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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Frances Perkins, Secretary
B U R E A U OF L A B O R ST A T IS T IC S
Isador Lubin, Commissioner

T h e W age and H our Structure
o f the Furniture ^M anufacturing Industry
October 1937
+

Prepared by the

Division of Wage and Hour Statistics
JACOB P E R L M A N , Chief

B ulletin

lo. 669

U N IT E D ST A T E S
G O V E R N M E N T P R IN T IN G OFFICE
W A S H IN G T O N : 1940

For sale by the Superintendent o f Documents, Washington, D . C.




Price 20 cents




CONTENTS
Page

Preface__________________________________________________________________________
P art 1.— Background material_______________________________________________
C hapter I.— The furniture-manufacturing industry___________________
Definition of industry_______________________________________________
Growth of industry__________________________________________________
Heterogeneous nature of products__________________________________
C hapter II.— Characteristics of furniture-manufacturing industry___
Geographical distribution___________________________________________
Corporate affiliation and size of establishment____________________
Mechanization and labor cost_______________________________________
Union organization__________________________________________________
Distribution of products_____________________________________________
C hapter III.— Employment and pay rolls, 19 23-39___________________
Changes in employment and pay rolls, 1923-37___________________
Fluctuations in average hourly earnings and weekly hours and
earnings, 1933 -3 7__________________________________________________
Changes since August 1937_________________________________________
C hapter IV .— Scope and method_______________________________________
Product coverage____________________________________________________
Characteristics of sample____________________________________________
Nature of data obtained_____________________________________________
P art 2.— W ood household furniture__________________________________________
C hapter V .— Average hourly earnings_________________________________
Data for branch as a whole_________________________________________
Differences by product______________________________________________
Upholstered furniture__________________________________________
Novelty furniture_______________________________________________
Case goods______ ________________________________________________
Kitchen furniture_______________________________________________
Variations among States____________________________________________
C hapter V I.— Relation of size of community, unionization, and size
of plant to average hourly earnings_____________________________
Differences by size of community___________________________________
Differences between trade-union and non-trade-union plants___
Differences between trade-union and non-trade-union plants as
affected by size of community____________________________________
Hourly earnings and size of plant___________________________________
C hapter V II.— Weekly hours___________________________________________
Data for branch as a whole_________________________________________
Weekly hours by product___________________________________________
Differences between trade-union and non-trade-union plants____
Weekly hours by size of community________________________________
C hapter V III.— Weekly earnings_______________________________________
Data for branch as a whole_________________________________________
Differences by product______________________________________________
Differences between trade-union and non-trade-union plants____
Differences by size of community___________________________________




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CONTENTS

IV

P art 2.— Wood household furniture— Continued.
C hapter I X .— Average hourly earnings by occupational groups and
sex_______________________________________________________________________
Data for males_______________________________________________________
Data for females_____________________________________________________
P art 3.— Office furniture______________________________________________________
C hapter X . — W ood office furniture_____________________________________
Average hourly earnings_________________
Weekly hours_________________________________________________________
Weekly earnings____________________________________________________
C hapter X I .— Metal office furniture____________________________________
Average hourly earnings_____________________________________________
Weekly hours_______________________________________________________
Weekly earnings_______________________________
P art 4.— Public seating_______________________________________________________
C hapter X I I .— Public seating___________________________________________
Average hourly earnings_________________
Weekly hours_______________________________________________________
Weekly earnings____________________________________________________
P art 5.— Comparisons and summaries_______________________________________
C hapter X I I I .— Comparisons and summaries_________________________
Interdivisional comparisons--------------------------------------------------------------Data for wood household and office furniture combined_________
Comparisons of hourly earnings between 1937 and previous years
in wood household and wood office furniture combined________
Comparisons between wood and metal office furniture____________
Data for furniture-manufacturing industry as a whole____________

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L is t o f S u m m a r y T a b le s
T able

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1.— Number of establishments, number of wage earners, wages
paid, and value of products in furniture-manufacturing in­
dustry, 1899 to 1937___________________________________________
2.— Value of products in furniture-manufacturing industry for the
United States in 1937_________________________________________
3.— Number of establishments, number of wage earners, wages
paid, and value of products in furniture-manufacturing in­
dustry, by States, 1937________________________________________
4.— Classification of establishments, wage earners, value of pro­
ducts, and value added by manufacture in furniture-manu­
facturing industry, according to type of operation, 1929___
5.— Distribution of establishments in furniture-manufacturing in­
dustry according to number of wage earners, 1937_________
6.— Index numbers of employment and pay rolls in the furniture­
manufacturing industry, by months, January 1923 to
June 1939______________________________________________________
7.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
in the furniture-manufacturing industry, March 1933 to
June 1939_______________________________________________________
8.— Average hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch,
by product, skill, and region, October 1937_________________
9.— Simple percentage distribution of all workers according to
average hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch,
by skill, October 1937_________________________________________




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CONTENTS

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10.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch, by
region and skill, October 1937________________________________
11.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in upholstered furniture of wood householdfurniture branch, by region and skill, October 1937________
1 2 .— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in novelty furniture of wood householdfurniture branch, by skill, October 1937_______________________
13.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in case-goods furniture of wood householdfurniture branch, by region and skill, October 1937________
14.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in kitchen furniture of wood householdfurniture branch, by skill, October 1937_____________________
15.— Average hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch,
by States, October 1937_________________________________________
16.— Average hourly earnings of workers in wood household-furni­
ture branch, by region, size of community, and skill, October
1937____________________________________________________________
17.— Average hourly earnings of workers in trade-union and non­
trade-union plants of wood household-furniture branch in
the North, by product and skill, October 1937_____________
18.— Distribution of individual plant average hourly earnings in
wood household-furniture branch in the North, by product
and unionization, October 1937_______________________________
19.— Average hourly earnings of workers in trade-union and non­
trade-union plants in wood household-furniture branch, by
region and skill, October 1937________________________________
20.— Distribution of individual plant average hourly earnings in
wood household-furniture branch, by region and unioniza­
tion, October 1937_____________________________________________
2 1 .— Average hourly earnings of workers in trade-union and nontrade-union plants in wood household-furniture branch in
the North, by size of community and skill, October 1937__
2 2 .— Distribution of individual plants in wood household-furniture
branch, by average hourly earnings and size of plant,
October 1937___________________________________________________
23.— Distribution of plants according to full-time weekly hours in
wood household-furniture branch, by region, October 1937_ _
24.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
wood household-furniture branch, by region, October 1937__
25.— Average actual weekly hours in wood household-furniture
branch, by product, region, and skill, October 1937________
26.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
case goods and upholstered furniture, by region, October
1937____________________________________________________________
27.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
novelty and kitchen furniture, October 1937________________
28.— Average actual weekly hours of workers in trade-union and
non-trade-union plants of wood household-furniture branch
in the North, by product, October 1937_____________________




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VI

CONTENTS

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29.— Distribution of plants according to full-time weekly hours,
in wood household-furniture branch, by region and union­
ization, October 1937__________________________________________
30.— Average actual weekly hours of workers in wood householdfurniture branch, by size of community and region, October
1937____________________________________________________________
31.— Average actual weekly hours of workers in trade-union and
non-trade-union plants in wood household-furniture branch
in the North, by size of community, October 1937_________
32.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings
in wood household-furniture branch, by skill, October 1937_
33.— Average actual weekly earnings in wood household-furniture
branch, by product, skill, and region, October 1937_______
34.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings
in wood household-furniture branch, by region and skill,
October 1937___________________________________________________
35.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly
earnings in case goods of wood household-furniture branch,
by region and skill, October 1937____________________________
36.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly
earnings in upholstered furniture of wood household-furni­
ture branch, by region and skill, October 1937_____________
37.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly
earnings in novelty furniture of wood household-furniture
branch, by skill, October 1937________________________________
38.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly
earnings in kitchen furniture of wood household-furniture
branch, by skill, October 1937________________________________
39.— Average actual weekly earnings of workers in trade-union and
non-trade-union plants of wood household-furniture branch
in the North, by product and skill, October 1937___________
40.— Average actual weekly earnings of workers in trade-union and
non-trade-union plants of wood household-furniture branch,
by region and skill, October 1937____________________________
41.— Average actual weekly earnings of workers in wood household-furniture branch, by region, size of community, and
skill, October 1937_____________________________________________
42.— Average actual weekly earnings in trade-union and non-tradeunion. plants in wood household-furniture branch in the
North, by size of community and skill, October 1937_____
43.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in wood household-furniture branch, by region,
sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937___________
44.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in case goods of wood household-furniture branch
by region, sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937_
45.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in upholstered furniture of wood household-furni­
ture branch, by region, sex, skill, and occupational group,
October 1937___________________________________________________
46.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in novelty furniture of wood household-furniture
branch, by sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937-




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CONTENTS

V II

Page

T able 47.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of male workers in kitchen furniture of wood householdfurniture branch, by skill and occupational group, October
1937____________________________________________________________
T able 48.— Simple percentage distribution of female workers according to
average hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch,
by region and skill, October 1937_____________________________
T able 49.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
in wood office-furniture division, by region and skill, October
1937____________________________________________________________
T able 50.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to aver­
age hourly earnings in wood office-furniture division, by
skill, October 1937_____________________________________________
T able 51.— Distribution of individual plants in wood office-furniture
division in the North, by size* of community and average
hourly earnings, October 1937________________________________
T able 52.— Distribution of individual plants in wood office-furniture
division in the North, by average hourly earnings and size
of plant, October 1937________________________________________
T able 53.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings of
workers in wood office-furniture division, by sex, skill, and
occupational group, October 1937____________________________
T able 54.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
wood office-furniture division, October 1937_________________
T able 55.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to actual
weekly earnings in wood office-furniture division, by skill,
October 1937___________________________________________________
T able 56.— Distribution of workers according to average hourly earnings
in metal office-furniture division, by skill, October 1937___
T able 57.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in metal office-furniture division, by skill, October
1937____________________________________________________________
T able 58.— Distribution of individual plants in metal office-furniture
division, by size of community and average hourly earnings,
October 1937___________________________________________________
T able 59.— Distribution of individual plants in metal office-furniture
division, by average hourly earnings and size of plant,
October 1937___________________________________________________
T able 60.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
of workers in metal office-furniture division, by sex, skill,
and occupational group, October 1937_______________________
T able 61.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
metal office-furniture division, October 1937________________
T able 62.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings
in metal office-furniture division, by skill, October 1937___
T able 63.— Average hourly earnings in public-seating furniture division,
by region and skill, October 1937____________________________
T able 64.— Distribution q f workers according to average hourly earnings
in public-seating furniture division, by skill, October 1937__
T able 65.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings of
workers in public-seating furniture division, by sex, skill,
and occupational group, October 1937_________________________




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V III

CONTENTS

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.— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly hours in
public-seating furniture division, October 1937_____________
67.— Average weekly hours and earnings in public-seating furniture
division, by region and skill, October 1937__________________
6 8 .— Distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings
in public-seating furniture division, by skill, October 1937-_
69.— Average hourly earnings in furniture industry by product,
region, and skill, October 1937_______________________________
70.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in wood household and wood office furniture
combined, by region and skill, October 1937________________
71.— Average hourly earnings in wood household and wood office
furniture combined, by region and skill, October 1937_____
72.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in wood household and wood office furniture
combined, 1931 and 1937_____________________________________
73.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in office furniture in the ISlorth, by product
and skill, October 1937________________________________________
74.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to aver­
age hourly earnings in office-furniture divisions, by product
and skill, October 1937________________________________________
75.— Simple percentage distribution of workers according to average
hourly earnings in furniture industry as a whole, by region
and skill, October 1937________________________________________
76.— Average hourly earnings for the furniture industry as a whole,
by region and skill, October 1937____________________________
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List o f Charts
C

h a r t

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h a r t

C

h a r t

C

h a r t

C

h a r t

C

h a r t

I.— Average hourly earnings of workers in the furniture-manu­
facturing industry, by branchand region,October 1937_____
xn
II.— Index numbers of employment and pay rolls in the furniture­
manufacturing industry, by months, January 1923 to M ay
1939___________________________________________ ________________
17
III.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings
in the furniture-manufacturing industry, March 1933 to
M ay 1939______________________________________________________
21
IV .— Percentage distribution of employees in wood householdfurniture branch, by average hourly earnings, by region,
October 1937______________________________________________________
30
V .— Percentage distribution of employees in wood office-furniture
division, by average hourlyearnings, October
1937___________
86
V I.— Percentage distribution of employees in metal office-furniture
and public-seating division, by average hourly earnings,
October 1937______________________________________________________
95




Letter of Transmittal

U n ited S tates D epar tm en t of L a b o r ,
B u r e a u of L abor S tatist ic s ,

W ashington , D . C ., June 15, 1939

The S e c r e ta r y of L a b o r :
I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on The Wage and
Hour Structure of the Furniture-Manufacturing Industry, October
1937. This report was prepared by the Division of Wage and Hour
Statistics, Jacob Perlman, chief.
Respectfully submitted.
I sador L u b in ,

Commissioner o f Labor Statistics.

Hon. F ran ces P e r k in s ,
Secretary of Labor.




IX




PREFACE

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has made a number of surveys of
wages and horns in the furniture-manufacturing industry. The
earlier surveys covered only selected occupations, but those for 1915,
1929, and 1931, as well as the present one, have included all oc­
cupations.
Prior to 1937, data were obtained only from establishments engaged
primarily in the manufacture of wood household and wood office
furniture. The scope of the present survey is wider, as metal office
furniture and public seating have also been covered. Not included
were such products as store and lunchroom furniture and fixtures as
well as professional furniture, which as a rule are not made on a massproduction basis.
Since the last survey in 1931, the industry has been profoundly
affected by Federal legislation and changes in industrial conditions.
In particular, the N. R. A. code tended to raise wages and reduce hours
of work. The purpose of the present survey was to ascertain what
changes had taken place recently in the wage and hour structure of
the furniture-manufacturing industry.
The Bureau is indebted to the many employers who cooperated
by furnishing the data upon which the report is based. The Bureau
also appreciates the assistance of the National Association of Furni­
ture Manufacturers, the Southern Furniture Manufacturers’ Associa­
tion, the Steel Office Furniture Institute, and the Trade Practice
Committee of the Public Seating Industry. Likewise, the Bureau
wishes to thank the various trade-unions in the industry for their
aid in the survey.
This report was prepared under the direction of Jacob Perlman,
Chief of the Division of Wage and Hour Statistics. The text was
written by Jacob Perlman, Victor S. Baril, and H. O. Rogers. Victor
S. Baril was in charge of the survey. Abner C. Lakenan, John J.
McCarthy, Edward Kilpatrick, and Vera C. Holtzclaw compiled the
data. The following field representatives collected the data: Hugh
F. Brown, Fred B. Cunningham, Wilbert E. Dinger, Clarence H.
Doughty, Mell W. Fleetwood, Victor E. Green, H. S. Hammond,
Ann Herlihy, Charles F. Jackson, John F. Laciskey, Fred B. Lindsey,
Clarence T. Lundquist, Samuel J. Nordan, Charles Rubenstein,
William C. Sims, Bernard L. Smith, George E. Votava, and Paul E.
W arwick.
I sador L u b in ,

Commissioner o j Labor Statistics.
J u n e 15, 1939.




XI

CHART I.

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS OF WORKERS IN
THE FU RNITU RE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
BY BRANCH AND REGION
OCTOBER, 19 3 7

KITCHEN
FURNITURE

TO TAL
WOOD H 0 U S E H 0 L D 5 3 .4
F U R N IT U R E

WOOD OFFICE
FURNITURE

METAL OFFICE
FURNITURE

PUBLIC
SEATING

20

40
AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS IN CENTS

U N IT E D S TATES
U S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS




60

Bulletin 7 lo. 669 o f the
S
U nited States Bureau o f Labor Statistics

T h e W a g e and H our Structure o f the F urnitureM anufacturing Industry, October 1937
P A R T 1.— Background Material
Chapter I.— T h e Furniture-M anufacturing Industry
Definition o f Industry

There are various definitions of the furniture-manufacturing indus­
try. That of the United States Census of Manufactures is fairly
broad. It embraces under the designation of “ furniture, including
store and office fixtures” any establishments engaged primarily in the
making of furniture out of wood, metal, fiber, reed, rattan, and
willow.
In addition to the different materials used, the industry thus
defined produces a wide variety of articles. These are classified by
the Census of Manufactures as follows: Household furniture, or
furniture commonly used in dwellings (exclusive of mattresses, bed.
springs, and refrigerators), porch and camp furniture, and radio and
sewing-machine cases and cabinets; office furniture; store and lunch­
room furniture and fixtures; furniture for professional use in labora­
tories, hospitals, barber shops, beauty parlors, etc.; furniture for
public buildings, including seats for public conveyances; shelving;
lockers; and telephone booths.
According to the Census of Manufactures, there were 3,097 estab­
lishments in the furniture industry in 1937 whose product was valued
at $5,000 or more. They employed an average of 170,072 wage
earners during the year. They were paid $172,558,291 in wages.
The total value of products amounted to $658,466,694, of which
$350,163,047 was the value added by manufacture.




1

2

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

T able

1 .— N u m b er o f establishm ents, num ber o f wage earners, wages pa id, and
value o f products in fu rn itu re-m a n u fa ctu rin g in d u stry, 1 8 9 9 to 1 9 8 7

Num­
ber of
estab­
lish­
ments i

Year

Furniture plants with a product valued
at $500 or more:
1899____________________________
1904____________________________
1909____________________________
1914____________________________
1919____________________________
Furniture plants with a product valued
at $5,000 or more:
1921____________________________
1923____________________________
1925____________________________
1927 3__________________________
19293__________________________
19313__________________________
1933 3___________________________
1935 3___________________________
19373___________________________

Ratio
of
Number
wages
of wage
Average Value of
to
earners Wages paid 1 annual products 1 value
(average
wages 2
of
for year)1
prod­
ucts

1,929
2,637
3,188
3, 338
3. 279

88,964
113,486
127, 088
130, 423
140, 252

$36. 443, 360
51, 655, 685
65,047, 325
73, 401, 611
143,152, 217

$410 $128, 264,001
455 176,615, 364
512 236,942, 836
563 271, 610, 464
1,021 579,906, 396

28.4
29.2
27.5
27.0
24.7

3,038
3,047
3,239
3, 228
3, 778
3,148
2, 411
3,035
3,097

124,362
168,157
181,016
188,143
193, 399
127,605
105, 488
130, 781
170, 072

144,148,061
204,566,063
225, 297, 743
238, 240,167
242,832,096
125,972,086
76,346, 466
113,898, 288
172, 558, 291

1,159
1,217
1, 245
1,266
1, 256
987
724
871
1, 015

26.2
26.3
25.9
26.9
25.6
26.1
25.6
26.2
26.2

550,413,020
776, 846, 732
868, 719, 971
885, 204, 300
948,116, 358
482, 289, 230
297, 729,981
434, 443, 514
658, 466, 694

1 Taken from U. S. Census of Manufactures.
2 These annual earnings were arrived at by dividing the total wages paid by the average number of wage
earners for the year.
3 Includes also figures for sewing-machine cases, cabinets, and tables.
G ro w th o f Industry

Prior to the introduction of machinery, furniture was made for the
most part in shops by master cabinetmakers aided by a few journey­
men and apprentices. All of the work was done at a bench with the
aid of hand tools. On the whole, these shops were small and their
output consisted almost exclusively of custom-made furniture in­
tended to meet the needs of the upper and middle classes. The
poorer classes used very little furniture, which was generally made by
themselves or by the local carpenter.
The transition of furniture making from handicraft to factory stage
took place largely during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
On the one hand, this change was brought about by the widening of
markets for furniture products, which followed the rapid industrial
development of the country and the consequent improved purchasing
power of wage earners. On the other hand, it was made possible by the
introduction of machines, which tended to lower production costs, thus
bringing factory-made furniture within the reach of lower income groups.
The rapid progress in the furniture industry continued after the
turn of the century. This may be seen by an examination of the data
from the Census of Manufactures since 1899, which are shown in
table 1.
In number of furniture plants, including all with a value of
products of $500 or more, the industry expanded from 1,929 in 1899
to 3,338 in 1914, decreasing slightly to 3,279 in 1919. Since 1921
reports are available only for the establishments with a value of




BACKGROUND

M A T E R IA L

3

products of $5,000 or over; the number amounted to 3,038 in 1921.
There was very little change in 1923, but by 1925 the number had
increased to 3,239. After hardly any change in 1927, an all-time peak
of 3,778 plants was reached in 1929. The effect of the depression
upon the industry in the early thirties is shown by the reduction in
the number of establishments to 3,148 in 1931 and 2,411 in 1933. By
1935, however, the number had risen to 3,035 and in 1937, it was
3,097, which figures are near the level of the early twenties.
Employment in furniture plants with a product valued at $500 or
more rose from 88,964 in 1899 to 140,252 in 1919, a gain of 58 percent.
On the basis of establishments with a product valued at $5,000 or
more, the number of wage earners increased from 124,362 in 1921 to
a peak of 193,399 in 1929, an advance of 56 percent. The effect of
the depression upon the industry is shown by a reduction in the
number of workers to 105,488 in 1933, a decline of 46 percent. By
1935, however, the number of wage earners had risen to 130,781,
increasing further to 170,072 in 1937. The latter year, therefore, was
still considerably below the 1929 peak.
In the year 1899, furniture workers earned an average of $410. By
1914, the annual wages had increased to $563. During the war
period, however, annual wages rose sharply, the figure amounting to
$1,021 in 1919. There was a further advance to $1,217 in 1923.
From 1923 to 1929, the average annual wages were quite stable.
During the depression, the annual earnings fell off sharply, dropping
to $987 in 1931 and to $724 in 1933. Despite the advance between
1933 and 1937, the average for the latter year ($1,015) was still sub­
stantially belov that for any census year between 1923 and 1929.
Changes in wages on the whole kept close pace with those in
value of products. This was not entirely true between 1899 and 1919,
when the relative gain in wages was somewhat smaller than in value
of products.
During this interval, the former advanced from
$36,443,360 to $143,152,217 and the latter from $128,264,001 to
$579,906,396. While much of this gain occurred between 1904 and
1914, by far the greater part took place during the war years (1914 to
1919). From 1921 to 1929, the relative increase in wages was only
slightly smaller than that in value of products, the former increasing
from $144,148,061 to $242,832,096 and the latter from $550,413,020
to $948,116,358. By 1933, wages had declined to $76,346,466 and
value of products to $297,729,981. In 1935, wages stood at
$113,898,288 and value of products at $434,443,514. During the
next 2 years, both wages and value of products advanced sharply,
so that by 1937 the former amounted to $172,558,291 and the latter
to $658,466,694. It is interesting to note that from 1921 to 1937 the
ratio of wages to value of products remained almost constant, namely,
about 26 percent.




4

W AGE AND

H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

Heterogeneous N ature o f Products

As mentioned at the outset, the furniture industry has an extremely
wide range of products. Thus, under each of the classifications used
by the Census of Manufactures (see table 2), there are numerous
subgroups, each of which in turn covers a large number of articles.
Moreover, these articles in many instances vary with respect to ma­
terials used, and in some cases there is keen competition between
items that differ only in materials. There is also lack of standard­
ization in the various articles, so that a given item may differ greatly
in quality and design. Lastly, all of these factors are reflected in the
manufacturing processes, which range from hand to mass production
and vary widely with the materials involved.
By far the most important classification is that of household furni­
ture, which in 1937 accounted for 73 percent of the total value of the in­
dustry’s products. This group covers living room and library, bedroom,
dining room, kitchen, porch, camp, hall, juvenile, and miscellaneous
furniture, as well as furniture in white. Not only is the greatest
variety of individual articles found in this classification, but it also
presents the widest range in quality and design. On the whole,
most of the above items are the result of mass production, although
the more expensive furniture is usually made by hand.
On the basis of materials used, wood comprised 88.6, metal 10.6,
and other materials 0.8 percent of the total value of household furni­
ture in 1937. Yet, in spite of the fact that wood dominates this
field as a whole, metal furniture is a competitive factor of some im­
portance. Thus, an examination of the data for each of the various
subgroups within the classification reveals that the proportion of total
value of products for metal amounted to 8 percent for the living
room and library, 7 percent for bedroom, 26 percent for kitchen, 68
percent for porch, and 42 percent for camp furniture. Hence, metal
dominates porch furniture, and is an important factor in both kitchen
and camp furniture. However, it is relatively of minor importance
in living room, library, and bedroom furniture. It should be added,
however, that metal has increased considerably in popularity in
living room and library (particularly modernistic) and kitchen furni­
ture during recent years, while the trend in metal bedroom furniture
has been in the opposite direction.
Office furniture constitutes another important classification, com­
prising 8 percent of the total value of products in the industry in
1937. Compared to furniture for household use, office furniture
covers a relatively smaller variety of products. However, this limited
range in items, coupled with their more or less standardized nature,
is responsible for the greater utilization of mass-production methods
in this branch of the industry.




BACKGROUND

5

M A T E R IA L

To a much greater extent than in household furniture, there exists
very keen competition between wood and metal office furniture.
Metal is the more important of the two, its products accounting for
61 percent of the total value of office furniture. An examination of
the subgroups, however, reveals the fact that chairs and desks and
tables are to a large extent made of wood rather than metal, the
distribution being 67 percent for the former and 33 percent for the
latter. On the other hand, all but 6 percent of the total value of
filing cabinets and cases were metal.
Of importance also are the products classified by the Census of
Manufactures as store and lunchroom furniture and fixtures. In
1937, these items represented 9 percent of the total product value of
the industry. Included in this group are counters, tables, partitions,
window backs, showcases, wall cases, cabinets, chairs and stools,
display fixtures, and miscellaneous other items. Most of these are
made of wood, which on the basis of value of products accounted for
72 percent of this group. The manufacture of store and lunchroom
furniture and fixtures is highly specialized, and for that reason it
does not readily lend itself to mass production.

T able

2, — Value

of products in furniture-m anufacturinq industry fo r the United
States in 1987 1

Products

Value

1. “Furniture, including store and office fixtures” industry, all products, total value
$658,466, 694
2. Furniture and store and office fixtures made in the industry ____ _ _
625, 697,020
3. Other products (not normally belonging to the industry)-._ _ _ ___ __________ ___ _ _ 31,012,084
4. Receipts for contract, custom, and repair work.__ _ ___ _ __________
1, 757, 590
5. Furniture and store and office fixtures made as secondary products in other industries. _ 50,152,934
Furniture and store and office fixtures, aggregate value (sum of 2 and 5)
__ _ _ _ 675,849,954
Wood_____________________________________________________________________
528, 546,050
M etal_____________________ _ _
______ 143, 372,165
Fiber____ _
... _ ___________. . . _ . .
_ _
3, 931, 739
Household furniture, total . . .
__
496, 404,392
Wood, total______________ _________________ _______ _______________ 439, 660,837
Living room and library. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _______ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 212,160, 430
Bedroom___ ____ _ ___ _
__
___
__
116, 558, 588
Diningroom____________ __ __ ___ _ ______________ __ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
57,155, 223
Kitchen ______ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
18,866, 633
3,894, 386
Porch, ____ _ _____
_
___________________ _ _ _ _ _ ____ _
2,255, 554
Camp. __________ __ ____
_____
__
_ ___
779, 687
Hall
______________________________________________________________
4, 739, 425
Juvenile_____ _ _ _ _ _
_ _
1,193,187
Furniture in the white____ ____
_
_ __
_ _ _ _ _ ______
8, 204,093
Built-in furniture __
__ _ _
__ _____
13,853, 631
Other, miscellaneous, and not specified
__
_ _
52,831,166
__ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ ___
Metal, total _ _ ____ _
18, 762, 515
Living room and library
_ ________________ _ _ _________
8, 778,173
Bedroom
______ __________ ____ ___ _ _
6,463, 238
Kitchen
_________ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ ____
8,398, 798
Porch
_ _ _ __________
____ __ _______ ____
1, 659,182
Camp
_
_ _
__
_______ _
8, 769, 260
Other, miscellaneous, and not specified
_____ _ ____ ___ __ ______
3, 912, 389
Fiber, rattan, reed, and willow
__ _ -----i Taken from U. S. Census of Manufactures.
161633°— 39------2




6
T able

W AGE AND

H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

2.— Value o f products in furniture-m anufacturing industry fo r the United
States in 1937— Continued

Value
Products
5. Furniture and store and office fixtures—Continued.
$116,791,116
Furniture and fixtures for offices and stores, total
_ __
_ _ ___ _ _
Wood and fiber __ __ _ __ _ _ ______ ________ __ _ _ __ __ _
65, 534, 635
Metal
__ _ _
_ ______ ____ ______ _____ ______ 51, 256, 481
55, 766,956
Office furniture, total _________________ _____ ______ - __________ ____ __
Wood___ ___ .
. _ _ . ________________________________________ 221, 552,481
Metal _ ________ _ __ __ _ __ ______ _
_ __ _ ___ _____ _
34, 214, 475
Chairs, total ___________ ____ _____ ______
__ ___ ___
9, 255,952
26, 398, 343
Wood _ ____________ ____ ____ ____ -__ -__ _____ ____
2,857, 609
Metal______________________________________________________________
Desks and tables, to ta l-_____
_ _ _ _ _________ ______ ____ ____
16, 210,533
Wood______________________________________________________________ 210, 545,057
Metal
________ _____________ ________ ___ __ __ _ __
5,665, 476
Filing cabinets and cases, total _____ ______ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
21, 952, 524
Wood______________________________________________________________
1, 212, 951
Metal __ ____ _________ _ _________ _ ______ _
20, 739, 573
Other office furniture and such furniture not reported in detail, total_______
8,347, 947
Wood__________ ____ ___________ _ _____ _____ _ ______ ____ __ 23,396,130
Metal __ _ ______ ________ _ __ ____ ___________ _________ _
4, 951,817
Store and lunchroom furniture and fixtures, total _______________ ___
61,024,160
Wood______________________________________________________________
43, 982,154
Metal _ _ ____ _ ________ ______ ____ ___ _______ ____________
17,042,006
Counters, tables, partitions, window backs, showcases, wall cases, and cabi­
nets, total _ ___ ___ _____ __ ___ _ _________ ______ ___________
33,688,014
Wood__________________________ ______________________________ _
28, 753, 356
Metal____
_ _ _ _____ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
4,934, 658
Chairs and stools, total-- _ __________ __ _________ __________________
4, 918, 569
Wood______________________________________________________________
2,998, 233
Metal _________ _ _ ________ __ __ ___ ___ __ _ _____ _
1,920, 336
Display fixtures, total _ ______ _ _ __ _ __ ______ _ _ __ _ _
9, 642, 923
Wood____________________________________________________ _
3, 770, 349
Metal___________________________________________________
5,872, 574
Other store and lunchroom furniture and fixtures and such furniture and fix­
_ __
tures not reported in detail, total______________ _______
12, 774, 654
Wood ____ _ _____ _ ______ _ _ _ __ __
8, 460, 216
MetaL. ______ ___ _____ _ _ _____ _______ _ ___ _ _ __
4, 314, 438
Professional, laboratory, hospital, barber-shop, and beauty-parlor furniture, total
14,273,605
Wood and fiber________ _______ ______ ___ _______ _______
6,048,060
Metal______ _____________________ _____________ _ .
8, 225, 545
Furniture for public buildings (schools, theaters, assembly halls, churches, libraries,
etc.), total______ _____ ___________ _ _ _____
23, 517, 790
Wood and fiber_____ _ _ _ _____
14, 477,066
Metal________________ __
9,040, 724
Seats for public conveyances, total _ _
_ _____
6,030, 421
Wood_________________________________ _
421,376
Metal___
__ ___ ____
_
5, 609,045
Shelving, total _______ _ _ _ __ __
8,960,948
Wood_________________________________ _ _
708, 354
Metal_________________________________
8, 252, 594
Lockers, total__ ___ __ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _
4, 965, 922
Wood___________________________ _
4, 821
Metal _____ _ _ __ ___ __ _ ___ _ ___
4,961,101
Telephone booths, wood___ ___ _________ _
1,085,089
Not reported by class, total.. ____ ___ _ ___
3,820, 671
Wood___________________________
625,162
M e ta l___ __
___ _
3,195,509
2Includes data for a small amount of fiber furniture-




BACKGROUND

M A T E R IA L

7

Professional furniture, which in 1937 accounted for only 2 percent
of the total value of furniture products, is another specialty group.
Among the more important items included here are laboratory, hos­
pital, barber-shop, and beauty-parlor furniture. In terms of total
value of products for this classification, 58 percent of the furniture
was made of metal and 42 percent of wood and fiber. Due to its small
size and also to its highly specialized nature, mass-production methods
cannot be applied satisfactorily to this branch of the industry.
Public seating includes furniture for such public buildings as
schools, theaters, assembly halls, churches, libraries, etc., as well as
seats for public conveyances. This is a rather small branch of the
industry, the value of its products amounting in 1937 to only 4 per­
cent of the industry total. One half of public-seating equipment is
made up of wood and fiber, as one may see from the fact that these
materials accounted for 50 percent of the value of products for the
group. The manufacture of public seating lends itself to quantity
production, so that it resembles in that respect household and office
furniture. Public-seating products, however, are entirely different in
nature, which explains the fact that plants engaged in their manu­
facture generally specialize in them and seldom enter other fields.
Likewise, household and office-furniture establishments, as a general
rule, do not go into the public-seating field.
Also included in the furniture industry are shelving and lockers,
the combined product value of which amounted to 2 percent of the
industry total in 1937. Of the two products, shelving is by far the
more important. It is significant that these items were nearly all
made of metal. Thus, in terms of value of products, less than 1
percent of the lockers and only 8 percent of the shelving were made
of wood.




