necktie
employees working 48 and less than 52 hours. And, when the differ­
ence in time worked is taken into consideration, the median $16.90
for over 55 hours in dresses is not enough in excess of the $15.85 for
the corset group with the highest hours (48 and less than 52) to com­
pensate for the difference in hour standards.
These two lines of employment—dresses and corsets—afford an
interesting example of differences in hour standards. In corsets the
largest group of women worked 40 and under 44 hours and had median
earnings of $14.55. In dresses the largest number were in the group
8 hours longer than this, yet their median was only $1.20 higher.
Each of the longer-hour groups shows this striking difference.
The medians for the most representative groups, working 44 and
less than 52 hours, were decidedly lower in other branches than in the
two just discussed: Garters, $14.40 for the 44-48-hour group; women’s
underwear, $12.50 for the 48-52-hour group; children’s apparel
$12.30 for the 48-52-hour group; and men’s shirts, $10.75 for the
44-48-hour group.
Table 2 shows also the median of the earnings of all the women
involved in the study, regardless of how long they worked during the
week. Of the total number, almost 8,000 women, half had earned
less and half had earned more than $12.35. Dividing the group into
those for whom hours worked during the week were reported and those
for whom they were not reported, the medians are respectively $12.95
and $11.30. At first glance, the lower median in hours not reported
is surprising, as in 6 of the 9 branches of industry with medians in
both columns the figure for hours not reported is larger than that for
hours reported. The total is, of course, overweighted by the largest
groups'—shirts and women’s underwear—where the wages are low.
_ In two branches of the sewing trades listed—men’s shirts and fur­
nishings—the median for the total reporting hours worked was below
$10 and in children’s apparel it barely exceeded $10. The median for
the necktie workers was highest ($15.60) and there was only about
$1.50 difference between this and the medians next highest, that is,
in women’s dresses ($14.15) and in corsets ($14.10).
Table 3 correlates the hours worked and the median earnings by the
occupations of the women instead of the products on which they were
employed.
Power sewing-machine operators rank first in point of numbers,
constituting more than three-fifths of all the workers. Hand sewers
rank next, with over a thousand women. Hand sewing includes an
occasional baster but is chiefly the finishing operations, such as tai­
loring, embroidery, and sewing on buttons. Trimming in hat fac­
tories and slip stitching in necktie establishments are distinctive and
important hand-sewing jobs. Pressers or ironers also are numeri­
cally important. In most cases they used hand irons, but occasion­
ally on heavy garments and wool dresses they were operating power
presses. The few colored women found during the survey were prac­
tically all employed in the pressing departments.




8

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OP CONNECTICUT

Table 3.—Median week’s earnings and hours worked, by occupation
[Median not computed where number is less than 50]
Median week’s earnings of 7,631 women
Hours worked

Occupation
Total

Total:
Women, __ 7,631
Median__ $12. 35
Power sewing-machine operator:
Women...... ......... 4, 735
Median.
___ $13.00
Other power-machine operator:
Women. _
63
Median_______ $13. 55
Iland sewer:
Women
1,056
Median
$12. 65
Cleaner:
Women
327
$7. 70
Miscellaneous hand
worker:
Women
210
$11. 55
Examiner:
Women
320
$11. 30
Presser:
Women___ ____
440
$11.65
Packer:
Women
176
$11. 65
Other:1
Women____ ..
57
$17. 50
Occupation not reported:
Women
247
$9. 45

Hours
not
re­
ported

Total
re­
ported

Less
than
36

36, less 40,less
than
than
40
44

44,less
than
48

48,less
than
52

52 to
55

Over
55

4, 812
$12. 95

830
$8. 45

316
$11. 45

697
$13. 60

1, 120
$13.80

1,184
$14.10

450
$15.00

215
$16. 35

2, 819
$11. 30

2,677
$13. 90

451
$9. 60

142
$11.60

435
$14. 35

511
$15.05

831
$14. 60

256
$15. 95

51
$17. 70

2,058
$11. 80

61
$13. 45

3

6

11

29

5

6

2

2

818
$12. 60

192
$8.80

67
$11.10

70
$12. 90

204
$15. 35

95
$12. 95

99
$14. 30

91
$16. 90

238
$12.80

196
$7. 95

29

3

15

38

49

31

31

131
$7.20

183
$11. 50

39

25

22

56
$10. 70

33

3

5

27

239
$12.50

34

19

56
$12.45

35

67
$12. 45

20

8

81
$7.15

214
$13. 30

28

18

28

53
$14.10

49

16

22

226
$10.15

147
$11. 95

14

11

15

70
$12.40

24

13

54
$17. 65

5

1

6

19

13

6

4

3

223
$9. 70

35

24

39

105
$10. 85

18

1

1

24

29

1 Includes forelady, instructor, stock clerk, sample maker, etc.

The term cleaners, as used in the garment trades, refers to the
workers who clip the threads, trim uneven edges, and give the final
touches after sewing is finished, preparatory to pressing and pack­
ing. Floor girls sort and match stock—they are called stock chasers
in one or two plants—and make themselves generally useful in
keeping the work moving. So frequently did the work of cleaners
and floor girls overlap that they have been put in the same category
here. The term packers covers the usual types of jobs found in the
packing departments, such as pin and fold, stamp, wrap and box.
The group “other machine operators” covers a small number of
women usually running power pinking machines or small presses for
eyeleting or cutting or shaping operations. The minor jobs classified
as other hand work comprise turning collars and belts, ripping,
stringing buckles, hand pinldng, marking, cutting lace—what might
well be called odd jobs.
In the last occupational group, numerically unimportant and
called “other,” are supervisors, foreladies, instructors, sample makers,
fitters, and stock clerks.




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

9

The line of demarcation is not always clearly defined among the
more unskilled jobs; inspectors, examiners, or sorters may perform
some of the work done by cleaners, and cleaners may assist in minor
packing operations, but in the classification for this table an effort
was made to follow the grouping in practice in each plant and in
case of very general workers to allocate them according to their
major type of work.
Regarding 40 and less than 52 hours as the most normal and
representative, the highest median here is found to be the $15.35
for hand sewers, followed by $15.05 for power-machine sewers, and
$14.10 for pressers, all working 44 and under 48 hours. The high
ranking of these hand sewers probably is influenced by the. rates paid
trimmers in hat factories and slipstitchers in necktie factories as well
as those employed on dresses.
_
It is evident from the table that the largest groups of women with
long hours were sewers, either power-machine operators or hand
sewers. Proportionately, the final operations of hand sewing, clean­
ing, and pressing show extensive overtime, many women working as
much as 60 or 65 hours. Two women had worked more than 70
hours in the week recorded. And such overtime was practiced in
spite of the fact that the maximum hours allowed by law were 10 daily
and 55 weekly. Connecticut had then a much lower standard
than those of Massachusetts, where a 9-hour day and a 48-hour
week had been established by law, and New York, which had an
8-hour day and a 48-hour week. That the higher medians do
not always accompany the longer hours is shown by comparing the
44-and-under-48-hour group with the one next higher in the powermachine sewing and hand sewing. In the latter the difference in the
medians in favor of those working the shorter hours is as much as
$2.40. The median of the pressers also shows a decline. Unpub­
lished figures give a median of $12.85 for those working 48 and under
52 hours, considerably lower than the $14.10 for those working 44
and under 48 hours.
DISTRIBUTION OF WEEK’S EARNINGS

In the preceding pages week’s earnings in the various branches of
the industry are given in the form of medians, so that the important
relation of hours worked may be shown. To acquaint the reader
with the actual amounts paid to the workers and to make clear the
large proportion of women who were paid less than $10 (33.1 percent),
and the small proportion paid $20 or more (12 percent), the earnings
distribution is shown by branch of industry in table 4.
Of the 569 women with earnings of less than $5, two-fifths were
paid even less than $3. Men’s furnishings, with one of the lowest
medians, had paid practically one-half its women less than $10 and
had paid not far from one-fifth (about 18 percent) less than $5. Men’s
shirts and women’s underwear had paid more than half their women
less than $10. In children’s apparel, women’s underwear, and men’s
furnishings, more than 5 percent of the women had been paid even
less than $3. Women’s dresses, hate, and neckties and cravats made
the best showing as regards amounts of $25 and over, having paid at
least $25 to 6.9 percent, 8.1 percent, and 11.6 percent, respectively,
of their women employees.




10

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OE CONNECTICUT

The extent to which a shortening of hours was responsible for low
earnings may be seen in table 5, which gives earnings and hours
worked for 4,812 women in all branches of the industry combined.
This table includes 307 of the 569 women who had earned less than
$5. Almost four-fifths (78.8 percent) of this group had worked less
than 40 hours, but 11.4 percent had worked 48 hours or more, 1
woman exceeding 55 hours.
Details not given in the table show that 4 women who had worked
50 and less than 54 hours had earned $2 and under $3 for the week.
These women were employed in men’s furnishings establishments.
Table 4.—Earnings distribution, by branch of industry
7,631 women with week’s earnings reported
Earnings group

Neck­
Tail­ Chil­ Wom­ Wom­
Men’s
en’s
ties
Total ored dren’s en’s un­ Cor­ Gar­ Men’s and Hats furn­
gar­
ap­ dres­ der­ sets ters shirts
ish­
cra­
ments parel ses
ings
vats
wear

Number of women -...... 7, 631
517
748 1,502
956 1,144
216 1.131
526
447
444
100.0 100. 0 100. 0 100. 0 100. 0
100. 0
Median earnings---------------------- $12.35 $13.20 $11.15 $14.50 $9. 75 $13. 90 $13. 65 $9. 65 $16.15 $14. 75 $10. 05
Less than $5:
Number
Percent------------

569
7.5

19
3.7

76
10.2

114
7.6

125
13.1

18
1.6

1
0.5

118
10.4

10
1.9

9
2.0

79
17.8

$6, less than $10:
Number
1,958
Percent___________________ 25.7

128
24.8

232
31.0

272
18.1

372
38.9

200
17.5

23
10.6

485
42.9

57
10.8

48
10.7

141
31.8

$10, less than $15:
Number
2,613
Percent-------- ---------- --------- 34.2

181
35.0

257
34.4

405
27.0

317
33.2

459
40.1

111
51.4

414
36.6

155
29.5

172
38.5

142
32.0

$15, less than $20:
Number. .
Percent

1,574
20.6

136
26.3

127
17.0

398
26.5

100
10.5

343
30.0

50
23.1

100
8.8

150
28.5

112
25.1

58
13.1

675
8.8

43
8.3

46
6.1

209
13.9

36
3.8

113
9.9

29
13.4

14
1.2

93
17.7

70
15.7

22
5.0

181
2.4

10
1.9

8

73
4. 9

6
0. 6

9
0. 8

2
0.9

8. 9

5.4

0.5

2 7

1.8

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

$20, less than $25:
Number_____ _____ _______
Percent------------------ --------$25, less than $30:

1.1

$30, less than $35:
47
0. 6

2
0.3

21
1.4

2
0.2

$35, less than $40:
11

0. 1

8
0. 5

0.7

$40 and more:
o

3

2
0.1

1

1 Less than 0.06 percent.

Eight who had worked 48 hours or longer, also in men’s furnishings,
had earned $3 and less than $4. Of the 23 who had worked 48 hours
or more and had received $4 and under $5, 9 were in men’s furnishings
firms, 8 in women’s dress factories, and the remainder in scattering
branches of the trade.
*




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

11

Table 5.—Earnings distribution, by hours worked
4,812 women with hours worked reported
Earnings group

Less
All
than
women 36
hours

Total_______________
Percent distribution _ ______
Median earnings........ ............

4,812
100.0
$12. 95

Less than $5:
Number _____
Percent distribution...........
$5, less than $10:
Number
____ ___
Percent distribution_
_
$10, less than $15:
Number__________ _ __
Percent distribution________
$15, less than $20:
Number
__________
Percent distribution....... ..........
$20, less than $25:
Number _ _______________ _ _
Percent distribution..... ...................
$25, less than $30:
Number_____________ ___________
Percent distribution............................. .
$30, less than $35:
Number ____________________ _
Percent distribution __ ________
$35, less than $40:
Percent distribution______________

36,
40,
44,
48,
52,
less
less
less
less
Over
than than than than includ­ 55
ing 55 hours
40
44
48
52
hours
hours hours hours hours

316
830
697 1, 120 1,184
450
17. 2
6.6
14. 5
23.3
24.6
9.4
$8. 45 $11.45 $13. 60 $13.80 $14.10 $15. 00

215
4.5
$16. 35

307
100.0

235
76.5

2.3

22
7.2

8
2.6

15
4.9

19
6.2

1
0.3

1.077
100.0

263
24.4

97
9.0

128
11.9

208
19.3

260
24. 1

84
7.8

37
3.4

1,690
100.0

255
15.1

138
8.2

287
17.0

447
26.4

391
23.1

122
7.2

50
3.0

1.084
100.0

65
6.0

52
4.8

198
18.3

266
24.5

310
28.6

106
9.8

87
8.0

489
100.0

12
2.5

16
3.3

50
10.2

154
31.5

161
32.9

70
14.3

26
5.3

132
100.0

5
3.8

6
4.5

36
27.3

37
28.0

37
28.0

11
8.3

30
0)

1

5

10

12

2

7

w

1

1

1

i Not computed; base less than 50.

