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Movin' Right Along
Th e purpose of th e following artide is to acquaint students with several basic economic fa ctors affecting employment in our country. The
article follows the development of the automobile
industry from its infancy to th e present day to
illustrate how new discoveries and changes in
production techniques affect the types and numbers of jobs available. Follow-up questions are
suggested at the close of th e article; refer to th e
"Innovative Classroom" section of th e newsletter
for related class activity.

When George B. Seldon invented the "horseless carriage" in
the late 1800s, he set into motion an
industry that w,ould provide millions of jobs during the 20th century. So popular was his invention
that today the automobile industry
(including the rubber, steel and
parts industries that supply it)
is considered the nation's largest
employer.
Before the automobile the main
mode of road travel was by horse .
As we rely on the automobile today, our great-grandparents relied
on the horse and carriage to haul
goods, visit relatives and friends
and travel to work or school. Even
today we are familiar with scenes

of the ice wagon, the buckboard
filled with produce and the horsedrawn sleigh.
Not only was the horse the major
method of transportation, for
many it was the basis of their livelihoods. Blacksmiths, stablehands,
harness and saddle makers were
just a few of the professions that
existed to meet the transportation
needs of the people. In fact, in 1880
approximately 295,000 people
were engaged in occupations directly related to horse travel (see
chart) .
Craftsmanship was an integral
characteristic of the trades associated with horse travel. To make
harnesses, for instance, one had to
go through an apprenticeship and
then years of hard work in order to
master the trade. The harness
maker's profession was more than
a means of financial support; it
was a form of artistic expression.
While many people in the 1880s
were engaged in professions servicing horse travel, a new form of
transportation, the automobile,
began to attract workers. Primarily
engineers, mechanics and inventors, the early automotive workers
operated small scale factories
where they experimented with and
painstakingly assembled their autos. (Early cars were actually a
combination of carriage and bicycle parts.) Due to the ineffective
production methods and technical
problems , early cars were relatively expensive and of low quality.
During these formative years the
automobile quickly became a

novelty for the rich, but on the
whole there was very limited demand for the carriage-like vehicles. In fact, by1899therewereonly
50 gasoline engine autos in the
country.
For the few engaged in the automotive industry, under 5,000 in
1880, the future of their enterprise
was far from stable. Although car
Jnanufacturing continued , many
thought that the automobile would
never replace the horse.
In 1901, however, a man named
Ransom E. Olds was able to manufacture 425 cars at less than $400
each. Preaching the idea of a cheap
car for the masses, Olds was the
first to apply mass production
techniques to the automobile industry.

HI S FI RST LESSON

Reprinted by permission of the Des Moines
Register and Thbune

But it was Henry Ford that carried mass production to its ultimate
form. By 1913, mass production
was a standard practice in Ford
factories .

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Vol.6, No.5 · Nov. 1979

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The same auto that once took artisans days to build rolled off the
Ford assembly line in 93 minutes.
Because mass production made
it easier for manufacturers to produce more cars during a shorter
time period, construction costs
were significantly lowered. As a result, cars became more affordable
to the general public . Lower prices
and improvements in the automobile itself have been cited by
some historical researchers as two
key factors responsible for expansion of the auto industry.
As the demand for cars increased, more employees were
needed to produce cars. Gradually
auto manufacturers began hiring
more people to fill various jobs
along their long assembly lines. By
1930 over 307,000 people were employed in automotive factories,
over 303,000 more workers than in
1880.

of jobs available. Within the automotive industry, automation replaced hundreds of jobs that previously had been done manually.
Before the advent of automation,
for example, many auto workers
were needed to transfer parts and
machinery from one part of the assembly line to another. Today automated transfer machines have
replaced these workers, saving
time and reducing manufacturing
costs.

Occupation, 1930 classification

2


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Continued on Page 3

1880
1930
(persons employed)(persons employed)

HORSE TRAVEL
Blacksmiths

172,726

Operatives, harness and
saddle factories

124,373
7,164

39,9601
Laborers, harness and
saddle factories

501

Hostlers and stable hands

31,697

Operatives, wagon and
carriage factories

2,766
49,881

1,419
294,264

TOTAL

142,877

AUTOMOTIVE TRANSPORTATION
Operatives, automobile factories

161,957
4,708

3

123,717

Laborers, automobile factories
Operatives, automobile
repair shops
Laborers, automobile
repair shops
TOTAL

6,654

2

Laborers, wagon and
carriage factories

While the automotive industry
was enjoying success, the demand
for horse-drawn transportation
was beginning to dwindle and professions such as harness making
began to wane. By 1930 fewer than
143,000 people were employed in
professions servicing horse travel,
over 151,000 people fewer than in
1880.