Chapter II.— Characteristics of Furniture^
Manufacturing Industry
Geographical D istribution

At the outset, the manufacture of furniture was concentrated in
the New England and Middle Atlantic States. Following the west­
ward shift in population and the consequent widening of markets, the
industry began to spread toward the Middle West. Another reason
for this shift was the presence of an ample supply of lumber in that
area, particularly in Michigan. A third reason is the bulky nature
of furniture and the high transportation costs from the East. Not
until the close of the century, however, did the industry begin to
develop in the South, being encouraged there by an abundance of
lumber, cheap labor, and a wide market for low-priced furniture. The
development of the industry in the South has been very rapid. Fur­
thermore, the trend here has been toward the manufacture of a better
grade of furniture, so that now the southern region not only supplies
its own needs but is also able to compete with most northern producers.
More recent has been the development of the furniture industry on
the Pacific Coast. Prohibitive freight rates from eastern furniture
centers and an abundance of lumber explain this trend. At present,
the Pacific Coast is practically self-sufficient as far as its furniture
needs are concerned.
The wide geographical distribution of the industry may be seen
from the fact that in 1937 furniture plants were found in 42 of the 48
States and the District of Columbia, as shown in table 3. However,
the industry is chiefly concentrated in a few States. According to
the 1937 Census of Manufactures, the leading State in the northern
area was New York, which had 20,380 wage earners. Other important
States were Illinois with 17,697, Indiana with 15,406, Michigan with
14,851, Pennsylvania with 11,021, Ohio with 10,481, Massachusetts
with 7,798, and Wisconsin with 6,574 workers. On the Pacific
Coast, California was the leading State, employing 7,311 wage earners.
Among the southern States, North Carolina came first with 16,789
workers, followed by Virginia with 8,504 wage earners. As will be
shown later, the geographical distribution varies with the different
products in the industry.
8




C H A R A C T E R IS T IC S OE F U R N I T U R E -M A N U F A C T U R I N G I N D U S T R Y

9

T able 3.— Num ber o f establishments, number o f wage earners, wages paid, and
value of products in furniture-m anufacturing industry, by States, 1937 1

States
United States.
Alabama
. . . .
Arkansas
California___ ___ __ __ _________
Colorado_____ __________ __ __ _ ...
Connecticut
__
. . .
Florida___________________________________
Georgia____ __________ __ ____________
Illinois
_ ___ __ _ _ _________
Indiana
__ __ . . . _____ ________ _
Iowa
_ _ ... __ _ ______ . . .
Kansas__ ____ _ _ _ _ _ _ _____ __ _
Kentucky ___ _ _ _ _ _
Louisiana. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
Maine____ _____ __ _ ___________________
Maryland__ __ __ __ ___ _________________
Massachusetts. _ __ _ _
__ __
Michigan ___
_____
___
Minnesota. _ __
_____
Mississippi__
____ _ _ _ ____
Missouri, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Nebraska____________ _____ _ _ _ ______
New Hampshire... __ _ _ __ _
New Jersey__________ __ _______ ______
New York___________ ____________________
North Carolina _ _____
_ __ _ _
Ohio______ ___ __ ___ __ ___ _____________
Oregon_ _ _ _ __ __
____
___
Pennsylvania_____ _ __ __ _____________
Rhode Island _ _ __
South Carolina _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Tennessee... ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
_
Texas. __________
_ _ ______
Utah______ _______________________________
Vermont _______
_ _ __ _ ____
Virginia ___ ____
Washington _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
West Virginia. _ _ _ _
Wisconsin. _ _ _ _ _
Other States 2__ _ _______________ ___ _ _

Number of Wage earners
establish­ (average for Wages paid
ments
the year)
3,097
7
14
293
16
40
19
35
297
153
19
11
34
22
5
41
212
159
47
5
62
17
20
70
648
130
153
30
244
8
10
28
36
3
11
49
51
7
84
7

170, 072 $172, 558, 291
174, 345
196
1, 434,842
1, 962
8, 781, 640
7, 311
347, 304
305
950, 253
917
349, 326
376
1,418, 030
2,106
17, 697 20,130, 903
15, 406 14,471, 390
983, 884
1, 006
350, 503
345
3,062, 459
3, 205
590, 533
910
242, 337
216
1, 335, 716
1,392
8, 371, 208
7,798
14, 851 16,176, 028
1, 436, 011
1,241
58, 591
88
3,134, 438
2, 878
418, 233
433
931, 538
1,010
2,983, 568
2, 472
20, 380 24, 426,156
16, 789 12, 504, 982
10, 841 12, 279, 651
2, 458, 517
2, 223
11, 021 11, 202, 043
156, 556
149
1,094
631, 306
2, 391, 220
3, 308
1,450, 940
1,606
124,159
96
944
833,125
8, 504
6, 601, 638
1, 845
1, 852,951
265
207, 924
6, 574
7, 067, 086
236, 957
316

Value of
products
$658, 466, 694
648, 003
6,827, 435
30,156, 271
1,459, 511
4,459,440
1,176, 550
5, 604, 406
76, 749, 649
57, 094, 049
4, 587, 341
1,115, 650
10, 727, 528
3,071, 466
824,151
5, 067, 614
29, 634, 013
57,899,188
4, 808, 316
308,140
11,161,009
2, 228, 531
2, 833, 291
11,954, 624
96, 785, 336
48,412, 936
47, 666, 099
7, 876, 999
41, 458, 211
631, 026
2, 579, 788
9, 326, 727
5,927, 606
502, 858
2, 943,907
30, 016, 087
5, 519, 383
769, 177
26,179, 608
1, 474, 770

1 Taken from U. S. Census of Manufactures.
2 District of Columbia, 1 establishment; Idaho, 1; Montana, 1; Oklahoma, 3; and Wyoming, 1.
It is significant that within most of the principal furniture-manu­
facturing States, the industry has tended to concentrate in certain
localized areas. Nearness to an abundant supply of lumber was once
the motivating force, but proximity to both labor and consumer
markets have been more important factors in recent years. Among
the furniture manufacturing centers are a number of smaller cities,
such as Grand Rapids, Mich., High Point, N. C., Jamestown, N. Y.,
Evansville, Ind., Rockford, 111., and Gardner, Mass. The industry
has also developed rapidly in and around the larger cities, such as
Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. On the Pacific Coast,
the industry has tended to concentrate almost entirely around the
larger cities, as most of the plants are found in Los Angeles, San
Francisco, Portland, Tacoma, and Seattle.




10

W A G E A N D H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

Corporate A ffiliation and Size. o f Establishment

The making of furniture is, on the whole, not controlled by any one
company or a few companies. There are relatively few large estab­
lishments in the industry, most of the units being of medium and small
size. It should be noted, however, that certain large establishments
play an important role in this industry, especially with respect to
specific products.
As shown in table 4, all but 232 of the 3,778 establishments reporting
to the Census of Manufactures in 1929 were independent or single-unit
operations, whether owned and operated by a corporation, individual,
or partnership. These single-unit operations had somewhat more
than three-fourths of the wage earners (78 percent), and they also
accounted for approximately the same proportion (77 percent) of the
total product value of the industry. On the other hand, although
they constituted only 6 percent of the number of establishments, the
multiple-unit operations had 22 percent of the wage earners and an
output with a value equal to 23 percent of the total.

T able

4 .— Classification of establishments, wage earners, value o f products, and
value added by manufacture in furniture-m anufacturing industry, according to
type o f operation, 1929 1

Type of operation
Plural unit __ _____ __ _ ___
Single unit _ ___ ____ ____ _ _ _ _
Total____ __ _____________ __ __ _

Number of
establish­
ments
232
3, 546
3, 778

Number of
wage
earners

Value of
products

42, 695 $217, 648, 321
150, 704 730, 468, 037
193, 399 948,116, 358

Value
added by
manufacture
$115, 254, 881
406, 407, 308
521, 662,189

1 Taken from U. S. Census of Manufactures.
The predominance of small and medium-sized establishments in
the furniture-manufacturing industry may be seen from the fact
that, according to the Census of Manufactures in 1937, all but 30 of
the plants had 500 workers or less. There were only 31 plants that
reported no wage earners, but 2,593 had from 1 to 100 workers.
There were 443 establishments with 101 to 500 employees in that year.
Of the total number of wage earners reported, 36.5 percent worked in
plants with 1 to 100 employees, 50.0 percent in those with 101 to 500,
and only 13.5 percent in those with 501 or over. (See table 5).
M echanisation and Labor Cost

Machines are now used extensively in the manufacture of fur­
niture. The mechanization of the industry was rather slow at the
outset. Crude woodworking machines, such as power-driven saws,
planers, and lathes, were introduced at first to perform the heavier
and rougher woodworking operations. These machines were rather




C H A R A C T E R IS T IC S O F F U R N I T U R E -M A N U F A C T U R I N G I N D U S T R Y

11

simple, any journeyman being able to operate them. Gradually,
however, the crude machines were improved and new ones developed.
As the operation of the latter grew more and more involved, it became
necessary to train men especially for their use. As a result, there
developed a greater division of labor than heretofore, particularly in
the larger establishments, which gave rise to a sizable class of semi­
skilled workers.
It is almost impossible to measure accurately the extent to which
the furniture industry has been mechanized. The rated horsepower
capacity of prime movers and electric motors driven by purchased
energy compiled by the Census of Manufactures, however, indicates
the degree to which power is used by the industry, thus measuring
in a limited way the extent of mechanization. In 1899, the total horse­
power of the entire industry was 111,880, or 1.3 horsepower per wage
earner. This gradually increased until 1929, the last year for which
information is available, when the total horsepower was 503,970, or
2.6 horsepower per man. Thus, in 30 years the horsepower per wage
earner doubled.

T able

5 .— D istribution o f establishments in furniture-m anufacturing
according to number o f wage earners, 1987 1

Establishments and
wage earners

Total

Number of establishments.. 2 3,097
Number of wage earners___ 170, 072

101 to 251 to
500
250
wage wage
earners earners

industry

501 to
1,000
wage
earners

1, 001 to
2,500
wage
earners

630
390
342
101
612
961
25
1,939 11, 251 20, 613 28, 331 51, 310 33, 635 16, 531

5
6,462

1 to 5 6 to 20 21 to 51 to
wage wage 50 wage lOOwage
earners earners earners earners

1 Taken from U. S. Census of Manufactures.
2 In addition there were 31 plants which had no wage earners.
Labor cost is an important factor in the furniture-manufacturing
industry. In 1937, as reported by the Census of Manufactures, wages
paid by the industry represented over one-fourth (26.2 percent) of
the total value of products and almost one-half (49.3 percent) of the
value added by manufacture. Compared to other manufacturing
industries, these ratios are high. Thus, of 19 important industries,1
only 3— foundries and machine shops, lumber and timber products,
and glass— showed a ratio of wages to value of product either equal to
or higher than that of the furniture-manufacturing industry (34.1,
32.4, and 26.2 percent, respectively), the other 16 having ratios ranging
from 5.5 percent for petroleum refining and tobacco manufacturing to
25.4 percent for cotton manufactures. Likewise, the ratio of furniture
wages to value added by manufacture was higher than in 14, lower than
in 4, and identical with 1 of the 19 industries. Tobacco manufacturing

1 These industries are: Agricultural implements, bakeries, blast furnaces, cement, chemicals, cotton
manufactures, foundries and machine shops, glass, leather, lumber and timber products, motor vehicles,
meat packing, men’s, youths’ and boys’ clothing, paper and pulp, petroleum refining, planing-mill products,
rubber industries, steel works and rolling mills, and tobacco manufacturing.




12

WAGE AND

H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

had the lowest ratio, 21.6 percent, and cotton goods the highest, 56.9
percent. Furthermore, instead of decreasing, these ratios in recent
years have tended to increase somewhat in the furniture industry.2
U nion Organisation

Until recently there has been very little trade-union organization
in the furniture industry. Such organization as did exist was gener­
ally confined to skilled occupations. Jurisdiction over these workers
was divided by the American Federation of Labor among the United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the Upholsterers’
International Union of North America, and the International Wood
Carvers’ Association of North America.
The first attempt at organization in this field came in 1873 when
the International Furniture Workers Union was formed. The United
Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners came into existence in 1881
and in time absorbed the membership of the older union. The highly
skilled upholsterers have been organized into their own craft union
since 1892, when the Upholsterers International Union was formed.
This union joined the American Federation of Labor in 1900.
The furniture industry has shared in the recent expansion of union
organization in all industries. A new union, the United Furniture
Workers of America (Congress of Industrial Organizations affiliate)
has entered the field, embracing all workers in the industry, organized
on an industrial basis. Likewise, the craft unions of the American
Federation of Labor, which had formerly confined their activities to
skilled occupations, are now taking in all production workers in an
establishment, excluding only such occupations as truck drivers,
operating engineers, and firemen and oilers, which are left in most
instances to their own respective organizations. At present there is
considerable overlapping in jurisdiction between the two A. F. of L.
unions, the upholsterers and carpenters. While the former normally
covers the upholstering department and the latter the woodworking
department, in a number of establishments either union will include
the workers in both departments.
Because of the diverse nature of the furniture industry, other unions
have also organized workers in some branches of the industry. The
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (A. F. of L.) and the United Elec­
trical, Radio and Machine Workers (C. I. O.) are found in some plants
manufacturing radio cabinets. The Steel Workers’ Organizing Com­
mittee (C. I. O.) has organized plants manufacturing metal office
furniture, and the United Automobile Workers (C. I. O.) has some
agreements in the metal-furniture branch of the industry as well as

2 Between 1929 and 1935, the ratio of wages to total value of products rose from 25.6 to 26.2 percent, while
the ratio to value added by manufacture increased from 46.5 to 50.3 percent. In 1937, however, the former
ratio remained unchanged at 26.2, while the latter dropped to 49.3.




C H A R A C T E R IS T IC S OF F U R N I T U R E -M A N U F A C T U R I N G I N D U S T R Y

13

the public-seating branch. Also, there are some federal labor unions,
affiliated directly with the American Federation of Labor. The
International Wood Carvers’ Association of North America, organized
in 1883, at present has only a small number of skilled artisans organized
on a craft basis under the American Federation of Labor. Most of
the furniture workers in the Jamestown, N. Y., area at one time were
organized into the nonaffiliated Jamestown Furniture Workers’ As­
sociation. Recently, locals in some of these plants have become
affiliated with the United Furniture Workers.
It is estimated that at the present time less than 50 percent of the
workers in the furniture industry are members of trade-unions, and a
smaller percentage (under 40 percent) are working under union agree­
ments with their employers. Of the 150,000 workers employed in the
wood household furniture, wood and metal office furniture, and
public-seating branches of the furniture industry, not more than
60,000 work under union agreements.
Union membership is much more extensive in the upholstery branch
of the industry than in the other branches. A factor contributing to
higher union organization within this industry is the location of the
plants, which are largely confined to the northern, midwestern, and
western areas and to metropolitan areas which have traditionally been
centers of trade-union organization. It is estimated that over twothirds of the workers in this branch are working under union agree­
ments.
The predominant union in upholstered furniture is the Uphol­
sterers’ International Union. In collective bargaining, this union has
no Nation-wide agreement, but it attempts to standardize conditions
through the issuance of standards of work to be used as the basis for
local negotiations. Although the union tries to obtain participation
in a standard agreement by local employers’ associations or groups of
manufacturers in a particular locality, the usual practice is to negotiate
and sign agreements with individual manufacturers. The Inter­
national Executive Board of the union first approves all demands
which the local union presents to the employer.
Although the youngest union in the industry, the United Furniture
Workers started with a strong nucleus in upholstered furniture made up
of locals of the older A. F. of L. union which had transferred affiliation
to the C. I. O. These locals include such metropolitan areas as New
York City, Boston, Newark, and Baltimore. The union now includes
not only these transferred locals but newly organized locals in other
sections of the country.
The extent of union organization in the case-goods, novelties, and
kitchen-furniture branches of household furniture is less than that
found in the upholstery branch of the industry. The Southern States,
where more than 40 percent of this type of furniture is produced, are




14

W AGE AND

H O U R ST R U C TU R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

as yet almost entirely unorganized. Plants in the North and Middle
West, particularly Indiana and Illinois, are largely covered by union
agreements, but such areas as Grand Rapids, Mich., traditionally the
hub of this industry, are largely unorganized. Not more than 25
percent of the wage earners in this branch work under union agree­
ments with their employers.
The United Furniture Workers is the dominant union in the casegoods and novelty-furniture industry. Agreements are negotiated
and signed on the basis of collective bargaining with individual em­
ployers. The Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners also has some
locals in this branch of the furniture industry, chiefly in the North and
West. With few exceptions, agreements with the carpenters’ union
in the furniture industry are on the basis of negotiations with indi­
vidual employers. No standard agreement is drawn up, but use of
the union label is restricted to those plants which grant the 8-hour
day and the closed shop.
The extent and degree of organization in the manufacture of wood
office furniture is approximately the same, about 25 percent, as that
prevailing in the case-goods and novelties branches of the industry.
The manufacture of metal office furniture, however, because of the
nature of the material used as well as the location of the plants,
presents a somewhat different situation. The location of plants near
other metal-manufacturing areas has resulted in a somewhat higher
degree of unionization. It is estimated that slightly more than onethird of the workers in this branch of the industry are now under
union agreements. These workers are largely organized into locals
of the United Automobile Workers, the International Association of
Machinists, and the Steel Workers Organizing Committee.
The public-seating branch of the furniture industry has only about
13 percent of its employees working under union agreement. Of the
25 establishments in this branch, only 4 have union agreements; 2
with the United Automobile Workers, one with the Upholsterers’
International Union, and one with a directly affiliated American
Federation of Labor local union.
D istribution o f Products

As a general rule, furniture manufacturers, especially those making
household furniture, sell their products directly to retailers specializing
in furniture or to department stores. Only a minor part of all furni­
ture produced is sold to wholesalers. The manufacturer reaches the
retailers through traveling salesmen, as well as through the various
furniture marts. In the more remote sections of the country, however,
the manufacturer generally deals with a wholesaler, who in turn
reaches the various retailers in his territory. Few manufacturers
have their own retail outlets.




C H A R A C T E R IS T IC S OF F U R N I T U R E -M A N U F A C T U R I N G I N D U S T R Y

15

Furniture marts play an important part in the distribution of
furniture. Because of its bulky nature, wide variety of products, and
lack of standardization, furniture cannot be sold on the road by using
samples. Furthermore, it cannot readily be sold from catalogues.
Hence, in order to give buyers an opportunity to actually examine the
various furniture products, the industry has devised a system of marts
or exhibitions. These marts are held at least twice each year in the
principal furniture producing and consuming centers. The shows are
so timed that buyers can conveniently attend two or more of them in
succession. At these shows, the various manufacturers display some
of their products, particularly the “ new lines,” come in contact with
the buyers, and take advance orders. Traveling salesmen then follow
up the exhibitions, visit retailers, and take further orders. The
different furniture marts precede the two generally recognized seasons
in the industry, namely, the spring and fall seasons.
In addition to seasonal fluctuations, the industry is also very sensi­
tive to any changes in general business conditions. This is due to
the very nature of furniture products. It is only natural for people
to want new furniture, particularly articles they have never possessed,
and to satisfy this desire in times of prosperity. In periods of depres­
sion, however, people must confine themselves to essentials, especially
insofar as furniture is concerned, with the result that furniture manu­
facturing falls off sharply.
As previously stated, manufacturers sell most of their furniture to
retailers, who in turn sell it to the consumer. To a very great extent,
the retail business is done on a credit or installment basis, the length
of the credit period varying widely.
Practically all of the furniture manufactured in this country is
intended for the domestic market. According to the Bureau of
Foreign and Domestic Commerce, exports in 1937 represented less
than 1 percent of the total value of furniture produced. About
three-fifths of the exports consisted of metal furniture. Furniture
imports were even lower than exports in 1937. Imported furniture is
limited to wood and fiber, there being no record of any imports of
metal furniture.




Chapter III.— Employment and Pay Rolls, 1923-39
Changes in Em ploym ent and Pay R olls, 1923-37

A detailed picture of the fluctuations in the activities of the fur­
niture-manufacturing industry may be obtained from the data on
employment and pay rolls, which are compiled monthly by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics. The index numbers of employment and
pay rolls since 1923 are presented in table 6 and plotted in chart 2.
An examination of the data from 1923 to date shows that on the
whole the furniture industry has two well-defined seasons, one in the
spring and another in the fall. Generally, the peak in the fall season
is reached in October or November, which is followed by a low point
in December or January. The highest point in the spring season is
usually attained in February or March, and another low point is
reached in June or July. The fall season is ordinarily more important
than the spring season. The seasonal fluctuations are clearly indicated
by the index numbers from 1923 to 1929, but they are obscured
somewhat by the changes in the business cycle since 1929. It should
also be noted that the fluctuations are more pronounced for pay rolls
than for employment.

T a b l e 6 .-— In dex

numbers o f em ploym ent and pay rolls in the furniture-m anu­
factu ring industry, by months, J anuary 1928 to Jun e 1989 1

[Index numbers are based on 3-year average 1923-25=100 and are adjusted to 1937 Census of Manufactures]
Month
January _ .
February __ _
March. _ ___
April__
May ___ ___
June... . _
July________
August___ _
September___
October . ...
November___
December___
Average___

1924
1923
1925
1926
1928
1927
1
Em­ Pay Em­ Pay Em­ Pay Em­ Pay Em­ Pay Em­ Pay
ploy­ rolls ploy­ rolls ploy­ rolls ploy­ rolls ploy­ rolls ploy­ rolls
ment
ment
ment
ment
ment
ment
97.5 92.4 94.9 91.7 104.4
99.1 95.1 97.8 99.9 106.5
99.6 97.6 98.3 99.2 106.8
98.9 97.8 96.9 98.2 104.6
98.2 97.6 94.0 93.1 101.3
97.0 95.8 90.6 89.1 99.7
97.2 94.8 89.7 82.9 99.2
98.2 94.8 91.3 90.4 102.7
97.2 96.2 95.3 95.2 106.0
98.5 100.8 99.3 103.1 110.4
98.9 100.9 101.6 104.1 113.4
97.4 98.9 104.6 109.3 112.9
98.1 96.9 96.2 96.4 105.7

101.9
107.6
109.2
103.3
100.7
98.3
94.9
102.7
106.5
116.6
119.8
119.3
106.7

110.0
112.2
112.2
110.1
106.0
104.1
103.8
107.2
112.0
116.2
115.8
114.5
110. 3

1 Prepared by the Bureau’s Division of Employment Statistics.
16




109.5
116.0
116.1
112.4
106.7
105.6
100.3
109.6
115.4
123.0
124.6
121.9
113.4

109.1
109.5
109.4
106.8
104.8
104.4
104.5
107.6
111.0
114.0
114.3
110.7
108.8

109.2
114.8
115.5
111.9
108.2
106.0
102.7
109.8
113.5
119.2
117.7
113.5
111.8

106.0
106.9
107.5
104.4
101.0
100.4
100.8
104.6
108.8
113.0
113.9
113.0
106.7

101.9
109.4
108.7
102.1
98.6
100.6
96.5
104.6
111.5
119.7
120.2
116.0
107.5

EM PLOYM ENT

AND

PAY

ROLLS,

17

19 2 3 - 3 9

T able

6.— Index numbers of em ploym ent and pay rolls in the furn iture-m an u ­
factu ring industry, by months, January 1923 to June 1939— Continued

1929
Month

1932

1931

1930

1934

1933

Em­
Em­
Em­
Em­
Em­
Em­
ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay
ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls

January, _
February____
March______
April____ _
May______ ,
June_____ _
July______ _
A u g u st.____
September___
October___
November___
December___
Average___

109. 3
110.7
110.0
108.2
106.8
107.3
110.1
114.7
119.2
121.8
116.9
107.6
111.9

107.3 100. 4
113.2 98.0
113.1 96.2
111. 3 92.8
109.2 89.3
109.2 88.0
106.8 83.8
117.9 84.9
124.3 85.3
131. 2 86.6
119.6 83.3
105.2 79.0
114.0 89.0

93.6
92.4
90. 2
85.1
82.2
79.4
71.3
76.3
78.6
80.6
72.1
66.2
80. 7

75.1
76.3
76.2
74.9
74.1
73.0
70.9
73.4
74.5
74.6
72.3
69.5
73.7

1935
Month
January., _
February,.
March___
April____
M ay_____
June_____
July______
August___
September,
October___
November,
December, _
Average, _

60.2
65.0
65.5
62. 5
61.3
58.2
55.8
58.4
60.1
59. 5
53.1
50.8
59.2

64.9
68.6
63. 1
58.9
54.7
52.3
49.4
50.4
55.0
58.7
57.4
55.7
57.4

43.9
44.4
41.3
36.1
31.5
29.0
25.0
28.5
33.6
37.6
33. 3
31.2
34.6

51.0
52.0
48.0
48.1
52.6
58.4
61. 5
67.9
76. 6
78.1
72.2
65.9
61.0

25.7
27. 5
21.7
24.0
28.4
33.6
35.6
43.5
52.4
54.6
44. 6
39.7
35.9

59.7
62.8
63.1
60.8
61.7
63.2
63.4
65.3
67.7
69.7
68.6
68.8
64.6

34.4
39.9
40. 7
39. 7
40.1
41.0
39.5
43.5
45.4
48.3
45.7
47.0
42.1

1937

Em­
Em­
Em­
Em­
Em­
ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay ploy­ Pay
ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls ment rolls
68.0

70.9
73.2
72.9
71.4
71.4
74.2
78.5
81.2
82.9
82.2
80.3
75.6

44.3
47.8
50.4
49.9
47.9
49.1
49.6
57.2
61.2
64.3
60.8
60.1
53.6

77.3
78.2
78.5
78.4
79.8
81.7
85.4
91.2
95.1
97.7
99.3
99.1
86.8

53.6 97.4
56.8 97.8
58.2 99.5
58.6 99.1
59.3 99.7
62.3 101.8
63.8 101.0
72.8 102.6
75.7 102.4
82.3 100.0
83.2 92.0
84.0 86.5
67.6 98.3

77.3
81.3
83.4
85.2
83.5
85.8
81.3
86.9
86.1
84.5
72.8

66.8

81.2

79.4
79.1
78.9
75.9
74.0
74.9
75.3
80.4
83.5
84.3
84.1
84.4
79.5

54.9
59.4
59.9
54.8
53.2
55.3
54.1
66.0
71.9
72.2
68.5
71.5
61.8

80.7
83.3
83.4
82.4
81.4
83.2

63.6
69.6
69.8
67.0
66.6
68.5

Disregarding seasonal fluctuations,- the trend in employment was
steadily upward between January 1923 and October 1929. During
this interval, using 1923-25 as a base or 100, the index of employment
rose from 97.5 to 121.8 and the index of pay rolls from 92.4 to 131.2.
After October 1929, there occurred a precipitous decline that continued
until March 1933, at which time the index of employment stood at
48 and the index of pay rolls at 21.7. It will be noted that during
this period of depression the decline in pay rolls was much greater
than in employment. The rise in employment and pay rolls between
March and October 1933 was very pronounced, the former increasing
to 78.1 and the latter to 54.6. This sudden advance was due largely
to the movement within the industry to build up inventories, in
anticipation of higher labor and other production costs under the
N. R. A. Following the fall season, however, the index numbers




18
WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING







P l a t e l .—C u t - o f f S a w O p e r a t o r .




S'* i
P l a t e 2.—T e n o n e r O p e r a t o r .

EM PLOYMENT AND PAY ROLLS,

1 9 2 3 -3 9

19

dropped to 59.7 for employment and 34.4 for pay rolls in January
1934. Overlooking seasonal variations, the trend in employment and
pay rolls then increased sharply between January 1934 and the fall
of 1936, the index numbers being 99.3 in November for the former
and 84.0 in December for the latter. This advance continued on a
much more limited scale until August 1937, when the index of employ­
ment was 102.6 and that of pay rolls 86.9.
Fluctuations in Average H ourly Earnings and W eekly Hours and
Earnings, 1933-37

Using the data on employment and pay rolls, it is possible to com­
pute average weekly earnings. Moreover, in recent years the Bureau
has been obtaining data on man-hours, which makes it possible also
to calculate average hourly earnings and weekly hours. These
figures, being available since 1933, are presented in table 7 and chart 3.
T a b l e 7 .—

A verage h ou rly ea rn in g s , w eekly h ou rs , and w eekly earnings
fu rn itu re-m a n u fa ctu rin g in d u s try , M a r c h 1 9 8 8 to J u n e 1 9 8 9 1

Year and month

1933

March.. ______
A p ril____ _________
May__________________
J u n e .----------- ----------July__________________
August _______ _ _ _
September. _ _ ______
October____ ________
November. __ _____
December______ _____
Yearly average _.

1934

January__
__ _
February __ _______ __
March___ _ __ _____ _
April_________________
M ay_____ __ _ ___ __
June ___ _ _ _ _ _ __
July__________________
August_______ ___ ___
September. _ _ _ ______
October. . _ _ __ ____
November. _ ____
December. ____ _ __
Yearly average__

Average
earnings
Aver­
age
weekly
hours Hour­ Weekly
ly
30.7 $0. 338
33.0 .337
36.9 .325
39.7 .322
41.9 .310
39.3 .379
37.7 .421
38.0 .421
34.9 .426
33.0 .437
36.2 .337
29.9
35.6
34.3
34.5
33.3
34.3
32.4
34.9
35.4
36.5
35.2
36.2
34.6

.443
.414
.433
.437
.454
.447
.445
.444
.444
.441
.446
.449
.442

Year and month

1935

the

Average
earnings
Aver­
age
weekly
hours Hour­ Week­
ly
ly

$10. 55
11.73
12. 60
13. 46
13.43
15. 01
15. 84
16. 08
14. 28
13.98
13. 71

January____ _ .
February.. _ .
March. _. _ _ _ ._
April _ . _ _ ___
M ay __. _ . . . . ..
June__ . _ _______
July__________________
August _____
_ _
September _ _ _ _ _ _
October_____ _ __ _ _
November _
December_____ _ .
Yearly average___

35.0 $0.441
37.4 .436
38.0 .446
37.8 .448
36.8 .449
37.7 .453
36.5 .449
10.2 .448
41.5 .450
42.9 .450
40.5 .451
40.8 .454
38.9 .448

13. 39
14.79
14.98
15.18
15. 23
15.28
14.62
15. 70
15.94
16. 41
15. 85
16. 41
15.37

January ._ _ _ ___
February______ __
March. _______ _.
April _ ___________ _
May___ _ __ ------J u n e._____ _
July__________________
A u g u s t...____ __ -__
September____________
October____ __ ---------November. _ ___ ...
December_______ _____
Yearly average ...

38.2
39. 5
40.1
40.0
40.3
42.1
41.1
44.1
44.0
46.2
45.3
45.2
42.4

1936

in

.452
.454
.456
.460
.458
.449
.451
.452
.448
.453
.461
.468
.455

$15.68
16.39
17.03
16.94
16.65
17.15
16. 54
18.13
18. 79
19.37
18.43
18. 70
17. 58
17.27
17.86
18. 25
18. 31
18.44
18.89
18. 55
19.82
19.69
20.80
20. 76
21.11
19. 25

1 Prepared by the Bureau’s Division of Employment Statistics. The average earnings per week are
based on data furnished by all reporting firms. Average hourly earnings and average weekly hours, how­
ever, are based on a smaller sample of firms which furnish man-hours in addition to the employment and
pay-roll data.




20

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

T able

7 . — A verage h ourly earnings, w eekly hours, and w eekly ea rnings in
fu rn itu re-m a n u fa ctu rin g in d u stry, M a r c h 1 9 3 3 to J u n e 1 9 3 9 — Continued

Year and month

1987

January_______________
February_____ _____
March___ _ _____A p r il..____
_____
May ___
__
June.
_________
July__________________
August___ - ____ - -September.-- . _ ------October .. ___ _ __ - Novem ber____ ___
December____ _ __ _
Yearly average__

1988

January____
___
February__________ - March____ _ _ __ _ _

Average
earnings
Aver­
age
weekly
hours Hour­ Weekly
ly
41.8 $0.476
43.5 .480
43.1 .488
43.0 .497
41.3 .503
41.0 .510
39.4 .512
41.2 .513
40.5 .516
40.4 .524
37.0 .532
36.0 .537
40.7 .507
31.7
34.8
35.2

.539
.534
.538

$19.69
20. 69
20.81
21.21
20.63
20.80
20.01
21.04
20. 85
21.11
19. 66
19.19
20.50

Year and month

1988—Continued
April_______________
May_- _________
June _ _________ _ . .
July_____ ___________
August___________ ___
September____________
October_____ _ __ __
November _ __ ___ _ ___
December__________ __
Yearly average___
1939

January----------------------February______________
March. __ ____ _ _
17.16 April. __ _ __ _ __
18.56 M ay_______ ______
_____ _
18. 87 June _

the

Average
Aver­
earnings
age
weekly
hours Hour­ Week­
ly
ly
33.2 $0.544
33.2 .543
35.0 .531
34.3 .522
39.3 .522
39.9 .524
40.5 .518
37.9 .524
39.5 .526
36.3 .529

$17.92
17.89
18.42
17.87
20.43
21.50
20. 77
19. 75
20.60
19.22

36.9
38.8
38.5
37.3
37.5
38.0

19.13
20.26
20.20
19. 74
19. 86
19. 91

.521
.523
.527
.532
.530
.527

The lowest point in average hourly earnings, 31 cents, was reached
in July 1933.3 By September, however, the average rose sharply to
42.1 cents. This advance coincides with the President’s Reemploy­
ment Agreement, which was undoubtedly signed by a large number
of furniture manufacturers. Average earnings per hour continued
to advance, and in January 1934, or shortly after the adoption of the
N. R. A. code, they stood at 44.3 cents. Disregarding minor fluctua­
tions, the trend was slightly upward until October 1936. It is inter­
esting to note that the abolition of the code (May 1935) did not affect
the average hourly earnings for the industry as a whole. Beginning
with October 1936, average earnings per hour rose sharply from 45.3
cents to 51.3 cents in August 1937. This upward trend coincided
with the period of general wage increases throughout the country.
Average hours per week advanced from 30.7 in March 1933 to 41.9
in July of that year. The effect of the President’s Reemployment
Agreement, coupled with the fall decline in activity, was to
bring about a sharp reduction in the average to 33.0 in December
1933. The decline continued during the first month of the code, the
weekly hours dropping to 29.9 at the low point of the season in
January 1934. After that, disregarding seasonal variations, the
trend in average weekly hours rose. It is significant that, through­
out the life of the N. R. A., the industry average did not exceed 38.0,

3 In his letter of transmittal to the President, in connection with the Code of Fair Competition for the
Furniture Manufacturing Industry, as approved on Dec. 7, 1933, Administrator Johnson stated: “In June
1933 more than 58 percent of the employees in northern factories and 68 percent of the employees in southern
factories, more than 54,000 workers in all, earned less than the minimum rates established by the code."
These rates were 34 cents in the North and 30 cents in the South.