A decline in earnings in the shirt industry of Connecticut between
1931 and 1933 is noted in the report of a Government survey of the
shirt industry in a number of States in 1933, as follows:
* * * Between the autumn of 1931 and the early summer of 1933, when
the present study was made, a period of 1% years, a striking decline took place
in the earnings of women shirt workers in Connecticut. The earlier survey [by
the Women’s Bureau] showed median weekly earnings of $9.65 and the later
survey a median of $7.70. During this period the percentage of women workers
earning less than $6 a week increased from 16 to 28; the percentage earning less
than $10 a week rose from 53 to 74; the percentage earning $12 or more was 29
m 1931 but only 13 in 1933. The 1933 earnings include wage increases of 5
percent granted by several factories in agreements reached with the Amalgamated
Clothing Workers.5
YEAR’S EARNINGS

As indications of the standards of living that women workers must
set up for themselves are the amounts contained in their weekly pay
envelops. Of even greater concern to these women and to all inter­
ested in their welfare are figures showing earnings for a longer period,
preferably a year. Year’s earnings are not, as some persons assume,
52 times the week’s earnings, for in most cases deductions are made
for lost time due to any cause.
Earnings for the year from the fall of 1930 to the fall of 1931 were
ascertained for 513 women in this study whose names appeared at
both the first and the last of the 52-week period, and for 89 women
* U. S. Department of Labor. Labor in the Shirt Industry in June 1933. Mimeographed, p. 21,
119759°—35----- 3




12

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

in the necktie industry whose 52-week record was for the calendar
year 1930. The latter have been tabulated separately. Employers
helped in the selection of these workers. The women included
represent the most dependable among the workers, probably favored
for that reason and at slack times given what little work there was.
In some plants there were no employees who could be included in
such a group.
_
The median of the jmar’s earnings of these 513 women was $670,
the largest group, 106, earning $600 and under $700. As many as
85 were in the group next above, $700 and under $800, and 70 were
in the group below, $500 and under $600. Fifty-four women earned
$1,000 and over, but 53 had earnings below $400.
Table 6.— Year's

Year’s earnings

earnings, by number of weeks worked

Women
with
year’s
earnings
reported

$300, less than $400^. -----------$400, less than $500.. ----------$500, less than $000_______ ____
$600, less than $700........................
$700, less than $800------------------

Total

Less
than 40
weeks

$670

485
100. 00
$665

61
12.6
$405

18
35
63
70
106
85
47
35
22
17
15

18
35
61
67
101
80
47
29
19
15
13

13
17
11
9
6
4

513
Median earnings....... ....................

485 women with weeks worked reported

1

40,less
than 44
weeks

44, less
than 48
weeks

48, less
than 52
weeks

37
7.6

71
14.6
$655

230
47.4
$690

86
17.7
$775

1
7
16
7
12
14
7
6

4
6
24
31
55
49
24
15
13
5
4

1
5
8
19
12
14
5
5
9
8

«

4
5
12
9
1
2
3
1

.

1

52 weeks

.

• Not computed; base less than 50.

Of the 485 women with year’s earnings and weeks worked reported,
65.2 percent—almost two-thirds—had worked in at least 48 weeks.
The range of earnings was from less than $300 to $1,200 and more.
The medians varied with time worked from $405 for the 61 women
who had worked less than 40 weeks, to $710 for the 316 who had
worked 48 weeks or more. The 86 women who had worked in each
of the 52 weeks had a median of $775, more than 30 percent having
averaged from $75 to $100 or more a month.
Unpublished figures show that the corset, the necktie and cravat,
and the dress industry, with between 50 and 85 women who worked
at least 44 weeks, had medians of $730 to $790, while for 52 women
so reported in the tailored garment industry the median was only $660.
For the 89 women in the necktie trade whose 52-week earnings
were for the year 1930, average hourly earnings have been computed;
the range was from 24 to 68 cents, with a median of 49 cents. Only
14 women had average hourly earnings of less than 40 cents; for 33
the average was 40 to 49 cents, and for 34 it was 50 to 59 cents.
Eight averaged 60 cents or more.
For these women the weeks worked were not reported, but 85 of
them were known to have been on the pay roll at the beginning and
the end of the year. The median of the average weekly earnings of
tliis group of women, based on 52 weeks, was the high figure of $19.50.




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

13

Of the 485 women with number of weeks worked reported, more
than one-sixth (17.7 percent) had lost no full weeks. Of the 399 who
had lost some time, almost two:-fifths had lost not more than 2 weeks.
Three-tenths had lost from 3 to 6 weeks; a little more than one-eighth
from 7 to 10 weeks; 4.8 percent from 11 to 14 weeks; and 7.5 percent
from 15 to 18 weeks. As many as 5.5 percent had lost at least 19
weeks, 4 of them 35 weeks and more.
The largest proportion of any group of women who lost no full
weeks from work was that of the women making corsets. Almost onehalf of these reported no weeks lost. More than one-third of those
working on women’s underwear and on men’s furnishings had lost no
time, also. Proportions of women working on other products who
lost no time were less than these.
Of the 48 women who worked on neckties and cravats and who had
lost some weeks during the year, 19 had been unemployed for 5 to 8
weeks. In the other groups, proportions of women who lost as much
time as this ranged from one-third of those working on men’s furnish­
ings to about 1 in 15 of those working on men’s shirts.
Eighteen of the 99 women making women’s dresses had been out of
work for 9 to 12 weeks. Fourteen of the 31 women employed on
men’s shirts had lost 16 weeks or more.
FLUCTUATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND OF EARNINGS

Data were available in 14 firms regarding the numbers of women
employed and the amounts paid to them, week by week, in a period of
1 year or approximately a year. In addition to these, data regarding
home-work and factory labor costs were secured from four factories
(see part III).
The per capita weekly earnings have been computed for each of the
three branches of the needle trades for which data regarding employ­
ment and earnings were available, namely, women’s dresses, children’s
apparel, and men’s furnishings. With the weekly average for the
year as a base, the indexes of employment and earnings for each week
have been computed.
Women’s dresses

The seven women’s dress firms reporting employment and pay rolls
for 52 weeks had a weekly average of 374 women workers. The pay
rolls yielded per capita earnings that averaged, for the 52 weeks,
$14.71. It is the fluctuation in employment and per capita earnings
that is illustrated in the accompanying chart.
Reference to the chart shows that employment was steadiest in
March and April, and that it fell precipitately during two periods of
the year: (1) From an index of 121 (representing 453 women) in the
week of September 27 to 63 (235 women) in that of November 15;
and (2) from an index of 133 (representing 499 women) in the week of
May 9 to 44 (163 women) in that of July 18.
Reasonably enough, in neither lay-off did average earnings decline
to the same extent as employment, but neither had they kept pace
with the increased employment in the months just before the lay-offs.
The lag is especially noticeable in April, May, and two-thirds of June,
when average earnings were declining though employment was well
maintained on the whole. The chart shows clearly the seasonality of
the industry and the greater fluctuation in earnings than in employ­
ment.



14

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

Children’s apparel

Fluctuation in employment in the three children’s apparel firms
that supplied numbers of women and amounts of pay rolls for 50 weeks
was somewhat less than the fluctuation in the women’s dress factories
FLUCTUATION IN EMPLOYMENT AND IN PER CAPITA WEEKLY EARNINGS, 14
FIRMS SUPPLYING A YEAR’S FIGURES
[Average for the year=100]

WOMEN’S DRESSES (7ftrm*)

CHILDREN'S APPAREL (j

MEN’S FURNISHINGS fr firms)

SEPT

OCT

NOV

DEC

JAN

FEB MAR APR

MAY

JUNE JULY

AUG

just described. The women employees averaged 102 in number and
the per capita weekly earnings averaged $11.22.
Employment was steadiest from the second week in October to the
week of November 22.




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

15

The chart shows no very drastic lay-offs in the three firms combined.
Employment was lowest at the close of 1930, but it picked up about
the end of January, and the increase to the peak on March 21 was
practically unbroken, This was followed by a gradual decline, to a
low in July about the same as that at the beginning of the year.
Average earnings fluctuated more violently than did those in the
women’s dress factories. They reached a maximum in the first week
of February but were on the decline 6 weeks later when employment
was at a maximum. For 27 weeks, at various times, the earnings
index was the higher.
Men’s furnishings

In the miscellaneous group of men’s furnishings four establish­
ments supplied women’s employment and pay-roll figures for 52
weeks. The women averaged 119 in number and. their per capita
weekly earnings averaged $13.02.
Employment was steadiest from the middle of October through
the week of December 20, there being only slight reductions in the
force until Christmas week, when one-third of the women lost their
employment. It picked up again in January and was above aver­
age by the middle of March. It declined in midsummer but was
almost average when the 52-week record closed, August 29.
Per capita earnings generally were well above the year’s average
up to the close of 1930 but were considerably below average in most
weeks of 1931. Their fluctuation was much greater than that of
employment.
MIGRATION OF INDUSTRY

Everywhere there was considerable interest expressed in the move­
ment of factories from other districts into Connecticut. Quoting
from a pamphlet issued by the Connecticut Chamber of Commerce
in 1929 on the migration of industry: 6 “The most frequently occur­
ring reason for plant location in this region was advantageous labor
conditions. Available factory building was second in rank and was
the most important factor affecting relocation to this area. Practi­
cally 86 percent of the movement to tins region was from the Middle
Atlantic States. The principal trend was from New York State to
Connecticut.” However, this relocation of factories had about ceased
during the depression of 1931, according to officials of the New
Haven Chamber of Commerce, who said migration was practically at
a standstill.
. In this connection it was stated by one manager that the labor cost
in the Connecticut city in which he was operating was 20 percent
below the cost in New York City. Even allowing for the expense of
shipping and of premises and overhead, the advantage still was 10 or
12 percent.
Few of the firms supplying records for this survey were recent arriv­
als in Connecticut, and a tabulation has been made of three that
had located in the State in 1931. These are concerns too small for
the drawing of general conclusions, and they are not typical of the
average plant visited during the survey, but they are described here
as illustrating a tendency in so-called “runaway shops” to exploit
the very young to the disadvantage of the mature woman wage earner
dependent for a living on the same type of job. In these factories,
« Connecticut Chamber of Commerce. The Migration of Industry.
delivered at thirtieth annual meeting at Hartford, May 23, lvJ2y.




An address by William J. Barrett

16

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OP CONNECTICUT

only 2 of the 105 employees reporting age were as much as 20 years
old; one-sixth were not yet 16 and the majority were 16 and under
18, altogether a very youthful group of wage earners, to say the
least. More than three-fourths of the 102 for whom the hours worked
were reported had worked at least 40 hours, one-half had worked as
long as 50 hours. The majority were operating power-sewing ma­
chines, by no means a child’s job. The median of the week’s earn­
ings fell between $4 and $5 for the total group for whom hours
worked were reported, and for those who had worked more than 48
hours it fell between $5 and $6, shockingly low wages even when
allowance is made for the youth and inexperience of the workers.
The manager of one of these firms was somewhat apologetic for
his low wage scale and stated that, when business warranted, it was
his purpose to work up to a $10 to $12 wage for girls.
CONTRACT SHOPS

Fifty-seven of the factories in this survey were described as con­
tract shops; that is, the materials were not owned by the manager of
the plant in which they were being made into garments. Almost in­
variably the materials were cut by the owner in New York and sent
to the Connecticut contractor for making up, the latter shipping back
the finished articles and having no responsibility for their sale.
Most of the contract shops were operating on a hand-to-mouth
scale. Frequently one of the partners spent his time hustling for
contracts among the New York firms while the other partner pushed
production in the factory. One day they might be making up one
style and the next day a style quite different. Many dress factories
were making daily shipments to meet the exacting demands of New
York jobbers. The contracts, especially in dresses, were limited in
number and invariably were rush orders. One week there might be
so many orders that the entire plant worked overtime, and the next
week there might be no orders and the shop would be practically
closed.
Table 7.—Number of contract shops and number of regular factories, by branch of

industry
Branch of industry

Contract
shops

Total

Regular
factories

1106
Tailored garments------------------------------------------- -.............................
Children's apparel----------------------- -------------------------------------------Women’s dresses- ________________ ____ ______________ ______ _ . Women’s underwear

Men’s furnishings----------------------------------------------------- -..................