Automation is an important factor affecting the kind and number

The invention of the automobile,
mass production and automation

TOT AL GAINFUL WORKERS 10 YEARS OLD AND OVER,
BY OCCUPATION, FOR THE UNITED STATES: 1880 AND 1930

But the impact of the automobile
on this country's employment was
much greater than providing factory jobs. Workers were also
needed in automobile repair
shops, gas stations and on road
construction and improvement
crews. In addition, the auto
brought job-creating commerce
into areas of the country which
normally would not have been
reached by the railroad. Back river
towns suddenly became key market areas when major roads
crossed their boundaries.

As the automobile industry matured, so did its production techniques. Seeking efficient production, the Ford Motor Company
after World War II began replacing
its old methods of manufacturing
with new automated devices .
Today automation has expanded
to such an extent that automobile
factories use automated devices to
inspect products and to count, fill
orders and maintain inventories.

Although automation eliminated many manual jobs in the factory, it also created many technical
jobs. Workers had to be retrained in
order to operate the complicated
automated machines. Consequently, many workers in today's
automotive factories are more
technically skilled than their earlier
counterparts.

none listed

9,452

none listed

12,653

4,708

307,779

1

This figure includes both operatives and laborers in harness and saddle
factories.
2
This figure, taken from the 1880 Census, relates to the number of carriage
and wagon makers.
3This figure, taken from the 1880 Census, relates to the number of carmakers.

Figures derived from Comparative Occupation Statistics for the United States,
1870-1940 and from the 1880 Compendium of the Tenth Census of the United

States.

("More Power To You") and the social impact and growth of the automobile ("Life In the Fast Lane") .
All the above programs take place
in the Museum's main exhibit area
called "Boston/A City in 'fransit"
which shows how the city and its
people changed because of transportation concerns.

Innovative
Classroom
What happened to the carriage
maker when the Model T took
over? What was it like to work on
the first trolley system? Answers to
these questions can be found in the
Museum of 'fransportation's new
school group program called
"Working." Based on work patterns of the Boston area from the
late 1800s to present, the program
explores changes in career requirements, skills and working environments resulting from the
evolution of transportation systems.
A display of tools used to repair
a Model T illustrates what it was
like to work on an earlier form of
transportation. Other exhibits include the first form of mass transportation, the omni bus; the
horse-drawn streetcar; the electric
trolley and Boston's early subway
train.
In addition to the program's discussion of past transportation systems, an emphasis is placed on exposing students to present jobs in
mass transportation. A discussion
of Boston's present transit system
(MBTA), for example, gives stu-

Museum tour guide Thomas Beale shows
how conductors operated early trolley cars.
Photo by Debbie Ippolito

dents an idea of the various jobs
needed to keep Boston's public
transportation system running.
The Museum, located on
Museum Wharf in Boston, provides a number of programs dealing with transportation. Other
educational programs currently
being offered focus on: exploration
of the energy used in moving
people from one place to another

Movin' Right Along, Continued from Page 2
created and nurtured an industry,
and helped shape employment
patterns in our country. Similarly,
future technical advancements in
all industries will influence the
country's job situation.

niques affect the type and
number of jobs available, e.g.
consumer preference? Give
examples of how these factors
affect the job market.
•

The automobile industry, as one
segment of our nation's complex
economy, serves as an example of
the impact that invention and
technology have on our entire enterprise system.
FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

•

•

Tremendous advances in
technology have occurred over
the past century. What products exist today that were not
available 25 years ago, e.g.electronic calculators? What jobs
have been phased out because
of the products?
What economic factors other
than new discoveries and
changes in production tech-


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What changes are affecting the
automobile industry today?
What impact, if any, will these
changes have on the type and
number of jobs available in the
auto industry now and in the
future? Will these changes influence jobs available in other
industries, businesses, etc .?

•

What role does education play
in the ever changing job market? What can you , as individuals, do to ensure a place in
the job market?

•

Comparing present census
figures with those in 1880 and
1930, identify changes in the
number and types of jobs available. What factors were responsible for these occupational
changes?

Groups participating in the programs are scheduled for one-hour
education programs, Monday thru
Friday beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Group rates are $1.80 per student
with accompanying teachers and
required chaperones admitted free .
(One teacher or chaperone for
everyl0 students is required.) After
the tour, groups may spend an
extra hour touring the Museum on
their own and may visit Crossroads, a hands-on, participatory
center.
For reservations or information,
teachers may write to Dorothy
Morrissey, Education Department,
Museum of Transportation,
Museum Wharf, 300 Congress
Street, Boston, MA 02210; or call
(617) 426-6633, Ext. 294. Reservations should be made at least
two weeks in advance.