CHART

3.

>SS9T9T

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS, WEEKLY HOURS AND WEEKLY EARNINGS
IN THE FURNITURE MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY
EM PLOYMENT AND PAY ROLLS,
19 2 3 - 3 9

U. S. BUREAU OF LABOR S T A T IS T IC S




to

I— *

22

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

or 2 hours below the maximum established by the code. Shortly
after the discontinuance of the code, however, average weekly hours
rose to 40.2, reaching a peak of 46.2 hours in October 1936. Ex­
cept for 3 months, average hours remained above 40.0 per week
until October 1937. Following this month, average hours per week
declined rapidly, reaching a low of 31.7 in January 1938.
For the period as a whole, if minor fluctuations are overlooked, the
general trend in average weekly earnings was upward. Thus, be­
tween March 1933 and April 1937, average earnings per week more
than doubled, rising from $10.55 in the former to $21.21 in the lat­
ter month.
Changes Since August 1937

The highest point in both employment and pay rolls was reached
in August 1937, at which time, as noted before, the index numbers
were respectively 102.6 and 86.9. Although employment and pay
rolls began to drop after August, the real decline did not set in until
November. The lowest point in the employment index (74.0) was
reached in May 1938. On the other hand, the index numbers of pay
rolls dropped to 54.9 in January 1938, after which there was a small
seasonal rise to 59.9 in March, followed by another reduction to 53.2
in May. In December, the index of both employment and pay rolls
stood respectively at 84.4 and 71.5 and in June 1939 at 83.2 and 68.5.
Despite the sharp decline in employment and pay rolls, average
hourly earnings advanced between August 1937 and April 1938, the
only exceptions being February and March 1938. This advance may
largely be explained by the fact that in periods of recession the least
skilled and consequently the lowest-paid workers are the first to be
laid off. This practice tends to raise average hourly earnings for the
industry as a whole. In April 1938, average earnings per hour
amounted to 54.4 cents. Average hourly earnings declined to 54.3
cents in May, 53.1 cents in June, and 52.2 cents in July and August
but rose slightly to 52.4 cents in September. That the average did
not drop sharply between July and September is surprising, in view
of the substantial increases in employment and pay rolls during this
interval.4 Following a decline to 51.8 cents in October, average
hourly earnings rose to 52.4 cents in November and to 52.6 cents in
December 1938. In June 1939 average hourly earnings were 52.7
cents.
The effect of the recession has also been to reduce average weekly
hours from 41.2 in August 1937 to 31.7 in January 1938. Due to
seasonal activity, the weekly hours increased to 35.2 in March, only

4 It should be noted that, for the same reason, average hourly earnings have a tendency to fluctuate In­
versely with seasonal activity, increasing at the low and decreasing at the high points of the season.




EM PLOYMENT AND PAY ROLLS, 19 2 3 - 3 9

23

to decline to 33.2 in April and May. With the start of the fall season,
however, weekly hours rose sharply to 40.5 in October. After drop­
ping to 37.9 in November, weekly hours advanced to 39.5 in December.
In June 1939, average weekly hours were 38.0.
The average weekly earnings were $21.11 in October 1937, but they
declined to $17.16 in January 1938. Due to seasonal activity, there
was a rise to $18.87 in March, which was followed by a reduction to
$17.89 in May 1938. As a result of the sharp advance in hours be­
tween July and August, weekly earnings rose to $20.43 in the latter
month. The further advance to $21.50 in September was due both
to higher average weekly hours and average hourly earnings. In
December average weekly earnings were $20.60 and in June 1939
they were $19.91.




Chapter IV .— Scope and Method
Product Coverage

While for many purposes the furniture-manufacturing industry may
be treated as a whole, any analysis of the wage structure must take
into account the heterogeneous nature of the products.
The products covered by this survey were limited to wood house­
hold furniture, both wood and metal office furniture, including shelv­
ing and lockers, and public seating. In selecting these products, the
Bureau attempted to confine the survey to the branches of the in­
dustry that were operating primarily on a mass-production basis.
There were excluded, therefore, such products as store and lunchroom
furniture and fixtures and furniture for professional use and for
laboratories, hospitals, barber shops, beauty parlors, etc., most of
which are made on a custom-order rather than quantity basis.1
In covering wood household furniture, the survey also excluded a
few of the highly specialized products of lesser importance, such as
porch, camp, and juvenile furniture. The combined value of these
products amounted to only $10,889,365 in 1937, or slightly over 2 per­
cent of the total value of wood household furniture. Included in the
survey were living-room and library, bedroom, dining-room, kitchen,
hall, and miscellaneous furniture, the value of which amounted to
$428,771,472.
In dealing with the wood household-furniture products covered
here, however, it is customary to separate them into four groups,
namely, case goods, upholstered furniture, novelties, and kitchen fur­
niture. Case goods include primarily bedroom and dining-room sets,
as well as library and certain articles of living-room furniture. Uphol­
stered furniture embraces primarily overstuffed pieces used in the
living room and other parts of the home. Novelties include a large
variety of specialties, such as small tables, chairs, etc., which constitute
the odds and ends that go to complete household furniture. Lastly,
kitchen furniture is limited to cabinets, tables, chairs, and other
items found in the modern kitchen. As a rule, upholstered and kitchen
furniture are specialized fields, so that each constitutes a fairly dis­
tinct part of wood household furniture. On the other hand, it is
difficult to draw a clear-cut line between case goods and novelties, as
both types are often made in the same plant. However, in view of the
different problems encountered in the making of the two types of

1 The survey also excludes the relatively unimportant item of wood telephone booths.
24




SCOPE AND METHOD

25

product, it was decided to keep them separate in the survey, which
means that mixed establishments had to be classified according to
their principal production. It should also be mentioned that most of
the competition among plants is confined to those within each of these
four groups, namely, case goods, upholstered, novelty, and kitchen
furniture.
The survey excluded any household furniture made of metal, as
well as of the relatively unimportant materials of fiber, rattan, reed,
and willow. As pointed out before, there is considerable competition
between metal and wood household furniture. On the other hand,
having left out porch and camp furniture from the wood household
group, any comparison between metal and wood products would have
to be confined to living-room and library, bedroom, kitchen, and mis­
cellaneous furniture. These products in metal, however, are not only
varied, but they also account for a relatively small part of the total
value of products. Hence, a break-down of these according to the four
groups indicated under wood household furniture would provide a
very thin coverage for metal. For these reasons, metal household
furniture was excluded from the scope of the survey.
In view of the fact that office furniture is an important branch of
the industry, it was included in this survey. Moreover, as indicated
previously, there exists some very keen competition between wood and
metal, each product being produced in substantial quantities. Among
the products covered here were chairs, desks and tables, filing cabinets
and cases, and other office furniture. Since shelving and lockers are
used to considerable extent in offices, these products were also in­
cluded as part of the office-furniture branch.
Lastly, the survey covered public seating, which includes furniture
for public buildings, such as schools, theaters, assembly halls, libraries,
etc., and seats for public conveyances. This is a distinct branch of the
furniture industry. Moreover, although plants in the other branches
of the industry are potential competitors of those in public seating,
most of the competition takes place between the establishments of this
branch proper. Since the same plants may use wood and fiber, as well
as metal, in making public seating, no separate account was taken of
these materials.
Characteristics o f Sample

The survey was made on a sample basis, but the size of the sample
varied from one branch of the industry to another. In selecting the
sample for each branch, great care was exercised to make it fully repre­
sentative of the branch. Among the factors considered, there were:
Product (within a given branch), geographical distribution (within a
given State, as well as between States), size of community, corporate
affiliation, and size of establishment.




26

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

The sample for wood household furniture covers 33,199 wage
earners, which represents roughly about 25 percent of the industry
branch in terms of employees. In view of the fact that this branch
is the largest in the industry, it was felt that a 25-percent coverage
was sufficient for the purpose.
Classified according to their principal products, 129 establishments
with 16,175 wage earners made case goods; 99 plants with 8,333
workers, upholstered furniture; 49 establishments with 6,716 wage
earners, novelties; and 21 plants with 1,975 workers, kitchen furniture.
Thus, nearly one-half (48.7 percent) of the total employees were in
the case goods, one-fourth (25.1 percent) in the upholstered, one-fifth
(20.2 percent) in the novelties, and the balance (6.0 percent) in the
kitchen groups. These proportions in the sample correspond roughly
to the importance of each of these divisions within the wood household
branch of the industry covered here.
As regards office furniture, the survey covered 50 plants and 7,111
wage earners. Of these, 31 establishments with 2,976 workers manu­
factured wood products and 19 plants with 4,135 employees made
metal goods. In selecting the establishments, every effort was made
to obtain the same proportion of wood and metal furniture as is found
in this branch of the industry. The coverage here is approximately
one-half of the total, a larger sample being required in view of the
smallness of the branch.
Due to the very small size of public seating, the survey attempted
to cover all plants engaged in this branch of the industry. The
number obtained was 25, which employed a total of 3,118 workers.
Altogether, therefore, the survey included 373 establishments, em­
ploying 43,428 wage earners.
Nature o f Data Obtained

As in similar surveys, the information was obtained here by actual
visits of field representatives of the Bureau to the establishments
covered. The data collected included wages and hours, annual earn­
ings,2 and general plant information.3
The wages and hours data are based on an exact transcription made
from the pay rolls of each establishment for every worker included
within the scope of the survey. All employees were covered except
clerical workers and plant supervisors.4 For each person, there was

2 For an analysis of annual earnings in the Furniture Manufacturing Industry see April 1939 issue of the
Monthly Labor Review, pp. 781-788.
2 The general plant information covered such items as corporate affiliation, product, full-time hours,
overtime, wage deductions and penalties, employer-employee relations, etc.
4 Working supervisors were included in this survey.




SCOPE AND METHOD

27

obtained his occupation, sex, color, 5 method of wage payment, and
number of actual hours worked and total earnings for one pay-roll
period.6
The wages and hours data for the most part covered a pay-roll
period during the month of October 1937. Since the real decline in
employment and pay rolls began with November 1937, a period in
October presents a complete cross section of the occupational struc­
ture of the industry.
Using the above data, the Bureau compiled averages and distribu­
tions of hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings by
product, skill, region, unionization, size of community, sex, and
occupation.
In classifying the various occupations according to skill, the Bureau
took into consideration the consensus in the industry with respect to
the skill of each occupation, a classification of occupations by skill
having been obtained from a person in charge of operations in every
one of the plants visited. In case of those occupations for which the
opinions were more or less evenly divided, the Bureau consulted
experts in the industry, whose opinions were used in making the final
allocation of the occupation according to skill.
In setting up the data on a geographical basis, the Bureau accepted
the two broad wage areas established by the industry’s code under
the National Recovery Administration. These two areas coincide in
a general way with the North and South. In the South were included
the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It should be mentioned, however,
that under the code Missouri was divided up between the North and
South. All other States were included in the North.
One of the tabulations of the wages and hours data in this report
covers a break-down according to unionization. In preparing this
tabulation, the Bureau took into consideration not the employee’s
membership in an organization but whether or not his occupation
came within the jurisdiction covered by an agreement entered into
between the union and employer. A distinction was made between
trade-union and non-trade-union establishments. The former in­
cludes plants having agreements with outside labor organizations, or
those affiliated with national or international unions or directly con-

5 Not a sufficient number of colored workers was found to justify any separate tabulations.
6 In case the pay-roll period exceeded 1 week, there was also obtained the number of hours worked during
1 continuous week within the pay-roll period. This enabled the Bureau to present weekly hours, as well as
weekly earnings covering all employees.




28

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

nected with the American Federation of Labor or the Congress of
Industrial Organizations. It also includes independent organizations
of labor, which covered more than one establishment.7
Separate tabulations were also made of the data according to size
of community. This tabulation was prepared on the basis of metro­
politan areas. For places with a population of 100,000 or more, the
Bureau utilized the metropolitan districts set up by the United States
Bureau of the Census. On the other hand, for communities with less
than 100,000 population, the Bureau set up similar metropolitan areas
including not only the population within a political subdivision but
also that of the nearby area. In other words, an attempt was made
here to classify wages according to labor market areas, within which
there is competition among workers for jobs, as well as among em­
ployers for workers, thus influencing the wage levels.

i This includes the Jamestown Furniture Workers’ Association.




P A R T 2.— Wood Household Furniture
Chapter V .— Average H ourly Earnings
Data for Branch as a W hole

The 33,199 wage earners employed in the 298 establishments cov­
ered in the wood household branch of the furniture industry averaged
48.0 cents an hour in October 1937. (See table 8 and chart 4.) This
average, of course, merely indicates the central tendency for the
entire group. Hence, one must examine the hourly earnings in greater
detail, in order to obtain a more complete picture of the wage structure.
T a b l e 8 .—

A verage hourly earnings in wood h o u sehold -furniture branch, by product ,
skill, and region, October 1 9 3 7

Total workers Skilled workers
Product and region

Semiskilled
workers

Num­
ber
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
of
age
age
age
age
plants Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly
ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

A ll products

231 23, 226 $0. 534 9,113 $0. 621 10, 295 $0. 508
67 9, 973 .357 3, 285 .432 4, 445 .339
298 33,199 .480 12, 398 .569 14, 740 .456

Case goods

88 9, 237
41 6, 938
129 16,175

.513
.347
.441

3,654
2,172
5, 826

.578
.419
.518

4,046
3,145
7,191

83
16
99

6, 218
2,115
8, 333

.627
.398
. 565

3,037
849
3, 886

.742
.478
.681

43
6
49

6,199
517
6, 716

.503
.334
.489

1,899
165
2, 064

17 1, 572
4
403
1,975
21 .

.447
.361
.431

523
99
622

North___ ______________
South ___ ____________
Total______ _ ____
North___________________
South ____ __ __
Totals
________

Unskilled
workers

3,818
2, 243
6,061

$0.399
.281
.355

.494
.330
.422

1, 537
1, 621
3,158

.402
.280
.339

2,481
868
3, 349

.556
.371
.505

700
398
1,098

.393
.287
.354

.564
.392
.550

3,027
230
3,257

.505
.326
.491

1,273
122
1, 395

.405
.272
.392

.502
.413
.488

741
202
943

.442
.365
.427

308
102
410

.366
.300
.351

Upholstered furniture

North _ _ __ _ _ _
South____________________
Total______________
Novelty furniture

North___ ______________
South___________________
Total______________
Kitchen furniture

North_________________ _
South__ _________ _____
Total _
_ __

According to the distribution for all workers in table 9 (see chart
4), there is considerable variation in the hourly earnings of indi­
viduals. Even if the relatively few employees with extremely low or




29

30

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

CHART 4.

PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES
IN WOOD HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE BRANCH
BY AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS
OCTOBER,1937
PERCENT
OF TOTAL

UNITED STATES

NORTH

SOUTH

U .S . BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS




PERCENT
OF TOTAL

W OOD

HOUSEHOLD

31

F U R N IT U R E

high earnings are omitted, the range is from 17.5 cents to $1.20,
within which are found 98.9 percent of the total labor force. More­
over, there is no very pronounced concentration in any of the classes
between these limits, although three-fourths received between 30 and
67.5 cents. In terms of 5-cent intervals, the largest or modal class,
namely 37.5 and under 42.5 cents, had only 14.0 percent of the workers.
Looking at the cumulative percentages, it will be seen that 3.8 per­
cent of the workers earned less than 25 cents an hour,1 and as many
as one-tenth (9.5 percent) were paid under 30 cents. Furthermore,
over one-third (36.7 percent) received less than 40 cents, and two-thirds
earned under 52.5 cents. On the other hand, less than one-tenth (8.5
percent) were paid 77.5 cents and over, with only 2.2 percent receiving
as much as $1 and more.
T able

9.-—

S i m p l e p e r c e n ta g e d i s t r ib u t io n o f all w o r k e r s a c c o r d in g to a vera g e h o u r ly
e a r n in g s i n w o o d h o u s e h o l d -f u r n it u r e b r a n ch , b y s k ill, O cto b er 1 9 3 7

Total
workers

Average hourly earnings

Under 12.5 c e n t s -- _______ __
12.5 and under 17. 5 cents____
17.5 and under 22.5 cents____
22. 5 and under 25.0 cents____
25.0 and under 27. 5 cents___ _

_ ___ __
_ _ _
________________
__ _ _ __ _
.
___ __ _----_____
_____

_____
__
___
___
___

0.1
.4
1.7
1.6
3. 6

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

Un­
skilled
workers

0.2
.2
.7

0.1
.3
1.3
1.4
3. 3

0.2
1.1
6.0
4.8
10.0

2.1
9.1
6.3
7. 1
4.7

.6
4.1
3.5
5. 4
4.1

2.3
10.1
7.6
8. 1
5.1

4.8
17.3
9.0
8. 0
4.9

(0

27. 5 and
30. 0 and
32. 5 and
35.0 and
37. 5 and

under
under
under
under
under

30.0 c e n ts ___
_ _______ __
32. 5 cents______
___ _______ - ___
35.0 cents. _________ _ __ __
___
37. 5 cents—
_ _______ - __
__
_______ __
40. 0 cents_____

40.0 and
42. 5 and
47. 5 and
52. 5 and
57. 5 and

under
under
under
under
under

42. 5 cents-- . _ _ _ _ ________ __ 47. 5 cents____ ________ _________
___
52. 5 cents___
_ _
57. 5 cents_____
__
_ __ __ __ __ _ —
62. 5 cents- ___
______
____ __ __

9.3
10.9
9.6
6.7
6.3

8.0
10.9
11.0
8.7
8. 3

9.6
12.2
10.2
6.7
6.1

10.9
8.5
6.0
2.5
2. 7

62.
67.
72.
77.
82.

under
under
under
under
under

67. 5 cents. . ___ ____________ _________
72. 5 cents____ _________ __ _____________
77. 5 cents______ _______ __ __
__ ___ _
82. 5 cents____ _ __ ______________ ___ _
87. 5 cents______________ ________ __ ___ -

5.4
3.6
3.0
2.0
1.9

7.2
5.6
4.8
3.6
3.3

5.2
3.2
2.5
1.5
1.5

2.1
.4
.5
.1

87. 5 and under 92.5 cents___ _______ _________ _____ __ - 92. 5 cents and under $ 1 _____________ - - - - - - - - - - ___ _
$1 and u n d o r $ 1 . 1 0

1 .4
1 .0
1 .0

2.7
2.1
2. 2

.8
.5
.3

.6

1 .4

5 and
5 and
5 and
5 and
5 and

$1

1 0 a n d yin dp/r $ 1 . 2 0

$1

2 0 a n d lyndp.r $ 1 . 4 0

$1 40 and ovpr

.4

.2

.9
.5

.1

.1
(9

.1

0)
0)

Total_______________________________________________

100.0

100.0

100.0

100 .0

Number of workers-----------------------------------------------------------

33,199

12, 398

14, 740

6,061

i Less than Ho of 1 percent.

To some extent, the wide dispersion in hourly earnings may be
accounted for by variation in skill. Despite the fact that wood
household furniture is largely the result of quantity production, more
than one-third (37.3 percent) of the employees were in occupations
classified as skilled by the industry. However, the degree to which
i Since Oct. 24, 1938, when the Fair Labor Standards Act went into effect, the number of workers receiving
less than 25 cents an hour has undoubtedly been greatly reduced, if not eliminated.




32

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE, F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

mass-production methods are carried on in this branch is evidenced
by the fact that semiskilled workers constitute the principal group, or
44.4 percent. The number of unskilled employees amounted to only
18.3 percent.
The average hourly earnings were 56.9 cents for skilled, 45.6 cents
for semiskilled, and 35.5 cents for unskilled workers. The skilled
averaged 11.3 cents more than the semiskilled, who in turn received
on an average 10.1 cents more than the unskilled. Hence, the total
spread between skilled and unskilled employees amounted to 21.4
cents.
Comparing the respective distributions, which appear in table 9, the
number of workers earning under 25 cents an hour amounted to only
0.4 percent for skilled and 3.1 percent for semiskilled, as against 12.1
percent for unskilled. If 30 cents is taken as the upper limit, the
percentages are respectively 1.7, 8.7, and 26.9. Moreover, the num­
ber receiving less than 40 cents amounted to 18.8 percent for skilled,
39.6 percent for semiskilled, and 66.1 percent for unskilled. In con­
trast, as many as 21.5 percent of the skilled employees were paid
72.5 cents and over, which may be compared with 7.2 percent of the
semiskilled and only 0.8 percent of the unskilled.
Yet, the variation in skill alone does not account entirely for the
differences in hourly earnings. These differences may also be ex­
plained to a large extent by regional differences in earnings. As
noted before, a considerable proportion of the industry is located in
the Southern States. In wood household furniture, out of the 298
establishments covered, 67 were in the southern and 231 in the
northern region. In terms of wage earners, the representation of the
South was even greater, the actual figure being 9,973, or 30.0 percent,
as against 23,226, or 70.0 percent, in the northern area.
It should also be pointed out that there is considerable difference
in the skill composition of the labor force between the northern and
the southern regions. There were substantially more skilled (39.2
as against 32.9 percent) but fewer unskilled (16.4 as compared to 22.5
percent) workers in the North than in the South. In both regions,
the relative number of semiskilled workers was about the same (44.4
percent in the North and 44.6 percent in the South). Differences in
product and possibly in methods of manufacture may account for
these variations.
Despite the regional variations in the skill set-up of the industry,
there still exists in each skill group substantial differentials in favor
of northern workers. These differentials amounted to 18.9 cents for
skilled, 16.9 cents for semiskilled, and 11.8 cents for unskilled workers.
In the North, the average earnings for all employees amounted to
53.4 cents an hour. Looking at the distribution in table 10, it is
found that all but 2.8 percent earned between 25 cents and $1.10.




33

WOOD H OUSEH OLD FU R N IT U R E

The largest total concentration within the above spread in the north­
ern region was from 35.0 to 72.5 cents, which included nearly threefourths (73.2 percent) of the labor force. On the basis of 5-cent
intervals, the largest single class, with 14.8 percent of the total, was
37.5 and under 42.5 cents.
10.— Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly
earnings in wood household-furniture branch, by region and skill, October 1987

T able

North
Average hourly earnings

South

U n­
Semi­
Semi­
U n­
Total Skilled skilled skilled Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers

Under 12.5 cen ts....................
0)
0.2
12.5 and under 17.5 cents___
17.5 and under 22.5 cents___
.6
.4
22.5 and under 25.0 cents___
25.0 and under 27.5 cents___
1.9
1.2
27.5 and under 30.0 cents___
3.5
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
3.3
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
5.2
35.0 and under 37.5 cents___
4.4
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
10.4
40.0 and under 42.5 cents___
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
12.7
47.5 and under 52.5 cents___
11.6
8.4
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
8.3
57.5 and under 62.5 cents___
7.3
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
4.9
67.5 and under 72.5 cents___
4.1
72.5 and under 77.5 cents
2.8
77.5 and under 82.5 cents___
2.6
82.5 and under 87.5 cents___
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
1.9
1.4
92.5 cents and under $ 1 ___
1.3
$1 and under $1.10__ __ _
.8
$1.10 and under $1.20_ _ _ _
.5
$1.20 and under $1.40
.3
$1.40 and over „
Total- ______ ________ 100.0
Number of workers. _____ 23, 226

0)
0)
0)
0.3
.3
1.3
1.4
2.6
2.7
6.8
10.5
11.0
9.5
9.6
8.9
7.0
6.2
4.6
4.3
3.6
2.7
2.9
1.9
1.2
.7
100.0
9,113

0.1
.5
.4
1.5
1.2
3.1
3.6
5.9
4.8
11.3
14.7
13.1
9.1
8.5
7.4
4.5
3.5
2.1
2.1
1.1
.7
.5
.2
.1

0)
0.7
2.3
1.2
6.4
3.3
10.1
6.8
9. 5
7.2
16.7
13.0
9.4
3.9
4.3
3.4
.6
.8
.1
.2
.1
0)

C)

100.0
10, 295

100.0
3, 818

0.2
.9
4.3
4.3
7.6
4.4
22.2
13.3
11.4
5.5
6.5
6.9
5.2
2.7
1.8
1.0
.7
.3
.3
.2
.1
.1
.1
(0
0)
100.0
9,973

0.1
.6
.7
2.0
1.6
12.1
9.1
12.9
7.9
11.4
11.9
11.2
6.4
4.6
2.8
1.8
.9
.7
.5
.4
.2
.1
.1

0. 2
.9
3.1
3.6
7.5
4.9
26.2
16.9
13.1
5.9
5.7
6.3
3.3
1.2
.6
.2
.3
.1
0)

0. 5
1.9
12.3
10.9
16.0
7.4
29.6
12.6
5.6
1.0
1.1
.8
.2
.1

0)

0)
C)

0)

100.0
3, 285

100.0
4, 445

100.0
2, 243

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.

In the southern region, the average hourly earnings of all workers
were 35.7 cents. According to the distribution, the spread here in
the hourly earnings of individuals was much narrower than in the
North, which may be seen from the fact that 97.1 percent were paid
between 17.5 and 67.5 cents. Furthermore, the largest total concen­
tration within these limits in the South, covering as many as 83.0
percent of the total, is only between 25 and 52.5 cents. Lastly, the
modal 5-cent interval is 27.5 and less than 32.5 cents. It contained
more than one-fourth (26.6 percent) of all employees.
The differential in average earnings per hour for all wage earners
between the northern and the southern areas was 17.7 cents. Com­
paring the two distributions, it will be seen that, while only 1.2 percent




34

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE, FU R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

of the northern workers received under 25 cents an hour, there were
as many as 9.7 percent found in that classification in the southern
region. Using 30 cents as the upper limit, the respective percentages
are 4.3 and 21.7. Moreover, the number earning less than 40 cents
amounted to 20.7 percent in the North, as against 74.1 percent in
the South. At the other end of the distribution, it is found that 36.2
percent received 57.5 cents and over in the northern area, which may
be compared with only 4.6 percent in the southern territory.
Differences by Product

As previously stated, wood household products may be classified
into four groups, namely case goods, upholstered, novelty, and kitchen
furniture. Differences in average hourly earnings exist among these
groups, but they are due to a considerable extent to the varying
distribution of the labor force as to skill and region. Hence, it is
necessary to survey the wage structure separately for each product
group.
Upholstered Furniture

The highest average hourly earnings in October 1937, namely 56.5
cents, are shown for the 8,333 wage earners in the 99 upholsteredfurniture plants. As indicated by the distribution in table 11, the
range of individual earnings upon which this average is based was
considerable, with 99.0 percent of the workers receiving from 17.5
cents to $1.40. Moreover, the distribution does not reveal any pro­
nounced concentration. There were 2.9 percent paid less than 25
cents and 7.2 percent under 30 cents. Slightly over one-fourth (25.7
percent) of the total earned less than 40 cents. On the other hand,
well over one-third (36.7 percent) received at least 62.5 cents, nearly
one-sixth (16.2 percent) at least 82.5 cents, and 6.5 percent $1 and over.
One reason for upholstered furniture having the highest average is
that, unlike other wood household groups, its workers are predomi­
nantly skilled. Of the total number covered 46.6 percent were skilled,
40.2 percent semiskilled, and only 13.2 percent unskilled. This
clearly indicates that the manufacture of upholstered furniture does
not lend itself as readily to mass production as other wood householdfurniture products. For instance, the difficult operation of uphol­
stering must be performed by hand. Skilled employees averaged 68.1
cents an hour, semiskilled 50.5 cents, and unskilled 35.4 cents. Hence,
there was a difference of 17.6 cents between the averages of skilled
and semiskilled workers, with a further difference of 15.1 cents between
the averages of the latter and unskilled employees.




T a b l e 1 1 .—

Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly earnings in upholstered fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture
branch, by region and skill, October 1987

United States
Average hourly earnings

(i)

0.3
1.5
1.1
2.8
1.5
5.9
4.1
5.2
3.3
6.3
8.7
9.4
6.7
6.5
6.3
5.4
4.8
4.0
3. 7
3.3
2. 7
2,8
1.8
1. 2
.7
100.0
8, 333

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

0.1
.1
.1
.5
.5
1.9
1.9
2.8
2. 7
4.7
6.6
8.8
7.1
7.6
7.3
7.0
6. 7
6.2
5.6
5.1
4.2
5.1
3.7
2.3
1.4
100.0
3, 886

0.1
1.3
.9
2.4
1.6
7.4
5.4
7.2
4.4
8.1
10.5
10.5
7.2
6. 7
6.7
5.0
4.0
2.7
2.5
2.2
1.6
1.0
.4
.2
0)
100.0
3, 349

Unskilled
workers
0. 2
1.7
6.6
5.0
12.6
4.8
15.7
8.2
7.5
2.5
6.4
11.0
8.7
3. 5
2.1
2.0
.5
.3
.2
.1
.3
.1

100.0
1,098

Total
workers
(i)

0.3
1.1
.4
1.7
.6
2.8
2.1
3.6
2.1
5.5
8.1
9.7
7. 3
7.6
7.7
6.8
6. 2
5. 2
4.8
4. 3
3.5
3.7
2.4
1.6
.9
100.0
6,218

Skilled
workers
(*)
0)

0.1
.3
.3
1.1
.6
1.5
1.4
2.8
4.5
6.9
6.4
7.5
7.8
8.3
8.3
7.6
7.0
6.4
5.3
6.5
4.6
3.0
1.8
100.0
3,037

South

Semi­
skilled
workers
0.2
1.2
.5
1.7
.9
2.9
2.4
4.8
2.7
7.8
10.1
12.0
8.8
8. 7
8.8
6.8
5.3
3.7
3.4
2.9
2.2
1.4
.5
.3
0)
100.0
2,481

Unskilled
workers
0.1
2.3
5.4
1.7
7.9
1.3
10.2
7.0
8.4
3.1
8.7
16.4
13.5
5.4
3. 3
3.1
.9
.4
.3
.1
.4
.1

100.0
700

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

0.2
2.4
3.0
6.1
4.0
15.0
10.2
9.8
6.8
8.6
10.9
9.1
4.9
3.6
2.5
1.0
.6
.4
.3
.2
.2
.1
.1

0.1
.5
.2
1.1
1.4
4.7
6.4
7.5
7.2
11.2
13.9
15.7
9. 7
7.9
5.8
2.5
1.3
.9
.6
.5
.5
.2
.2

0 .1
1.4
2.1
4.4
3.3
20.3
13.8
13.8
9.0
9.0
12.1
6.5
2. 5
1.0
.5
.1
.1

100.0
2,115

100.0
849

100.0
868

Total
workers
(!)

Unskilled
workers
0.3
.8
8.8
10.8
20.8
11.0
25.5
10.3
5.8
1.3
2.3
1.8
.5

WOOD H OUSEH OLD F U R N IT U R E

Under 12.5 cen ts_______________________
12.5 and under 17.5 cen ts______________
17.5 and under 22.5 cents______________
22.5 and under 25.0 cents______________
25.0 and under 27.5 cents______________
27.5 and under 30.0 cents______________
30.0 and under 32.5 cents______________
32.5 and under 35.0 cents_______ ______
35.0 and under 37.5 cents______________
37.5 and under 40.0 cents______________
40,0 and under 42.5 cents______________
42.5 and under 47.5 cents______________
47.5 and under 52.5 cents______________
52.5 and under 57.5 cents
57.5 and under 62.5 cents
62.5 and under 67.5 cents
67.5 and under 72.5 cents
72.5 and under 77.5 cents
77.5 and under 82.5 cents
82.5 and under 87.5 cents
87.5 and under 92.5 cents
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 arid under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1.20 and under $1.40
$1.40 and over
T otal_______________________
Num ber of workers_____
__ _____

Total
workers

North

100.0
398

i Less than Ht> of 1 percent.