57

49

12
12
30
9
6
5
8
5
6
14

10
5
26
2

2
7
4
7
6
4
2
5
6
7

1
6
7

i Details exceed total, as 1 Arm had both a hat and a necktie department.

No contract shops were making corsets, neckties, or hats; but, in
contrast to these, 26 of the 30 dress factories were contract shops, as
were a majority of the tailoring and shirt establishments. There
were almost 900 more women employed in regular factories than in
contract shops. Hours worked during the week were reported in




17

WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

more cases of regular factories than of contract shops, though in
both types of plants the hours of a large proportion of the workers
were not obtained. That the trend of wages was higher in regular
factories than in contract shops is indicated by the following:
Worked less than 40
hours
Number
of firms

Type of firm

Worked 40 hours or
more

Hours not reported

Number
of women
All firms____ ____
Regular factory_____
Contract shop-..

_-

Median
earnings

Number
of women

Median
earnings

Number
of women

106

1,146

$9.65

3,666

$14.05

2,819

$11.30

49
57

854
.292

10.95
5.80

2,089
1, 577

14.75
12. 75

1,306
1,513

10.80
11. 70

Median
earnings

Only for the women whose hours worked were not reported were
the median earnings in contract shops higher than those in regular
factories. Where the hours were less than 40, the median for regular
factories was more than $5 higher than that for contract shops; where
the hours were as much as 40, the difference was $2.
Table 8.—Median

of week’s earnings of women who worked 40 hours and longer
in contract shops and in regular factories, by branch of industry
Total

Contract shops

Regular factories

Branch of industry
Number
of women
Total___ _____________
Tailored garments...
___
Children’s apparel
Women’s dresses_____ ______
Women’s underwear
Men’s shirts
Men’s furnishings

Median
earnings

Number
of women

Median
earnings

Number
of women

Median
earnings

3,666

$14. 05

1,577

$12. 75

2, 089

$14. 75

286
339
916
386
795
156
196
307
139
146

13.75
10. 85
15. 60
12.00
15. 25
14.15
10.20
16.80
19. 65
8. 65

226
237
835
25

12. 65
10. 65
15. 55
«

60
102
81
361

15.20
11.10
16.15
12.05

194

10.15

2
307

60

5. 65

86

0)
11.90

* Not computed; base less than 60.

An analysis of the table showing the earnings of women who worked
as much as 40 hours in the various branches of the sewing trades
makes it clear that in the four branches in which comparisons are
possible the medians in the regular factories are higher than those in
the contract shops. Median earnings in regular factories making
men’s furnishings were twice as high as in contract shops. Tailoring
paid very much better in the regular factories than in the shops, but
in children’s apparel and women’s dresses the advantage was not
great. While 4 of the 5 medians computed for contract shops were
far below $15, 5 of the 9 computed for regular factories were between
$15 and $20. _ Medians were highest in hat, necktie, and dress factories
and lowest in children’s apparel, men’s furnishings, and women’s
underwear.
Not only was the general trend of wages better in the regular fac­
tories than in the contract shops, but there was a better standard of
hours in the regular factories. More than two-thirds of the women
who worked 52 hours or longer were employed in making tailored
garments and women’s dresses, where shops predominated. Further,



18

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

of the 450 women who worked from 52 to 55 hours during the week,
310, or 68.9 percent, were employed in contract shops; and of the
215 who worked more than 55 hours, practically four-fifths (78.6
percent) were in such shops.
METHOD OF PAYMENT

In all branches of the industry but dresses and garters the majority
of the employees, varying from 60 to 95 percent, were paid on a piece­
work basis, and even in garters the timework and piecework systems
were in vogue in practically a 50-50 ratio.
The average dress shop was a small affair, usually occupying an
obscure loft in a business block. Over three-fifths of the women
employed in these shops were paid on a time-rate basis, largely by the
hour. In no other branch of the industry was there anything like so
high a percentage of time workers. The contractors said it was almost
necessary to pay on a time basis, as styles changed so often that it
would take all one person’s time to adjust rates. The managers them­
selves were too busy rushing the work through to be bothered with
piece rates, and they felt that it would be a waste of time and money
to attempt to keep such rates adjusted fairly. On the whole, they
thought hourly rates satisfactory; the girls were satisfied, and the
quality of the work was better than where the piecework method of
payment was used.
In greatest contrast to the prevalence of time rates in the dress
shops was the piece-rate system in shirt factories, where the pay of
95 percent of the women depended solely on their output. In the
latter case the greater standardization of the product made it possible
to establish a scale of prices for the various operations and qualities
that could be maintained for months at a time. Furthermore, in the
shirt factories, as in some other clothing plants, each operator per­
formed only one operation; one girl did nothing but close the side
seams, another set in sleeves, and so on until the garment was
completed.
The division of labor just described, called “section work”, was not
the practice throughout the women’s dress factories. In some of these
it was customaiy for many of the most skilled operators to stitch the
entire dress. Copying the pattern dress, these women made the
complete garment, from the first closing seam to the finishing stitch­
ing. During the fall a two-piece woolen dress, jacket and skirt, was
a common style in several of the shops, and an experienced operator
was reported to have stitched up seven such garments a day. The
rate for stitching was 40 to 45 cents a dress. Such garments were
wholesaling at $6.75 apiece and the retail price was frequently $10.75.
Exclusive of cutting, the labor cost of making this style garment was
from 54 to 59 cents: 40 to 45 cents—depending on style—for stitching,
8 cents for finishing, and 6 cents for pressing.
In a shop making cheap dresses for children—a model that retailed
at about a dollar—the rate for sewing was just over 11 cents and that
for pressing was less than 2 cents.
AGES OF WOMEN

Almost 4,800 women reported their ages on the personal information
cards distributed in the factory at the time of the inspection. On the
whole they were a very young group, more than one-half being not




19

WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

yet 25 and more than one-third being less than 20. Practically 1 in 5
were not yet 18, and as many as 155 (3.2 percent) were less than 16.
The women under 18 considerably outnumbered those who were 40
or more.
Table 9.—Age distribution, by occupation
4,793 women who reported age
Occupation
Number Under 16 16, under 18, under 20, under 25, under 40 years
reporting
18 years 20 years 25 years 40 years and over
years
Total—Number..................
Percent

4, 793
100.0

155
3.2

793
16.5

708
14.8

945
19.7

1,324
27.6

868
18. 1

Power sewing-machine operator.
Other power-machine operator,.
Hand sewer
Cleaner
Miscellaneous hand worker
Examiner___
Presser,. _________________
Packer
_____
___
Other i,. ......................................

2,929
51
702
165
190
259
276
136
66

2.0

16.2
7.8
11.3
35.8
22.1
21. 6
13.0
27.9
4.5

15.8
25.5
9.3
9.1
19.5
12.0
13.0
25.7
12.1

21.6
25.5
18.7
9.7
15.8
14.3
14.9
16.2
25.8

28.6
15.7
30.6
11. 5
14. 2
19.3
40.2
14.0
45.5

15. 7
25. 5
27. 2

Occupation not reported

3.0
17.6
4.7
7.7
1.8
8. 1

23 7
25.1
17.0
8. 1
12.1

219

1 Includes forelady, instructor, stock clerk, sample maker, etc.
2 Percents not computed; base less than 50.

The youngest group were the cleaners (a most unskilled job), more
than half of whom were under 18. Among the examiners or inspectors
nearly three-tenths were not yet 18. Most of the girls engaged in
packing operations also were young, three-fifths being under 20 years.
It is surprising to find these young girls in the more skilled jobs also;
yet 100 (14.2 percent) of the hand sewers and 533 (18.2 percent) of
the sewing-machine operators were under 18, as many as 58 of the
latter being less than 16.
However, a large proportion of the sewing-machine operators (44
percent) were at least 25, as were more than half (58 percent) of the
hand-sewing group, another skilled operation. Naturally, the
majority of those in supervisory positions were in these older groups.
_ Irrespective of the number of hours worked during the week, wages
increased consistently as the ages of the women increased up to 40
years.

Age

Under 16 years __________ _
16, under 18 years.. ______
18, under 20 years

Number
of women Median
with age
of the
and
week’s
earnings earnings
reported
112
663
613

$0. 15
9. 40
12.35

Age

Number
of women Median
with age
of the
and
week’s
earnings earnings
reported
830
1,145
758

$14. 55
14. 75
13. 65

Although, as a whole, women 25 and under 40 years of age had
somewhat the highest median, in some of the industry subdivisions
the median for women not yet 25 was higher than that of the older
women, and in garters the highest median was for the oldest group,
followed closely by the figure for the group 20 and under 25. In
men’s shirts the peak median ($11.75) was that of women of 18 and
119759°—35----- 1




20

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

under 20 years, though that for 25 and under 40 was only 5 cents
less; in three other branches of the industry, namely, children’s ap­
parel, women’s underwear, and neckties, the peaks were reached by
the group 20 and under 25 years of age. However, women who were
employed on the products paying the higher wage scale did not reach
the peak until the 25-and-under-40-year group, the only exception
being those in neckties, whose medians for 20 and under 25 years and
25 and under 40 years were alike.
Minors under 16.—It is customary for the Women’s Bureau to con­
fine its surveys to women at least 16 years of age, and in the first
establishments visited in Connecticut this policy of omitting data on
minors was followed. Later, however, when considerable local inter­
est was evinced in the problems of this youngest group of employees,
records were taken for them wherever available. As a consequence
of this change in method, the number under 16 years in the tables
reporting age probably gives an incomplete picture of the employment
of minors in the plants visited.
Altogether 155 girls reported their ages as under 16 years. More
than nine-tenths of these were in factories making women’s dresses
and underwear, children’s apparel, and men’s shirts and furnishings.
In hat and necktie factories none under 16 years of age were reported.
Approximately one-tliird of these girls were in New Haven establish­
ments, one-fourth were in Bridgeport or Milford, and one-fifth were
in Stamford, the rest being scattered in various other localities.
Records of the State board of education showed that more work
certificates were issued to children 14 and 15 years of age in the New
Haven area than in any other district in the State. In 1931, 354 such
permits were issued for factory work in New Haven, exclusive of
messenger and clerical jobs in manufacturing establishments. In
spite of the increasing number of adults out of work in 1931, the
number of certificates issued was almost as large as in 1930. It was
officially stated that New Haven had the heaviest certification of girls
in the State, due to their employment in the local shirt factories.
Official inspection records emphasized this statement, for almost onefifth of the several hundred employees in some of the leading shirt
factories in New Haven had been found in recent inspections to be
not yet 16 years of age.
MARITAL STATUS

Of the 4,604 women who reported as to marital status, considerably
more than one-half (56.2 percent) were single. Over one-third (34.1
percent) were married, and about one-tenth (9.7 percent) were
widowed, separated, or divorced.
In corsets, where the largest group of the women reporting marital
status were employed, well over one-half were or had been married;
men’s shirts, employing the next largest group of women, had the
smallest proportion so reported, not quite one-fourth.
Consistent with this, 36 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, of
the women in these two branches of the industry were at least 40
years of age.
Of 99 firms reporting, 77 stated that they had no policy in regard
to the employment of married women, 14 said that they employed
and retained them, and 3 that they preferred them, while only 5
preferred single workers.