Fed Update
D An exhibition of nine major
works of art assembled by Boston's
Museum of Fine Arts will open on
November 1 at the Boston Fed.
Among the prominent artists
whose work will be represented are
Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski and Larry
Poons. The exhibition will be open
to the public, at no charge, from
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on each
business day from November 2
through January 15 .
D A series of four pamphlets on
the structure of the Federal Reserve
System is now available from the
Boston Fed . Published by the
Board of Governors, the pamphlet
series concisely explains structural
aspects of the Board of Governors,
the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve Banks and
the Federal Reserve Bank Boards of
Directors . Copies of the pamphlets
are available at no cost by writing
to the Bank and Public Information
Center, Federal Reserve Bank of
Boston, Boston, MA 02106.
3

Multi-media

You are the American Economic
System, published by the Advertising Council.

Understanding Taxes, published
by the Internal Revenue Service.
This text teaches students about
the important features of our Federal tax system and their responsibilities as taxpayers. The course
includes a brief history of U .S.
taxation, a summary of the latest
available Federal budget, sample
tax forms and problems, general
tax rules and instructions and a
comprehensive teachers' guide.
Published once a year, the Understanding Tuxes unit must be ordered
by November 1 in order to receive
the materials in January of the
following year. Free copies are
available by writing to the Understanding Taxes Coordinator, P.O .
Box 9088, Boston, MA 02203; or by
calling (617) 223-3418.
Money, Banking and the Federal
Reserve System, published by the
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
This packet of instructional materials is designed to help students
comprehend the role of money,
banking and the Federal Reserve
System in our economy. The unit
consists of six sections dealing with
the following topics: money, bank
services and functions, the Federal
Reserve System, check clearing,
money creation and monetary and
fiscal policies. Each section contains a brief introduction of the
economic concept being taught ,
followed by activities to help students apply the concept to real-life
situations. A limited supply of the
packets is available at no cost by
writing to the Bank and Public Information Center, Federal Reserve
Bank of Boston, Boston, MA 02106.
Correction
In the September 1979 issue of
the Ledger we announced that the
newsletter, Economics for Social
Studies Teachers was available free
of charge. We stand corrected in
that the only free subscriptions are
those mailed to Councils and Centers of Economic Education on a
reciprocal basis. Others desiring
the publication can obtain it for
$3.00 a year. We apologize to the
New York City Council on Economic Education and to our
readers for the mistake.
4

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Reprinted from
You are the American Economic System

This booklet helps students understand their role in the American
economic system. Colorful illustrations and short explanations
describe how our decisions as consumers, producers and voters
affect employment, inflation,
growth, regulations, taxes and
productivity. For a free copy, write
to the American Economic System,
Advertising Council, 825 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

New England Update
CONNECTICUT
This fall, the Center for Economic Education at Southern
Connecticut State College is arranging a meeting of business and
industry representatives from the
New Haven area to acquaint them
with the economic education progr ams being carried out in area
schools.
The Center for Economic Education at Connecticut State College
in Storrs has prepared a new Center Media Catalogue which lists
films , kits and simulations available on loan . For more information, write to the Center for Economic Education, U-55, University
of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06268; or
call (203) 486-2327.
MAINE
On December 1, the Maine
Council on Economic Education
will hold a follow-up workshop at
the University of Maine in Orono
for all teachers who participated in
the Council's 1979 summer workshops. For more information, write
to Robert Mitchell, 22 Coburn Hall,
University of Maine, Orono, ME
04473; or"call (207) 581-7069.
MASSACHUSETTS
Dr.Nancy Harris, chairperson of
the early childhood elementary
education department at Worcester
State College, is the new director of
the College's Center for Economic
Education.
The Center for Economic Education in Springfield, in conjunction
with the Pittsfield School System,
will hold two one-day teacher

workshops on November 28 and
December 11 and a ten-session
economic education course starting January 9. Both workshops and
the in-service course are open to
elementary and secondary school
teachers . For more information,
write to Gordon Morrill, School of
Education, American International College, Springfield, MA
01109; or call (413) 737-5331, Ext.
337.
RHODE ISLAND
Dr. Catherine Tisinger, previously a special assistant to Minnesota Governor Albert Quie, is
the new director of the Center for
Economic Education at Rhode Island College. Ms. Tisinger worked
for Governor Quie while on leave
from the Minnesota State University System .

the

LEDGER
Editor: Debra Carpenter-Beck
Graphics Arts Designer: Anne Belson
This newsletter is published periodically as
a public service by the Federal Reserve Bank
of Boston. The reportinK of news about economic education praxrams and materials
should not be construed as a specific
endorsement by the Bank. Further, the
material contained herein does not necessarily reflect the views of th e Federal Reserve
Bank of Boston or the Board of Governors.
Copies of this newsletter and a catalCJKue of
other educational materials and research
publications may be obtained free of cha r8e
by writin:r Bank and Public Information
Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Boston, MA 02106, or by callinK: (617)
973-3459.