CO

Ox

36

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE, FU R N ITU R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

Another reason for the high average in upholstered furniture is that,
to a large extent, it is manufactured in the North. In terms of plants
covered, 83 were in the northern and 16 in the southern area, the
respective percentages for wage earners being 74.6 and 25.4. The
hourly earnings were much higher in the North, where workers averaged
62.7 cents, or 22.9 cents above the southern average of 39.8 cents.
This difference is also reflected in the distributions shown in table 11.
In the northern region, only 14.7 percent of the employees earned
less than 40 cents, 4.1 percent less than 30 cents, and 1.8 percent
less than 25 cents. By contrast, 57.5 percent of the southern workers
were paid below 40 cents, 15.7 percent below 30 cents, and 5.6 per­
cent below 25 cents. Moreover, while few southern wage earners
(1.9 percent) received as much as 72.5 cents and more, nearly onethird (32.6 percent) of the northern workers had earnings as high as,
or higher than, that figure.
Some of the regional variation in hourly earnings for upholstered
furniture is due to differences in the skill composition of the labor
force. In the North, 48.8 percent of the employees were skilled, 39.9
percent semiskilled, and only 11.3 percent unskilled. In the South,
however, semiskilled were slightly more numerous than skilled work­
ers (41.1 against 40.1 percent), with the unskilled accounting for 18.8
percent of the total. To some extent differences in manufacturing
processes and consequently in the occupational set-up of plants
account for the regional variation in skill. All of the 16 southern
establishments made their own frames, machining the parts in their
own woodworking departments. On the other hand, 33 of the 83
northern plants, accounting for one-fifth (19.7 percent) of the workers,
bought the frame parts already machined, some even buying fully
assembled frames, thereby eliminating the many less-skilled occu­
pations generally found in the woodworking and frame-assembly
departments.
Nevertheless, within each skill group there are still found sub­
stantial differentials in favor of northern workers. The widest regional
difference (26.4 cents) occurred in the hourly earnings of skilled em­
ployees, the northern average being 74.2 cents and the southern 47.8
cents. For semiskilled workers, there was a difference of 18.5 cents,
those in the North averaging 55.6 cents and in the South 37.1 cents.
The unskilled averages were only 10.6 cents apart, the figures being
39.3 cents in the northern and 28.7 cents in the southern region.
However, even after the influence of varying proportions of skilled
workers and regional location of factories has been eliminated (see
table 8), upholstered furniture pays higher wages than the other groups.
The skilled workers in upholstered furniture in the North averaged




WOOD H O USEH OLD FU R N IT U R E

37

about 17 cents more than in case goods and novelty furniture. In
the South, the difference amounts to between 6 and 8 cents. Among
the semiskilled workers in the various branches there is some difference
in earnings, amounting to between 4 and 6 cents in favor of upholstery
workers. But in the case of unskilled workers it is noteworthy that
the averages show no significant differences as between the various
products in the wood household-furniture branch.
N o v e lt y F u rn itu re

Next to upholstered furniture, the highest average was 48.9 cents
an hour for the 6,716 workers in the 49 establishments making novelty
furniture. All but 2.7 percent of the individual employeesaveraged
between 25.0 and 92.5 cents. (See table 12.) Only 1.7 percent re­
ceived less than 25 cents and 6.1 percent less than 30 cents. Onefourth (25.5 percent) of the total were paid under 40 cents. By con­
trast, over one-fourth (27.2 percent) earned 57.5 cents and more, and
5.0 percent received at least 82.5 cents.
12.— Sim ple percentage distribution of workers according to average hourly
earnings in novelty furn iture of wood household-furniture branch, by skill, October
1937

T able

United States
Average hourly earnings

Semi­
U n­
Semi­
U n­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers

12.5 and under 17.5 cents___
17.5 and under 22.5 cents___
22.5 and under 25.0 cents___
25.0 and under 27.5 cents___
27.5 and under 30.0 cents___
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
35.0 and under 37.5 cents___
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
40.0 and under 42.5 cents___
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
47.5 and under 52.5 cents___
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
57.5 and under 62.5 cents___
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
67.5 and under 72.5 cents___
72.5 and under 77.5 cents____
77.5 and under 82.5 cents___
82.5 and under 87.5 cents___
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1.20 and over
Total__ __ __ ______
Num ber of workers.__ _ _
1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.
161633°— 39-




North

4

0.1
.8
.8
2.9
1.5
5.0
3.7
6.3
4.4
14.5
13.9
10.9
8.0
7.9
4.7
3.9
3.3
2.4
2.8
1.2
.5
.3
.2

C
1)

100.0

6, 716

o .i
.1
1.1
.2
2.5
1.8
4.2
3.9
10.1
12.8
12.1
11.6
10.6
6.8
5.9
3.3
3.5
3.9
2.5
1. 4
.8
.7
.1

0.5
.6
1.9
1.3
4.4
4.5
6.9
4.2
14.2
15.4
11.7
7.5
8.1
4.1
3.9
3.9
2.6
3.1
.9
.2
.1

100.0

100.0

2,064

0. 6
2.5
2.0
8.1
4.1
10.3
4.4
8.1
5.7
21.4
12.6
7.4
3.8
3.2
2.7
.9
1.6
.1
.4
.1

0.1
.3
.3
2.2
1.5
3.1
3.5
5.7
4.7
14.9
14.4
11.7
8.5
8.4
5.0
4.2
3.5
2.6
3.0
1.3
.6
.3
.2
0)

3, 257

100.0

1, 395

100.0

6,199

6.6
.2
1.3
1.5
2.9
3.9
9.5
12.7
12.8
12.4
11.2
7.2
6.3
3.6
3.8
4.2
2.7
1. 5
.9
.7

0.3
.3
1.1
1.1
2.3
4.1
6.3
4.5
14. 6
15.7
12.5
8.1
8.8
4.5
4.2
4.2
2.8
3.3
1.0
.2
.1

0.5
1.0
.9
6.9
4.5
7.6
4.9
8.3
6.2
23.2
13.7
8.1
4.1
3.5
3.0
1.0
1.8
.2
.5
.1

.1

100.0
1,899

100.0

3,027

100.0
1, 273

38

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE, FU R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

Novelty furniture products are, as a rule, comparatively simple in
construction, and for that reason mass-production methods can be
employed here to advantage. This is clearly indicated by the skill
set-up of the labor force. Not far from one-half (48.5 percent) of all
novelty workers were semiskilled, whereas only 30.7 percent were
skilled and 20.8 percent unskilled. Between the average hourly
earnings of skilled (55.0 cents) and unskilled (39.2 cents), there was
a difference of 15.8 cents. In distinct contrast with the upholstered
furniture branch, skilled workers’ earnings in novelty furniture were
only 5.9 cents more than the average for semiskilled, 49.1 cents.
The chief reason that workers in the novelty-furniture division as a
whole averaged 4.8 cents more than workers in the case-goods division
is that the southern representation in this industry is very small.
Only 6 of the 49 plants in the sample and 517 of the 6,716 wage earners
were found in the South. Despite its limited size, the southern sample
is nevertheless representative of the novelty-furniture group in that
region. Care should be exercised in using these averages.
Northern workers in novelty furniture averaged 50.3 cents an hour,
or 16.9 cents more than the southern average of 33.4 cents. The
northern differential amounted to 17.2 cents for skilled, 17.9 cents for
semiskilled, and 13.3 cents for unskilled workers.
As may be seen from table 12 only 0.7 percent of the novelty-furni­
ture workers in the North earned less than 25 cents an hour and only
4.4 percent less than 30 cents. Over one-fifth (21.4 percent) averaged
under 40 cents. On the other hand, 37.6 percent earned 52.5 cents or
more and 11.5 percent earned 72.5 cents and over.
When a comparison is made of the average hourly earnings of
workers in northern novelty-furniture and case-goods factories, there
is little difference as between these two branches in the earnings of all
employees, or of the different skill groups.
Case Goods

Although the largest of the 4 groups, the 16,175 wage earners in the
129 case-goods establishments had next to the lowest average hourly
earnings, namely 44.1 cents. Exactly 96.0 percent earned between
17.5 and 77.5 cents an hour, as shown by the distribution in table 13.
It will also be seen that 5.1 percent of the workers averaged under
25.0 cents, 12.0 percent under 30.0 cents, and as many as 46.1 percent
under 40.0 cents. On the other hand, only 8.3 percent received as
much as 67.5 cents, and only 3.5 percent were paid as much as 77.5
cents.
As indicated by the skill distribution of the employees, case goods
are also largely the result of mass production, although a somewhat




WOOD H O USEH OLD F U R N IT U R E

39

greater proportion of skilled labor is required here than in novelty
furniture. Of the total number of workers in case goods, 44.5 percent
were semiskilled and 36.0 percent skilled. Unskilled wage earners
accounted for one-fifth (19.5 percent) of the labor force. Primarily
because of the slightly higher proportion of skilled workers in case
goods, average hourly earnings in case goods in the North and in the
South are about 1 cent an hour higher than earnings in these respective
regions in the novelty-furniture division.
Case-goods workers averaged 51.3 cents an hour in the northern
area, as against 34.7 cents in the southern region. The fact that there
were relatively more skilled workers in case goods in the North than
in the South (39.6 against 31.3 percent) but fewer semiskilled (43.8
as compared to 45.3 percent) and unskilled (16.6 as against 23.4
percent) wage earners accounts for the difference in hourly earnings
for the division as a whole between the North and the South being
greater than that for any one of the skill groups.
The substantially higher earnings of northern wage earners may be
verified from the distributions in table 13. The number earning under
25.0 cents was less than 1 percent in the North, but it amounted to
10.9 percent in the South. Moreover, the relative number paid
below 30.0 cents was only 3.0 percent in the former, as compared
with 23.8 percent in the latter territory. Furthermore, if 40 cents
is taken as the upper limit, the proportion was only one-fifth (21.2
percent) in the North, although nearly four-fifths (79.6 percent)
were found under that figure in the South. Looking at the other end
of the distribution, it will be seen that, while 13.4 percent of the
northern employees received 67.5 cents and over, there were only 1.4
percent found in that classification in the South.
Case goods showed substantial differentials in favor of northern over
southern workers in the hourly earnings of each group according to
skill. In the North, skilled workers averaged 57.8 cents an hour, semi­
skilled 49.4 cents, and unskilled 40.2 cents. This compares with
41.9, 33.0, and 28.0 cents, respectively, for southern employees.
Hence, the differentials amounted to 15.9 cents for skilled, 16.4 cents
for semiskilled, and 12.2 cents for unskilled wage earners.
Among the 4 product groups in wood household furniture, the
southern representation was greatest in case goods, which accounts
largely for the relatively low hourly earnings for the division as a
whole. Of the total plants covered, 41 were located in the southern
and 88 in the northern area. In terms of employees, the proportion
in the South was even greater, namely 42.9 percent, which may be
compared with 57.1 percent in the North.




13.— Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly earnings in case-goods furn iture o f wood household-furniture
branch, by region and skill, October 1987

Under 12.5 cents__
__
12.5 and under 17.5 cents. ______ __
17.5 and under 22.5 cents__________ __
22.5 and under 25.0 c e n t s . .___ __ _
25.0 and under 27.5 cents__________ __
27.5 and under 30.0 cents_________ .
30.0 and under 32.5 cents______ __
32.5 and under 35.0 cents_____ _____
35.0 and under 37.5 cents________ __
37.5 and under 40.0 cen ts. _ ____ __
40.0 and under 42.5 cents______ __
42.5 and under 47.5 cents____________
47.5 and under 52.5 cents____________
52.5 and under 57.5 cents____________
57.5 and under 62.5 cents______ __
62.5 and under 67.5 c e n t s ___ _ _
67.5 and under 72.5 cents _.
_
72.5 and under 77.5 c e n t s _____ __ _
77.5 and under 82.5 cents _
82.5 and under 87.5 cen ts____ . . .
87.5 and under 92.5 cents_________
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10 __ _ _
$1.10 and under $1.20
_
$1.20 and over_________________ _ _
Total_______________________
Number of workers__________________
iLess than Ho of 1 percent.




Total
workers
(i)

0. 5
2.4
2. 2
4.3
2.6
12.0
8.3
8.4
5.4
8.4
10.7
9.1
6.0
5.8
5. 6
2. 7
2.1
.9
.8
.6
.4
.4
.2

Skilled
workers
(i)

0.3
.3
.9
.8
5.9
4.8
7.5
5.1
9.1
12.3
11.5
8.8
8.1
7.8
4.8
4.2
2.0
1.7
1.4
1.0
.8

Semiworkers
0. 5
1.8
1.9
4.3
3.0
13.7
10.1
9.2
5.8
8.0
11.4
9.2
5.8
5.2
5.3
2.2
1.2
.5
.4
.2
.1
.1

.4
.5

100.0
16,175

100.0
5,826

100.0
7,191

0.1
1. 2
7.9
6.4
10.4
4.9
20.0
10.8
8.1
5.3
7.9
6.0
4.3
1.4
2.9
2.1
.2
.1

Total
workers
0)

Skilled
workers

100.0
3,158

0.5
.2
1.4
.9
3.6
3.3
5.8
5.5
10.4
14.5
12.9
9.1
9.2
9.3
4.3
3.4
1.5
1.3
1.0
.7
.6

0.1
.1
.2
1.0
1.4
3.1
3.1
7.9
13.2
12.7
10.9
10.8
11.3
6.7
6.2
2.8
2.5
2.0
1. 5
1.3

.3
.3

0)

.1

.2

Unskilled
workers

.5
.7

100.0
9,237

100.0
3,654

South
Semi­
skilled
workers
0)

0.3
.1
1.1
.9
3.2
3.5
6.2
6.1
10.8
16.8
14.8
9.8
8.9
9.3
3.7
2.1
.8
.7
.4
.2
.2

Unskilled
workers
0. 2
2.0
1.2
5.2
2.3
10.8
7.4
11.1
9.8
15.6
11.8
8.8
2.7
6.0
4.4
.3
.3
.1

.1

100. 0
4,046

Total
workers
(i)

1.1
5.0
4.8
8.1
4.8
23.5
15.1
11.9
5.3
5.7
5.6
3.9
1.9
1.3
.6
.6
.3
.2
.1
.1
.1
(i)
0)
0)

100.0
1, 537

100.0
6,938

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

0.1
.6
.8
2.1
1.8
14.2
10.5
15.0
8.6
11.0
11.0
9.6
5.2
3.4
1.8
1.6
.8
.7
.5
.4
.2
.1

1.1
3.7
4.1
8.5
5.6
27.3
18.6
13.2
5.3
4.5
4.5
2.0
.6
.4
.2
.3
.1
0)

0)
0)

100.0
2,172

Unskilled
workers
0.1
2.2
13.5
11.4
15.4
7.3
28.4
13.9
5.3
1.0
.7
.6
.1
.1

0)
0)
100.0
3,145

100.0
1,621

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

North

United States
Average hourly earnings

40

T able

41

WOOD H O USEH OLD FU R N IT U R E
K itc h e n F u rn itu re

The kitchen-furniture group is not only the smallest in size, but it
also has the lowest average hourly earnings of the 4 divisions in wood
household furniture. The 1,975 wage earners in the 21 kitchen-furniture
establishments averaged 43.1 cents an hour. All but 4.5 percent of
these workers received between 22.5 and 77.5 cents. There were 3.4
percent paid less than 25 cents, 10.1 percent under 30 cents, and as
many as 43.2 percent less than 40 cents. At the upper end of the
distribution, 13.8 percent earned 57.5 cents and over, but only 2.5
percent were paid as much as 77.5 cents and more. (See table 14.)
14.— Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly
earnings in kitchen furn itu re of wood household-furniture branch, by skill, October
1937

T able

North

U nited States
Average hourly earnings

Under 12.5 cents ________
12.5 and under 17.5 cents___
17.5 and under 22.5 cents___
22.5 and under 25.0 cents___
25.0 and under 27.5 cents___
27.5 and under 30.0 cents___
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
35.0 and under 37.5 cents___
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
40.0 and under 42.5 cents___
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
47.5 and under 52.5 cents___
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
57.5 and under 62.5 cents___
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
67.5 and under 72.5 cents___
72.5 and under 77.5 cents
77.5 and under 82.5 cents___
82.5 and under 87.5 cents___
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1-20 and under $1.40
T otal-_ _ __ ___ __
Num ber of workers____ _

U n­
Semi­
U n­
Semi­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers
0.9
.5
.6
1.4
3.4
3.3
12.6
8.1
6.9
5.5
11.5
12.8
11.0
7.7
4.4
2.6
2. 6
1. 7
.9
.3
.5
.4
.2
.1
.1
100.0
1,975

0.2
.2
.2
1.1
6.8
6.3
5.9
4.2
12.7
18.0
14.1
7.7
6.8
3.2
4. 2
2. 7
1.9
.6
1. 6
.8
.3
.2
.3
100.0
622

0.8
.6
.6
2.2
4.6
3.3
10.8
7.2
6.9
6.3
11.6
12.0
10.8
9.3
4.1
3.3
2. 7
1.8
.6
.2
.2
.1

2.2
.5
1.5
1.2
5.9
6.8
25.4
12.7
8.5
5.6
9.8
7.6
6.8
4.1
1.2
.2

100.0
943

100.0
410

6.2
.6
1.5
4.1
3.6
7.4
7.2
6.7
5.5
12.7
14.5
11.1
8.4
5.0
3.3
3.1
2.2
1.1
.4
.6
.4
.2
.1
.1
100.0
1, 572

0.2

.2
1.3
3.6
5.9
5.4
3.8
13.2
19.0
13.4
7.8
7.1
3.8
5. 0
3.3
2.3
.8
1.9
1.0
.4
.2
.4
100.0
523

0.1
.5
2.6
5.5
3.5
6.2
6.2
6.9
6.1
12.8
13.3
10.3
10.0
5.0
4.2
3.0
2.3
.8
.3
.3
.1

0.3
1.9
1.3
7.5
7.8
16.7
11.7
8.4
7.1
11.7
9.1
9.1
5.5
1.6
.3

100.0
741

100.0
308

The proportion of workers in the various skill groups in kitchen
furniture is about the same as that found in novelty furniture. The
break-down among employees in kitchen furniture was 31.5 percent
skilled, 47.7 percent semiskilled, and 20.8 percent unskilled. The
average hourly earnings in kitchen furniture amounted to 48.8 cents
for skilled, 42.7 cents for semiskilled, and 35.1 cents for unskilled.
Hence, the differentials were 6.1 cents between the averages of skilled
and semiskilled and 7.6 cents between those of the latter and unskilled
workers.




42

WAGE AND H O U R STRU CTU RE, F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

The manufacture of kitchen furniture is largely concentrated in the
North, but the proportion of this division in the South was somewhat
greater than in novelty furniture. Of the total coverage in kitchen
furniture, 17 plants and 1,572 wage earners were in the northern and
only 4 establishments and 403 workers in the southern area. Al­
though small, the southern coverage is quite representative of this
branch of the industry in that section.
The average hourly earnings of kitchen-furniture workers amounted
to 44.7 cents in the North and 36.1 cents in the South. This is a
differentia] of only 8.6 cents. The northern differential was 8.9 cents
for skilled, 7.7 cents for semiskilled, and 6.6 cents for unskilled workers.
It will be seen from table 14 that well over one-third (36.8 percent)
of the workers in the North earned less than 40 cents an hour and that
one-tenth received less than 30 cents. There were 2.3 percent who
averaged under 25 cents. Not far from one-half of the workers (46.7
percent) had earnings ranging from 40.0 to 57.5 cents. Only 5.1
percent of the employees earned as much as 72.5 cents and only 1.8
percent as much as 82.5 cents.
Variations Am ong States

Thus far, the analysis has concerned itself with broad regional
variations, pointing out the differential in average hourly earnings
between the northern and southern territories. The fundamental
character of this differential is confirmed by the fact that the lowest
State average in the North (43. 2 cents) is 4.0 cents higher than the
highest State average in the South (39.2 cents). Nevertheless, this
should not overshadow the fact that variations also exist among the
several States within each region, as well as within each State, which
are due to such factors as type and quality of product, size of com­
munity, and unionization. Unfortunately, the coverage is too thin
to justify a break-down of the State figures by these factors, so that
any differences within a given region must be studied on the basis of
the data for each State as a whole.
In the North, the average earnings per hour by States covered a
fairly wide spread, ranging from 43.8 cents in Ohio to 66.4 cents in
California. (See table 15.)2 The highest averages, those above 60
cents, are shown for the 3 Pacific States (Washington, Oregon, and
California) and New York and New Jersey. In each case, the high
hourly earnings are the result both of unionization and size of com­
munity. For example, all of the 23 plants covered on the Pacific
Coast were located in large cities, and of these 13 had trade-union
contracts. Similarly, there were 18 unionized establishments among
the 49 covered in the States of New York and New Jersey, and 23
2 The average for M issouri was 43.2 cents. Of the six establishm ents covered in this State, four were
classified w ith the North and two w ith the South.




43

WOOD H OUSEH OLD F U R N IT U R E

(including 15 with trade-union contracts) of these were located in the
metropolitan area of New York City. Conversely, lack of unioniza­
tion and/or location in smaller communities accounts for the lowest
averages, such as are shown for Missouri, Maine and New Hampshire
combined, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa.
T able

15.— Average

hourly

earnings in wood household-furniture
States, October 1937

State

Num ber Number Average
of em­ hourly
of
plants ployees earnings

branch,

by

Range of
average hourly
earnings of
individual plants
Low

High

United States__________________ __________________ _

298

33,199

$0,480

$0.181

$1.085

Arkansas __ __ __ ___ - ___ __ _ _ ___ _ ___ __ _
California________ ________________ _____ _ _
Connecticut and Rhode Island L_ ______ _________
Georgia, F lorida,1 and Alabama 2__________ ______
Illinois__ _______
__ ___ _______________ ___ _
Indiana____ ___ ___________________________________
Iow a_____________________ ____________ ____________
K entucky____ __ ___ __ __ _ ____ __________ _
Louisiana____________________ ______________ __
M aine 1 and N ew Hampshire____ _ ________ ___
M aryland. ________ _ _ __________________ __ __
M assachusetts__________ _ ________________ _____
M ichigan_____________ __ _ ____ __ . . . ______ _
M innesota___ ______________________________________
M issouri___________________ _______________ ___
N ew Jersey, ___ ______________________________ _ .
N ew York____________________ _________ ______
North Carolina and South Carolina 2____ ________
Ohio____________________ . . . ______ __ __ ______ .
Oklahoma 1 and Texas __ ______________ _____
Oregon. _ . . . _
_______
____________
Pennsylvania____ ______ __ __ __ _ ____________
Tennessee____ _
______ _______________ ____
Verm ont________________ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ ________ _
V ir g in ia .___ ________________ ___ _ _ ____ _
W ashington. __________ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___
W iscon sin ________ _______________
_ _ _ __

4
17
6
10
21
30
3
5.
3
4
4
15
18
4
6
7
42
23
14
5
3
22
7
3
8
3
11

522
1,369
244
725
2,929
3, 339
189
535
185
272
393
1,052
2,122
373
432
965
3,780
4,408
1,096
476
558
2,159
855
221
2,121
404
1,475

.382
.664
.490
.326
.550
.447
.461
.392
.274
.439
.569
.506
.510
.493
.432
.635
.617
.360
.438
.392
.659
.495
.354
.510
.345
.607
.499

.250
.468
.413
.243
.366
.305
.441
.336
.181
.320
.509
.382
.381
.373
.358
.488
.332
.250
.327
.297
.645
.300
.333
.347
.319
.594
.429

.428
.917
.638
.471
.755
.570
.588
.438
.306
.542
.618
.740
.662
.724
.555
.763
1.085
.453
.621
.459
.662
.964
.384
.556
.372
.646
.771

1 Includes only 1 plant.
2 Includes only 2 plants.

In the southern territory, there is considerably ]ess of a spread in
the average hourly earnings among the various States, the range being
from 27.4 cents in Louisiana to 39.2 cents in Kentucky and in Okla­
homa and Texas combined. This relatively narrower spread here as
compared with the North is due largely to the fact that in the South
there are only a few trade-union establishments and no very large
metropolitan areas.
In analyzing the State averages in both the northern and southern
areas, however, there appear no well-defined sections within each
territory, so that there is apt to be just as much difference between
States that are close together as between those that are far apart.




Chapter V I.— Relation of Size o f Com m unity, Unions
ization, and Size of Plant to Average H ourly Earnings
Differences by Sise o f Com m unity

Average hourly earnings in wood household furniture not only
differ by product, skill, and region, but they apparently also vary in
accordance with size of community within which the plants are
located.
According to table 16, 72 out of the 231 establishments and 27.2
percent of the workers in the North were found in communities with
a population of 1,000,000 and over. In contrast to this concentration
in the largest centers, 10 plants with only 2.8 percent of the employees
were in rural territory, namely, communities of less than 2,500.
Between these limits, the remaining establishments were fairly well
scattered, with some tendency to concentrate in places of 10,000
and under 25,000 and of 100,000 and under 250,000.
A somewhat different picture prevailed in the southern territory.
There are no metropolitan areas here with a population of over
500.000. However, the largest concentration, i.e., 32 of the 67 plants
with 54.9 percent of the workers, was found in communities between
5.000 and 25,000. A smaller concentration occurred in centers of
50.000 and under 100,000, but some establishments were also located
in each of the other classes. As in the northern region, only a rela­
tively small portion of the industry was found in the rural area.
With some exceptions, the average hourly earnings of all workers in
the North varied directly with size of community. The lowest average
was 41.7 cents in places of less than 2,500 population and the highest
64.8 cents in centers of 1,000,000 and over, the latter being 23.1 cents,
or 55.4 percent, higher than the former. The earnings in communities
between 2,500 and 5,000 averaged 44.5 cents, but those in the next
higher class of 5,000 to 10,000 were about the same as in rural terri­
tory. In places with 10,000 and under 50,000, however, the average
earnings were around 47 to 48 cents. The averages for communities
in all of the classes between 50,000 and 1,000,000 were all well over
50 cents, the lowest figure being 52.6 cents for places between 100,000
and 250,000 and the highest 57.2 cents for centers between 250,000
and 500,000. On the other hand, communities with 50,000 and under
100.000 had the same average, namely 55.2 cents, as those of 500,000
and less than 1,000,000. The largest metropolitan areas, namely with
1.000.
000 and over, averaged 7.6 cents more than those between
250.000 and 500,000 and 9.6 cents above those between 500,000
and 1,000,000.
44




45

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS
T able

16.— Average hourly earnings o f workers in wood household-furniture branch,
by region, size o f com m unity, and skill, October 1987

Total workers
N um ber
of
plants

Region and size
of community

N um ­
ber

Skilled workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

Average
Average
Average
Average
hourly N um ­ hourly N um ­ hourly N um ­ hourly
earn­
earn­
ber
ber
earn­
ber
earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

United States

Under 2,500_________________
2,500 and under 5,000___ __ _
5,000 and under 10,000,,, - _
10,000 and under 25,000___ _
25,000 and under 50,000_____

13
23
35
36
24

878
, 795
4,856
5, 392
2, 530

$0. 395
.415
.368
.425
.471

315
970
1,615
1,870
945

$0. 451
.482
.439
.487
.537

404
1,363
2,191
2,427
1,116

$0.392
.396
.350
.417
.457

159
462
1,050
1,095
469

$0. 294
.326
.291
.334
.374

50,000 and under 100.000-,, _
100,000 and under 250,000___
250,000 and under 500,000— _
500,000 and under 1,000,000. _
,000,000 and over, _ _
_

25
30
24
16
72

3,797
3, 537
1,951
1,157
, 306

.473
.492
.499
.552
.648

1,469
1,310

523
2, 695

.542
.573
.600
.673
.768

1,676
1,592
871
446
2, 654

.462
.476
.471
.513
.597

652
635
394
188
957

.346
.367
.383
.336
.463

298

33,199

.480

12, 398

.569

14, 740

.456

6 061
,

.355

.417
.445
.418
.472
.484

241
739
556
1,194
793

.479
.513
.477
.525
.542

297

2
0

647
2, 059
1,409
3, 361
2,097

619
1, 551
924

.412
.425
.401
.463
.475

109
309
234
616
380

.298
.352
.318
.384
.382

15
24
15
16
72

2, 064
2, 865
1,261
1,157
, 306

.552
.526
.572
.552
.648

847
1,071
454
523
2, 695

.617
.601
.659
.673
.768

923
1,299
571
446
2, 654

.539
.515
.544
.513
.597

294
495
236
188
957

.408
.394
.471
.336
.463

231

23, 226

.534

9,113

.621

10, 295

.508

3,818

.399

3
3

231
736
3, 447
2, 031

.341
.320
.345
.347

74
231
1,059
676

.373
.381
.416
.418

107
352
1, 572
876

.345
.300
.327
.334

50
153
816
479

.284
.260
.282
.271

1
0
6

4

9

433
1,733
672
690

.417
.393
.352
.368

152
622
239
232

.508
.456
.447
.488

192
753
293
300

.381
.383
.314
.334

89
358
140
158

.341
.300
.276
.255

67

9, 973

.357

3,285

.432

4, 445

.339

2,243

.281

1

Total_____ _________

2

6

66
8

North

Under 2,500_________________
2,500 and under 5,000_____ _
5,000 and under 10,000____ 10,000 and under 25,000___
25,000 and under 50,000___ __
50,000 and under 1 0 0 , 0 0 0 ,100,000 and under 250,000___
250,000 and under 500,000___
500,000 and under 1,000,000. _
,000,000 and over,__
_

1

T o t a l,,,

_ ,,

1
0
2
0
13
26

6

11
,0 1

South

Under 2,500_________________
2,500 and under 5,000_______
5,000 and under 10,000____ __
10,000 and under 25,000_____
25,000 and under 50,00050,000 and under 100,000____
100,000 and under 250,000___
250,000 and under 500,000___
Total, _

__ _ _

___

2
2
1
0

Similarly, the average earnings per hour in the North varied
directly with size of community for each skill group, but the extent of
correlation was highest for skilled, somewhat less for semiskilled, and
lowest for unskilled workers. Likewise, the spread in the averages
between places of under 2,500 population and those with 1,000,000
and over was highest for skilled (28.9 cents), next highest for semi­
skilled (18.5 cents), and lowest for unskilled (16.5 cents) employees.
Moreover, as regards the average varying directly with size of com­
munity, there were only 2 exceptions to the rule among the skilled,
but 3 or more among the semiskilled and unskilled workers. In fact,
for the unskilled wage earners the highest average, 47.1 cents, was
found in centers with 250,000 and under 500,000, this figure being
0.8 cents above the average in metropolitan areas of 1,000,000 and over.




46

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

In the southern region, on the other hand, the data indicate lack of
correlation between average hourly earnings and size of community.
It should be added, however, that the averages for the same class of
labor in the same size community were in all cases lower in the South
than in the North.
Differences Betw een Trade^Union and N on -T rad e^U nion 1 Plants

In addition to product, skill, region, and size of community, union
organization also appears to exert an influence on average hourly
earnings in wood household furniture.
The existence of a differential in average earnings per hour in favor
of trade-union as compared with non-trade-union plants is indicated
by table 17, which presents figures for the northern region on a product
basis. The differential for all employees in favor of trade-union over
non-trade-union plants was highest for upholstered furniture (15.3
cents) and kitchen furniture (13.8 cents), lowest for case goods (7.8
cents) and novelty furniture (6.7 cents). By skill groups, the highest
differential was 16.2 cents for skilled employees in upholstered furni­
ture, while the lowest was 5.7 cents for semiskilled wage earners in
novelty furniture. It is interesting to note that, with the exception
of kitchen furniture, the differential for unskilled was higher than
that for semiskilled, while in case goods and kitchen furniture it also
exceeded the one for skilled workers.2
i Includes 10 plants with employee-representation plans or independent unions confined to a single
establishment. These plants employed only 2.8 percent of the total workers in wood household furniture.
Of the 10 establishments, 4 were in case goods, 4 in upholstered furniture, 2 in novelty furniture, and none
in kitchen furniture.
Having classified the data for the northern area according to unionization and skill, it is interesting to
compare the average hourly earnings among the four product groups.
For all workers, the highest earnings per hour were found in upholstered furniture plants, the averages
being 73.8 cents for trade-union and 58.5 cents for non-trade-union establishments. On the other hand, there
was very little difference among the averages in trade-union plants for the remaining three product groups,
the figures ranging from 54.3 cents for kitchen furniture to 56.8 cents for case goods. In non-trade-union estab­
lishments, the hourly earnings in case goods and novelty furniture were both around 49 cents, but those
for kitchen furniture were only 40.5 cents.
As regards skilled workers, the highest average hourly earnings, namely, 85.3 cents in trade-union and
69.1 cents in non-trade-union, were again found in upholstered furniture establishments. There was very
little difference in the averages of case goods and novelty furniture, both for trade-union and non-tradeunion plants, but the hourly earnings of each product group were respectively lower than those found in
upholstered furniture. The figures for kitchen furniture were the lowest, this being especially the case in
trade-union establishments.
Semiskilled workers in the upholstered-furniture branch also averaged more per hour than those in the
other product groups. It will be noted, however, that the differential in favor of upholstered plants was
much less pronounced here than in the case of skilled workers. As regards the other product groups, there
was very little difference in the average hourly earnings for trade-union establishments, the figures ranging
only from 54.3 cents for kitchen furniture to 55.1 cents for case goods. Similarly, in the non-trade-union
plants, there was little difference between the case goods and novelty furniture averages, which were, respec­
tively, 46.8 and 48.9 cents, but the figure for kitchen furniture was definitely lower, being 39.7 cents.
On the whole, there is relatively little variation in the average hourly earnings of unskilled workers among
the four product groups for either trade-union or non-trade-union plants. In trade-union establishments
the averages ranged from 46.5 cents for novelty to 48.6 cents for upholstered furniture. In the nonunion
plants there was very little difference among novelty furniture (38.5 cents), upholstered furniture (37.7
cents), and case goods (37.4 cents), but the average of kitchen furniture was considerably lower (32.8 cents).
In other words, the average earnings per hour were, in nearly all instances, highest in upholstered furni­
ture and lowest in kitchen furniture. There was very little difference in the averages between case goods
and novelty furniture, but in general the former paid somewhat higher wages than the latter.

3




47

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS

T able

17 .— A verage hourly earnings o f workers in tra d e-u n ion and n o n -tra d e-u n io n
plants o f wood h ousehold-furniture branch in the N o rth , by product and skilly
October 1 9 3 7

Total
workers

Product and unionization

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

Num­
ber
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
of
age
age
age
age
plants Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly
ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Case goods
Trade-union plants_______
Non-trade-union plants. __
Total__________ _

20
68
88

2,769 $0. 568
6,468 .490
9,237 .513

986 $0. 638
2, 668 .557
3, 654 .578

1,308 $0. 551
2, 738 .468
4,046 .494

Trade-union plants_______
Non-trade-union plants____
Total. _ ... __

31
52
83

1, 813
4,405
6, 218

.738
.585
.627

1, 027
2,010
3,037

.853
.691
.742

673
1,808
2,481

Trade-union plants____...
Non-trade-union plants____
Total_____ ______ _

12
31
43

1, 780
4, 419
6,199

.552
.485
.503

487
1, 412
1,899

.628
.545
.564

Trade-union plants_____
Non-trade-union plants___
Total. __ ______ _____

4
13
17

534
1,038
1, 572

.543
.405
.447

188
335
523

.582
.464
.502

Upholsteredfurniture
Noveltyfurniture

Kitchen furniture

475
1,062
1,537

$0.467
.374
.402

.610
.537
.556

113
587
700

.486
.377
.393

947
2,080
3, 027

.546
.489
.505

346
927
1, 273

.465
.385
.405

250
491
741

.543
.397
.442

96
212
308

.466
.328
.366

The difference in wage levels between trade-union and non-tradeunion establishments is also indicated to some extent by table 18,
which presents the distribution of average hourly earnings of individual
plants by unionization and product.