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTORIES

21

TIME WITH THE FIRM

Due to the fact that more than three-tenths (31.6 percent) of the
firms included in the study had been less than 3 years in the State,
for some women the length of time they had been with the firm was
short.
Practically three-tenths (29.3 percent) of the 4,736 women who
reported the time with the present firm had been there less than a
year. A similar proportion (28.3 percent) had been employed by the
same firm for 1 and less than 3 years, and exactly one-sixth for 3 and
less than 5 years. About one-fourth (25.8 percent) had been with
the firm 5 years or longer. Four percent of the whole group had
worked as long as 20 years for the one employer. Two women, both
in the corset industry, had worked 52 and 55 years, respectively.
The firms making men’s furnishings and neckties and cravats, with
59.9 percent and 46.8 percent, respectively, had the largest propor­
tions of women who had been employed less than a year. On the
other hand, more than one-half of the women making corsets and
hats, and about one-third of those making garters, had been as long
as 5 years with one firm.
NATIVITY AND COUNTRY OF BIRTH

A total of 4,756 women reported their color and nativity. More
than two-thirds of these (68.6 percent) were native born. Almost
one-half (48.7 percent) of the 1,485 foreign-born white were from
Italy. Next in rank were the 13.7 percent from what was formerly
Austria-Hungary; the next, 7.4 percent, were from the British Isles,
by far the largest part from Ireland. The only other group numbering
as many as 100 were from Poland.
NATIVITY OF DRESS-SHOP WORKERS

Since almost half of the more than 600 women in the dress shops
who reported nativity were bom in the old country, the great ma­
jority in Italy, tabulations have been made contrasting the jobs, the
earnings, and the ages of the native American with the foreign-born
women. The foreign born were for the most part carrying the double
burden of home making and wage earning, for almost four-fifths were
married or widowed. In contrast to these were the native American
employees, only about one-fourth of whom were married or widowed.
But this difference is what might be expected when their ages are
taken into consideration; the Americans were a much younger group,
almost half of them not yet 20, whereas over three-fourths of the
foreign women were 25 or more and almost one-fourth were as much
as 40.
Only two foreign-born women were engaged in such unskilled jobs
as cleaners and floor girls in the dress shops. For the most part they
were operating power-sewing machines or were sewing by hand.
Machine operating was the job of women mainly in the prime of
life, 20 and under 40 years old. And above 40 years the proportion
of hand sewers was greater than that of machine operators.
A different situation prevailed among the American hand sewers.
About two-thirds of them were less than 20 years old, while only
one-eighth of the foreign-born hand sewers were so young. On the




22

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OP CONNECTICUT

whole, in both hand and machine jobs, the foreign women were older
than the American women.
Earnings differed decidedly with the two types of job. The median
of the foreign-born machine operators for the week was $17.25, and
this was about $4 higher than the median of the hand sewers. The
much younger native women, whether machine or hand sewers,
averaged less than the foreign women. For machine operating their
median was more than a dollar below that of the foreign born, and in
hand sewing the difference was $3.
HOME. VISITS TO YOUNG WORKERS

Since the proportion of young girls was unusually large, a few of
them (44) were visited in their homes to inquire somewhat into their
industrial adjustments. Matters of special interest to those sponsor­
ing the survey and to educational leaders were facts regarding—
1. The age at which they left school, as well as their present age.
2. How many jobs they had held and the duration of their indus­
trial history.
3. What their earnings had been.
4. What their schooling had been.
5. What vocational opportunities there were.
Upon interviewing these young women their outlook was found to
be very narrow, because of their youth and inexperience. They had
had practically no contact with the outside world—only that in the
small field in which they were employed.
At the time of interview they were from 16 to 21 years old, but
at the time of leaving school, and invariably they had left school to
go to work, 33 of them had been only 14, 4 had been 13, and the
remaining 7 had been 15 to 17.
Only 6 of the 44 had attended high school at all. Twenty-five re­
ported the eighth as the last grade attended, 5 had gone no higher
than the sixth, and 8 no higher than the seventh.
Twenty-six had begun work at least 3 years before, but only 5 as
much as 5 years before. Only 3 had been working less than 2 years.
The depression can hardly be blamed for these young people having
left school for work.
Although this group was made up of such young workers, threefourths of them reported their first job as power-machine operating.
As already noted, most jobs in the sewing trades were paid on a
piece-rate basis. Of the 44 girls reporting method of pay on their
first job, 23 were paid by the piece. Furthermore, more than twofifths of those paid on a timework basis at first were changed shortly
after to a piecework basis, 8 after only 2 weeks and 1 after 4 weeks.
Some of these young women had changed jobs several times during
their short work histories. In some cases the changes were advances
within the firm or in a new firm, while in other cases they were only
new jobs with no advancement. For example:
One girl had worked as cleaner for 8 months at $6 a week, and then
she became a machine operator in the same firm. This job she had
held for 2 years; her maximum earnings were $14.
Another girl had worked at sewing labels in pajamas by machine,
for which she was paid $3 a week to start and never made more than
$4.50. She stayed here only 1 month, when she secured a job in
another factory at sewing top facings on shirts. At this work she




WOMEN EMPLOYED IN FACTOKIES

23

had made as much as $15, but it was not possible to do so at the time
of interview.
A third girl had held three jobs. Her first was sewing on buttons,
at which she worked only 2 weeks and received only $1 a week. She
left that factory to take a job sewing labels, for which she was paid
only $1.30 for her week’s work. She left after this week’s experience
and returned to the first factory, where she secured a job running a
zig-zag machine. When interviewed she had held this job for a year
and a half, usually making from $5 to $6 a week, the highest being $10.
Of the 44 girls, 9 had had one job, 19 two, and 16 three or more.
The three case stories following illustrate the industrial histories of
some of the girls who had had three jobs.
_ Anna, the daughter of an Italian father, was 18 years old at the time of inter­
view. She was in the seventh grade when she left school to go to work at the
age of 14.
Her first job was hand work in a dress factory, for which she was paid $5 a
week on a time rate. After 1 year there her wages were raised to $7. She
worked 1% years for this firm. The next job she secured was also in a clothing
factory, where she stitched by machine. Anna remained there for 1 year, leav­
ing because of an “argument over machine with boss.” Her job at time of inter­
view was sewing on buttons by machine in a shirt factory. She had held this job
for 2 years. During the first year she had been paid a piece rate of 3% cents a
dozen shirts for sewing the buttons on fronts and cuffs, wdiile for the last year
the rate has been cut to 2% cents.
Anna’s attitude toward possibilities for advancement was not an optimistic
one. She said, “If I could learn a new job by watching and break myself in on
it I might do better, but they never teach you a new job, you just keep the same
one.”
In commenting on advances in wages, she said, “I’ve made as high as $13,
but $7, $8, or $9 is usual.”
As to her job preference, Anna said: “My mother needed my help. Times
were bad with us, so I took anything I could get. I didn’t know anyone to advise
me. Now I couldn’t leave, for I couldn’t get a job anywhere else.”
Another girl of Italian parentage, aged 16, had left school at 14 to begin work.
During the next 2 years she held 3 jobs with 3 different firms.
Her first job was that of cleaner in a shirt factory, a job she held for 2 or 3
months and for which her pay was $3.50 a week. After this she secured a job
as a hand sewer finishing dresses, where she worked for 7 months. She left
there because she was given no opportunity to make a complete dress, but was
given only parts on which to work. Her job at time of interview was making
complete dresses by machine. She had been employed here for 15 months on a
piecework basis. When she worked a full week, approximately 9 hours daily
and practically as long on Saturday, she could make $14 to $16 a week. But
these full weeks lasted only about 2 months of the year. At the time of inter­
view she was making much less money, only $3 or $4 a week, working on only
3 days and for shorter hours. The range of earnings per child’s dress as she made
them was from 10 to 27 cents, depending on the style.
There were 9 in her family, normally 3 wage earners and 6 non wage earners.
Of the 3 normal wage earners, her father and a brother aged 14 were unemployed
and she herself had only part-time employment.
Rose, also the daughter of an Italian father, 18 years old at time of interview,
had left school at 14 while in the eighth grade. Her first work, a machine job,
consisted of tacking and button-sewing on men’s underwear. Her first wage was
$4.50, on a piecework basis. She held the job for 5 or 6 months, until the factory
shut down.
Her next job was another power-machine operation, buttonholing in a dress
factory, at $10 a week on a time basis. This job she held for 1 year, when she
was laid off.
The job she held at time of visit was also a machine operation, cuff-turning in
a shirt factory. This job she had held for 1 years. She was paid on a piece­
work basis here, and working an 8-hour day on 5 days and 4 hours on Saturday
she made $8 to $9 a week. She said she often had to wait for work.
Rose was not at all optimistic about work in a shirt factory. She realized that




24

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

the best jobs went to employees who had been there a long time and felt that she
had no chance. She would like to bo a stenographer or secretary and had been
attending night school 2 years. There were 9 in the family, 4 normally employed
and 5 not. None of the four normal wage earners had a full-time job at time of
interview.

All but two of the young women reported their first week’s earnings,
$3, $4, and $5 being the most common. In addition, all but two re­
ported their maximum earnings in their entire work period. In some
cases these represented earnings received only once. The highest
maximum among the 16 who had begun work less than 3 years before
was $17, and the highest among the 26 who had worked for 3 years or
more was $20.
Many of these young women reported cuts in the rate of pay for
the piecework on which they were engaged. One 16-year-old girl
reported receiving 5 cents a dozen at first for stitching and trimming
bands on collars. This rate was cut to 4% cents, then to 3% cents,
and later to 2}{ cents, or a cut of more than 50 percent in rate. The
girl said: “After 6 or 8 months at piecework, I could make $12 to $14
a week, but that was at 4% or 5 cents a dozen. I couldn’t do it now,
the way rates are.”
This girl’s older sister reported a cut in rate from 3K cents to 2/
cents a dozen for top-stitching of collars. She had made as much as
$16 but was not doing so at time of interview.
A girl of 18 who had worked 4 years in one factory reported that 2
weeks before the interview the rate of pay for stitching shirt collars
had been reduced from 2 cents to 1 cent a dozen.
The rate of pay for sewing on buttons by machine was low. One
woman reported a rate of 2/ cents for sewing buttons on a dozen shirt
fronts, and 1 cent for 1 dozen shirt cuffs. On this piecework basis
she made $7 to $8 a week if working full time.
One indication why these girls went to work so young is the size of
the families of which they were members. Of the 38 families repre­
sented by the group of 44 girls, 20 were composed of 8 or more per­
sons, 13 of 5 to 7, and only 5 of 4 or fewer. In these 38 families there
were 285 persons, or an average of 7.5 per family. More than one-half
of the 285 were not wage earners. Of the 137 who in normal times
were wage earners, almost one-third were the 44 young women under
discussion. More than one-fifth of the 137 normal wage earners were
unemployed at time of interview, and of the 107 who had jobs almost
three-fourths were employed only part time.
The following case story gives the work history of a member of a
large family:
Mary, the daughter of an Italian-born father, was 16 years old. She had left
school at 14, having completed the seventh grade, and had gone to work, her first
job being as cleaner in a shirt factory. This was piecework, and her wage for a
full week’s work was $5.
After 5 months there, work became slack, so she got a job as a machine operator
in another factory, setting bands on shirts. She had been there nearly 2 years at
time of interview. This was piecework, and the rate paid was 4)4 cents per dozen,
later reduced 10 percent. Mary could do 50 to 60 dozen bands a day, for which,
since the cut, she was paid $2 to $2.45 a day, working 9 hours. Work was so
slack at time of visit that she had only 2 or 3 days’ work a week.
When asked as to her job preference she said, “Band setting is a better job;
it pays better than cleaning and is more interesting.”
Mary is one of a family of 13, 4 of whom are normally employed, and 9 non
wage earners, all but 1 of the latter under 16 years of age. None of the four
normal wage earners was regularly employed at time of interview.




Part III.—INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

In this special study of home work information of four types was
secured, as follows:
1. Visits were made to the homes of 144 women who were engaged
in this work or had done it during the previous year, to secure first­
hand data regarding the conditions under which home work was
carried on. The work done by these women was representative of
all types of home work given out by firms included in the pay-roll
study. Women were visited in New Haven and adjacent towns, in
Bridgeport, and in Milford, more in proportion in the first named
than in the others.
2. From firm records were secured 1 week’s earnings for 315 women.
3. Also from firm records were copied the earnings of 68 women
for as many weeks during the previous year as they had been sup­
plied with work, constituting year’s earnings as far as these nine
establishments were concerned.
4. Four firms made available their 1931 or 1930-31 records of
factory labor cost and of home-work labor cost, showing the relation
between these.
As mentioned before, of the 106 firms included in the study, 57
were contract and 49 were regular factories. Of the 57 contract
firms, 11 reported that they had given out home work during the
previous year. Seven of these firms had made women’s dresses; 2,
children’s apparel; 1, garters; and 1, men’s furnishings.
Of the 49 regular factories, 17 had given out home work. Four of
these firms made neckties and cravats and 4 made children’s apparel;
3 made garters; 2 made women’s underwear; 2 women’s dresses;
1 made tailored garments, and 1 men’s shirts.
DATA SECURED IN HOME INTERVIEWS

Of the 144 home workers who were visited, 37 worked on garters
and related products. Work on neckties was reported by 32 women,
and work on embroidering women’s or children’s dresses by 28.
Seventeen made ribbon ornaments, and the remaining 30 did various
kinds of work, including beading, stitcliing, and finishing dresses,
tailoring, cutting lace medallions, corset work, and other jobs.
The women who reported work on garters had help on this home work
from 100 other members of their families, most of these children. In
only 8 of the cases was no help given by other members of the family,
and in a couple of these help was received from persons other than
members of the family. The work on garters required no skill. It
consisted chiefly of stringing the buckles, clasps, and so forth on the
various parts of the garter, and sewing the fasteners in place by
machine. In some cases stringing and sewing were done by one
person. Some of the workers did nothing but clip threads, while
others only bunched the finished product.