T able

18 .— D istrib u tio n o f in divid u al plant average h ou rly ea rnings in w ood house­
h old -fu rn itu re branch in the N o r th , by product and u n io n iza tio n , October 1 9 3 7

All products
Average hourly earnings

30 and under 35 cents ...
35 and under 40 cents__ _
40 and under 45 cents____
45 and under 50 cents_______
50 and under 55 cents.._ _
55 and under 60 cents _
60 and under 65 cents
65 and under 70 cents
70 and under 75 cents
75 and under 80 cents
80 and under 85 cents
85 and under 90 cents
90 and under 95 cents
95 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.05
$1.05 and under $1.10
Total_______. . . _____




Case goods

Upholstered
furniture

Novelty
furniture

Kitchen
furniture

Non­
Non­
NonNon­
Non­
Trade- trade- Trade- trade- Trade- trade- Trade- trade- Trade- tradeunion union union union union union union union union union
plants plants plants plants plants plants plants plants plants plants
4
8
9
7
9
8
5
4
4
2
3
2
1
1
67

8
24
27
34
28
18
13
3
5
3
1

164

3
3
3
4
2
3
1

5
10
11
16
12
7
6
1

1

20

68

1
2
1
4
5
3
4
2
2
3
2
1
1
31

1
2
7
9
7
9
7
2
5
2
1
52

I
3
4
1
2

7
7
6
8
2
1

1

2
5
2
3
1

1
1
1

1

12

31

4

13

48

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

Due to the small number of trade-union establishments in the
South, it is not feasible to make a comparison between these and
non-trade-union plants in that region.
Taking the wood household-furniture branch as a whole for the
entire country, 74 of the 298 plants scheduled had union contracts.
In terms of employees, the trade-union establishments accounted for
24.5 percent of the total sample. Of the trade-union plants, 7 were
located in the southern and 67 in the northern area, their respective
employment amounting to 7.2 and 32.0 percent.
According to table 19, the differential in favor of trade-union over
non-trade-union plants in wood household furniture was 13.1 cents for
the country as a whole. The differential was greatest for skilled
workers, namely 14.9 cents, while the figures were 11.1 cents for semi­
skilled and 11.7 cents for unskilled employees.

T able
u n io n
1987

19 .— A verage hourly earnings o f workers in tra d e-u n ion and n o n -tra d eplants in wood h ousehold-furniture branch , b y region and sk ill , October

Region and unionization

United States

Unskilled
Total workers Skilled workers Semiskilled
workers
workers
Num­
ber
Average
Average
Average
of
Average
plants Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly
ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Trade-union plants. _ _ _
Non-trade-union plants____
Total. ___________

74 7,659 $0.583 2,913 $0. 686 3, 488 $0. 542
224 25, 640 .452 9, 485 .537 11, 252 .431
298 33,199 .480 12, 398 .569 14, 740 .456

1,158
4, 903
6,061

$0.451
.334
.355

Trade-union plants. _______
Non-trade-union plants____
Total___ _______

67 6,896
164 16, 330
231 23, 226

.603
.507
.534

2,688
6, 425
9,113

.708 3,178
.588 7,117
.621 10, 295

.560
.485
.508

1,030
2,788
3, 818

.469
.374
.399

Trade-union plants _____ _
Non-trade-union plants
Total_______________

7
60
67

663
9, 310
9,973

.399
.354
.357

225
3, 060
3,285

.465
.429
.432

.381
.335
.339

128
2,115
2,243

.328
.278
.281

North
South

310
4,135
4, 445

The absolute differential in favor of trade-union over non-tradeunion establishments for all workers was twice as large in the North
as in the South, the respective figures being 9.6 and 4.5 cents. In the
northern area, the differential was greatest for skilled workers, namely
12.0 cents, while the differentials of semiskilled and unskilled were
respectively 7.5 and 9.5 cents. On the other hand, there was very
little variation in the differential according to skill in the southern
region, the figures being 3.6 cents for skilled, 4.6 cents for semiskilled,







P l a t e 3.—A u t o m a t i c L a t h e O p e r a t o r .




P l a t e 4.—C u t t i n g , M a t c h i n g , a n d T a p i n g V e n e e r .

49

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS

and 5.0 cents for unskilled workers. It will be seen that, for each
skill group, the differential in the North was considerably larger than
in the South.3
The higher wage level in trade-union as compared with non-tradeunion establishments in the wood household-furniture branch as a
whole also appears to be borne out by table 20, which presents the
average hourly earnings of individual plants by unionization and
region. According to this table there was not a single trade-union
plant in the North averaging less than 40 cents an hour, which may
be compared with 32 non-trade-union establishments found under that
limit. On the other hand, as many as 30 trade-union plants had
averages of 65 cents and over, as against only 12 non-trade-union
establishments. Furthermore, while 13 trade-union plants averaged
80 cents and over, there was only 1 non-trade-union establishment in
that classification. A similar situation existed in the South, although
the number of trade-union plants in this area is too limited to draw
any definite conclusions.

T able

20 .— D istrib u tio n o f in dividual plant average h ou rly earnings in
h o u sehold-furniture branch, by region and u n io n iza tio n , October 1 9 3 7

United States
Average hourly earnings
15 and under 20 cents. _ _
20 and under 25 cents _
25 and under 30 cents. ____
30 and under 35 cents ______
35 and under 40 cents
__
40 and under 45 cents __
45 and under 50 cents __ ...
50 and under 55 cents
55 and under 60 cents
60 and under 65 cents
65 and under 70 cents
70 and under 75 cents _ _
75 and under 80 cents.
80 and under 85 cents
85 and under 90 cents __ _ _
90 and under 95 cents .
95 cents and under $1___ .
$1 and under $1-05. . ___
$1.05 and under $1.10
Total________________

Tradeunion
plants
1
2
6
10
9
7
9
8
5
4
4
2
3
2
1
1
74

North

Non­
tradeunion
plants
1
1
6
32
44
33
36
28
18
13
3
5
3
1

224

South
Non­
tradeunion
plants

Tradeunion
plants

4
8
9
7
9
8
5
4
4
2
3
2
1
1
67

w ood

Non­
tradeunion
plants

Tradeunion
plants

8
24
27
34
28
18
13
3
5
3
1

164

1
2
2
2

1
1
6
24
20
6
2

7

60

3 It is now possible to measure the regional differential separately for trade-union and non-trade-union
establishments. As regards trade-union plants, the difference in favor of the northern over the southern
territory amounted to 20.4 cents for all workers. It was highest for skilled (24.3 cents), followed by semi­
skilled (17.9 cents), and lowest for unskilled (14.1 cents) employees. The differentials were much smaller
for non-trade-union establishments, being 15.3 cents for all workers, 15.9 cents for skilled, 15.0 cents for
semiskilled, and 9.6 cents for unskilled workers.




50

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

It should be noted, however, that there is considerable overlapping
in the distributions of individual plant averages between trade-union
and non-trade-union establishments. It is also noteworthy that the
dispersion in the distribution of trade-union plants is greater than
that in non-trade-union establishments.
Differences Betw een Trade-U nion and N on-Trade-U nion Plants
as Affected by Sise o f Com munity

The preceding analysis dealt separately with variations in hourly
earnings according to the organizational status of employees and size
of community, but a closer scrutiny of the data indicates that the
two factors are closely interrelated. This may be seen by an examina­
tion of the figures in the northern region, where the coverage is
sufficiently large to permit an analysis of the data.
Referring back to table 20, it will be remembered that all 32 estab­
lishments averaging less than 40 cents an hour were non-trade-union.
It may be argued, however, that the lower averages are due to the
fact that practically all of these plants were located in smaller com­
munities, 21 being found in localities of less than 10,000 and all but
5 in places of less than 25,000. It is also of interest that the 42 plants
with average hourly earnings of 65 cents or more, whether trade-union
or non-trade-union, were nearly all located in the largest centers.
Thus, 24 of the 30 trade-union and all 12 non-trade-union establish­
ments with such hourly earnings were found in metropolitan areas of
1,000,000 or more. 4
On the other hand, it may be seen from table 21 that, with one
exception, the trade-union plants in the North paid higher wages
than the non-trade-union establishments in communities of corre­
sponding sizes. This is not only the case for the working force as a
whole, but it is also true for each skill group. Moreover, the margin
in favor of the trade-union plants was frequently of a decisive char­
acter. In fact, the difference amounted to more than 10 cents an
hour in a number of cases. Taking the extreme example, in cities
with a population of 250,000 and under 500,000 unskilled workers in
unionized establishments averaged 57.3 cents, but those employed in
non-trade-union plants averaged only 30.5 cents, a difference of 26.8
cents. As a rule, however, the spread was much narrower, frequently
amounting to only a few cents. The single exception mentioned above

4 There is a marked concentration of trade-union plants in the largest cities. Of the 67 trade-union estab­
lishments included in the northern sample, almost one-half with considerably more than one-third (36.2
percent) of the employees were found in the metropolitan areas of more than 1,000,000 inhabitants. For
the non-trade-union plants, on the other hand, somewhat less than one-fourth of the establishments (39 of
164) were located in these centers, the number of workers amounting to 23.3 percent. (See table 21.)




51

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS

is found in places of 25,000 and less than 50,000, where both the skilled
and semiskilled workers of non-trade-union establishments showed a
small differential over those employed in unionized plants. But even
in these communities the average of the unskilled workers was some­
what higher in the establishments with trade-union contracts. For the
largest metropolitan areas, where the trade-union plants were rela­
tively numerous, the differential in favor of trade-union establish­
ments amounted to 9.7 cents for all employees, 13.0 cents for skilled,
3.2 cents for semiskilled, and 4.9 cents for unskilled.

T able

21 .— A verag e h ou rly earnings o f workers in tra d e-u n ion and n on -tra d e-u n io n
plants in wood h o usehold-furniture branch in the N orth , by size o f co m m u n ity
and skill, October 1 9 8 7

Total
workers

Unionization and size
of community

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

130 0 )
541 $0.490
106
.519
1,047 (9
721 .477
233 0 )
615 .544
794 .637
211 .706
2, 498 .708
6,896 .603

34 0 )
198 $0. 554
49
261 0 )
.567
283 .522
110 (9
189 .610
267 .704
106 .772
1,191 .843
2,688 .708

80 (9
262 $0.469
40
557 0 )
.526
338 .463
99
315 (9
.543
373 .615
87 .662
1,027 .617
3,178 .560

16
81
17
229
100
24
111
154
18
280
1,030

207
541
507
933
510
737
882
187
417
1, 504
6,425

217
749
579
994
586
824
984
198
359
1,627
7,117

93
228
217
387
280
270
384
82
170
677
2,788

Unskilled
workers

Num­
ber
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
Aver­
of
age
age
age
age
plants Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly Num­ hourly
ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­ ber earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Trade-union
Under 2,500______________
2,500 and under 5,000 _____
5,000 and under 10,000_____
10,000 and under 25,000____
25,000 and under 50,000... .
50.000 and under 100,000.
100.000 and under 250,000___
250,000 and under 500,000__
500,000 and under 1,000,000. _
1,000,000 and over_________
Total. __ _ . . .

1
4
2
4
7
2
6
5
3
33
67

Under 2,500______________
2,500 and under 5,000___ ...
5,000 and under 10,000____
10,000 and under 25,000____
25,000 and under 50,000__
50,000 and under 100,000.. .
100,000 and under 250,000___
250,000 and under 500,000___
500,000 and under 1,000,000. .
1,000,000 and over_________
Total______________

9
517
16 1,518
11 1,303
22 2, 314
13 1,376
13 1,831
18 2, 250
10
467
13
946
39 3,808
164 16,330

Non-trade-union

.393
.430
.409
.452
.487
.545
.521
.480
.523
.611
.507

.463
.498
.467
.515
.552
.609
.599
.606
.652
.713
.588

.375
.410
.394
.430
.481
.533
.507
.430
.484
.585
.485

(9
$0.407
(9
.446
.400
(9

.432
.573
.498
.469

(9

.283
.334
.311
.347
.376
.409
.384
.305
.315
.449
.374

1No average computed for less than 3 plants or less than 50 employees.
Despite a number of inconsistencies, there is direct correlation
manifested between the size of community in which the plant is
located and average hourly earnings in non-trade-union establishments.
The lowest earnings for all employees (39.3 cents) were reported in
the smallest places and the highest average (61.1 cents) in the large
metropolitan centers of 1,000,000 and over. It is noteworthy, more­
over, that this order was maintained for each of the skill groups,




52

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE M ANUFACTURING

although the margin in favor of the largest centers was greatest among
the skilled. Between these extremes, however, the order is often in­
verted, with the confusion greatest in the unskilled group. These
irregularities appear to be due, at least in part, to the thinness of
the sample.
A similar situation appears among the unionized establishments.
For all employees the average was highest (70.8 cents) in the largest
communities, becoming progressively lower, with one exception, as the
size of the community decreased. It is noteworthy, however, that the
earnings were lowest in places of 25,000 and under 50,000. Some
interest also attaches to the fact that the largest metropolitan areas
had the highest over-all average only because of the substantially
higher earnings of the skilled employees.
H ou rly Earnings and Sise o f Plant

As in the furniture industry as a whole, the wood householdfurniture branch is not dominated by a few large plants, but it is made
up mostly of a considerable number of relatively small and medium­
sized units. Of the 298 establishments covered here, over half reported
not more than 100, and over a fourth employed not more than 50
wage earners. There were only 19 plants that had a labor force in
excess of 500, with 6 having over 1,000. It should be noted that none
of the establishments manufacturing kitchen furniture employed as
many as 500 workers.
Considering the wood household-furniture branch as a whole, there
are no indications of any correlation between size of establishment
and average hourly earnings, as shown in table 22. For example, not
only did the plants with the lowest and highest hourly earnings belong
to the same size group, namely the one with 21 to 50 workers, but the
65 establishments found in the latter had averages in virtually every
5-cent interval between 15 cents and $1.10. Of equal significance is
the fact that none of the 6 largest plants having from 1,001 to 2,500
employees are found in the same earnings class, the averages of these
establishments ranging from a figure between 35 and 40 cents to one
between 75 and 80 cents. Moreover, of the 9 lowest-paid plants,
whose hourly earnings were below 30 cents, 3 had from 21 to 50, 2
from 51 to 100, 1 from 101 to 250, 2 from 251 to 500, and 1 from 501
to 1,000 wage earners. Likewise, of the 14 highest-paid establish­
ments, with averages exceeding 80 cents, 1 employed between 6 and
20, 7 between 21 and 50, 3 between 51 and 100, 2 between 101 and
250, and 1 between 501 and 1,000 workers.
Even when allowance is made for regional differences, there are
still sharp variations in average hourly earnings among plants of the
same size group. Of the 13 establishments employing more than 500
workers in the North, 1 averaged between 40 and 45 cents, 2 between




AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS

53

45 and 50 cents, 2 between 50 and 55 cents, 1 between 60 and 65 cents,
3 between 65 and 70 cents, 2 between 70 and 75 cents, 1 between 75
and 80 cents, and 1 between 80 and 85 cents. Even greater variation
in hourly earnings is to be found in the smaller plants. The range of
earnings was much narrower in the South, but at least 1 of the estab­
lishments with less than 50 employees was found in every 5-cent
interval from 15 to 50 cents. Likewise, of the plants employing over
500 workers, 1 averaged between 25 and 30 cents, 2 between 30 and
35 cents, 1 between 35 and 40 cents, 1 between 40 and 45 cents, and
1 between 45 and 50 cents. Neither does there seem to be any
appreciable correlation between average hourly earnings and size of
establishment if the figures for each region are analyzed on the product
basis.
T able

22 —
.

D istrib u tio n o f individual plants in wood household -furniture branch,
by average hourly earnings and size o f plant, October 1 9 3 7

Size of plant in terms of number of workers
Average hourly earnings
15 and under 20 cents- - ___
20 and under 25 cents. __ ___
25 and under 30 cents. _ ~ .
30 and under 35 cents. _ __ .
35 and under 40 cents______
40 a n fi n nrlpr 45 pfvnts

45 and under 50 cents______
50 and under 55 cents______
55 and under 60 cents
60 and under 65 cents
65 and under 70 cents
70 and under 75 cents
75 and under 80 cents „ _
80 and under 85 cents
85 and under 90 cents
90 and under 95 cents .
95 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.05 ___
$1.05 and under $1.10
T o ta l.._____ _____

Total

21
to
50

6
to
20
1
1

7
32
46
39
46
37
25
22

1
1
2
4
2
1

11
10

7
4
3
3
2

1

1
1

298

12

51
to
100
1
1
1
4
5
8
9
8
8
6
1
4
2
1
3
2
1
65

251
to
500

101
to
250
2
7
13
7
13
13
5
7
1
3
2
1

1
11
18
17
12
10
9
6
4
1
1
1

501
to
1,000
2
7
8
3
5
2
2
2
2
1

1, 001
to
2,500
1
2
2
2
1

1
1
1
1

2
2
1

1

1

2
1
76

92

34

13

6

One reason for the lack of direct correlation betw een average hourly
earnings and size of establishment is the fact that the majority of the
unionized plants employed ffhver than 250 workers, which may be
coupled with the fact that the establishments with trade-union con­
tracts showed, on the whole, the highest averages. In fact, of the 14
plants with the highest hourly earnings (80 cents and over), in the
North, all but 1 employed less than 250 wage earners, and each of
these, except 1, was unionized. Nevertheless, even if the trade-union
and non-trade-union establishments are treated separately, neither
shows any correlation between size of plant and average hourly earn­
ings, nor does this tendency exist even if the figures are analyzed on
the basis of individual cities.
161633°— 39------5




Chapter V II.— W eekly Hours
Data for Branch as a Whole

The full-time hours of work in the 298 plants of the wood householdfurniture branch in October 1937 were fairly well scattered, ranging
all the way from 35 to 59 per week. According to table 23, however,
there were important concentrations at 40 and 45 hours, with minor
concentrations at 44, 50, and 55 hours. It will be noted that by far
the largest number of establishments (220) had a workweek of 45
hours and less.1
T able 23.—

D istrib u tio n o f plants according to fu ll-tim e w eekly
h ou seh old -fu rn itu re branch, by region, October 1 9 8 7

hours in

wood

Full-time weekly hours
Region

Total Un­ Ex­ Over Ex­ Over Ex­ Over Ex­ Over Ex­
40
44
45
50
der actly and actly and actly and actly and actly Over
40 40 under 44 under 45 under 50 under 55 55
44
45
50
55

United States __ _ ______ 298
North___ ________ _ 231
South___ _________ _ __ 67

9
9

101
90
11

2
2

30
24
6

8
7
1

70
41
29

19
13
6

36
30
6

6
4
2

16
10
6

1
1

The distribution of northern plants according to full-time hours per
week was similar to that in the country as a whole. It should be
pointed out that the 9 establishments with normal hours of less than
40 were all located in the North. The largest number of plants in
any single class in the southern area was at 45 hours, while in the
northern region this appeared at 40 hours. Moreover, a propor­
tionately greater number of establishments had full-time hours of
over 45 in the South (20 out of 67) than in the North (58 out of 231).
The actual weekly hours of all wage earners in wood household
furniture for the country as a whole averaged 42.5 in October 1937.
Looking at the distribution upon which this average is based in table
24, it will be seen that nearly one-half (48.8 percent) of the employees
worked 40 and under 48 hours per week. The largest concentration
was exactly 25.0 percent in the class of 44 and less than 48 hours.

1 This shows the influence of the code under the N. R. A., which established a 40-hour week to be averaged
over a 6-month period, with the maximum of 45 hours in any 1 week.
54




55

W EEKLY HOURS

The proportion working 40 and under 44 hours was somewhat less
than this figure, and 18.0 percent had a workweek of exactly 40 hours.
About the same percentage worked 32 and under 40 (13.9) as 48 and
less than 52 hours (13.4). Slightly over one-tenth (10.4 percent) had
a workweek of under 32 hours, these being employees who worked
part time during the week covered. On the other hand, 13.5 percent
had a workweek of 52 hours and over. Many of these were employed
in plants with long full-time hours, but quite a number belonged to
occupations that usually required a workweek in excess of the prevail­
ing normal hours in any establishment.
The fact that weekly hours were higher in the southern than in the
northern region is also confirmed by an examination of the data relating
to actual hours worked. As regards average hours per week, the
figures for all wage earners were respectively 43.1 and 42.3. Com­
paring the 2 distributions, the relative number of employees working
32 and under 48 hours was 65.4 percent in the North, as against 55.7
percent in the South. On the other hand, the number whose work­
week was 48 hours and over amounted to only 24.6 percent in the
northern area, which may be compared with 32.7 percent in the
southern territory.
T able

24 .— D istrib u tio n o f workers according to actual w eekly hours in wood
h ousehold-furniture branch, by region , October 1 9 3 7

United States
Weekly hours
Under 24_____ _ _ . ____
24 and under 32_______ _ __
32 and under 40___ __ _ ___ __
Exactly 40______ _
___
Over 40 and under 44. __ _ _
44 and under 48 ... _____ _ _
48 and under 52.__ ... ___
52 and under 56____
56 and under 64. _ ________
64 and over______________ _
Total.. _ ___ ___ __ __

North

South

Number of Simple Number of Simple Number of Simple
workers percentage workers percentage workers percentage
1,364
2,104
4,617
5,961
1,924
8, 262
4, 457
2,897
1,103
510
33,199

4.1
6.3
13.9
18.0
5.8
25.0
13.4
8.7
3.3
1.5
100.0

927
1,388
3, 450
4, 520
1, 311
5, 927
2,924
1,711
730
338
23, 226

4.0
6.0
14.9
19.4
5.6
25.5
12.6
7.4
3.1
1.5
100.0

437
716
1,167
1, 441
613
2,335
1,533
1,186
373
172
9,973

4.4
7.2
11.7
14.4
6.1
23.5
15.4
11.9
3.7

1.7
1C0.0

It should also be pointed out that there was very little difference in
the actual hours worked among the various skill groups. According to
table 25, the averages for the country as a whole were 42.8 for skilled,
42.2 for semiskilled, and 42.7 hours for unskilled workers. There was
just as little variation among the skill groups in the northern territory,
but in the southern region skilled workers averaged somewhat more
than either semiskilled or unskilled.




56
T able

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING
25 .— A verage actual w eekly hours in w ood h ou seh old -fu rn itu re branch, by
product, region, and skill, October 1 9 8 7

Product and region

All products

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

North___________________________ _______
South____________________________________
Total________________________________

42.3
43.1
42.5

42.3
44.0
42.8

42.1
42.7
42.2

42.9
42.5
42.7

North__ _____________________________
South_________________________ _ _ __
Total________________________________

42.6
42.9
42.8

43.2
44.4
43.6

42.5
42.6
42.5

41.8
41.7
41.7

North_____ _____________________________
South_____________________________________
Total________________________________

39.6
42.6
40.3

39.2
42.6
39.9

39.4
42.3
40.2

41.6
43.6
42.3

North______________________ ____________
South.. . . . _ ________________ __ ... .
Total________________________________

43.8
47.7
44.1

44.7
47.1
44.9

43.0
47.4
43.3

44.3
49.0
44.7

North________ ._ _______ _____________ _
South------- ------------------------------------------ .
Total________________________________

45.1
41.7
44.4

45.6
43.9
45.4

44.5
40.4
43.6

45.7
42.3
44.9

Case goods

Upholstered furniture
Novelty furniture

Kitchen furniture

W eekly Hours by Product

The weekly hours also differed by product. For the country as a
whole, the average actual hours worked per week for all workers were
lowest in upholstered furniture, namely 40.3, which is followed by
42.8 hours for case goods, 44.1 for novelties, and 44.4 for kitchen
furniture. However, as pointed out previously, the coverage by region
differed from one product to another. Hence, it is essential to analyze
the actual hours worked separately for each product on a regional basis.
In case goods, the average actual hours worked per week for all
employees were practically the same in both regions, the figures being
42.6 in the North and 42.9 in the South. On the other hand, there
are striking differences between the 2 distributions, as shown by
table 26. The number of wage earners working 32 and under 48
hours was 70.6 in the northern area, as against 56.7 percent in the
southern territory. By contrast, the number who worked 48 hours
and over was 21.8 percent in the North, which may be compared with
31.5 in the South. The relative number working part time during the
week, under 32 hours, was also larger in the southern than in the
northern region, the respective percentages being 11.8 and 7.6.
The average actual hours worked for all employees in upholstered
furniture were 39.6 in the northern and 42.6 in the southern area, a
difference of exactly 3 hours. This is also brought out by a comparison
of the 2 distributions. (See table 26.) The relative number of wage




W EEKLY HOURS

57

earners working less than 44 hours was 66.0 percent in the North, as
against 36.7 percent in the South. Conversely, while only 34.0 percent
worked 44 hours and over in the northern region, 63.3 percent were
found in that classification in the southern territory.
The average actual hours per week for all wage earners in novelty
furniture amounted to 43.8 in the northern and 47.7 in the southern
territory, which is a difference of nearly 4 hours.
T

a b l e

26 .— D istrib u tio n o f workers according to actual w eek ly hours in case goods
and upholstered fu rn itu re , by region, October 1 9 3 7

United States
Weekly hours

Number
of
workers

Simple
per­
centage

North
Number
of
workers

South

Simple
per­
centage

Number
of
workers

Simple
per­
centage

Case goods
Under 24__ _____ _ ___
24 and under 32_____________
32 and under 40_____________
Exactly 4 0 _____ _ _ ___
Over 40 and under 4 4 ______
44 and under 48. _ _____ __
48 and under 52_ _____ ___
52 and under 56_ _ ______
56 and under 64 ___________
64 and over_______ ___ ___
Total_______ _____

528
998
1,885
3,384
945
4,226
2,041
1,337
594
237
16,175

3.3
6.2
11.7
20.9
5.8
26.0
12.6
8.3
3.7
1.5
100.0

243
465
1,087
2, 234
496
2, 690
1,020
534
362
106
9,237

2.6
5.0
11.8
24.2
5.4
29.2
11.0
5.8
3.9
1.1
100.0

285
533
798
1,150
449
1, 536
1,021
803
232
131
6,938

4.1
7.7
11.5
16.6
6.5
22.1
14.7
11.6
3.3
1.9
100.0

Under 24___ _____________
24 and under 32_____________
32 and under 40_ __ _ _ _ _ _ _
Exactly 40_________
Over 40 and under 44_______
44 and under 4 8 _____ __ _
48 and under 52 __ _ _
52 and under 56__ _ __ ___
56 and under 64_ _
64 and over _ __
Total______ _______

529
771
1, 569
1,447
561
1, 660
1,046
458
198
94
8,333

6.3
9.3
18.9
17.4
6.7
19.8
12.6
5.5
2.4
1.1
100.0

412
653
1,318
1, 280
438
940
680
282
137
78
6,218

6.6
10.5
21.3
20.6
7.0
15.1
10.9
4.5
2.2
1.3
100.0

117
118
251
167
123
720
366
176
61
16
2,115

5.5
5.6
11.9
7.9
5.8
34.0
17.3
8.3
2.9
.8
100.0

Upholstered furniture

As may be seen from the distribution presented in table 27, 64.3
percent of the employees in the North worked 32 and under 48 hours
and 28.6 percent 48 hours and over. The number who worked less
than 32 hours was 7.1 percent of the total.
It is interesting to note that in kitchen furniture alone the average
of actual hours worked per week for all wage earners was considerably
greater in the northern as against the southern area, the figures being
respectively 45.1 and 41.7, which is probably due to the thinness of
the coverage in the South.
Comparing the averages of actual hours worked per week for all
employees in each region, it will be seen that, if kitchen furniture is
excluded, the lowest figure is shown for upholstered furniture, followed
by case goods, and the highest for novelty furniture. As regards




58

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE M ANUFACTURING

kitchen furniture, it has the highest average in the northern but the
lowest in the southern territory. Occupational averages for the group
as a whole as well as for each product are presented in tables 43 to 47
inclusive.
T

a b l e

2 1 ,—

D istrib u tio n o f w orkers according to actual w eek ly hours in
and kitchen fu rn itu re , October 1 9 8 7

North

United States
Weekly hours

Novelty furniture

Number
of
workers

novelty

Simple
per­
centage

Number
of
workers

Simple
per­
centage

Under 24 __ ______ ___ _____ ______ ___ ___
24 and under 32_______ __________ _ _ ____ _____
32 and under 40________ _________ _________________
Exactly 40
_____ ___ _____ _ -- - __
Over 40 and under 4 4 ___ _ _______ __ _______
44 and under 48___ ______________ __ __ _____
48 and under 52
__ _____ __
_ _ __
52 and under 56 _ __ ______ _ ________ __ __
56 and under 64________ ___ _ _____________ _
64 and over______________________ ______ ________
Total____ ______________ _ ______ ____ ____ _

228
263
909
932
330
1,950
850
832
262
160
6, 716

3.4
3.9
13.5
13.9
4.9
29. 0
12. 7
12.4
3.9
2.4
100.0

210
231
884
880
305
1,922
748
668
205
146
6,199

3.4
3.7
14.3
14.2
4.9
30.9
12.1
10.8
3.3
2.4
100.0

Under 24__ _ _________ - _____ _ _________ _
24 and under 32________ ____________ __ _ _____
32 and under 40__ _______ ___ ___ __ __ __ __
Exactly 40
____ ______ ______ ___
Over 40 and under 44__ ________ _ _ _____________
44 and under 4 8 ____ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _____ _ _
48 and under 5 2 ______
__ _ _____ _ _ _ _
52 and under 5 6 _ _ _ _ _
_ _ ___
56 and under 64__ __ __ __ __ _____ ___
64 and over_________ __ __ _ ________________ __ _
Total __ __ ____________________________

79
72
254
198
88
426
520
270
49
19
1,975

4.0
3.6
12.9
10.0
4.5
21.6
26.2
13. 7
2.5
1.0
100.0

62
39
161
126
72
375
476
227
26
8
1,572

3.9
2.5
10.2
8.0
4.6
23.9
30.3
14.4
1.7
.5
100.0

Kitchen furnitur

Differences Betw een Trade^Union and Non^Trade^Union Plants

The weekly hours were lower in trade-union than in non-trade-union
plants. This is shown by an analysis of the data relating to full-time
hours as well as actual average hours worked per week. As mentioned
previously, any comparisons on a product basis must be confined to
the northern area, but it is possible to present figures for both terri­
tories for all products combined.
In the northern region, the average actual weekly hours were lower
in trade-union than in non-trade-union establishments for each of the
4 products, the differentials being 1.3 hours in case goods, 3.5 hours in
upholstered furniture, 4.8 hours in novelties, and 7.0 in kitchen furni­
ture. (See table 28.) It should also be noted that for each kind of
plant the lowest average was reported in upholstered furniture. In
trade-union establishments, novelty and kitchen furniture came next,
with case goods showing the highest average. In non-trade-union
plants, on the other hand, the order following upholstered furniture
was case goods, novelties, and kitchen furniture.




59

W EEKLY HOURS

2 8 . — A verage actual w eek ly hours o f workers in tra d e-u n ion and n on -tra d eu n io n plants o f wood hou seh old-fu rn itu re branch in the N orth , by product, October
1937

T able

Trade-union Non-tradeplants
union plants

Product
Case goods . _ _____ ____________ ______ _______________ ___ ____
Upholstered furniture-_____ _ _ _______ ___ _ ____ _ _ _ _ _ __
Novelty furniture__ ____ ________ _______ __ _ _ _ _ _
Kitchen furniture___ ________ ____ ___ _____ __ _____ _____ _

41.7
37.1
40.4
40.5

43.0
40.6
45.2
47.5

For all products in the North, the average actual hours per week
amounted to 40.1 in trade-union and 43.2 in non-trade-union estab­
lishments, which makes for a differential of 3.1 hours. The fact that
the weekly hours were shorter in trade-union than non-trade-union
plants is confirmed by table 29, which shows the distribution of full­
time weekly hours. In trade-union establishments, the 40-hour week
predominated, with 39 out of the 67 plants observing these hours.
In fact, 47 trade-union establishments had normal hours of 40 or less.
Of the remaining 20 plants, 14 reported full-time hours of exactly
45, with none of the establishments exceeding 50 hours. In the
non-trad e-union plants, however, the normal hours ranged all the way
from under 40 to over 55, with concentrations at exactly 40, 44, 45,
50, and 55.
In the southern territory, the average actual weekly hours were
46.3 in trade-union and 42.8 in non-trade-union establishments, which
is entirely contrary to the experience in the North. This is probably
due to the small number of trade-union plants found in the southern
area.
T able

2 9 . — D istrib u tio n o f plants according to fu ll-tim e w eek ly hours, in wood
h ou seh old -fu rn itu re branch, by region and u n ion iza tion , October 1 9 3 7

North

United States
Weekly hours

Tradeunion

Under 40____ ___ ______
Exactly 40_________________
Over 40 and under 4 4 ______
Exactly 44 _ ________ ______
Over 44 and under 45_____ _
Exactly 45____ _ __ ___ __
Over 45 and under 50______
Exactly 50_______ _____
Over 50 and under 55 _ _ _
Exactly 55. _____
Over 55 _ _ __
Total________________

Non-tradeunion
8

40

1
16
5
4
74

1
61
2
30
7
54
14
32
6
16
1
224

Tradeunion

South

Non-tradeunion
8

39

1
14
2
3
67

1
51
2
24
6
27
11
27
4
10
1
164

Tradeunion

Non-tradeunion
1

2
3
1
7

10
6
1
27
3
5
2
6
60

W eekly Hours by Siz;e o f Com m unity

There is almost no relationship between average actual weekly
hours and size of community in wood household furniture, as may be
seen in table 30. In the North, the lowest average (37.9 hours) appears




60

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

in communities with a population of 50,000 and under 100,000, the
next lowest (40.6 hours) being found in metropolitan areas with
1,000,000 and over. The highest average (47.2 hours) is shown for
places with 5,000 and under 10,000, but the communities with less
than 5,000 averaged under that figure. The same lack of relationship
is found in the southern territory, except that the smallest com­
munities, namely under 2,500, had the longest weekly hours (51.1).
T able

30.— Average actual weekly hours o f workers in wood household-furniture
branch, by size o f com m unity and region, October 1937
United
States

Size of community

North

South

Under 2,500_____________________________________________________________
2,500 arid under 5,000 _____ . . . _____ __ . . . _
_
_ _ _
_ ________ __
5,000 and under 10,000 ___ . . . _ _ _ _ _ _ __ ___
10,000 and under 25,000________________________________________________
_____
25,000 and under 50,000___ _ _ _ _ _ __
__
__ _________

45.5
43.5
43.8
42.9
43.2

43.6
44.7
47.2
43.1
42.7

51.1
40.1
42.4
42.7
45.8

50,000 and under 100,000._
___ ____ __
_____ ______ ____
100,000 and under 250,000. _ _ _ _
__
_____ __
________
250,000 and under 500,000 _ ______
_
__ _ _ _ _ ______ _ __
500,000 and under 1,000,000 __ _ _
______ __
________ _
1,000,000 and over. _ ______ _______ __ _ _ _ _
___ ________ ______

40.7
43.3
41.9
44.8
40.6

37.9
42.9
41. 7
44.8
40.6

44.0
44.7
42.4

42.5

42.3

43.1

Total_ ____ _________
_

_ __
_

__

__

______ ______

_

__ __

It will also be seen that the average actual hours per week in the
North were not always greater than in the South. In communities
for which a comparison is possible, the northern averages were greater
in all except those between 2,500 and 25,000.
There is some tendency for the average actual weekly hours to vary
inversely with the size of community in trade-union plants, as shown
in table 31, but no such relationship is evident in the data for non­
trade-union establishments. It should also be noted that, in all
except the smallest (under 2,500) communities and centers of 50,000
and under 100,000, the average actual hours per week were greater
in non-trade-union than in trade-union plants.
31.— Average actual w eekly hours o f workers in trade-union and non-tradeunion plants in wood household-furniture branch in the North, by size o f com ­
m unity, October 1987

T able

Size of community

Trade-union
ts

Non-tradeunion plants

Under 2,500________________
2,500 and under 5,000______
5.000 and under 10,000_____
10.000 and under 25,000___
25.000 and under 50,000___

44.0
43.2
41.1
40.8
40.1

43.5
45.2
47.7
44.1
44.0

50.000 and under 100,000-100.000 and under 250,000-.
250.000 and under 500,000..
500.000 and under 1,000,000
1 ,000,000 and over_________

38.2
41.3
39.0
38.1
39.2

37.8
43.4
46.2
46.3
41.5

40.1

43.2

Total.




Chapter V III.— W eekly Earnings
Data for Branch as a W hole

Taking the wood household-furniture branch as a whole, the average
weekly earnings of all wage earners amounted to $20.42 in October
1937. However, this figure conceals wide differences, as may be seen
in table 32. A fairly large proportion of the workers (27.0 percent)
received less than $15, but it must be remembered that many of these
were on a part-time basis during the week covered. Less than onehalf of the total (47.3 percent) were paid $15 and under $25, which
indicates that the weekly earnings of the majority were not relatively
high. Another fifth (20.6 percent) received $25 and less than $35.
On the other hand, the representation in the upper brackets was
extremely meager, with only 5.1 percent earning as much as $35 and
over and 1.5 percent being paid $45 and over.
T able 32.— D istribution o f workers according to actual weekly earnings in wood
household-furniture branch, by skill, October 1937

Total workers

Skilled workers

Unskilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Weekly earnings
Num ­
ber

8,642
7,130
4, 370
2,460
766
428
216
161
83

13.2
7.4
2.3
1.3
.7
.5
.3

2, 302
1, 615
559
357
186
135
77

18.6
13.0
4.5
2.9
1.5

33,199

100.0

12, 398

100.0

$25 and
$30 and
$35 and
$40 and
$45 and
$50 and
$60 and

Total---

$ 3 0 -_ _ ________
$35____________
$40-____ _
$45____________
$50____________
$60
-_

______ __

Per­
centage

91
357
1,219
2,617
2,883

6, 200

1.5

N um ­
ber

18.7
25.9
21.4

498
2, 245

Under $5________ _ _ _______ __
$5 and under $10_____________
$10 and under $15_____ __ _ _
$15 and under $20_____ ______
$20 and under $25-. ________
under
under
under
under
under
under
over

Per­
centage

6.8

0.7
2.9
9.8

21.1
23.3

1.1
.6

N um ­
ber
198
1,050
2, 976
4,168
3, 388
1, 838
798
198
67
27
26

6
14,740

Per­
centage
1.3
7.1

20.2
28.3
23.0
12.5
5.4
1.3
.5

.2
.2

Num ­
ber

Per­
centage

209
838
2,005
1,857
859

3.4
13.8
33.2
30.6
14.2

230
47
9
4
3

3.8

.8
.1
.1
0)

(0
100.0

6,061

100.0

i Less than Mo of 1 percent.

As in the case of hourly earnings, the weekly earnings differed con­
siderably among the three skill groups. The averages amounted to
$24.35 for skilled, $19.27 for semiskilled, and $15.19 for unskilled em­
ployees. (See table 33.) Hence, there was a differential of $5.08
between the skilled and semiskilled, and of $4.08 between the semi­
skilled and unskilled. These differentials reflect almost entirely the
respective ones in hourly earnings, due to the fact that there was very
little variation in the average actual weekly hours among the three
groups.




61

62

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE M ANUFACTURING

Comparing the three distributions according to skill, it will be seen
that the relative number paid under $15, which is just below the
average of the unskilled workers, was 50.4 percent for the unskilled
and 28.6 percent for the. semiskilled, as against only 13.4 percent for
the skilled. If $20 is taken as the upper limit, which is just above the
semiskilled average, the percentages were 81.0 percent for the un­
skilled, 56.9 percent for the semiskilled, and 34.5 percent for the
skilled workers. However, the number earning $25 (or just above
the average of the skilled) and over amounted to as much as 42.2
percent for the skilled, which may be compared with 20.1 percent for
the semiskilled and only 4.8 percent for the unskilled wage earners.
T able 33.— Average actual weekly earnings in wood household-furniture branch,
by product, skill, and region, October 1937

Total
workers

Product and region

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

A l l products

$22.58
15.39

$26.27
19.01

$21.35
14.46

$17.09
11.95

___________

20.42

24.35

19.27

15.19

North___ _______ _ ___
__________ _________ ____ __
South
__ ___
____________ __________ ___ _ __ __

21.87
14.90

24.95
18. 57

21.02

16. 79

14.03

11.66

18.88

22.57

17.96

14.16

24.80
__ 16.96

29.10
20.34

21.91
15.69

16.37
12. 51

__

22.81

27.18

20.30

14.97

North- __ ________ ____ _____ _ _______________ __ _
_ _
_
_ _______ _______ _____ _____ ______ ____
South _

22.03
15. 92

25.24
18.47

21.73
15.45

17.94
13.34

21.56

24. 70

21.29

17. 53

________ __
__________ __
_________ __________ __
___ _

20.17
15.07

22.90
18.16

19.66
14. 76

16. 76
12. 69

___________________________ _____ __

19.13

22.14

18.61

15. 75

North
South

_

_ _ ___________ _____ __________
_
_ _ ____
_
__
_
_
_
_ _ _________
_
___ __

T o t a l _____

__________ ___________
Case goods

Total_________ __

_________

________ ________ __ _

Upholstered furniture

North_____________________________________________________
_______
- ________ ________ South _ _
____
T otal____

_ _________ _____ __

___________

Novelty furniture

T otal_______________________________________________
Kitchen furniture

N orth.. __ _ ___ __
South____
___ ________
Total_____ __

Weekly earnings were substantially higher in the North than in the
South. Compared with an average of $22.58 for all employees in the
northern plants, the average for the southern wage earners was $15.39,
a difference of $7.19. This difference also reflects largely the one in
hourly earnings, since the average actual weekly hours in the southern
region were only slightly higher than in the northern area. According
to table 34, more than four-fifths (81.6 percent) of the total earned
less than $20 a week in the southern as compared with two-fifths
(40.8 percent) in the northern territory. Wholly different intervals
of principal concentration are responsible for these marked variations.




63

W EEKLY EARNINGS

In the South, the modal concentration, accounting for 36.0 percent,
occurs in the class of $10 and under $15. In the North, however, the
largest proportion (25.8 percent) is found in the class of $20 and less
than $25. Conspicuous differences also appear at the upper end of
the distributions. The number earning $20 and under $30 amounted
to 42.9 percent in the northern but only 15.4 percent in the southern
region. Lastly, as many as 16.3 percent were paid $30 and over in
the North, but only 3.0 percent were found in that classification
in the South.
Differences by Product

Weekly earnings were highest in upholstered furniture, the over-all
average for this division amounting to $22.81. Next in rank were
the plants manufacturing novelty lines, whose average was $21.56.
Earnings in the other divisions were appreciably lower, averaging
$19.13 in kitchen furniture and $18.88 in case goods.
In the case of hourly earnings, it will be remembered that the dif­
ferences among the four products were to a considerable degree due
to the varying distribution of the labor force as to skill and region.
The same thing applies in connection with the differences in earnings
per week. In addition, however, the weekly earnings are also affected
by the differences in weekly hours among the several products.
T able 34.— D istribution o f workers according to actual weekly earnings in wood
household-furniture branch, by region and skill, October 1937
North
Skilled workers

Total workers

Semiskilled workers Unskilled workers

W eekly earnings
Number

Simple
per­
centage

1.0

Number

Simple
per­
centage

Number

Simple
per­
centage

44
153
481
1, 571
2, 238

0.5
1.7
5.3
17.2
24.6

96
390
1,231
2, 780
2,951

12.0

Under $5
____
$5 and under $10____
$10 and under $15___
$15 and under $20___
$20 and under $25___

2, 622
5, 784
5, 999

3.6
11.3
24.9
25.8

$25 and
$30 and
$35 and
$40 and
$45 and

$30___
$35___
$40___
$45___
$50___

3,966
2,248
703
405
203

17.1
9.7
3.0
1.7
.9

1,983
1,425
501
334
176

21.8

$50 and under $60___
$60 and over _

158
81

.7
.3

23, 226

100.0

under
under
under
under
under

Total




223
834

0.9
3.8

Number

Simple
per­
centage

2.2

27.0
28.6

83
291
910
1, 433
810

15.6
5.5
3.7
1.9

1, 753
777
193
67
25

17.0
7.5
1.9
.7

230
46
9
4

.2

2

6.0
1.2
.2
.1
.1

132
75

1.4

26

.3

.8

6

.1

9,113

100.0

10, 295

100.0

3,818

100.0

7.6
23.8
37.6

21.2

64

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING
34. D istribution o f workers according to actual weekly earnings in wood
household-furniture branch, by region and skill, October 1937— Continued

T able

South
Total workers

Skilled workers

Semiskilled workers Unskilled workers

W eekly earnings
Number

Simple
per­
centage

2.8

275
1,411
3, 578
2,858
1,131

14.1
36.0
28.7
11.3

$30___
$35___
$40___
$45___
$50___

404

4.1

212

2.1
.6
.2
.1

$50 and under $60__.
$60 and o v e r ,.. _ ___

3

Total____________

9,973

Under $5____________
$5 and under $10____
$10 and under $15___
$15 and under $20___
$20 and under $25___
$25 and
$30 and
$35 and
$40 and
$45 and

under
under
under
under
under

63
24

12
2

0)
C)
1
100.0

Number

47
204
738
1,046
645
319
190
58
23

10

Simple
per­
centage
1.4

6.2
22.5
31.8
19.6

Number

102
660
1,745
1, 388
437

9.7
5.8

Number

2.3
14.8
39.4
31.2
9.8

126
547
1,095
424
49

1.9
.5

1

0)

1

0)

85

1.8

Simple
per­
centage

5

.7
.3

2

100.0

2

.1
0)

5.6
24.4
48.9
18.9

2.2

.1
.1

3,285

21

Simple
per­
centage

3

4, 445

100.0

2,243

100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.

It will also be recalled that for each product the average earnings
per hour were substantially greater in the North than in the South.
Due to the fact that the average actual weekly hours were longer in
the southern than in the northern area in case goods, upholstered fur­
niture, and novelties, the regional differentials in average earnings
per week were relatively narrower than in average hourly earnings in
each instance. These differentials amounted to $6.97 for case goods,
$7.84 for upholstered furniture, and $6.11 for novelty furniture. In
kitchen furniture the differential was $5.10, or relatively higher than
in average hourly earnings, because of the fact that the average actual
hours per week were longer in the North than in the South.
The same contrast between the northern and southern regions is
brought out by the distributions for case goods and upholstered fur­
niture, which appear in tables 35 and 36, respectively. Taking the
number of employees earning under $20 a week, there were in this
category in case goods 42.3 percent in the North as against 84.7 per­
cent in the South. The respective percentages for upholstered furni­
ture were 35.7 and 72.3. Tables 37 and 38, which relate to novelty
and kitchen furniture, respectively, do not include distributions for
the southern workers.




T able

35.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings in case goods of wood household-furniture branch, by region
and skill, October 1937
United States

Weekly earnings
Total
workers

1.7
8.9

22.6
27.2
19.2
11.9
5.5
1.5

.8
.4

.2
.1
100.0

Total______________

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

1.3
9.3
24.6
29.5
19.7

10.8

4.1
17.9
37.0
27.2

11.0

0.7
3.5
12.4
24.8
23.5
17. 6

3.2
.4

10.1

3. 5

.8
.2
.1

3. 2
1.9
.9
.5

(l)

.2

.1

0)

100.0

100. 0

Total
workers

0.9
3.6
26.6
26.7
18. 4
8.3
2. 2

ioo. 6

0.7
3.4

1.8

2.0
8.8
25.1
37.1
19.4
6. 6

28.9
29.2
18. 4
5.9
1.3
.3

.8
.1

.2
.1

100.0

ioo. o

Total
workers

2. 7
15.9
37.8
28.3
9.3
3.2
1.9

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

1.0

2.1

6.1

6.4
24.9
33.5
18.0

16.9
41.4
30.1
7.3
1.5
.5

26.6
48.1
17.8
1.3

8.1
5.2

100.0

1C0.0

.2

1. 7

(!)
0)

(l)

Skilled
workers

.6
.2
.1

.1

100.0

1.2
.8
.2

100. 0

U n­
skilled
workers

11.6

5.0
19.7
26.9
23. 2
14. 2
4.0
2.5

.3
.1

0)

Semi­
skilled
workers

0.5

11.2

1.1
.6

(i)

Skilled
workers

.7
.3
.1
.1

.1

0)

100.0

100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.
T able

36.-— Percentage distribution o f workers according to actual weekly earnings in upholstered fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch
by region and skill, October 1937

W eekly earnings

Total
workers

Under $5_______________
$5 and under $10________
$10 and under $15_____ __
$15 and under $20_______
$20 and under $ 2 5 ______
$25 and under $30_______
$30 and under $35___ ___
$35 and under $ 4 0 ______
$40 and under $45______
$45 and under $ 5 0 _____
$50 and under $66___ ____
$60 and over _______
T otal_____________
1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.




1.4
5.2
16.8
21.7
18.9
14.7
10. 7
4.2
2.7
1. 5
1.4
.8
100.0

United States
Semi­
Skilled
skilled
workers
workers
0.9
2.2
8.2
16.8
17.8
18.8
16.2
7.3
4.9
2.9
2.4
1. 6
100.0

1.2
5.8
20.1
26.2
21.5
13. 6
7.4
2.1
1.0
.4
.6
.1
100.0

South

North
U n­
skilled
workers
3.6
13.8
37.3
25.1
15.0
4.0
.9
.2
.1
100.0

Total
workers
0.9
3.8
11.9
19.1
20.1
17.3
13.1
5.4
3.5
2.0
1.8
1.1
100.0

Skilled
workers
0.4
1.4
6.0
13.6
16.7
19.9
18.3
8.8
6.1
3.6
3.1
2.1
100.0

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

0.7
4.8
15.0
23.1
23.7
17.1
9.9
2.8
1.3
.6
.8

3.6
11.1
26.3
29.3
21.6
6.3
1.4
.3

100.0

100.0

.1

.2

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

2.9
9.1
31.2
29.1
15.7
7.2
3.5
.8
.3
.2
(H

2.7
5.3
16.0
28.1
21.9
14.4
8.4
1.9
.8
.4

.1

100.0

100.0

100.0

U n­
skilled
workers

.1

2.6
8.5
34.4
35.4
15.2
3.5
.3

3.8
18.6
56.5
17.6
3.5

100.0

W EEKLY EARNINGS

Under $5_____ __________
$5 and under $10_________
$10 and under $15___
__
$15 and under $20___ __
$20 and under $ 2 5 _ _____
$25 and under $30
_ _
$30 and under $35___ __
$35 and under $ 4 0 _______
$40 and under $45________
$45 and under $50 __ _
$50 and under $60________
$60 and over
_ _ _ _

Skilled
workers

South

North

66

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

T able 37.— Percentage distribution o f workers according to actual w eekly earnings
in novelty fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch, by skill, October 1937
North

United States
Weekly earnings
Total
workers

Under $5____________
$5 and under $10___
$10 and under $15___
$15 and under $20___
$20 and under $25___
$25 and
$30 and
$35 and
$40 and
$45 and

under $30___
under $35._ _
under $40___
under $45___
under $50,__

$50 and under $60__
$60 and over
T o t a l . . ______

Skilled
workers

1.0

0.6
2.0

4.0

11.2
27.4
29.3
14.5
8.7

2.2
1.1
.4

.2
0)
100.0

5.3
17.4
31.3
21.4
14.1
4.0
2.4
.9

Semiworkers

1.0
3.9
10.7
28.0
31.4

100.0

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

1.6

1.0

7.1

3.2
9.6
27.1
30.3
15.4
9.3
2.3

22.4
15.1
4.2

1.2

2.6
1.0

40.9

22.1
4.8

8.1
1.8
.6
.1

1.8
.4

.2
.1

.4

.1

.2
0)

0)
100.0

Semi­
Unskilled
skilled
workers
workers

0.5
1.5
4.0
16.5
31.6

21.0

14.3

.5

.1

Unskilled
workers

100.0

100.0

1.0

1.6

3.4
8.9
27.5
32.3

5.4
19.5
42.0
23.6

15.3

5.3
1.9
.4

8.8
1.9
.7

.2
.1

.1
.1

.5
.1

C)
1

100.0

100.0

100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.

T able 38.— Percentage distribution of workers according to actual weekly earnings
in kitchen fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch, by skill, October 1937
United States
Weekly earnings

North

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

Under $5____________
$5 and under $10___
$10 and under $15___
$15 and under $20___
$20 and under $25. __

2.4
5.3
19.8
29.0
24.1

0.3
3.7
11.3
25.0
28.4

3.0
6.5
19.8
28.1
24.8

$25 and
$30 and
$35 and
$40 and
$45 and

$30___
$35_..
$40___
$45__$50-__

12.7
4.7

17.4

13.3
3.1
1.3

.4
.3

10.1
1.6
1.0
.8

$50 and under $60-__
$60 and o v e r ____ -

.1
.1

.2
.2

Total_________

100.0

100.0

under
under
under
under
under

1.1

Unskilled
workers

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

4.1
5.1
33.2
37.2
16.3

1.7
3.7
16. 2
28.9
26.3

0.4
3.3

4.1

15.3
5.7
1.3
.4
.3

19.5
11.7
1.7

.1
.1

.2
.2

100.0

100.0

.1

100.0

Semi­
Unskilled
skilled
workers
workers

100.0

8.0
23.9
29.2

1.1
.8

2.4
4.3
16.3
28.2
27.0

2.3
2.9
29.9
39.6
19.8

16.3
3.8

5.5

1.6
.1

100.0

100.0

Differences Betw een Trade-U nion and N on-Trade-U nion Plants

It has been pointed out previously that in the northern region the
average hourly earnings were higher and average actual weekly hours
shorter in trade-union than in non-trade-union establishments. As
a result, the differentials in favor of the former establishments against
the latter were relatively less pronounced in average weekly earnings.
The differentials in favor of trade-union plants in the North
amounted to $2.58 in case goods, $2.72 in kitchen furniture, $3.59 in
upholstered furniture, and only 37 cents in novelty furniture. (See
table 39.) Skilled employees in novelty furniture were the only
group that earned on the average less (11 cents) in trade-union than
in non-trade-union establishments, while the semiskilled workers
averaged only 19 cents more in the former as compared with the
latter. In all other skill groups for each product, however, the dif-




67

W E EK LY EARNINGS

ferentials were very substantial, varying from $1.07 for skilled em­
ployees in kitchen furniture to $3.58 for unskilled employees in case
goods. The differentials were particularly conspicuous for the un­
skilled workers in each product.
It is interesting to compare in the northern territory the average
weekly earnings among the four product groups by trade-union and
non-trade-union plants. For all establishments combined, it will be
remembered, the highest average was in upholstered furniture, which
was followed by novelties, case goods, and kitchen furniture. The
same order prevailed in non-trade-union plants, but in trade-union
establishments the order was upholstered furniture, case goods,
novelties, and kitchen furniture.
T

39.— Average actual weekly earnings of workers in trade-union and now-tradeunion plants o f wood household-furniture branch in the North, by product and
skill, October 1937

a b l e

Total
workers

Product and unionization

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

Case goods

Trade-union plants _ __ _ _______________ ____ _____
Non-trade-union plants
__ __ __________________

$23. 68
2 1 .1 0

$26. 65
24. 32

$ 2 3 .0 5
2 0 .0 5

$ 1 9 .2 7
1 5 .6 9

T o ta l._________________________________________

21. 87

2 4 .9 5

2 1 .0 2

1 6 .7 9

27. 34
23. 75

3 1 .2 5
2 7 .9 9

22. 77
2 1 .5 9

1 9 .0 1
1 5 .8 6

24. CO

2 9 .1 0

2 1 .9 1

16. 37

__________
___
______

22. 29
2 1 .9 2

2 5 .1 6
25. 27

2 1 .8 6
2 1 .6 7

1 9 .4 1
17. 39

___ _________

22. 03

2 5 .2 4

2 1 .7 3

1 7 .9 4

2 1 .9 7
19. 25

2 3 .5 8
2 2 .5 1

2 1 .9 3
18. 51

1 8 .9 0
1 5 .7 9

2 0 .1 7

2 2 .9 0

1 9 .6 6

1 6 .7 6

Upholstered furniture

Trade-union plants
- __
Non-trade-union p la n ts ___

__________________
____ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Total___________________ _____ __

__________ _

Novelty furniture

Trade-union plants _____ __________
Non-trade-union plants.
_______ __
T o ta l-_
_

___

__

__

Kitchen furniture

Trade-union plants
Non-trade-union plants
Total____ __ _ _

______ ____ ____ ____ ________
___

___ __________ _____ __

According to table 40, the differential in favor of trade-union as
against non-trade-union plants for both regions in wood household
furniture was $4.18. By skill groups, the differential amounted to
$4.01 for skilled, $3.72 for semiskilled, and $4.50 for unskilled workers.
The absolute differentials were somewhat higher in the South than in
the North. In the southern area, the differentials amounted to $3.32
for all workers, $2.56 for skilled, $3.42 for semiskilled, and $3.69 for
unskilled. On the other hand, the differentials in the northern region
were $2.23 for all workers, $2.34 for skilled, $1.74 for semiskilled, and
$2.95 for unskilled.
Substantial differentials in favor of the northern as against the
southern region are also found separately for trade-union and non­
trade-union establishments. In case of trade-union plants, the dif-




68

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

ferential amounted to $5.66 for all workers, $6.52 for skilled, $4.91
for semiskilled, and $3.82 for unskilled. In non-trade-union establish­
ments, the differentials were $6.75 for all workers, $6.74 for skilled,
$6.59 for semiskilled, and $4.56 for unskilled.
40.— Average actual weekly earnings o f workers in trade-union and non­
trade-union plants o f wood household-furniture branch, by region and sk ill,
October 1987

T able

Total
workers

Region and unionization

Skilled
workers

Semi­
skilled
workers

U n­
skilled
workers

United States

Trade-union plants___ ________ _______ __________
_
Non-trade-union plants________________ ___ __ _
_

$23.65
19.47

$27. 42
23.41

$22.11
18.39

$18.83
14. 33

Total _____________________________________

20.42

24. 35

19. 27

15.19

Trade-union p la n ts ____ _______ _____ ________________
24.15
27. 92
21.92
___
_________Non-trade-union plants ___ 25. 58
_
_
_

22. 55

20. 81

19. 25
16. 30

„

North

Total_____ ____________________________________

22. 58

26. 27

21.35

17.09

18.49
15.17

21.40
18. 84

17.64
14.22

15. 43
11.74

15. 39

19.01

14.46

11.95

South

Trade-union plants______ ___ __________ __________
Non-trade-union plants____________________ _____ __
Total____________ __

__ _______ __ _________ _

Differences by Sise o f Com m unity

With one exception, the average earnings per week of all wage
earners in the northern region varied directly with size of community,
as may be seen from table 41. The spread was from $18.16 in rural
territory (with less than 2,500 population) to $26.31 in the largest
metropolitan areas (with 1,000,000 and over), the difference amounting
to $8.15. The only exception was in case of communities with 2,500
and under 5,000, which averaged slightly more than places of 5,000
and less than 10,000.
As regards skilled workers in the North, the average weekly earn­
ings varied directly with size of community without any exception,
the figures ranging from $20.77 in the smallest places to $30.74 in the
largest metropolitan areas, which is a difference of almost $10. There
was only one exception in the correlation for semiskilled employees,
namely the communities of 2,500 and under 5,000 having a 50-cent
advantage over those of 5,000 and less than 10,000. The spread in
average earnings per week for this group was from $17.84 for rural
territory to $24.42 for the largest metropolitan areas. This is a
difference of $6.58, or below that found for skilled workers. On the
other hand, the correlation for unskilled employees had several ex­
ceptions, but nevertheless there is sufficient evidence of average
weekly earnings varying directly with size of community. The
averages ranged from $13.29 for rural territory to $19.41 for places
with 250,000 and under 500,000, although the largest metropolitan
areas had an average only slightly below the latter ($19.10).




69

W E EK LY EARNINGS
T able

41.— Average actual w eekly earnings o f workers in wood household-furniture
branch, by region, size o f com m unity, and skill, October 1937
Total
workers

Region and size of community

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

United States

Under 2,500___________________ ______________________
2,500 and under 5,000_________________________________
5,000 and under 10,000________________ ________ ______
10,000 and under 25,000______________________________
25,000 and under 50,000______________________________

$17.97
18.04
16.09
18.25
20.38

$20.37
21.44
19.83
21.41
23.25

$17.79
17.00
15.02
17.67
19.65

$13.65
13.95
12.56
14.14
16.33

50,000 and under 100,000__________________ __ _ _____
100,000 and under 250,000-____ ______________________
250,000 and under 500,000____________________________
500,000 and under 1,000,000_________ __ _ __________
1,000,000 and over_____ ____________________________

19. 25
21.29
20.92
24.70
26. 31

22.20
24.89
25.38
28.98
30.74

18.62
20.40
19. 66
23.22
24.42

14.21
16.12
15.94
16. 26
19.10

-----

20. 42

24. 35

19. 27

15.19

Under 2,500__________________________________________
2,500 and under 5,000 ------ --------------------------------------5,000 and under 10,000________________________________
10,000 and under 25,000______ ______________________
25,000 and under 50,000------------------- ------------------------

18.16
19.89
19. 72
20. 30
20. 64

20. 77
22.89
23.11
23. 21
23. 30

17.84
18.86
18. 36
19. 75
20.03

13.29
16.09
15.26
16.06
16.57

50.000 and under 100,000__________ _________________ 100.000 and under 250,000_____________
____________
250,000 and under 500,000____________________________
500,000 and under 1,000,000__________________________
1,000,000 and over____________________________________

20.91
22.59
23.83
24. 70
26. 31

23. 59
26.06
27. 69
28.98
30.74

20.06
21.79
22.60
23. 22
24.42

15.87
17.17
19.41
16.26
19.10

T o t a l..______ __________________________________

22.58

26. 27

21.35

17.09

Under 2,500___________________________________________
2,500 and under 5,000----------- ----------------------------------5,000 and under 10,000_________ __________________ 10,000 and under 25,000-------------- -----------------------------

17.41
12.85
14.60
14.86

19.08
16.84
18.11
18.22

17. 65
11.64
13. 71
13.98

14.45
9. 62
11.78
11.67

25,000 and under 50,000 _____________________________
50,000 and under 100,000_____________________________
100,000 and under 250.000______________
_________
250,000 and under 500,000___________________________

19.10
17. 27
15. 76
15. 60

22.99
20. 31
19.63
20.87

17.78
16.86
14.20
14.08

15. 32
12.85
12.42
10. 75

15. 39

19.01

14.46

11.95

T otal-----------------------

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

North

S o u th

Total______________________ ______ __________

--

If the northern figures are shown separately by trade-union and
non-trade-union plants, there is still considerable evidence of direct
correlation between average weekly earnings and size of community
in each case. (See table 42.)
The existence of such correlation is especially noticeable in the data
relating to non-trade-union establishments. As regards all workers,
there are two exceptions to the correlation, but the difference between
the averages in rural territory and the largest metropolitan areas was
$8.30. Considering the data on a skill basis, there is one exception
to the correlation for skilled, three exceptions for semiskilled, and a
number of exceptions for unskilled wage earners, but the ranges
between the smallest and largest communities amounted, respectively,
to $9.63, $8.07, and $6.03.
In spite of the thinness of the coverage, there is also sufficient evi­
dence of direct correlation between average weekly earnings and size
of community in trade-union plants. For all workers, the range was
from $21.18 in places of 2,500 and under 5,000 to $27.72 in metro­
politan areas of 1,000,000 and over, although the lowest average of
161633°— 39------ 6




70

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

$19.15 (the only exception) was reported in communities with 25,000
and less than 50,000. Similarly, the disparity for skilled employees
was from $23.82 in places of 2,500 and under 5,000 to $32.09 in
metropolitan areas of 1,000,000 and over, but the former figure was
somewhat larger than the one ($23.47) in communities of 10,000 and
less than 25,000 and considerably higher than the one ($21.05) in
centers of 25,000 and under 50,000. The variance for semiskilled
workers was from $20.24 in places of 2,500 and less than 5,000 to
$24.69 in metropolitan areas of 1,000,000 and over. However,
communities of 25,000 and under 50,000 averaged less than the former,
while those of 500,000 and under 1,000,000 averaged somewhat more
than the latter. For unskilled employees, the situation was more
confused, but nevertheless the figures justify the statement that there
is some correlation between the two factors.
4 2 . — Average actual w eekly earnings in trade-union and non-trade-union
plants in wood household-furniture branch in the North, by size o f com m unity
and skill, October 1937

T able

Total
workers

Unionization and size of community

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

Trade-union

Under 2,500______ . . . . _____ _______ __
_______ . . .
2,500 and under 5,000___ ___________ __________ . . .
5,000 and under 10,000 ___________ ______ . - - - - - . .
10,000 and under 25,000________ _________ _______ . .
_ _
25,000 and under 50,000- _ . . . _ __________
50,000 and under 100,000 ___ ___ ____
___ _ -----100,000 and under 250,000.__ ____
__ _ _ _ _
250,000 and under 5 0 0 ,0 0 0 .___
___ __________ _____
500,000 and under 1,000,000_____ ------------------------------1,000,000 and over. _ ----------- ---------------------- -------

0)

0)

0)

0)

0)

0)

0)

0)

0)
22. 47

0)

0)

0)

$21.18
21.19
19.15

$23.82
23.47
21.05

$20.24
21.17
18.17

22.34
24.03
25.41
24.69

$17.76
18.63
17.05

24.81
26.89
27- 72

25.71
27.27
28.66
32.09

_______

24.15

27.92

22. 55

19. 25

Under 2,500__________________________________________
2,500 and under 5,000.. . . . . ___ _________ _______
5,000 and under 10,000 ________ . . _________ ______
10,000 and under 25,000______________________________
25,000 and under 5 0 ,0 0 0 ._______
______ . . . ___

17.09
19.43
19. 53
19.90
21.42

20.06
22.54
22.91
23.14
24. 55

16.17
18.38
18.22
18.95

21.11

12.60
15.50
15.10
14. 55
16.39

50.000 an under 100,000--------------------------d
. ----100,000 and under 250,000._
____ __ _ . . . _______
250,000 and under 500,000. __ . . .
___
______ . .
500,000 and under 1,000,000____. . . . . . . _________
1 ,000,000 and over____________________________________

20. 63
22. 62
22.17
24. 21
25.39

23.34
26.14
28.29
29.07
29.69

19. 76
21.62
19.90
22. 69
24.24

15.89
17.12
13.70
15.49
18.63

21.92

25.58

20.81

16.30

Total______

________

. . . __

_

0)

17.34
22.45
20. 24

Non-trade-union

Total________ _________________

_

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

i N o average computed for less than 3 plants or less than 50 employees.

It should also be pointed out that, with a number of exceptions, the
average weekly earnings in the North were higher in trade-union than
in non-trade-union plants in communities of the same size. Nearly
all of these exceptions related to skilled workers.
As in case of average hourly earnings, there is no indication of any
correlation between average earnings per week and size of com­
munity in the southern territory. However, the averages for the
same class of labor in the corresponding size of community were in
nearly every instance lower in the southern than in the northern region.