25

26

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OE CONNECTICUT

Rates and earnings

The rates of pay for home work on garters varied with the size and
type of garter. The following are statements of the pay received
for such work and estimates by the women of the amounts earned
per hour.
Work stringing and sewing men’s garters was reported by one
woman as paying $1.10 for a double gross-—in other words, 144 pairs.
Six hours were required to do this many, average earnings being
about 18 cents an hour.
Another woman who had no help from anyone worked on women’s
adjustable garters, doing everything from stringing to putting in
boxes. For this she was paid $2.25 for 5 double gross, and it took
her 2 days of 6 hours each to do 1 double gross, or 3% cents an hour.
She also worked on arm bands, for which she received $1.50 for 5
double gross. She could finish 1 double gross in a day of 6% hours,
with average hourly earnings of 4% cents.
Work on round garters, consisting of putting on metal tips, pound­
ing them in, putting on hook and eye and slide, fastening together,
and putting on card, was reported by another woman; for this the
pay was $2.50 for 5 double gross. To finish this number required
3 days of 9% hours each, making her hourly pay about 8% cents.
Sewing buttons and clasps on women’s hose supporters paid one
woman only 40 cents a double gross. She reported spending 4%
hours on 1 double gross, with average hourly earnings of 8/io cents.
In a family of 9, the husband, daughter of 16, three younger boys,
and the woman’s mother all helped in stringing children’s supporters,
for which the pay was 40 cents a double gross. It took 5 % hours
for the woman and her 6 helpers to do 5 double gross, or 36% cents
an hour for the group.
In a family of 7, mother and 3 daughters worked at stringing wom­
en’s supporters. They received 5 cents for a double gross, and it
took half an hour for one person to do this many, with average hourly
earnings of 10 cents.
These cases of home work on garters show the great variation, as
might be expected, in the average hourly earnings for the different
operations engaged in.
On account of the skill required, work on neckties was done almost
exclusively by the women. Only 5 adults and 2 children (members
of the family) were reported as assisting in this work. Jobs in which
they helped were not the stitching, but pinning, cutting, padding,
putting in lining, and pressing the ties. In other cases husbands
and children were reported as doing the housework while mothers
worked on neckties.
In one case, performing all the operations, from pinning and sewing
to attaching the label and pressing, was paid for at the rate of $1.08
a dozen. It took one woman 2 hours to complete 1 dozen. These
average hourly earnings of 54 cents were very high as compared with
those on other products. A rate of 45 cents a dozen was reported
by one woman for the making operations only, and in this case the
woman took 2 / hours to complete one dozen. For this work the
average hourly earnings were only one-third of those just mentioned,
or 18 cents. Skilled workmanship, possibly a finer article, and higher
wage standards on the part of the employer no doubt were responsible
for the earnings of the first woman.




INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

27

Because of the skill required, only 2 of the 28 women embroidering
dresses (both women’s and children’s) had any help from other
members of the family, one assistant being an adult, the other a child.
One woman was paid 35 cents a dozen for embroidering children’s
dresses. This consisted of blanket stitching and embroidering a
design on the collar and cuffs. It took her 2 hours to complete the
work on 3 dresses, that is, 3 collars and 6 cuffs, at about 4% cents
an hour.
Another woman worked on two kinds of embroidery. She smocked
the fronts of children’s wash dresses, for which she received 75 cents
a dozen. It took her half an hour to finish 1 dress, making her average
hourly earnings for this work about 12% cents. Her other work
consisted of embroidering wool jersey dresses on front, back, neck,
and sleeves. For this she received 35 cents a dozen, and as it took
her half an hour to a dress her average hourly earnings were 5% cents.
This woman’s story illustrates the inequalities in piece rates for home
work. She could do 2 dresses an hour in each case, but the pay for
one kind was 35 cents a dozen and for the other it was 75 cents—even
the higher amount being much too little.
From the variety of rates in the 12 cases just cited, the impossi­
bility of tabulating rates is apparent. Average hourly earnings,
as computed from statements by the women, are shown in table 10.
Of the 101 women reporting rates, output, and hours worked for
their own work alone, 26 were necktie workers, 23 were dress embroid­
erers, and 23 made garters. No other industry had anything like so
many, ribbon ornaments ranking next with only 8 women reporting.
These 101 women reported figures for 173 home-work jobs.
Almost one-fourth of the cases reported by women who had worked
alone—40 of the 173—were work that yielded average hourly earnings
of 5 and less than 10 cents; in 17 cases the work was embroidering
dresses and in 10 it was making garters. In practically the same
number of cases (41) earnings averaged 10 and less than 15 cents,
dresses and garters again having the largest numbers.
In one-fifth of all the cases the work had yielded at least 25 cents
an hour, the maximum—1 case only—60 and under 70 cents. All
but 3 of these 34 cases were in necktie work.
Eleven of the 19 cases of individual earnings of less than 5 cents an
hour were embroidering dresses, 5 were ribbon ornaments, and 3 were
garter work.
Nineteen of the 32 women reporting information as to work done
by groups were garter workers. No other work approached garters
as a group industry, neckties following with only 4 cases and ribbon
ornaments with 3. Half the group earnings (36 cases reported) were
above and half were below 25 cents an hour, the maximum being 70
cents or more for stitching dresses and the second highest 50 and under
60 cents for work on garters.
Of all the 139 cases of earnings, individual and group, that averaged
less than 20 cents an hour, 38 were in the garter industry and 45 in
the embroidering of dresses. Of the 44 cases of earnings that averaged
30 cents or more, 34 were in the necktie industry and 5 (group work
only) were in garters.




Table 10.—Average hourly earnings of home workers, according to whether individual or group earnings and hy branch of

to
00

industry—home-interview data

Average hourly
earnings (cents)

Total1 3 4
2
Less than 5
5, less than 10.. .
10, less than 15___
15, less than 20_
_
20, less than 25_
_
25, less than 30_
_
30, less than 35_
_
35, less than 40_
_
40, less than 45_
_
45, less than 50_
_
50, less than 60_
_
60, less than 70_
_
70and more...
Not reporting-------Total number
of
women. __

Garters and re­
lated products

Cor­
sets

Neckties

More
More
More
1
than 1
1
1
1
than 1
than 1
woman per­ woman person woman woman
person
son i

101

32

23

19
40
41
24
15
3
11
5
2
3
9
1

1
3
4
7
3
5
5
3
2

3
10
8
6
5

19

4
3
4
2

1
3
7
3
2
1
1
2

1

1

2

26

Em­
broid­
ering

1
3
2

23
311
17
14
3
3

4

1

2

1

1

Ribbon
ornaments

Cutting lace
medallions

Other

Finishing

5

More
More
1
1
1
1
than 1
than 1
woman woman person woman person woman

4

1

8

3

2

3
6

1

1
3
5
2
1

3
1

45
4
3

2
1

1
3
2

2

2

1
1
1
1

1

1

2
■

18

1

5 144

37

2
4

5

32

28

1
4

1 Includes 2 women who beaded bags.
2 Details aggregate more than total, since 1 woman may report several rates.
3 4 at less than 3 cents, 3 of them at less than 2.
4 3 at less than 3 cents.
6 Total number of interviewed persons. 7 women reported both individual and group earnings.




Stitch­
ing

Beading 1

More More
More
1
1
1
than 1 than 1
than 1
woman woman person person woman person

4

2
3
2
11
3
2
3
9
1

Tailor­
ing

Children’s and women’s dresses

3

3

9

6
4

17

4

2

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

All industries

INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

29

Case stories

The following case stories from the schedules give clear pictures of
home and industrial conditions as they existed at the time the study
was made.
No. 1.—Times are bad in the R. family. There are seven to feed and the rent
to pay, not to mention an unpaid doctor’s bill of $300. Though S of them nor­
mally are wage earners, 1 of the sons is practically the sole support of the family,
for the 2 girls have work only irregularly and the father and other son are without
jobs. The 17-year old daughter who acted as spokesman for the family was
thoroughly discouraged and saw nothing to look forward to.
They are all trying to eke out the son’s wages and make enough for bread and
macaroni by doing home work, stringing garters, a simple operation that consists
of slipping the metal parts of the garter onto stiff elastic that is in the proper
lengths when received. The buckles and tapes are delivered two or three times a
week—and daily, when the factory is busiest—in cartons holding 30 gross. Pic­
ture this family”—-father, mother, tvro daughters in their teens, and a son of 12—
seated round the kitchen table and for hours at a stretch, day after day, week
after week, threading the elastic through the metal attachments. The rate of
pay is 6 cents a gross, cut recently from 8 cents, and they reckon that it takes
one person an hour to finish a gross. To earn these 6 pennies 144 pairs must be
strung, which means handling 288 garters—that is, 12)^ seconds to a garter. _
A complete record of this family’s earnings kept by the contractor delivering
the material showed that he had sent them some work every week of the previous
year and the combined earnings of the five garter stringers had averaged about
$13 a -week. For 22 weeks they had earned less than $10 (sometimes as little
as $3 and $4), for 10 weeks their combined efforts had brought $10 and under
$15, for another 10 weeks earnings had been as much as $15 and under $20, and
for the remaining 10 they had been $20 and over. Almost 100,000 garters have
been assembled to make as much as $20, not to mention the 66 hours per worker
required for such an accomplishment at the rate estimated by the family.
No. 2.—A younger family of nine members in which the husband, the onlywage earner, is now out of work, also is stringing garters to keep the wolf from the
door. Garter stringing is the order of the day from 3:30 in the afternoon, w-hen
the four school children come home, until 8 or 9 in the evening, or until the carton
is finished. All the family except the three babies are supposed to devote them­
selves diligently to the job, but the mother complained because the boys get
sleepy and sometimes refuse to work.
No. 8.—A few years ago, before Mrs. D. came to this country, she was a
waitress in Italy, but now she spends her days in caring for her four young
children and a despondent husband—despondent, like so many others, because
working one or two days a week will never support a family and pay off the mort­
gage on their nice little home. Each year, when the busy season for neckties
comes around, Mrs. D. assumes some of the wage-earning responsibilities. She
sends her washing to the laundry; her husband does the sweeping and scrubbing;
and for a few weeks her main job is running her needle in and out of the pretty silk
cravats that are sent her from the factory nearby. She does all the pinning and
folding at night so as to have daylight for the closer work of sewing, for it takes
an hour and a quarter to sew a dozen ties. While the work lasts she makes
good money, she says, for usually she is paid 71 cents a dozen, and the factory
truck leaves bundles of work at her door often three times a week. In the height
of the season she has done as many as 30 dozen ties a week ($21.30). Nothing
interferes with her sewing schedule.
_
Her complaint is that the season is too short; a few weeks in the spring and
another short period in the fall is all she can count on. She enjoys the work,
which she learned to do as a girl in the old country. She explained that while
some of the women had to work 2 weeks at the factory before they were allowed to
have work at home, her training in the factory lasted only 1 day.
No. 4.—Around the corner from the D. home is another home worker, a Lithu­
anian widow, who for 10 years struggled to support her family by doing washing
and ironing. She is older and less active now, yet feels she must still do her bit,
so she too slipstitches neckties. She is very much slower than Mrs. D., and does
not enjoy the work. Holding up her large, strong hands, she says in her broken
English," My hands not made for sewing.” She is fortunate in having three




30

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

daughters who help her in the evening so that she won’t be discouraged when she
sees the weekly check that occasionally amounts to $12, $13, or $14.
No. 5.—A group of three ambitious, clever sisters drifted into dress factories
when they arrived in New York and one of the three became a forelady within 7
years. Now instead of making dresses in the shops they have electric sewing
machines in their home, where they combine household duties and wage-earning
responsibilities.
Two or 3 years ago, when business was good, they had all the work they could
do for 7 or 8 months of the year, but the season last spring was only 6 weeks long
and in the fall it was even shorter. Not only are they feeling the depression, but
they deplore the fact that dress patterns are becoming increasingly complicated,
requiring much more time to make, yet rates have not been raised correspond­
ingly. “They are cheaper than ever but there is more work on them than ever
before” is their comment. “Dresses are too cheap now, but we pay for them
just the same.”
.
They have organized their work so that when the manufacturer sends them the
bundles of dresses already cut, they divide the operations so that each sister may
do the kind of work in which she is most expert. They do only machine stitching,
none of the hand finishing or pressing. All working together they plan to sew
three dozen wool dresses in a day of 12 or 14 hours. In one of the busiest weeks
in September they made 266 dresses. These garments were not simple: One 3piece jersey dress consisted of a skirt on a yoke and having eight pleats, a separate
sleeveless silk blouse having bound armholes and the neck nicely finished with
jabot-like tabs, and a jacket with patch pockets, with cuffs, and with neck and
fronts finished with an irregularly shaped facing stitched back on the outside of
the garment. Besides this, there were two faced buttonholes on each jacket.
They were paid 30 cents apiece to stitch such a dress; simpler styles were 25 cents
each. The cost of this garment, covering the labor of sewing at 30 cents, and
cost of materials, cutting, and usual overhead expenses, was $3.75. In the early
fall it retailed at from $11 to $12, later at $6.75 in some shops. Naturally, they
felt that their earnings were far too low.