Chapter IX .— Average H ou rly Earnings by Occupa­
tional Groups and Sex
Data for Males

According to table 43, the highest average hourly earnings among
males of the wood household-furniture branch in the North were 81.0
cents for upholsterers, who also constituted numerically the largest
occupational group of the skilled employees. Working foremen
averaged 72.8 cents and miscellaneous skilled workers in the upholstery
department 71.3 cents. The “ other skilled workers” had an average
of 66.2 cents. There were 2 other occupational groups with an average
of over 60 cents, namely the miscellaneous skilled workers in the
maintenance (61.5 cents) and paint (61.3 cents) departments. The
averages of the remaining 11 occupational groups were found within
a relatively narrow range from 57.6 cents for miscellaneous skilled
assemblers to 51.4 for belt sanders.
Among semiskilled males in the northern territory, the highest
average earnings per hour were 64.8 cents for miscellaneous semi­
skilled workers in the upholstery department, which is 6.5 cents less
than those for the miscellaneous skilled workers in the same depart­
ment. Next to miscellaneous semiskilled workers in the upholstery
department, the highest average, namely 62.5 cents, was reported for
springers. The lowest average, amounting to 41.2 cents, was found
for apprentices. Excluding the above, the remaining 15 occupational
groups had averages ranging from 54.2 cents for polishers and rubbers
to 47.1 cents for hand-finish sanders. The largest occupation numeri­
cally was that of miscellaneous semiskilled assemblers, whose average
amounted to 52.3 cents, or 5.3 cents less than that for the miscella­
neous skilled assemblers.




71

able

4 3 . — Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers in wood household-furniture branch, by region, sex, skill,

and occupational group, October 1937

Aver­
age
weekly
earn­
ings

N um ­
ber
of
workers

Aver­
age
hourly
earn­
ings

Aver­
age
weekly
hours

Aver­
age
weekly
earn­
ings

N um ­
ber
of
workers

Aver­
age
hourly
earn­
ings

Aver­
age
weekly
hours

$23.46
24.16
31.54
21.50
19.36
22.24
20.45
. 28
22. 93
22.61
28.02
21.94
26.85

.484
.618

43.9
43.2
46.6
43.7
42.7
43.3
42.9
44.0
43.9
43.4
37.1
43.7
46.8
42.3
40.9
42.8
46.4

27.25
20.69
28. 69

1,016
474
828
262
406
297
308
153
324
671
1,631
1,078
342
218
300
227
271

$0.576
.575
.728
.543
.514
.557
.521
.544
.575
.567
.810
.550
.615
.613
.713
.521
.662

43.6
43.4
46.3
43.3
42.7
42.7
43.0
44.5
42.9
43.6
36.7
43.5
45.4
42.9
40.4
42.7
45.7

$25.12
24.94
33. 66
23. 51
21. 91
23. 79
22.40
24. 23
24.64
24. 75
29. 75
23. 92
27.90
26.30
28. 81
22. 25
30. 28

331
40
351
134
242
128
142
99
146
252
360
510
156
132
57
72
90

$0,408
.363
.560
.393
.353
.418
.380
.388
.419
.393
.515
.403
.493
.360
.435
.366
.493

45.0
41.2
47.3
44.7
42.7
44.6
42.7
43.1
45.7
43.0
39.1
44.0
49.8
41.4
43.8
43.1
48.5

$18.35
14.97
26. 51
17.58
15.00
18.64
16. 21
16.73
19.11
16.90
20.17
17.74
24. 57
14.89
19.03
15.78
23.89

12,048

.573

42.8

24.56

8,806

.626

42.4

26.58

3,242

.434

44.0

19.08

234
2,800
486
1,076
466
959
837
954
852
482
541
560
349

.412
.471
.465
.409
.419
.488
.418
.418
.439
.465
.578
.456
.470

41.5
43.1
43.0
42.9
42.5
41.2
41.4
41.7
42.8
42.9
37.7
43.1
43.4

17.08
20. 29

233
1,935
343
630
278
695
524
621
527
340
454
444
262

.412
.523
.513
.475
.478
.542
.491
.471
.497
.509
.625
.487
.506

41.5
43.2
42.9
43.6
42.3
41.8
40.7
41.8
42.7
42.9
36.7
42.7
43.3

17.09
22.58
.97

N um ­
ber
of
workers

Aver­
age
hourly
earn­
ings

1,347
514
1,179
396
648
425
450
252
470
923
1,991
1,588
498
350
357
299
361

$0.534
.559
.677
.492
.454
.514
.477
.484
.523
.520
.754
.502
.574
.520

Aver­
age
weekly
hours

Aver­
age
weekly
earn­
ings

M a les

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled__________________________
______________________
Finishers___________________________
Foremen, working_______________ ___________________________
Inspectors____________________________________________________
Sanders, belt_________________________________________________
Sawyers, band, ____________________________________________
Sawyers, cut-off________________________ __________ __________
Sawyers, other, skilled____________ __ _
___
________
Shaper operators___ _____ _ ___ _____________________ _______
Sprayers_____________________________________________________
Upholsterers____________________ ______ _ ___ _____________
Woodworking-machine operators, other, skilled____________
Miscellaneous skilled workers, maintenance departm ent.._
Miscellaneous skilled workers, paint department. ________
Miscellaneous skilled workers, upholstery department_____
Miscellaneous skilled workers, veneer department_________
Other skilled workers___________________
______________
A ll males, skilled__________________________________________
Semiskilled:
Apprentices__________________________________________________
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled______ _________ __
Boring-machine operators__________________________________
Craters, packers, and wrappers_____________________________
Gluers, rough stock________________________________ _________
Polishers and rubbers________________________________________
Sanders, cabinet, hand_____________________________________
Sanders, finish, hand________________________________________
Sanders, machine, other than belt___________________ _______
Sawyers, rip__________________________________________________
Springers___________ _______________________________________
Stainers and fillers, h a n d ......................... .............. .......................
Trimmers and u p fitters...________________ ________ _________




.6 6
6

2
1

2 .0
20

2 .0
02
17.53
17.80

2 .1
01

17.30
17.41
18.82
19.95
21.81
19. 64
20.40

2
1
2 .6
08
2 . 21
0
22.64
2 .0
00
19. 69
2 . 22
1
21.80
22. 93
20.83
21.90

1
865
143
446
188
264
313
333
325
142
87
116
87

0

)
.354
.353
.312
.332
.338
.301
.318
.346
.361
.369
.339
.363

0

)
42.9
43.4
42.0
42.9
39.8
42.5
41.4
43.1
43.0
43.3
44.4
43.8

0

)
15.17
15. 33
13.08
14. 25
13. 47
12.80
13.16
14.92
15. 51
15.96
15.06
15. 89

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE M ANUFACTURING

Sex, skill, and occupational group

South

North

United States

72

T

756
290
219
321
1,353

.469
.490
.580
.431
.461

42.0
42.8
39.0
42.2
46.3

19. 72
20. 98
22. 64
18. 22
21. 34

520
230
171

A ll males, sem iskilled___ ______________ _____ ____________

13,535

.458

42.6

366
252
1, 534
304
767
539
270
803
89
255
720

.325
.375
.335
.354
.368
.374
.326
.376
.402
.378
.364

40.9
45.0
41.7
42.5
42.5
42.5
57.0
42.4
40.6
41.1
41.8

Unskilled:
Beginners_______ ________ __ __ __ _____________ _______
Helpers, assemblers’ _________
_ __ _________________
Helpers, woodworking-machine operators’_____ . . . _______
Janitors and sweepers____ ___
__________________________
_ _______________________________
Laborers, general______
Truckers and stock movers, hand _ ___ ___ _______ ______
W atchmen_____ _________
___ __ __ __________ __________
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, paint department________
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, upholstery departmentMiscellaneous unskilled workers, veneer department
Other unskilled workers________ ________ _

854

.522
.528
.648
.479
.521

42.6
43.3
38.0
41.9
46.3

19. 53

9,281

.512

42.5

13. 31
16.84
13. 99
15.02
15. 65
15. 88
18.60
15. 95
16. 29
15. 54
15. 24

198
910
170
517
362
174
432
63
150
487

.370
.399
.374
.419
.412
.411
.347
.447
.454
.444
.404

41.1
45.8
42.3
42.0
41.4
42.4
57.4
42.8
39.4
41.0
42.3

20
2

22
2

2 . 27
2
2 .8
26

499

.347
.338
.364
.331
.357

40.6
40.8
42.6
42.9
46.4

14.10
13.79
15.50
14. 20
16.58

21.80

4, 254

.340

42.8

14. 57

15.20
18. 29
15. 82
17.60
17. 06
17. 45
19. 91
19.11
17. 91
18.22
17. 07

144
54
624
134
250
177
96
371
26
105
233

.256
.276
.278
.273
.285
.298
.288
.293
.285
.284
.279

40.7
41.7
40.8
43.0
44.7
42.5
56.3
41.9
43.4
41.3
40.9

10.40
11.51
11. 31
11.74
12. 73
12. 65
16. 21
12.28
12. 38
11. 73
11. 42

24. 64
20. 07
24.12

236
60
48

11
0

5, 899

.356

42.8

15.24

3, 685

.401

43.0

17. 21

2, 214

.282

42.4

11.97

31, 482

.483

42.7

20. 65

2 , 772
1

.539

42.6

22. 96

9,710

.359

43.1

15.48

Skilled:
All females, skilled_____________________________

350

.432

39.7

17.18

307

.450

39.1

17. 61

43

.320

44.0

14.07

Semiskilled:
Packers and wrappers__________________________
__________
Sanders, finish, hand________________________________________
Sewers, hand and/or machine_______ _ __________ _________
Other semiskilled workers ________ _____ ______ __
___ . _

105
228
545
327

.352
.344
.488
.433

38.0
40.5
36.3
38.9

13. 40
13. 92
17.69
16. 84

72
177
467
298

.368
.375
.517
.444

40.6
40.3
35.4
38.7

14. 95
15.10
18. 30
17.18

33
51
78
29

.310
.238
.340
.327

32.3
41.2
41.3
40.6

9.80
14.04
13. 30

1,205

.432

37.9

16. 37

1, 014

.457

37.6

17.18

191

.306

39.6

1 .1
20
10. 24

All males, unskilled

___________ _____ __

Total, all males___________________

__

Females

All females, semiskilled___________________________________
Unskilled:
All females, unskilled .

1 .0
01

_________________________________

162

.322

41.2

13. 26

133

.342

40.7

13. 92

29

.235

43.6

Total, all fem ales.. _ _________________________________

1 717
,

.421

38.6

16. 24

1, 454

.444

38.2

16. 97

263

.300

40.8

1 .2
22

Total, all occupations____________________________________________

33,199

.480

42.5

20. 42

23, 226

.534

42.3

22. 58

9,973

.357

43.1

15. 39

i N o average shown for 1 employee.

73




AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

Woodworking-machine operators, other, semiskilled_______
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, paint department____
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, upholstery department.
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, veneer department____
Other semiskilled workers______ ______ _ _______________ _ _

74

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

Miscellaneous unskilled workers in the upholstery department also
showed the highest average hourly earnings among the unskilled males
in the North. This figure amounted to 45.4 cents, which is 19.4 cents
less than that received by the miscellaneous semiskilled workers in
the same department. The lowest average was that of watchmen,
namely 34.7 cents. Hand truckers and stock movers, general laborers,
and janitors and sweepers averaged between 41 and 42 cents.
In the southern territory, the highest average earnings per hour
among skilled males were 56.0 cents for working foremen. This is
followed by 51.5 cents for upholsterers. Miscellaneous skilled work­
ers in the maintenance department and “ other skilled workers” both
averaged 49.3 cents. Among the remaining 13 occupational groups,
the averages ranged from 43.5 cents for miscellaneous skilled workers
in the upholstery department down to 35.3 cents for belt sanders.
The average hourly earnings of the 17 occupational groups shown for
semiskilled males in the South covered a spread from 36.9 cents for
springers to 30.1 cents for hand cabinet sanders. Likewise, there
was even less variation among the occupational averages for unskilled
workers, the figures ranging from 29.8 cents for hand truckers and
stock movers down to 25.6 cents for beginners.
For every occupational group, the average hourly earnings were
higher in the northern than in the southern area. Among skilled
males, the differentials ranged from 12.2 cents for miscellaneous
skilled workers in the maintenance department to 29.5 cents for
upholsterers. The semiskilled differentials showed a spread from
14.3 cents for trimmers and upfitters to 28.4 cents for miscellaneous
semiskilled workers in the upholstery department. Lastly, for un­
skilled employees, the range was from 5.9 cents for watchmen to 16.9
cents for miscellaneous unskilled workers in the upholstery department.
The occupational group averages for each of the four wood household
divisions are presented in tables 44, 45, 46, and 47.




44.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers in case goods o f wood household-furniture branch by region,
sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1987

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Number Average Average Average Number Average Average Average Number Average Average Average
hourly weekly weekly
hourly weekly weekly
of
of
of
hourly weekly weekly
workers earnings hours earnings workers earnings hours earnings workers earnings hours earnings

Males

43.5
43.5
46.2
44.5
41.9
43.4
42.6
43.5
44.2
42.8
40.2
43.0
46.3
42.3
43.5
42.8
45.0
43.6

$22.63
20.95
30.56
19.96
18.56
21.95
19. 73
19. 62
22.20
20.92
26.06
20.69
26.16
19. 34
24.65
19.69
27. 57
22.64

676
139
395
100
228
135
153
77
165
315
155
473
179
95
29
143
128
3, 585

$0,567
.508
.715
.512
.526
.558
.521
.512
.558
.551
.734
.546
.616
.582
.637
.502
.642
.580

43.1
44.1
45.9
44.1
41.6
42.5
43.0
43.8
43.0
42.3
38.6
42.6
44.1
44.0
42.4
42.8
45.7
43.2

$24.44
22.42
32.82
22.59
21.86
23.69
22.40
22.41
24. 01
23.33
28. 33
23. 25
27.17
25.59
26.99
21.49
29.33
25.05

264
31
232
94
196
77
109
72
103
174
63
363
113
116
11
65
69
2,152

$0.405
.351
.571
.382
.349
.420
.381
.385
.419
.379
.464
.398
.494
.347
P)
.367
.497
.420

44.4
40.9
46.8
44.9
42.3
45.0
41.9
43.2
46.1
43.7
44.2
43.6
49.7
41.0
P)
42.9
48.9
44.4

$18.00
14.36
26. 72
17.16
14. 74
18.88
15. 99
16.64
19.30
16. 57
20.49
17. 36
24. 56
14. 22
0)
15.74
24.36
18.63

42.7
43.6
41.6
42.4
41.0
42.3
41.3
42.8
42.9
42.3
42.2
41.6
43.2
42.8
42.8
45.6
42.6

18.13
19. 64
15.83
16.81
18. 40
16.09
16.07
18. 31
19. 21
18.84
18.91
18.62
20.87
19.74
17.85
19.65
18.06

629
158
267
148
289
216
289
268
183
257
119
262
140
87
147
405
3,864

.511
.504
.469
.463
.533
.479
.454
.502
.504
.487
.499
.512
.529
.520
.474
.497
.497

42.4
42.9
42.4
41.9
42.6
41.3
41.2
42.1
42.7
42.0
42.5
42.3
44.2
42.6
42.8
45.5
42.6

21.69
21.64
19.88
19.44
22.73
19.81
18. 70
21.13
21. 51
20.45
21.22
21.64
23.40
22.16
20. 31
22.63
21.20

636
79
327
146
221
241
236
214
109
95
56
163
47
35
97
362
3,064

.339
.349
.306
.331
.328
.295
.310
.339
.353
.335
.338
.340
.331
.316
.330
.358
.331

43.0
44.9
40.9
42.8
38.9
43.2
41.5
43.6
43.4
43.2
41.4
40.5
40.2
43.5
42.8
45.6
42.6

14.60
15.64
12. 52
14.15
12.75
12.75
12.84
14.77
15. 33
14. 48
13.98
13. 77
13.33
13.72
14.12
16. 32
14.11

75

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled___________________ __
940 $0.521
Finishers___________________________ ________ ______
170
.481
Foremen, w ork in g..._________________________ _____
627
.661
Inspectors____________________________ _______________
194
.448
Sanders, belt______________________ __________________
424
.443
Sawyers, band______________ _____________ ______
212
.506
Sawyers, cut-off______________________________________
262
.464
Sawyers, other, skilled________________________________
149
.451
Shaper operators_____________________________________
268
.502
489
Sprayers_______ _______ ___________________________
.489
Upholsterers___ ____________________________________
218
.648
Woodworking-machine operators, other, skilled__________
836
.481
Miscellaneous skilled workers, maintenance department.
292
.565
211
Miscellaneous skilled workers, paint department_________
.457
40
Miscellaneous skilled workers, upholstery department___
.566
Miscellaneous skilled workers, veneer department _ ___
208
.460
197
Other skilled workers. . . ____ _____ _ ... ... _______
.613
All males, skilled________________________ ____ ______ 5,737
.519
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled_____________ ____ 1,265
.424
Boring-machine operators_____________ ____ ___________
237
.451
Craters, packers, and wrappers___ __________ ________
594
.381
Gluers, rough stock___________________________________
294
.397
Polishers and rubbers_____________ _____ ____________
.449
510
Sanders, cabinet, hand________________________________
457
.380
Sanders, finish, hand_______ ________________ _____
525
.389
482
Sanders, machine, other than belt. ________ ________
.428
292
SawjT rip. _______________________________________
ers,
.447
352
.445
Stainers and fillers, hand______________________________
175
.448
Trimmers and upfitters_______________________________
425
.448
Woodworking-machine operators, other, semiskilled______
187
.483
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, paint department____
122
.461
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, upholstery department
244
.417
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, veneer department___
767
.431
Other semiskilled workers_______________ __________ .
.424
All males, semiskilled___ ___________ _______________ 6,928




South

North

United States

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

T able

44.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings of workers in case goods of wood household-furniture branch by region,
sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937— C ontinued

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Number Average Average Average Number Average Average Average Number Average Average Average
hourly weekly weekly
of
hourly weekly weekly
of
of
hourly weekly weekly
workers earnings hours earnings workers earnings hours earnings workers earnings hours earnings

Unskilled:
79
Helpers, assemblers'__________________________________
Helpers, woodworking-machine operators_______________
911
Janitors and sweepers_________________________________
170
Laborers, general_________________ __________________
403
Truckers and stock movers, han d_____ _______
296
Watchmen_____________ ___ __________ _ _ _____
135
434
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, paint department______
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, veneer department___ .
198
Other unskilled workers____________ ________________
491
All males, unskilled___ _________________ ___ _____ 3,117
Total, all males.______ ... _________________________ 15, 782

Females

Skilled:
All females, skilled__________________________________
89
Semiskilled:
Packers and wrappers_________________________________
49
Sanders, finish, hand____ _ _ _______ ______________
91
Sewers, hand and/or machine_____ __________________
52
Other semiskilled workers_____________________________
71
All females, semiskilled________________________ ____
263
Unskilled:
41
All females, unskilled_______________________________
393
Total, all females___ ______________________________
Total, all occupations___ . . ------------- ------------------------ 16,175
i Too few employees to compute separate averages.




South

41.4
39.8
43.7
43.2
41.3
57.2
41.7
41.3
40.0
41.7
42.9

$11.53
11.06
11. 70
12.15
12.08
16.47
12.19
11.73
10.49
11.68
14.96

0)

0)

0)

15
41
8
17
81

0)
.212
0)
0)
.263

0)
42.2
0)
C
1)
41.9

0)
8.97
0)
0)
11.04

10
111
6,938

0)
.262
.347

0)
42.3
42.9

0)
11.10
14.90

$0.330
.331
.328
.358
.354
.323
.349
.355
.330
.340
.443

40.9
40.7
43.3
41.0
41.8
56.4
41.7
40.2
40.5
41.7
42.8

$13.48
13.46
14. 21
14. 70
14. 79
18.24
14. 52
14.29
13. 37
14.18
19. 02

31
446
80
228
159
74
146
94
248
1, 506
8,955

$0.412
.384
.399
.422
.406
.354
.460
.438
.394
.403
.515

40.0
41.6
42.8
39.4
42.2
55.7
41.6
39.1
41.1
41.8
42.7

$16.49
15.97
17.04
16. 65
17.13
19.69
19.12
17.12
16.18
16.86
22. 01

48
465
90
175
137
61
288
104
243
1, 611
6,827

.436

41.8

18. 25

69

.473

41.8

19. 77

20

.388
.306
.491
.389
.378

41.8
41.4
38.7
40.0
40.6

16. 22
12.66
18.99
15. 56
15. 36

34
50
44
54
182

.424
.385
.520
.413
.432

41.9
40.8
38.4
39.3
40.0

17. 78
15.69
19. 99
16.24
17. 28

.299
.383
.441

41.0
40.9
42.8

12.28
15. 69
18.88

31
282
9,237

.347
.433
. 513

39.5
40.4
42.6

13. 71
17. 50
21. 87

$0. 279
.278
.267
.282
.292
.288
.292
.284
.262
.280
.348

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

North

United States

76

T able

hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers in upholstered fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch,
by region, sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937

United States
Sex, skill, and occupational group

South

Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age
age
age
age
age
age
ber hourly age weekly
ber hourly age weekly
ber hourly age weekly
of
of
of
earn­ weekly earn­ workers earn­ weekly earn­ workers earn­ weekly earn­
workers ings
hours ings
hours ings
ings
ings hours ings

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled_____ ___________ .
162
Finishers _______ _ __ ... _________ __________
123
284
Foremen, working_____... __________ __________ _____
Inspectors___________________________________________
65
52
Sanders, belt_________________________________________
Sawyers, band_______________________________________
117
Sawyers, cut-off_____ ... _________________ _______
91
Shaper operators____________________ ________________
77
Sprayers_____________________________________________
118
Upholsterers ._ ___
__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ - ___ 1, 754
Woodworking-machine operators, other, skilled. __
_
298
94
Miscellaneous skilled workers, maintenance department...
Miscellaneous skilled workers, upholstery department____
312
Other skilled workers____ . _
._ _____ .
163
All males, skilled_________________________________
3,710
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled_________________
436
Boring-machine operators________ ._ _________ ______
115
Craters, packers, and wrappers. ._ _____ ... ______...
182
Gluers, rough stock______________ __________________
68
Polishers and rubbers.______. . . ____ _ .. ______ ____
73
Sanders, cabinet, hand_____ __________________________
102
Sanders, finish, hand___________ _ ___________ ____
104
Sanders, machine, other than belt______________________
.170
Sawyers, rip_____________ ______ ... . . . ________
62
491
Springers.. _________________________________________
Woodworking-machine operators, other, semiskilled______
143
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, upholstery department190
573
other semiskilled workers____
___...
All males, semiskilled_______________________________ 2,709

$0.627
.662
.758
.529
.480
.562
.517
.553
.544
.772
.569
.603
.679
.682
.690

43.2
42.5
45.6
41.0
43.5
41.1
41.3
42.1
42.8
36.7
43.4
46.1
40.6
44.0
40.0

$27.11
28.10
34. 54
21.67
20. 85
23.09
21.35
23.26
23.26
28. 34
24. 72
27. 80
27. 59
30.01
27. 63

119
118
192
37
30
80
68
49
69
1, 464
193
65
266
130
2,880

$0. 701
.671
.854
.601
.548
.630
.572
.635
.615
.822
.653
.648
.723
.736
.756

42.3
42.3
45.1
39.8
43.6
40.1
39.7
40.6
45.0
36.4
42.2
44.3
40.2
43.8
39.3

$29. 69
28. 40
38.49
23. 92
23. 91
25. 27
22.70
25. 76
27. 66
29. 94
27. 56
28. 69
29.04
32. 22
29.70

43
5
92
28
22
37
23
28
49
290
105
29
46
33
830

$0. 438
0)
.563
.439
C
1)
.424
0)
.423
.431
.531
.426
.515
.445
.475
.481

45.6
C
1)
46.7
42.6
C
1)
43.3
0)
44.6
39.6
38.2
45.7
50.1
43.1
44.9
42.5

$19. 97
0) 30
26.
18. 70
C
1)
18. 38
0)
18.89
17.06
20. 27
19. 47
25. 79
19.16
21.30
20. 45

.544
.508
.442
.479
.515
.412
.428
.432
.486
.598
.555
.668
.460
.513

41.5
40.4
43.1
40.7
43.7
41.0
42.0
41.4
41.9
37.1
40.9
37.2
44.5
41,

22.55
20. 54
19.08
19. 49
22. 47
16.89
17. 96
17. 89
20. 34
22.20
22.70
24. 86
20. 47
21.09

316
76
105
41
35
44
54
92
46
419
109
155
445
1,937

.592
.575
.521
.565
.655
.488
.484
.498
.524
.642
.615
.745
.487
.572

41.9
40.2
42.9
39.1
43.1
44.3
44.8
40.2
41.2
36.1
40.3
36.0
43.6
40.4

24. 72
23.10
22.37
22.06
28.24
21. 60
21.68
20.02
21.60
23.18
24.75
26. 83
21.25
23.12

120
39
77
27
38
58
50
78
16
72
34
35
128
772

.414
.379
.336
.362
.388
.346
.359
.359
0)
.386
.374
.377
.374
.374

40.7
41.0
43.5
43.0
44.2
38.5
38.9
42.8
0)
42.9
43.1
42.7
47.5
42.8

16.85
15. 54
14. 61
15. 59
17.15
13.32
13.94
15.37
0) 55
16.
16.12
16.09
17.78
15.98

77




North

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

T a b l e 4 5 . — Average

4 5 . — Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers in upholstered fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch,

by region, sex, skill, and occupational group, October 1937— Continued

Unskilled:
Helpers, woodworking-machine operators’_______________
Janitors and sweepers_________ l
.____________ __________
Laborers, general_____________________________________
Truckers and stock movers, hand______________________
Watchmen______________________________________ ____
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, paint department______
Miscellaneous unskilled workers, upholstery department, _
Other unskilled workers_____________________ _________
All males, unskilled____________________ ________ ___
Total, all males__________________ ____ ____________

Females

Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age
age
age
age
age
age
ber hourly age weekly
ber hourly age weekly
ber hourly age weekly
weekly earn­
of
weekly earn­
of
of
earn­ weekly earn­
workers earn­ hours ings workers earn­ hours ings workers ings hours ings
ings
ings
172
86
103
72
61
71
81
396
1,042
7,461

Skilled:
All females, skilled_________________ ____ ____________
176
Semiskilled:
Sewers, hand and/or machine__________________________
490
Other semiskilled workers____ __________________ _ ___ _
150
All females, semiskilled______ _______________________
640
Unskilled:
All females, unskilled__________________ _____________
56
872
Total, all females_________________________________
Total, all occupations_______________________ _____________ 8, 333
i Too few employees to compute separate averages.




42.7
43.2
49.2
0)
0)
40.3
0)
42.4
43.6
42.8

$12.22
12.43
14.29
0)
0)
12.00
0)
11.95
12. 56
17.20

C
1)

0)

(0

69
27
96

.343
.348
.344

41.3
32.3
38.8

14.15
11.22
13.33

19
134
2,115

0)
.333
.398

(0
40.2
42.6

(0
13.39
16.96

$0,329
.380
.375
.383
.322
.334
.411
.357
.357
.577

41.4
41.4
42.4
41.8
59.5
42.9
40.1
41.0
42.4
40.8

$13.61
15.73
15.93
15.98
19.13
14. 32
16. 51
14. 64
15.17
23. 52

84
53
68
54
42
25
59
278
663
5,480

$0.376
.443
.431
.415
.338
.390
.456
.390
.399
.645

40.0
40.2
38.9
40.2
62.5
47.7
39.4
40.4
41.8
40.0

$15.06
17.79
16.77
16.67
21.09
18.60
17.95
15.79
16.66
25.80

88
33
35
18
19
46
22
118
379
1,981

.466

38.1

17.73

157

.484

37.2

17.99

19

.488
.409
.469

36.0
36.8
36.2

17. 55
15.04
16.96

421
123
544

.516
.420
.493

35.1
37.8
35.7

18.10
15.87
17.60

.281
.455
.565

40.0
36.8
40.3

11.26
16. 75
22.81

37
738
6, 218

.287
.480
.627

38.9
36.2
39.6

11.13
17. 36
24. 80

$0.286
.288
.290
0)
0)
.298
0)
.282
.288
.402

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

Sex, skill, and occupational group

South

North

United States

78

T able




P l a t e 5.— F i t t i n g D r a w e r s a n d F i n i s h i n g .




PLATE 6.—PAINTING FURNITURE.

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

79

T a b l e 46.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers

in novelty furn iture o f wood household-furniture branch, by sex, skillt and occu­
pational group, October 1937

North

United States
Sex, skill, and occupational group Num­
ber
of
workers

Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age
age
age
age
age
age
hourly weekly weekly ber hourly weekly weekly
of
earn­ hours earn­ workers earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous,
skilled_____________ __ __ _
Finishers____________________
Foremen, w orking.____ ____
Inspectors___________________
Sanders, belt_________________
Sawyers, band... _______ ..
Sawyers, cut-off_____ ______
Sawyers, other, skilled___ ___
Shaper operators_____________
Sprayers____________________
Woodworking-machine opera­
tors, other, skilled_______...
Miscellaneous skilled workers,
maintenance department. ..
Miscellaneous skilled workers,
paint department . ___ ...
Miscellaneous skilled workers,
veneer department__ ______
Other skilled workers______ _.
All males, skilled___________
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semi­
skilled_____________________
Boring-machine operators___ _
Craters, packers, and wrappers. _
Gluers, rough stock. _ ________
Polishers and rubbers...
_
Sanders, cabinet, hand .. _ .
Sanders, finish, hand_________
Sanders, machine, other than
belt____ ____ ______________
Sawyers, r ip ._________
Stainers and fillers, hand___
Trimmers and upfitters_______
Woodworking-machine opera­
tors, other, semiskilled____ _
Miscellaneous semiskilled work­
ers, paint department______
Miscellaneous semiskilled work­
ers, veneer department______
Other semiskilled workers____
All males, semiskilled_____
Unskilled:
Helpers, assemblers’______
Helpers, woodworking-machine
operators’__________________
Janitors and sweepers... _ ... _
Laborers, general_________
Truckers and stock movers, hand
Watchmen. . . . ____ _____
Miscellaneous unskilled work­
ers, paint department_______
Miscellaneous unskilled work­
ers, veneer department______
Other unskilled workers_______
All males, unskilled__ _____
Total, all males___________




187 $0.537
167 .588
206 .642
104 .576
126 .491
81 .492
70 .487
60 .523
104 .578
200 .562
365 .524
88 .598
82 .599
72 .518
69 .594
1,981 .557

46.6 $25.04
44.6 26.25
48.4 31.06
43.2 24. 85
45.2 22.17
45.7 22.48
45.5 22.16
43.9 22.96
43.7 25.27
44.2 24.85
44.6 23.33
47.6 28.49
42.3 25.31
42.2 21.86
45.9 27.25
45.1 25.11

791
98
211
82
362
232
195
166
98
153
98
142
51
66
233
2,978

.521
.487
.438
.453
.536
.518
.480
.482
.509
.491
.530
.472
.500
.477
.466
.498

43.7
44.6
45.3
44.2
40.9
40.3
42.8
44.7
42.8
44.1
46.2
44.4
43.1
39.8
48.4
43.6

150
331
38
185
127
53
221
55
173
1,333
6, 292

.397
.357
.424
.390
.411
.341
.433
.454
.398
.394
.495

47.6
43.9
42.8
44.4
44.5
56.3
42.7
44.0
44.5
44.8
44.3

171 $0.554
165 .592
186 .664
98 .588
113 .507
72 .504
67 .492
51 .545
95 .598
190 .573
322 .542
82 .610
77 .616
70 .523
61 .611
1,820 .572

46.2
44.6
47.8
42.8
45.1
45.4
45.3
44.0
43.1
44.2
44.6
47.4
41.7
42.0
47.5
44.9

$25.62
26.39
31.72
25. 21
22.88
22.88
22.29
23.97
25. 75
25.33
24.15
28.89
25.70
21.94
29.07
25. 68

22.75
21.73
19. 85
19.98
21.96
20.87
20.57
21.54
21.79
21.65
24.50
20.94
21.56
19.02
22.58
21.75

731
83
185
74
357
225
172
147
91
146
90
123
49
65
212
2,750

.535
.514
.461
.475
.540
.527
.508
.500
.520
.500
.546
.492
.508
.479
.484
.514

43.4
44.5
44.9
44.2
40.8
40.0
42.1
44.9
42.9
43.7
45.5
44.9
42.9
39.7
47.8
43.3

23.25
22.87
20. 65
20.99
22.03
21.11
21.35
22.45
22.32
21.85
24.82
22.10
21.81
19.02
23.15
22.27

18.88
15.67
18.12
17.31
18.30
19.20
18.51
19.97
17.68
17. 63
21.94

148
293
33
158
121
46
195
55
162
1,211
5, 781

.399
.371
.446
.409
.417
.355
.456
.454
.408
.407
.510

47.6
43.4
42.1
43.8
43.8
55.6
42.1
44.0
44.2
44.4
44.0

19.01
16.09
18.81
17.94
18. 26
19.76
19. 22
19.97
18.03
18.06
22.46

80

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

T a b l e 46.— Average

hourly earnings, weekly hoursf and weekly earnings o f workers
in novelty fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch by sex, skill} and occu­
pational grou p, October 1937— Continued

United States
Sex, skill, and occupational group

Num­
ber
of
workers

North

Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age
age
age
age
age
age
hourly weekly weekly ber hourly weekly weekly
of
earn­ hours earn­ workers earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Females

Skilled:
83 $0.364 40.9
All females, skilled__________
Semiskilled:
Sanders, finish, hand----------- _ 118 .368 39.5
161 .439 40.3
Other semiskilled workers..........
279 .409 40.0
All females, semiskilled--------Unskilled:
62 .367 42.4
All females, unskilled. __ ---Total, all females.-------- = = =424 .394 == 40.5=
==
= ==
Total, all occupations--------- 6, 716 .489 44.1

$14.86

79 $0.370

40.5

$14.99

39.5
40.2
39.9

14.52
17.78
16.39

15. 54
62 .367 42.4
15.94
418 ~ - .396 ~ —1 -.. ' ------ = =
-- 40.4
21.56 6,199 .503 43.8

15. 54
16.00
22.08

14. 52
17. 70
16. 36

118
159
277

.368
.442
.411

—

T a b l e 47.— Average

hourly earnings, w eekly hours, and weekly earnings o f male
workers in kitchen fu rn itu re o f wood household-furniture branch, by skill and
occupational grou p, October 1937 1

United States
Skill and occupational group

North

Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­ Num­ Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age ber of age
age
ber of age
age
age
work­ hourly weekly weekly work­ hourly weekly weekly
earn­ hours earn­
ers
ers earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings
ings
ings

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, m isc e lla n e o u s,
58 $0.476
skilled___________ _______
54 .478
Finishers... _____________ 62 .597
Foremen, w orking.---------------33 .423
Inspectors---------------------------116 .553
Sprayers__________________ ..
Woodworking-machine opera­
tors, miscellaneous, skilled. __ 241 .436
56 . 508
Other skilled workers-------------620 .488
All males, skilled------------...
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semi­
308 .435
skilled__________ _______.. .
89 .442
Craters, packers, and wrappers..
46 .321
Sanders, cabinet, hand------------130 .431
Sanders, finish, hand_________
48 .433
Trimmers and upfitters_______
Woodworking-machine opera­
tors, miscellaneous, semiskilled. 146 .408
Other sem iskilled workers. . . __ 153 .448
920 .428
All males, semiskilled_______
Unskilled:
77 .403
Helpers, assemblers’---------------Helpers, woodworking-machine
120 .316
operators’__________________
76 .356
Laborers, general___ _ ____
Truckers and stock movers,
44 .376
hand______________________
90 .334
Other unskilled workers_______
407 .350
All males, unskilled_________
Total, all males___________ 1,947 .431

45. 2 $21.53
39.3 18.82
48.9 29.20
46. 5 19.68
45.5 25.18
45.0 19. 63
47.9 24. 32
45.4 22.16

50 $0.488
52 .482
55 .611
27 .433
97 .573
195 .446
45 .532
521 .502

44.6
39.8
48.2
46.5
45.6
46.1
47.8
45.6

$21.74
19.18
29.45
20.14
26.17
20.57
25.40
23.92

45.2
45.6
38.3
41.0
44.7
42.9
45.0
43.9

19.65
20.17
12. 32
17.65
19. 35
17. 50
20.18
18.78

259
73
39
106
38
92
123
730

.440
.464
.345
.449
.441
.421
.472
.443

46.0
45.5
37.0
41.6
43.8
46.1
45.3
44.6

20.24
21.13
12.76
18.68
19.29
19.42
21.39
19.74

45.1
43.9
45.7
42.6
46.7
44.9
44.6

18.17
13.87
16.24
16.00
15.60
15.74
19.22

66
87
63
28
61
305
1,556

.416
.331
.365
.405
.346
.366
.448

45.5
44.9
45.5
42.7
49.1
45.8
45.2

18.94
14.87
16.61
17.29
17.00
16.76
20.22

1 Due to the very limited number of female workers, it was impossible to show averages for them.



AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

81

In making regional comparisons for each of the occupational group
averages, it should be remembered that on the whole the degree of
skill is not as great in the South as in the North. This is due to
differences in manufacturing processes as well as to the fact that a
larger proportion of the furniture produced in the South is of cheaper
grades than in the northern area.
Occupational averages for the United States as a whole are also
presented in each of the preceding tables. It should be kept in mind,
however, that such figures are a combination of the relatively high
data in the North and the low figures in the South.
Data for Females

Relatively few females were found in the wood household branch
of the furniture industry. Out of a total of 33,199 wage earners,
only 1,717 or 5.2 percent were women. Most of the females were
employed in the upholstery and finishing departments, and many of
them performed tasks not generally done by males. Of the female
occupations, by far the most important is that of hand and/or machine
sewers, although a number of women were also found among the
packers and wrappers and hand-finish sanders.
The average hourly earnings of all females in the country as a whole
amounted to 42.1 cents in October 1937. Looking at table 48, it will
be seen that as many as 6.7 percent of them received less than 25
cents, and 16.1 percent were paid under 30 cents an hour. Not far
from one-half (47.6 percent) earned less than 40 cents, and more
than two-thirds (68.4 percent) were paid under 47.5 cents. Only
4.5 percent of the women received as much as 72.5 cents an hour
and over.
Most of the female employees were semiskilled (1,205 out of 1,717),
with the skilled (350) exceeding the unskilled (162) workers. Actu­
ally, the average earnings per hour were the same for both skilled and
semiskilled wage earners, namely 43.2 cents, but the unskilled workers
averaged 32.2 cents, or 11 cents less.1

1 The absence of a differential in favor of skilled over semiskilled females is largely due to the fact that
piece work and to some extent bonus work, both of which make for higher earnings, were much more preva­
lent among the latter. As a matter of fact, in 2 of the 4 wood household-furniture branches (upholstered
and novelty furniture), semiskilled workers actually averaged more per hour (0.3 and 4.5 cents, respectively)
than skilled workers.