Such women serve as a great convenience to the manufacturer. He
is at no expense for rent nor for power to operate the machines; fur­
thermore, when the rush season comes on he is spared the anxiety
and confusion that come with hiring extra help. When the factory
gets “in a pinch” he can send large consignments into homes, for the
families will work very, very long hours to finish the bundle quickly
and on time.
No. 6.—It is hard enough to work for almost nothing, but it is harder not to
be able to collect one’s wages when they are due. Such is the fate of T. She
was a skilled embroiderer in Italy and considered herself fortunate when she came
to America to find an opportunity to do the same kind of work for a woman who
runs a distributing center for home workers, giving out the work she takes on con­
tract chiefly from manufacturers of women’s and children’s dresses. T.’s first
job was monograming a luncheon set, and it was years before she was paid for it.
Meantime she has done other embroidery for the same contractor, but it is one
continuous struggle to collect her pay from the manager. “ I don’t know how
much time I’ve spent going for my money; have always had trouble to get my
pay. I go back each day and Mrs. X. says her check hasn’t come yet; when it
does she will pay. Lots of excuses; ‘Come back tomorrow.’ But next day the
same thing; always no money. She owes a lot of people.” In reply to the
inquiry why she continues to work for this woman, T. explains that embroidery is
all she knows how to do and “ Mrs. X. has lovely material and the nicest work
in town—I like her work”, she says.

From a reliable source it is learned that there are about 100 petty
wage claims against this contractor and T. is only one of many needy
women clamoring for their pay.
No. 7.—Another young woman, the mother of two children, embroiders dresses
for the contractor just described. She has worked for this woman off and on for
the past 5 or 6 years. To quote her: “Its always been hard to get your money.
She has good work, and if she paid it would be good.”




INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

31

At the time of interview the distributor of the home work owed this woman
$9.50, $7.50 of it for work during the past year. It has cost more than the amount
due m efforts to collect, and when she goes to the contractor's place of business
they laugh at her. In trying to collect this account she has appealed to the city
attorney. This woman is the victim of another unscrupulous subcontractor, for
whom she did work in the summer previous to interview. There is $6 due her for
that work. The last time she called at the place where he had been living, she was
told he had left towta.
A'o. 8. An older woman, whose husband has no regular employment, embroiders
dresses at home. She has worked for the same contractor for 8 or 9 years. For
some of her embroidery—collars, sleeves, and pockets on children’s dresses—she
reports a rate of only 15 cents a dozen dresses.
She has always had trouble getting her money from this contractor, even though
the rates were so low. She shows slips due for work during the previous year for
$30.45 and for the summer before that she has slips amounting to $11.16, a total
of $41.61. It was nothing new to have difficulty getting pay from this subcon­
tractor; it had always been so.

Reasons for choice

While home work has long been considered something that should be
abolished, persons by whom this is not recognized point to the need
of this means of livelihood. The woman with small children or with an
invalid to be cared for can remain in her home and augment the family
income by doing home work. Other cases are those of women who feel
that they are too old to seek employment in a factory but can eke out
a slender income by work at home. The freedom as to hours of labor
is another argument set forth.
In confirmation of the statement that home work is done by women
who need to be at home for one reason or another, 90 of the 126 women
reporting as to why they preferred work of this kind gave home duties
as the reason. Eleven women preferred home work to work in a fac­
tory, and 10 did it because they could get nothing else to do. Ill­
ness or old age was given as the reason by 9 women. Of the remaining
6 who reported, 4 did home work in addition to a regular job and 2
while attending school.
Condition of homes

From the point of view of the consumer particularly, one of the
greatest objections to the carrying on of industrial work in private
homes is the insanitary condition of many homes. To discover how
important a sanitary inspection of home-work shops might be in
Connecticut, observations were made summarizing in a general way
the type of house, condition of repair and cleanliness, room used for
work, and artificial light found in these homes.
While 36 percent of the families were living in single dwellings and
30 percent lived in duplexes, the remaining 34 percent lived in tene­
ments, that is, dwellings for 3 or more families. Nearly all the homes
where the women lived were clean and in good repair.
Over one-half of the women did the work in their kitchens, compara­
tively few working in dining or living rooms. For some it was cus­
tomary to work wherever it was most convenient, in kitchen, bedroom,
or living room.
Since much of the work done required constant use of the eyes,
provisions for.artificial lighting were noted. Most of the women used
electric light in one form or another. Fourteen women rarely used
artificial light and 5 never used it.




32

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

Inquiries of the women regarding illnesses in their families in the
year previous to the visit disclosed no case of contagious disease.
‘ The trouble caused by having to call for and return home-work
material depended somewhat on the type of product and the quantity
received at one time. For about 7 in 10 of the women the work they
did at home had to be called for and returned to the firm by the women
themselves or by a messenger provided by them. For only 43 women
was the work delivered and collected by the firm.
Number in family and number of wage earners

To determine the economic status of the families visited, facts were
secured regarding the number in the family, the number of wage earners
normally employed, the number employed at time of survey, full or
part time, and the number unemployed. Women who were engaged in
industrial home work only have not been regarded as wage earners,
since for the majority of these women it is a makeshift proposition.
In the classification of wage earners and non wage earners in the family
groups, therefore, these women have been grouped with non wage
earners. An exception to this should be noted: Four home workers who
had other employment have been classed also as wage earners.
Most of the families of these home workers were not small. Though
exactly one-third (48) were composed of 3 persons or fewer, another
third had 4 or 5 members, and the remaining third ranged in size from
6 to 12. Five families reported 10 or more members. The 144 families
comprised 699 persons, an average of 4.85.
In 39 of the smallest families (3 or fewer) there was normally 1 wage
earner; at the time of interview, in only one-third of the families was
this person steadily employed. In 5 of these small families there were
usually 2 wage earners employed, but at the time of interview there
were 2 of these in which there was no wage earner regularly employed.
In the 48 families composed of 4 or 5 persons, 29 had normally 1
wage earner. In 22 of these 29 there was either no wage earner or
none regularly employed at time of interview.
Of the larger families (6 or more persons) 13 reported 1 wage
earner normally employed and 13 reported 2. In each group, only
4 families reported a wage earner regularly employed at time of inter­
view.
In 13 of the 48 larger families (6 or more persons) there was only 1
wage earner. In only 4 of the 13 was there 1 person regularly em­
ployed at time of visit. In the 22 families of 6 or more persons where
normally 3 or more wage earners were employed there were a number
of instances of no person having steady employment.
Looked at from another angle, disregarding the number of persons
in the families, the unemployment situation of those normally em­
ployed appears again. In almost three-fifths (57.9 percent) of the
140 families in which there were normally 1 or more wage earners
other than the home workers, there was no one regularly employed
at a full-time job at the time of interview. In only about one-third
(32.9 percent) of these families was there 1 wage earner regularly
employed. In the remaining 13 families there were 2 or more wage
earners regularly employed.
The summary following shows for 140 families the- employment
status at time of visit as compared with the normal status.




33

INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

Number
of
families

Usual wage earners per family

Total families ________

.

Usual
number
of
wage
earners

Wage earners who at time of survey
were—
Out of
work

Irregularly
employed

Regularly
employed

___

140

241

72

93

76

1 wage earner.................................. ....................
2 wage earners
3 wage earners... ______________________
4 wage earners-.- ______________ - ___
5 wage earners

81
29
22
4
4

81
58
66
16
20

19
17
19
5
12

38
18
27
4
6

24
23
20
7
2

INFORMATION FROM FACTORY PAY ROLLS

One week’s earnings of 295 home workers

From 13 factory pay rolls the amounts paid during one week to
315 home workers were secured. As 20 of the pay-roll entries were
known to represent more than one worker, these are excluded from
the table and discussed separately. From information secured in
home visits, to be sure, it seems likely that only in the case of necktie
workers do the amounts actually represent the work of individual
women, as assistance by family groups was common; but in the 20
cases treated separately it was a matter of pay-roll record.
More than one-half (53.9 percent) of the 295 women had worked on
garters, practically one-third (32.9 percent) on neckties and cravats,
and the remainder on tailored garments, women’s dresses, children’s
apparel, and men’s shirts.
Table 11.—One week’s earnings of 296 home workers, by branch of industry—

■pay-roll data
Women with earnings reported
Week’s earnings
Total

Neckties
and
cravats

Garters

Other
products 1

295
$5.90

159
$4. 55

97
$8.95

39
$7.30

31
59
60
42
37
17
18
6
7
2
13
2
1

17
47
43
22
19
2
4
2
2

9
6
12
13
14
10
12
4
2
1
11
2
1

5
6
5
7
4
5
2

1

3
1
1

1 Tailored garments, 8 women; children’s apparel, 12; women’s dresses, 18; men’s shirts, 1.

For the group as a whole the earnings received during the week
varied from less than $1 to $31, the maximum amount reported being
$31.47. One-half of these women (50.8 percent) had received less
than $6, as indicated by the fact that the median of the earnings was
$5.90.




34

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

Only 1 of the 159 women making garters or other elastic accessories
received more than $20 (some amount between $23 and $24), while
just over two-thirds (67.3 percent) had earned less than $6. The
median of the earnings for this group of women was $4.55.
Of the 97 women working on neckties, 3 earned $25 or more and
fewer than three-tenths (27. 8 percent) earned less than $6. The
median for this group of women was $8.95, considerably higher than
the medians already quoted.
The 20 amounts not shown in the table because representing
payments to more than 1 worker were reported by garter firms in
17 cases and by necktie and cravat firms in 3. The first mentioned
ranged from 95 cents to $35.19; 2 were below $2 and 4 were above
$13. The 3 amounts paid to more than 1 worker in the necktie and
cravat industry were all between $36 and $41.
Year’s earnings, nine establishments

Home-work earnings paid to 68 women for as many weeks as they
had worked for the firm during the previous year were made avail­
able by nine establishments. It must be remembered that these
women may have been doing work for other firms as well during this
time.
It was not possible to learn the time expended in the actual doing
of this work, so the facts regarding earnings and number of weeks
on the pay rolls are given simply as an indication of the employment
with specific firms.
Of the 68 women for whom records were obtained, 33 had been
paid less than $100; 13 had been paid $100 and less than $200; 16,
$200 and less than $400; and only 6 had earned $400 or more, none
so much as $700.
Of the 33 women who had earned less than $100, 24 had been
on the pay roll in 13 weeks or less, 8 in 14 to 39 weeks, and only 1
in 40 weeks or more. Eight of the 13 who earned $100 and less
than $200 had been on the pay roll in 40 or more weeks, as had all
but 2 of the 16 who earned $200 and under $400 and 4 of the 6 who
earned $400 or more.
Table 12.— Year’s earnings of 68 home workers, by number of weeks in which

work was done—pay-roll data
Women whose year’s earnings as reported by firms were—
Weeks in which work was done

Total------- ---------

Over 39^ including 52

-------

Number
of
women

Less
than
$50

68

26

25
9
7
27

24
1
1

$50,
less
than
$100

$200,
less
than
$400

$100,
less
than
$200

$400,
less
than
$600

,

7

13

16

4

5
1
1

1
1
3
8

1
1
14

3

1

$600
and
over
2

1
1

All but 2 of the 26 cases of earnings below $50 represent work
in not more than 13 weeks. Sixteen were for work on garters for
1 to 5 weeks; 7 were for work on women’s dresses for 1 to 6 weeks.




INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

35

Five of the 7 cases of earnings of $50 to $99, all in boys’ cotton
suits or women’s dresses, were for work in 17 to 25 weeks; 1 was for
work on boys’ suits in 29 weeks and 1 on women’s dresses in 45
weeks.
. Eight of the 13 cases of earnings of $100 to $199 were for work
in 40 or more weeks, but 2 women in the necktie industry made
such earnings in 13 and 22 weeks, respectively. Six of the cases in
this earnings group worked on women's dresses.
All but 2 of the 16 cases of earnings of $200 to $399 represent
work in 45 to 50 weeks, but a necktie worker made about $238 in
24 weeks and a corset worker made $202 in 35 weeks. Ten of the
16 cases were in women’s dresses.
The higher wage levels in certain industries are indicated by the
figures for earnings of at least $400 in the year, as reported "for 6
women as follows: One woman made $548 in 50 weeks and another
$455 in 51 weeks on garters; 1 made $587 in 44 weeks on women’s
dresses; 1 made $615 in 44 weeks on neckties; and in the hat indus­
try 1 made. $575 in 24 weeks and another $678 in 33 weeks.
By dividing total earnings by number of weeks worked, average
earnings per week were ascertained. Of the 36 women whose average
was less than $5, 15 had been on the pay roll 13 weeks or less, but 11
had worked in more than 39 weeks. Thirteen of the 26 who had
averaged $5 and less than $10 had been on the pay roll in at least
40 weeks, as had 3 of the 6 women who had averaged $10 or more.
The highest average was $24, for a woman in the time group 14 to
26 weeks.
Labor costs of home work and of factory work

Figures giving total home-work labor cost and total factory labor
cost over a considerable period were supplied by 4 firms, 3 giving
figures by the week and 1 by the month. Thus it is possible to
compare the relative cost of these two types of labor, outside and
inside work. In each case, indexes based on the average for the
period covered have been computed.
Children's apparel.—A firm making children’s apparel supplied fig­
ures for the two types of labor cost for the year beginning with Sep­
tember 1930. For factory labor costs, the index was below the year’s
average in 4 months and above it in 8 months. In September the
index of the factory pay roll was 105, and for the next 3 months it was
below average. . The next period in which earnings were above the
average began in January and continued throughout May. The
maximum for the year, 125, occurred in April, and the minimum for
the year, 63, in June. For July and August, the last 2 months of the
reported year, the index was equal to or above the average.
The trend of home-work labor costs was very different from that
of factory labor costs. In 7 of the 12 months the index was below the
average, and in 5 months it was above. The index for October was
zero, no home work being reported. From this month on there was
a constant rise for 7 months to the maximum, 248, in May. This
high maximum was explained by the manager as caused by the
demand for much embroidery on summer clothes. During June and
July the index was much lower than this, but it remained well above
the average and in August it was high again, rising to 216.




36

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT
Index i of pay
rolls of 1 children’s
apparel firm for—

Month

Index1 of pay
rolls of 1 children’s
apparel firm for—

Month

Factory Home
workers workers

Month

Factory Home
workers workers

Factory Home
workers workers

1930

1931
105
95
67
91

December..........

25
0
38
46

1931
115
102
102
125

April

59
91
94
120

Index1 of pay
rolls of 1 children’s
apparel firm for—

August

117
63
116
100

248
116
147
216

1 Average for the 12 months equals 100 percent.

Children's apparel

Factory

< Home TJ03 k

Sept.

Oct.
Nov.
1930

Dec.

Jan.

Feb.

Mar.

Apr.
May
1951

June

July

Aug.

Children’s underwear.—A firm, making children’s underwear pro­
vided records for 50 weeks, September 20, 1930, to August 29, 1931.
For 4 of these weeks no home work was reported. In both pay rolls
the indexes were below the average in 30 weeks.

Pay-roll date

Index 1 of pay rolls
of 1 children’s
underwear firm
for—
Factory
workers
53
39
70
88
91

44
22
28
53
69
74
93
103

Oct. 11 _____________ ______
Oct. 18
_______
_____
Oct. 25____ ____ ___________
Nov. 11

Factory
workers

Home
workers

1930
Sept. 27

Pay-roll date

no

112
103

1930
Nov. 18
Nov. 25______ _____ ________
Dec. 9. -------- ----------------Dec. 16..._________________
Dec. 30............................ .............

1 See also p. 37. Average for the 50 weeks equals 100 percent.




Index 1 of pay rolls
of 1 children’s
underwear firm
for—

117
109
64
67
79
84
26

Home
workers
92
68
44
34
43
17
0

37

INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

Pay-roll date

Index 1 of pay
rolls of 1 chil­
dren’s under­
wear firm for—

Pay-roll date

28
0
62
0
21
96
51
97
87
Feb. 3
11S
Feb. 7
163
250
233
187
316
Feb. 21
180
Feb. 28 ..
184
230
292
Mar. 7
174
230
187
232
Mar. 21
175
1 See also p. 36. Average for the




Pay-roll date

1931

186
153
154
Apr. 11.............
154
142
127
119
99
May 23
82
82
91
June 13
94
50 weeks equals 100 percent.

1931
296
228
195
225
225
144
188
125
72
42
81
84

Index > of pay
rolls of 1 chil­
dren’s under­
wear firm for—
Factory Home
workers workers

Factory Home
workers workers

Factory Home
workers workers
1931

Index » of pay
rolls of 1 chil­
dren’s under­
wear firm for—

July 18

83
81
79
44
30
41
36
42
55
79
86

68
66
53
22
7
21
13
0
7
69
44

38

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

For the first 5 pay-roll weeks, beginning with that of September
20, the index for the home-work pay roll ranged from 22 to 69 and that
of the factory pay roll ranged from 39 to 91. In the 5 weeks following,
both pay rolls advanced, but the home-work pay roll ranged from 68
to 103, while that of factory workers was from 103 to 117.
. In the next 10 weeks—in 3 of which no home work was done, and
in 2 of which factory work was at its lowest—the range was wide for
both pay rolls. In each case the index declined and came up again
within the 10 weeks.
Beginning with the pay-roll period dated February 7, both inside
and outside work had a tremendous increase. For 15 weeks the index
of the home-work pay roll was from 1 % times to more than 3 times the
average for the year; in fact, the index was over 200 in 11 of the 15
weeks. The high point, 316, was reached in the pay-roll week of
February 21. This spring activity covered the peak months for rayon
and cotton goods. The range in the index of the factory pay roll in
the 15 weeks was very much less. The maximum was 187. Fourteen
of these weekshad larger pay rolls then any other in the year.
After the middle of May both inside and outside work, especially
the latter, declined sharply. In the 15 weeks the home-work pay­
roll index ranged from zero in 1 week and only 7 in 2 weeks to 84. It
was below 50 for half the time. The range in the factory pay-roll
index was from 30 to 94. Its low point was in the middle of July,
after which it had an almost unbroken rise. Home work was very
irregular in contrast. In general direction of the curves, this chart
shows greater similarity in the two pay rolls than do the others.
Neckties.—From the figures of a firm making neckties it was possible
to compare the labor costs for the same operation, slipstitching, as
done in the factory and done as home work. Information was
available for a period of 31 pay-roll weeks, those of March 7 to October
3, 1931. In February a strike had begun that lasted for months.
No doubt this had an effect on the earnings of factory workers; for,
though the plant was closed only 1 day because of the strike, there
was a large turn-over among the employees. The index of the factory
labor cost was below the average in 18 of the 31 weeks; that for outside
work was below the average in 19 weeks.
For the first 5 weeks of the 31 the home-work index ranged from
171 to 233, while that for factory workers ranged only from 83 to
100. This was due to the fact that the strike was on and much work
was given out to be done at home. During these 5 weeks the home­
work pay roll was from 24 percent to 29 percent of the total labor cost.
For the next 6 weeks, ending with May 30, the index of the factory
pay roll never reached 100; the lowest point was 70 and the highest
was 99. Home work in these weeks declined steadily, from 57 to
21. The home-work pay roll dropped from 12 percent to 4 percent
of the total. The effects of the strike were being felt less, and the
spring rush was over.
. Beginning with the pay-roll week of August 10, for 7 weeks the
index both for factory work and for home work was above 100, in
most cases well above. For factory work the maximum in this
period was 146, for the pay-roll week of September 5; for home work
it was 181, for the week of September 19. These higher figures are
indicative of preparation for fall trade. The home-work pay roll
increased from 13 percent to 20 percent of the total.




39

INDUSTRIAL HOME WORK

Index 1 of pay rolls
for slipstitching,
1 necktie firm,
for—

Pay-roll date

Factory
workers

171
229
233
227
185
98
87
57
49
38
36
22
21
65
41
67

Pay-roll date

Home
workers

93
96
100
97
83
91
89
76
81
99
70
79
82
107
114
115

1931
Mar. 7___________
Mar. 13_______
Mar. 21___________
Mar. 28___________
Apr. 3___________
Apr. 11_____________
Apr. 18___________
Apr. 25__________
May 2____ ______
May 9____________
May 16___________ .
May 23_____________
May 30___
_____
June 6__________
June 13______________
June 20_____________

Index 1 of pay rolls
for slipstitching,
1 necktie firm,
for—
Factory
workers

1931
June 27________
July 6_________
July 11________
July 18_________
July 25_________
Aug. 3-------------Aug. 10________
Aug. 15........ .........
Aug. 22________
Aug. 29________
8ept. 5_________
Sept. 12. ..............
Sept. 19________
Sept. 26________
Oct. 3__________

Home
workers

96
93
103
97
83
98
113
108
116
139
146
126
125
77
108

60
85
69
62
51
63
101
112

128
154
164
150
181
69
24

1 Average for the 31 weeks equals 100 percent.

Factory

/ v

J-.L I
7 1! 21 26
March

3 11 18 26
April

2

16 23 SO
Key

I

■J—I -I

6 13 20 27
June

I

I

6 11 18 26
July

I

I

I

I

I

S 10 16 22 29
August

I

I

I

I

6 12 19 26
September

In the last 2 weeks of the 31 the index for home work fell abruptly
to 69 and 24; the index for factory work fell to 77 and then advanced
to 108. The home-work pay roll for the last week recorded was only
4 percent of the total.
Garters.—In a firm making garters, factoiy and home-work pay
rolls were available for 34 weeks, beginning with the pay-roll week
of January 10 and ending with that of August 29, 1931. For 17
weeks and 14 weeks, respectively, the factory and the home-work



40

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

pay rolls were below the average for the year. In the first 3 weeks
of the 34 both indexes were below the average. The home-work pay
roll jumped the next week to 123 and kept well above 100 for 16
weeks, with a maximum of 143. The factory pay roll was 5 weeks
later than the home-work pay roll in rising above the average, but it
remained there for practically the same number of weeks. Its maxi­
mum was 135.
Index 1 of pay rolls
of 1 garter firm
for—

Index 1 of pay rolls
of 1 garter firm
for—
Pay-roll date

Pay-roll date
Factory
workers

Factory
workers

Home
workers
1931

1931

Feb. 7 -Feb. 21______ _____ _______

Mar. 21

76
83
97
88
92
96
95
87
106
107
106
103
87
103
105
108
113

44
52
88
123
140
120
136
129
110
138
140
113
127
110
120
131
115

July 10
July 25_____________________

110
111
119
119
131
135
125
115
30
74
90
98
97
96
100
103
99

Home
workers

143
no
102
88
72
57
62
73
105
43
42
61
92
106
98
97
no

1 Average for the 34 weeks equals 100 percent.

\ /\
radtory

\

Home work %

I .1. 1 .1-1
10 17 24 51

7 14 21

7 14 21 28
March

4 11 1825
April

2

I

9 16 25 50
May

6 15 20 27
June

4 10 18 25
July

1

8 15 22 29
August

The home-work index dropped to 102 in May, and fell the next
week to below 100, where it remained for 5 weeks. During these
same 5 weeks the factory pay roll was well above 100. In fact, from
the middle of May to the middle of July the two curves go in oppo­
site directions.
In the first week of July the home-work pay roll rose above the
average, while the factory index dropped to 30, its low for the year.
For the next 3 weeks the home-work index was low, but in the 5
weeks following it was around 100. In this same 8-week period the
factory pay roll rose, the index varying from 74 to 103.




Part IV.—LIGHTING IN CLOTHING FACTORIES 7

The laws of Connecticut, like those of many other States, require
that all factories and buildings where machinery is used shall be “well
lighted”, but they set no standard beyond this generalization, and
practically nothing is being done by the factory inspection forces to
improve lighting equipment except what is helpful in preventing acci­
dents. In the needle trades especially, good lighting is necessary not
only for the health of the workers but for efficient production. Various
studies have shown that quantity and quality of output increase as
lighting of the workroom is improved. A report of the United States
Public Health Service shows that in 10 industries surveyed the percent
of employees with normal sight was lowest in the garment industry.
Since so much depends on the lighting in such work places, a special
study was made of the lighting equipment in 32 clothing factories
while the study of the sewing trades was in progress. A few hundred
measurements were taken of the intensity of light at the working point
(or surface) and striking conditions of glare and of shadows on the work
were noted.
There was no special selection of factories beyond taking a group
that seemed to be representative of the sewing trades. A very few of
the factories included in this lighting study occupied entire buildings;
the majority were renting lofts in buildings with other tenants. Some
of the workrooms were large, two accommodating as many as 200
sewers, but only 10 had as many as 100. Others were small, 10 having
fewer than 50 persons who were sewing.
Levels of lighting at work positions

For determining the amount of light a foot-candle meter was used.
This is a simple instrument by which illumination is read directly
from a scale without computing. While not so exact in measurement
as some other instruments, the foot-candle meter is recommended by
the Illuminating Engineering Society for measuring light, and it is
considered accurate enough for most practical purposes.
Two things that could not be controlled affected the adequacy of
the lighting—variation from day to day in the amount of natural light
and the color of the materials on which the employees were working.
The days on which the light readings were taken were not uniformly
bright; in fact, the sky was clear and cloudless while the measure­
ments were being made in only 11 of the factories. In the other cases,
either the sky was somewhat overcast or the day was decidedly dark
and rainy, and in 15 of these the employees were working on dark
materials. All measurements were made at as near the noon hour as
possible, in either the late forenoon or the early afternoon, in the first
part of January. Very few readings were made before 10 a. m. and
almost none after 3 p.m. Wherever possible two readings were taken
for each position, the first by natural daylight only, and the second
with the addition of artificial light.7
7 For a general discussion of the basic problems oflighting see Women’s Bureau Bulletin No. 94, pp. 3-6.




41

42

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OP CONNECTICUT

In the workrooms of these 32 factories just over 2,600 women were
employed in sewing operations, the great majority of them machine
operators but 276 of them hand sewers. In the workrooms of 11 facto­
ries the women were sewing on light materials, used for house dresses,
shirts, blouses, corsets, and underwear, and in 21 they were working
on dark goods, used in the manufacture of such garments as silk and
wool dresses, trousers, and neckties. Altogether, practically threefifths of the women were sowing on dark materials.
The light was measured only at the work positions of those who were
engaged in sewing, either by power machine or by hand—occupations
that require close discrimination of detail. Readings were not made
for all sewing positions, but in each workroom the number was repre­
sentative of the various conditions; for example, some positions
selected were near windows, others were remote from them. Other
considerations were the location and the type of artificial lights, some
being individual and others serving a group, some being of clear glass
and others frosted, some having old-fasliioned and crude reflectors or
none at all and others having the approved types. Some lamps hung
in the line of vision of the workers, others hung near the ceiling. The
size of the lamps ranged from 5 or 10 watts to 200 watts.
Nine hundred and thirty-five candle-meter readings were taken at
the working point of 459 positions. The numbers of readings by natural
and by artificial light were not the same. In cases where, as in 3 plants,
the light definitely was affected by more than 1 lamp, 2 readings were
taken to show variations to the right and to the left of the needle.
Furthermore, in some fixtures there were no lamps.
The code of lighting approved by the American Standards Associa­
tion, August 1930, and recommended by the Illuminating Engineering
Society 8 gives different levels of illumination to correspond to the
variations actually existing in specified processes. For sewing light
goods, for example, from 15 to 10 foot-candles,9 and for sewing dark
goods from 100 to 25 foot-candles, is considered desirable, depending
on the degree of fineness and other conditions. “These values are
based upon practice established through years of experience
* * * in modern practice it will usually be found desirable to
select values in or even beyond the upper portion of the range.” 10
Comparing the measurements taken in the Connecticut clothing fac­
tories with the standards recommended, the accompanying table shows
that conditions fell far short of what is considered desirable in light
intensities.
In workrooms where the employees were making garments from
light goods, readings were made in 5 factories on sunny days and in 6
factories on cloudy days. One-half (49.3 percent) of the measure­
ments taken on sunny days under natural light were below the lower
recommended level of 10 foot-candles. By the addition of artificial
light the level was raised, but even then 17.6 percent of the readings
on sunny days still were below the lowest recommended standard.
On cloudy days conditions were more serious. Under natural light
four-fifths (80.5 percent) of the readings showed less than 10 foot!
8 Code of Lighting: Factories, Mills, and Other Work Places. American standard, approved Aug. 18
1930, by American Standards Association.
8 A foot-candle is the unit ofillumination in terms of which lighting requirements are specified. The light
rays from a bare 25-watt tungsten filament lamp falling perpendicularly on the surface of a newspaper held
5 feet away represents approximately 1 foot-candle of illumination.—Ibid., p. 12.
Ibid., p. 13.




43

LIGHTING IN CLOTHING FACTORIES

candles of illumination and with the addition of artificial light about
30 percent (29.1) still were below this level. With the electric lights
on, intensities of 15 foot-candles were recorded in only two-thirds
(66.2 percent) of the readings on bright days and in only about twofifths of them (41.9 percent) on cloudy days.
Percent of readings showing foot-candles as
specified that were taken while—
Sun shining

Intensity of light

Sky overcast

Artificial
light in
addition

Natural
light only

75
100.0

74
100.0

87
100.0

86
100.0

49.3
16.0
34.7

17.6
16.2
66.2

80. 5
8.0
11.5

29.1
29.1
41.9

85
100.0

77
100.0

212
100.0

239
100.0

91.8
8.2

54.5
45.5

100.0

75.7
24.3

Natural
light only

Artificial
light in
addition

LIGHT GOODS
Total number of readings
Percent...

____

_____ _

Under 10 foot-candles_________ ....
10, under 15 foot-candles___
15 or more foot-candles___________
DARK GOODS
Total number of readings

_____________

Under 25 foot-candles________________ _
25 or more foot-candles_____________________ _ _.

.. _

In the 21 workrooms where the employees were engaged in the
manufacture of garments from dark goods there was a still greater lack
of good lighting. Six factories were visited on sunny days and 15 on
cloudy days. Higher intensity naturally is necessary for work on
dark materials, and for these the lowest recommended level is 25
foot-candles. Under natural light only, the readings taken on bright
days fell below this level in more than nine-tenths (91.8 percent) of the
cases, and on cloudy days they fell below in all cases. With the addi­
tion of artificial light there was some improvement, though the inten­
sity still was below 25 foot-candles for over half (54.5 percent) the
readings on light days and for three-fourths (75.7 percent) of those on
cloudy days.
Though 25 foot-candles is the level recommended as satisfactory for
close work on dark materials under some conditions, under other con­
ditions the recommendation is for as much as 100 foot-candles. In
only one position was the reading as high as 100 foot-candles. How­
ever, in the wide range between 25 and 100, several measurements were
recorded, but on both bright and cloudy days, of all readings made
with the addition of artificial light, most were less than 40 foot-candles
and only 25 were as high as 50.
At the time of day when these readings were taken there was almost
no machine operator or hand sewer who was not benefiting more or
less by daylight. It was apparent, however, that at other times, as
in the early morning or late afternoon, when natural light would be
poor and the workers would be dependent on artificial light solely,
the intensity of illumination would be much less than that shown in
the table under combined daylight and artificial light.




44

WOMEN IN THE SEWING TRADES OF CONNECTICUT

In the group of readings of less than 5 foot-candles there was an
amazing number even below 3, in both light- and dark-goods plants,
when only natural light was used. This condition, greatly improved
by the addition of artificial light, emphasizes the importance of
sufficient equipment, installed and maintained with intelligence.
Number of foot-candle readings below 5, all
sky conditions

Natural
light only

Under 1 ..
1, under 2...................................... ....... ......................

..........

3, under 4---------- ---------------- --------------------------------

4, under 5 __________________

Dark goods

Light goods

Intensity of light (foot-candles)

______ ____ ________

24
26
12
9
10

Artificial
light in
addition

2
4
6

Natural
light only

56
62
44
28
18

Artificial
light in
addition
1
4
7
7
11

To sum up: Of the readings taken under all sky conditions—bright,
overcast, and cloudy—and when natural light was supplemented by
the best artificial light possible with the equipment installed, about
24 percent of those in light-goods factories and 70 percent of those in
dark-goods factories were less than the lower of the recommended
levels for their respective types of materials; and 47 percent of those
in light-goods factories and all but 1 of the 316 in dark-goods factories
fell short of the higher of the recommended levels.
Lighting equipment

A lack of thought and system in installing lights was evident in
almost every factory. In some rooms there was no uniformity in
the types of lights supplied, even for persons doing the same kind of
work; at the same worktable some lights hung high and others hung
low; some had shades, others none; some work positions were dimly
lighted and a few had too intense a light, with glare and shadows.
Of the more than 1,500 light units in these 32 factories, something
over 700 were less than 2 feet from the working plane. Practically
two-thirds of these were individual local lights, of 5 to 25 watts.
About 550 of the lights were 2 and less than 4 feet above the work­
ing plane. Three hundred of these were of 75 watts or more and 175
were of 40 to 60 watts. Just over 150 had no shades and more than
two-thirds of those without shades were not frosted.
About 230 lights were 4 feet or more above the working plane.
Almost 200 were of 75 or more watts. Fewer than 20 had no shades.
As might be expected, more lamps of high power were used close
to the work on dark goods than on light goods. Most of the 40- to 60watt lamps were used on dark goods, many at eye level and few more
than 4 feet from the working plane. Lamps of 75 and 100 watts also
were used on dark goods at less than 2 feet from the work.
A type of light in common use was the drop light in a deep bowl or a
tin reflector, close fitting, and with the lamp often extending below.
Frequently the reflector was of tin painted green on the outside, and
usually the lamps were hung over the workbenches so that each served
2, 3, or 4 operators




LIGHTING IN CLOTHING FACTORIES

45

Few lights with shallow-bowl or flat-cone reflectors, shaped like a
plate and not enclosing the lamp, were at eye level, the majority
hanging higher and contributing to the general lighting. The lights
with dome reflectors, like inverted pans, wide and flat at the socket
and with protecting sides usually below the lamp, also hung for the
most part above eye level and lighted the work of more than one
operator. The few that were hung less than 2 feet from the table
were far from satisfactory, being too bright for such use.
Annoying or really harmful glare was noted in many plants. _ In a
number of cases the workers had put up their own crude substitutes
for shades.
>
. _
A factory with 48 machine operators had the machine positions
lighted by 12 lamps of 100 and 150 watts only 2 feet above the tables,
all unshaded and 5 of them unfrosted. In another factory girls
stated that they often sewed in the dark rather than endure the glare
of the light. Comments on glare appear on many of the schedules
made out by Women’s Bureau agents.
Shadows on the work, not so noticeable to the casual observer as
glare, are a very important consideration for the worker. In a num­
ber of factories, girls complained of “shadows from the lights.” One
assistant forelady, indicating a certain position, said, “I used to work
at that machine. A shadow was on the the presser foot and needle
all the time.” A different situation is described in the following:
“Lights are placed regularly, one to each two operators, purposely
to avoid shadows. Only a few slight shadows were observed in this
plant.”
Other features

About half the rooms were 2 or 3 times as long as they were wide
and well over 100 feet in length; 7 of them were 150 to 192 feet. All
but 1 of the 32 had windows on more than one side. Five had very
short windows—4 feet or less. In about two-thirds of the factories
the floor area was more than 6 times the window area, though 6 to 1
is considered the maximum that is safe. In 2 plants the floor had
more than 25 times the area of the windows. Only 3 or 4 plants
had no curtains.
Nine workrooms had very low ceilings—10 feet or less. About
12 had skylights or monitor roofs.




o