48.— Sim ple percentage distribution of fem ale workers according to average hourly earnings in wood household-furniture branch, by
region and skill, October 1937

Semi­
Semi­
Semi­
Total Skilled skilled Unskilled Total Skilled skilled Unskilled Total Skilled skilled Unskilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers

12.5 and under 17.5 cents. _____________ _______
17.5 and under 22 5 cents. __ . . . . _____
22.5 and under 25.0 cents. _
.
________
25.0 and under 27.5 cents. _____________________
27.5 and under 30.0 cents______ ________________
30.0 and under 32.5 cents_______________________
32.5 and under 35.0 cents_______________________
35.0 and under 37.5 cents_______________________
37.5 and under 40.0 cents.
. _
40.0 and under 42.5 cents
42.5 and under 47.5 cents. .
______________
47.5 and under 52.5 cents.
___ _________
52.5 and under 57.5 cents.
____________
57.5 and under 62.5 cents.
__
62.5 and under 67.5 cents.
__ _______
67. 5 a n d u n d e r 72.5 c e n t s
72.5 a n d u n d e r 77.5 c e n t s
77.5 a n d u n d e r 82.5 c e n t s

3.0

1.9

0.9
.6
.3
4.6
3.7
11.1
10.0
7.1
5.4
9.1
15.8
8.6
7.7
3.4
4.3
3.1

.8
.6
.5

82.5 and under 87.5 cents

8 7.5 a n d u n d e r 0 2.5 c e n t s

92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1.20 and under $1.40

2.6
2.4
1.7
5.8
3.6
10.1
8.0
7.6
5.8
8.2
12.6
9.3
5.4
4.9
4.5

_

_ _

$1 40 a n d o v e r

Total__________________________________ _

1 .1
.6
.6
1 .1

.2
.3

.3
.3

.1
.1

100.0

6.8
6.2
5.6
18.4
3.1
17.3
3.7
10.5
1.2
9.3
6.8
4.9
3.7
1.9
.6

0.6
1.7
1.0
5.6
2.7
8.3
7.2
7.4
5.6
9.0
13.9
10.5
6.3
5.8
5.3
3.6
2.3

0.3
.3
4.6
2.6
9.1
8.1
7.2
5.2
10.1
16.6
9.8
8.8
3.9
4.9

0.3
1.9
1.1
4.1
2.8
6.5
7.3
7.1
6.2
8.6
13.9
11.4
5.7
6.8
6.0

3.6

1.3

.7
.7
1 .3

.2
.4

.3
.4

.3
.3

.3

.1

.1
.1

.3

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

1.0
.7
.4

100.0

3.0
4.5
2.3
18.7
2.3
20.2
3.8
10.5
1.5
11.3
8.3
6.0
4.5
2.3

14.1
6.1
5.7
7.2
8.7
19.9
12.5
8.7
6.8
2.7
4.9
1.9
.8

100.0

100.0

4.0

1.0
.7
.6

i Number of workers too small to permit the presentation of data.




2.6
2.4
1.7
4.5
3.7
8.8
8.0
7.4
6.5
7.7
12.3
10.0
5.0
5.7
5.1
3.4
2.4

0)

Q)

0)
0)
0)
(0
0)
0)
0)
0)

14.7
5.2
4.7
6.3
8.4
21.0
11.5
8.9
7.9
3.1
4.7
2.6
1.0

0)
(i)
(i)
(0
0)
0)
0)
0)

.8

2.9
1.2
.8
.5

.3
.5
.1

100.0

100.0

100.0

1 0 0 .0

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

Average hourly earnings

South

North

United States

82

T able

AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS BY OCCUPATIONAL GROUPS AND SEX

83

The average hourly earnings of all females were 44.4 cents in the
northern and 30.0 cents in the southern area, which is a difference of
14.4 cents. Comparing the two distributions, it will be seen that,
whereas only 3.3 percent of the northern females earned less than 25
cents, slightly over one-fourth (25.9 percent) were paid under that figure
in the southern territory. The number receiving less than 30 cents was
11.6 percent in the northern and 41.8 percent in the southern region.
Although 40.1 percent earned under 40 cents in the North, nearly
nine-tenths (89.7 percent) received less than that figure in the South.
Not a single female earned 57.5 cents and over in the southern terri­
tory, whereas one-fifth (20.2 percent) earned that much or more in
the North.
Substantial differentials in favor of the northern over the southern
area were found in each skill group of female workers. The dif­
ferentials amounted to 13.0 cents for skilled, 15.1 cents for semiskilled,
and 10.7 cents for unskilled. Of the three occupations (all semiskilled)
sufficiently large to permit the presentation of separate data, the
highest average hourly earnings (51.7 cents) in the North were re­
ported for hand and/or machine sewers, with the averages amounting
to 37.5 cents for hand-finish sanders and 36.8 cents for packers and
wrappers. The southern averages were, respectively, 34.0, 23.8, and
31.0 cents.
Although the work of females in most instances is not comparable to
that of males, it is interesting to make comparisons between the
average hourly earnings of the two groups. In the wood-furniture
industry for the United States as a whole, all male workers averaged
6.2 cents more than all female employees. The differential amounted
to 9.5 cents in the northern and 5.9 cents in the southern territory.
For the one occupation shown for both sexes, namely, hand-finish
sanders, the differential in the North was 9.6 cents. On the other
hand, in the southern territory, for hand-finish sanders the males had
a differential of 8.0 cents.







P A R T 3.— Office Furniture
Chapter X .— Wood Office Furniture
Average H ou rly Earnings

The average hourly earnings of the 2,976 wage earners employed in
the 31 wood office-furniture establishments covered in this survey
were 44.4 cents in October 1937. (See table 49.) As one may see
from the distribution of individual earnings in table 50 and chart 5,
only 2.1 percent were paid less than 25 cents and 6.0 percent under
30 cents an hour. Approximately one-third (32.6 percent) earned
30 and less than 40 cents, so that 38.6 percent received below 40 cents.
However, the largest concentration was between 40 and 52.5 cents,
the number found between these limits also being 38.6 percent.
Somewhat more than one-fifth (22.8 percent) were paid 52.5 cents
and over, but only 6.9 percent earned as much as 67.5 cents and over.
The relatively low earnings found on the whole in wood office
furniture is surprising, in view of the fairly large proportion of skilled
workers in this division. Of the total employees, 40.1 percent were
skilled, 40.9 percent semiskilled, and 19.0 percent unskilled. More­
over, nearly all of the plants included were in the northern area. In
fact, only 3 establishments with 450 employees were covered in the
southern region.
T a b l e 4 9 .— A verage h ou rly ea rn in g s, w eekly h ou rs, and w eek ly earnings in w ood
office-furniture d iv isio n , by region and skill, October 1 9 8 7

United States
Skill

Num­
ber of
work­
ers

Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age age age
hour­ week­ week­
ly ly ly
earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings

North
Num­
ber of
work­
ers

Aver­ Aver­ Aver­
age age age
hour­ week­ week­
ly ly ly
earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings

Skilled workers.. _
1,193 $0. 506 42.6 $21. 57 1,054 $0. 525 42.4 $22. 27
Semiskilled workers____ 1,217 .423 41.4 17. 53 1, 010 .447 41.0 18. 34
Unskilled workers_____ 566 .356 42.3 15. 06 462 .375 41.8 15. 71
Total_____ ____ 2, 976 .444 42.1 18. 68 2, 526 .467 41.8 19.50

South
Aver­
Aver­
Num­ age Aver­ age
age
ber of hour­ week­ week­
work­ ly ly ly
ers earn­ hours earn­
ings
ings
139 $0. 368
207 .315
104 .275
450 .322

44.2 $16.28
43.3 13.62
44.3 12.19
43.8 14.11

As in other divisions of the furniture industry, the dispersion of
hourly earnings in wood office furniture is explained in part by the
diversity found among the different skill groups. Compared with an
average of 50.6 cents for skilled employees, the hourly earnings of
semiskilled averaged 42.3 cents, and the average for unskilled was
35.6 cents. Hence, the extreme spread was 15.0 cents, with the
161633°— 39------7




85

86

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

differential between skilled and semiskilled (8.3 cents) being somewhat
higher than that between semiskilled and unskilled workers (6.7
cents).
CHART 5 .

PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES
IN WOOD OFFICE FURNITURE DIVISION
BY AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS
OCTOBER, 19 3 7
PERCENT
OF TOTAL

UNITED STATES

PERCENT
OF TOTAL

NORTH

Comparing the three distributions, it will be noted that hardly any
wage earners (0.1 percent) were paid under 25 cents an hour among
skilled, as against 1.9 percent for semiskilled and 6.9 percent for un­
skilled workers. The number receiving less than 30 cents amounted to
1.1 percent for skilled, 5.5 percent for semiskilled, and 17.4 percent for
unskilled employees. If 40 cents is taken as the upper limit, the
percentages are 19.6 for skilled, 43.4 for semiskilled, and 68.6 for un-




OFFICE FURNITURE

87

skilled workers. On the other hand, 36.6 percent of the skilled earned
52.5 cents and over, which may be compared with 18.0 percent for
semiskilled and only 4.8 for unskilled employees.
Regional differentials also contributed to the dispersion of hourly
earnings. For all employees, the average was 46.7 cents for northern
and 32.2 cents for southern plants, which is a spread of 14.5 cents.
It should be remembered, however, that although the southern
coverage is representative of the wood office-furniture division in that
area, it is not sufficiently large in itself to permit anything except the
broad generalization that wages in the North are higher than in the
South.
To some extent differences in the composition of the labor force
are partly responsible for the spread in hourly earnings between the
two regions. In the northern plants, 41.7 percent of the employees
were skilled, 40.0 percent semiskilled, and 18.3 percent unskilled, the
respective southern figures being 30.9 percent, 46.0 percent, and 23.1
percent. Substantial differentials in favor of the northern over
southern establishments are found for each skill group. These differ­
entials are 15.7 cents for skilled, 13.2 cents for semiskilled, and 10.0
cents for unskilled workers.
As may also be seen from table 50, few wood office-furniture workers
in the North earned either less than 30 cents or less than 25 cents an
hour, the respective percentages being 2.9 and 1.5. In contrast,
there were 29.7 percent with hourly earnings under 40 cents. Al­
though more than one-fourth of the workers (26.6 percent) averaged
at least 52.5 cents, only 5.4 percent received 72.5 cents or more.

T able

5 0 .— S im p le percentage d istribution o f workers according to average h ou rly
earnings in w ood office-furniture d iv isio n , by sk ill , October 1 9 8 7

United States
North
Semi­ Un­ Total Skilled Semi­ Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers
1.4
0.1
1.2
4.6
1.1
Under 22.5 cents __ _
1.2
3.7
.4
2.3
.7
.7
22.5 and under 25.0 cents ____ ____
.5
.9
.8
0.2
25.0 and under 27.5 cents, _ _____ 2.7
.6
2.3
7.8
.9
1.9
.4
1.2
2. 7
.6
1.3
.3
.5
27.5 and under 30.0 cents, __ _ ___
1.7
4.0
3.1
30.0 and under 32.5 cents__________ 10.3
4.7 12.3 18.0
.7
13.9
6.2
2.4
7.2 12.2
5.3
32.5 and under 35.0 cents__________
.9
14.1
5.7
9.2 11.5
7.9
7.9
4.8
3.5
35.0 and under 37.5 cents,__ ______
9.8
13.9
8.2
9.6
37.5 and under 40.0 cents__________
6.6
9.2
9.5
7.5 10.9
11.7
15.4 11.8 17.5
40.0 and under 42.5 cents__________ 13.8 11.7 14.8 15.5
18.9
42.5 and under 47.5 cents,. ________ 14.4 17.6 14.3
16.6 19.2 17.0
7.6
9.3
47.5 and under 52.5 cents__________ 10.4 14.5
3.5
11.7 15.5 11.3
9.5
4.1
6.4
7.4 10.2
52.5 and under 57.5 cents__________
9.4
5.7
1.8
6.8
2.2
57.5 and under 62.5 cents., _ ______
8.5
1.9
6.6
9.2
5.7
4.8
5.7
2.4
4.4
62.5 and under 67.5 cents__________
3.8
3.1
1.1
5.7
6.5
3.8
1.3
4.1
67.5 and under 72.5 cents, _________ 2.4
1.8
2.8
4.6
2.2
72.5 and under 77.5 cents, _______
1.6
1.4
2.7
1.9
3.0
1.7
77.5 and under 82.5 cents__________
1.1
2.3
.6
1.3
2.5
.7
.7
1.4
.4
.9
82.5 and under 87.5 cents
______
1.6
.5
.4
.1
.1
87.5 and under 92.5 cents__________
.9
.5
1.0
92.5 cents and under $1____ __ _ __
.3
.4
.8
.9
.4
.1
.4
.1
$1 and over, __________________ _
.8
.9
Total________________ _____ 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
Number of workers______________ 2,976 1,193 1,217
566 2, 526 1,054 1,010
462
Average hourly earnings




88

W A G E A N D H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

In addition to broad regional differentials, there is variation in
average hourly earnings among the several States. All three southern
plants were located in North Carolina, but in the northern area the
plants covered a number of States. In the States with three or more
establishments, the individual plant averages were 34.0, 35.6, 38.7,
and 48.8 cents in Pennsylvania; 38.1, 38.2, 39.1, 43.3, and 44.0 cents
in Indiana; 40.7, 43.2, 46.3, 50.2, and 73.9 cents in Michigan; 45.4,
46.5, 49.6, and 53.5 cents in Illinois; and 47.9, 58.4, and 61.7 cents in
Ohio. On the whole, therefore, it appears that hourly earnings in
Pennsylvania and Indiana were lower than in Michigan, Illinois, and
Ohio, but it must be remembered that there is considerable overlapping
in the averages among these States.
The average hourly earnings in the North were higher in trade-union
than in non-trade-union plants, the respective figures amounting to
54.6 and 46.0 cents. In both cases, there was considerable range in
the average hourly earnings of establishments, which cannot be dis­
cussed separately for the two groups of plants without revealing
their identity.
Among the 28 establishments, there were 12 that averaged under
45 cents, nine between 45 and 50 cents, three between 50 and 55 cents,
one between 55 and 60 cents, two between 60 and 65 cents, and one
between 70 and 75 cents.
According to table 51, the 28 northern plants were fairly well
scattered with respect to size of community, being found in places
varying in population all the way from rural territory under 2,500 to
metropolitan areas of 1,000,000 and over. If there is any direct
correlation in this division of the industry between average hourly
earnings and size of community, it is that, on the whole, the lowestpaid groups are located in places under 100,000 and the highest paid
in metropolitan centers of 100,000 and over.

T a b l e 51.—

D istrib u tio n o f in divid u al plants in w ood office-furniture d iv isio n in
the N o r th , b y siz e o f c o m m u n ity and average h ou rly ea rn in g s , October 1 9 8 7

Size of community
Under 2,500_______________ _ __
2,500 and under 5,000__________ ...
5,000 and under 25,000_____________
25,000 and under 100,000_________
100,000 and under 250,000__________
250,000 and under 1,000,000_ _ ____
1,000,000 and over______________
Total.............................................




Average hourly earnings
Total 30 and 35 and 40 and 45 and 50 and 55 and 60 cents
under under under under under under and
35 cents 40 cents 45 cents 50 cents 55 cents 60 cents over
4
3
4
2
5
2
8
28

1

1

1
2
2
1
6

1
1
1
2
5

1
1
1
6
9

1
2
1
3

1
1

2
3

O F F IC E

89

F U R N IT U R E

On the other hand, there is little evidence of correlation between
average earnings per hour and size of establishment in the North, as
shown by table 52. The plant with the lowest average was in the
21 and under 50 group, and that with the highest average was in the
101 and under 250 group. The remaining establishments were scat­
tered. The 2 smallest plants had hourly earnings above the average
for the whole division.
T able 52.—

D istrib u tio n o f in dividu al plants in w ood office-furniture d ivision in
the N orth , by average h ourly earnings and size o f pla n t , October 1 9 3 7

Average hourly earnings
Size of plant in terms of
number of employees
6 to 20 employees____
21 to 50 employees____
51 to 100 employees___
101 to 250 employees__
251 employees and over.
Total______ ____

55
35
45
65
40
50
60
70
30
Total and and and and and and and and and
under under under under under under under under under
55
65
35
45
50
75
40
60
70
cents cents cents cents cents cents cents cents cents
2
6
7
10
3
28

1
1

1
3
2

1
2
2

6

5

2
2
2
2
1
9

1
2
1
3

1
1

I
2

1
1

Male workers predominate in the manufacture of wood office furni­
ture, as only 57 females were found in the establishments covered.
Among males, the occupational averages ranged from 65.3 cents an
hour for working foremen to 32.5 cents for wood-working machine
operator’s helpers. Outside of working foremen, the highest-paid
skilled occupational groups were those of upholsterers, finishers, and
miscellaneous maintenance workers, their respective averages being
59.9, 56.8, and 56.2 cents. The averages of the remaining skilled
occupational groups ranged from 54.8 cents for “ other skilled workers”
to 42.9 cents for belt sanders. There was considerable overlapping
in the occupational averages of skilled and semiskilled males, which
may be seen from the fact that the spread of the semiskilled occupa­
tional groups was from 48.9 cents for hand cabinet sanders to 37.3
cents for hand-finish sanders. The averages of the unskilled male
occupational groups ranged from 39.3 cents for general laborers to
32.5 cents for wood-working machine operators’ helpers. The 57
women in this division averaged 38.1 cents. (See table 53.)
W eekly Hours

The full-time weekly hours of work in the 31 establishments making
wood office furniture ranged from 40 to 50 in October 1937. Of the
total, 10 plants had a workweek of 40, 1 of 41.5, 3 of 44, 6 of 45, 1 of
49.5, and 10 of 50 hours.




90
T

W A G E A N D H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

5 3 .— A verag e h ourly earnings, w eek ly hours, and w eek ly ea rnings o f w orkers
in wood office-furniture d ivision , by sex, sk ill, and occupational grou p, October

able

1987

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Number Average Average Average
of
hourly weekly weekly
workers earnings hours earnings

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled___ _________________ ___
F inishers..._____ ______________ ________________ _______
Foremen, working___ _____ _ ___ ______. . . ________
Inspectors________________________________________________
Sanders, belt_____________________ ______________________
Sawyers, band.._ ______________________________ ... ...
Sawyers, cut-off---------- ----------------------- ------------------------Shaper operators. . __________ ____ ________ ____________
Sprayers_________ _____________________________ _ _ _
Upholsterers_____________________________ _____ __________
Woodworking-machine operators, other, skilled______________
Miscellaneous skilled workers, maintenance department______
Miscellaneous skilled workers, veneer department . ... ... ...
Other skilled workers____________ _________________________
All males, skilled______________________________ ________
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled_________ __________
Boring-machine operators______ . _ ^_____ __ ______
Craters, packers, and wrappers____ _ _________ __ ... .
Gluers, rough stock________________ __ __________ ... . __
Polishers and rubbers. __________________ _____________
Sanders, cabinet, h a n d .__________________________________
Sanders, finish, hand_______ __________________ _________
Sanders, machine, other than belt---------------------------------------Sawyers, rip____________ _________ _______ ________
Stainers and fillers, hand-------------- ----------------------------------Trimmers and upfitters_________________ ____ ____ _
Woodworking-machine operators, other, semiskilled__________
Miscellaneous semiskilled workers, veneer department_______
Other semiskilled workers___ _ . . . _______ ______ ...
All males, semiskilled___________________________________
Unskilled:
Helpers, assemblers’__________
------- . . .
Helpers, woodworking-machine operators’ _________
__
Laborers, general___ _____________ . __ _ _ . . . ----------Truckers and stock movers, h a n d ..____ __ ______ ______
Watchmen... __ _______ ... __ ______________ . . . -----Other unskilled workers__ _ _ ___________________________
All males, unskilled_______ ______________
_______
Total, all males____________________________________ ..

Females

All female employees i____________________________________
Total, all occupations_____________________ ____ ________

294
61
119
39
75
40
56
39
72
46
183
52
60
47
1,183

$0.477
.568
.653
.463
.429
.482
.455
.520
.486
.599
.477
.562
.433
.548
.507

42.5
39.7
45.5
41.5
42.1
42.6
42.0
41.6
42.3
42.0
41.4
45.9
41.7
46.2
42.6

$20.28
22.54
29.70
19. 22
18.09
20.50
19.11
21.62
20. 56
25.17
19. 76
25. 80
18.04
25.28
21. 62

116
44
84
42
95
46
117
93
51
99
62
98
44
181
1,172

.442
.447
.411
.400
.442
.489
.373
.439
.448
.432
.487
.442
.422
.387
.424

43.3
41.3
43.3
38.6
40.9
31.2
42.3
41.9
40.8
41.1
39.1
42.4
42.5
44.4
41.7

19.13
18.46
17. 78
15. 42
18.06
15.26
15.79
18. 43
18.29
17.74
19.03
18.74
17. 93
17.17
17. 71

30
158
89
35
33
219
564
2, 919

.375
.325
.393
.384
.346
.358
.356
.445

39.1
39.2
43.7
41.4
57.4
42.2
42.3
42.2

14. 66
12. 74
17.14
15.90
19.84
15.12
15.07
18.78

57
2,976

.381
.444

35.4
42.1

13.48
18.68

i Not enough female employees in the different occupational groups to justify the computation of an
average.

The actual weekly hours of all employees in wood office furniture for
the United States as a whole amounted to 42.1 in October 1937.
According to the distribution in table 54, seven-tenths of the total
(70.9 percent) worked 40 and under 52 hours a week. There were
18.3 percent with an actual workweek of exactly 40 hours, and nearly
one-fourth (23.6 percent) who worked 40 and less than 44 hours. This
may be compared with 27.7 percent working 44 and under 48 and 19.6




O F F IC E

F U R N IT U R E

91

percent 48 and under 52 hours. Only 5.5 percent had an actual work­
week of 52 hours or longer. On the other hand, nearly one-fourth
(23.6 percent) worked less than 40 hours, most of these being wage
earners who were on part time during the week covered by the survey.
The actual weekly hours were higher in the southern as against the
northern region, the respective averages being 43.8 and 41.8. The
southern average also exceeded that for the North for every skill
group. On the other hand, the differences in average actual hours
worked among various skill groups were less pronounced, the figures
for the country as a whole amounting to 42.6 for skilled, 41.4 for
semiskilled, and 42.3 for unskilled workers. (See table 49.)
Of the 5 trade-union establishments in the northern area, 2 had full­
time hours of 40 per week, while the remaining plants worked, respec­
tively, 44, 45, and 50. In terms of actual average hours per week,
however, the shorter hours of trade-union as against non-trade-union
establishments are quite evident, the figures being 35.6 for the former
and 42.4 for the latter.
Of the 10 plants having 50 as their full-time hours per week, 4 were
located in rural territory (with a population of under 2,500), 3 in
communities between 5,000 and 50,000, and 3 in places between
100,000 and 250,000. By contrast, of the 10 establishments with
full-time hours of 40, 2 were found in communities under 5,000, 2 in
places of 10,000 to 25,000, 1 in a community of 50,000 to 100,000, 1
in a place of 100,000 to 250,000, and the remaining 4 in metropolitan
centers of 250,000 and over. In other words, there is some evidence
that, on the whole, plants with longer hours are located in smaller
communities. On the other hand, there is little evidence of correlation
between full-time hours per week and size of plant.
Among skilled males, the longest average actual weekly hours were
46.2 for “ other skilled workers/’ 45.9 for miscellaneous skilled workers
in the maintenance department, and 45.5 for working foremen, the
averages of the remaining occupational groups ranging from 39.7
hours for finishers to 42.6 hours for band sawyers. Of the semiskilled
occupational groups, three averaged less than 40, but none exceeded 45
hours. As regards unskilled occupational groups, the watchmen were
conspicuous with an average of 57.4 hours, while the remaining
averages showed a spread from 39.1 for assemblers’ helpers to 43.7 for
general laborers. The females averaged 35.4 hours. (See table 53.)




92
T

able

W A G E A N D H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E

54.—

M A N U F A C T U R IN G

D istrib u tio n o f workers according to actual w eekly hours in w ood officefu rn itu re d iv isio n , October 1 9 3 7

United States
Weekly hours

North

Number of Simple Number of Simple
workers percentage workers percentage

Under 24__________________________________ ____
24 and under 32___________ ______ _______________
32 and under 40_________________ _______ _____
Exactly 40______________________________ ______
Over 40 and under 44_________________
44 and under 48________________ ____________
48 and under 52______________________ __________
52 and under 56_______________ _______________
56 and under 64----------------------------------------------------------64 and over------------------------ -----------------Total_________ _____ ________________________

116
181
405
544
158
823
584
107
37
21
2,976

3.9
6.1
13.6
18.3
5.3
27.7
19.6
3.6
1.2
.7
100.0

98
168
369
488
126
665
487
71
33
21
2, 526

3.9
6.7
14.6
19.3
5.0
26.3
19.3
2.8
1.3
.8
100.0

W eekly Earnings

The average earnings per week of all wage earners in wood office
furniture for the country as a whole were $18.68 in October 1937.
(See table 49.) From the distribution of individual earnings in table
55, it will be seen that more than four-fifths of the total (80.7 percent)
received $10 and under $25 a week, with the modal concentration
(35.9 percent) in the class of $15 and less than $20. Only 6.1 percent
earned under $10, many of these being on a part-time basis during
the week covered. At the upper end of the distribution, there were
13.2 percent paid $25 and over, but only 2.3 percent received as much
as $35 and over.
On the basis of skill groups, the average weekly earnings amounted
to $21.57 for skilled, $17.53 for semiskilled, and $15.06 for unskilled
workers. As a result, the differential between skilled and semiskilled
($4.04) is considerably larger than the one between semiskilled and
unskilled ($2.47). Owing to the relatively small variation in average
actual weekly hours, these differences reflect mainly the respective
ones in average earnings per hour.
A comparison of the three distributions shows that the number
paid under $15, or just below the average of unskilled employees,
amounted to 50.8 percent for unskilled and 30.4 percent for semi­
skilled, as against only 13.3 percent for skilled wage earners. By
contrast, the number earning $20 and over, which is below the skilled
average, was 54.9 percent for skilled and 29.6 percent for semiskilled,
as compared with only 13.6 percent for unskilled workers.
In spite of the fact that the average actual weekly hours for all
employees were longer in the southern than in the northern territory,
the differential in weekly earnings in favor of the latter over the former
was $5.39, the respective averages being $19.50 and $14.11.




O F F IC E
T

able

93

F U R N IT U R E

55.—

S im p le percentage distribution o f w orkers according to actual w eekly
earnings in w ood office-furniture d iv isio n , by sk ill , October 1 9 3 7

United States
Weekly earnings
Under $ 5 __ ___ _
$5 and under $10___
$10 and under $15__$15 and under $20. __
$20 and under $25___
$25 and under $30___
$30 and under $35. __
$35 and under $40_. _
$40 and under $45_._
$45 and over
T o ta l______
Number of workers_

North

Un­
Semi­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers

Semi­
Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers

1.4
4.7
21.3
35.9
23.5
7.3
3.6
1.3
.6
.4
100.0
2,976

0.7
2.3
10.3
31.8
31.3
11.8
6.6
2.8
1.5
.9
100.0
1,193

2.0
4.5
23.9
40.0
21.3
5.7
2.1
.4
.1
100.0
1,217

1.8
10.2
38.8
35.6
11.8
1.2
.4
.2
100.0
566

1.3
4.0
15.5
36.9
26.9
8.4
4.2
1.5
.8
.5
100.0
2, 526

0.7
2.0
6.5
30.7
34.1
12.8
7.4
3.1
1.7
1.0
100.0
1,054

1.7
4.1
17.1
41.8
25.3
6.8
2.6
.5
.1
100.0
1,010

2.2
8.2
32.3
40.9
14.3
1.5
.4
.2
100.0
462

It is interesting to note that the average earnings per week were
practically the same for both trade-union and non-trade-union establish­
ments, the respective figures being $19.46 and $19.50. It will be remem­
bered that the average hourly earnings were substantially higher in tradeunion than in non-trade-union plants, but the average actual weekly
hours were sufficiently shorter in the former as against the latter to
equalize the weekly earnings.
The highest weekly earnings among skilled males were found in the
three occupational groups which had the longest hours per week in
addition to relatively high hourly earnings. These were working
foremen, miscellaneous skilled workers in the maintenance department,
and “ Other skilled workers,” whose average earnings per week
amounted, respectively, to $29.70, $25.80, and $25.28. Upholsterers,
who had relatively high hourly earnings but shorter hours per week,
came next with an average of $25.17. Moreover, finishers, with
relatively high hourly earnings but with weekly hours of less than 40,
averaged only $22.54. Hand cabinet sanders, who had the highest
earnings per hour and by far the shortest weekly hours among semi­
skilled males, showed the lowest earnings per week for the group,
namely $15.26. On the other hand, watchmen, with relatively low
hourly earnings but with the longest weekly hours, averaged $19.84
per week, or higher than any of the semiskilled and five of the skilled
occupational groups. (See table 53.)




Chapter X I.— Metal Office Furniture
Average H ourly Earnings

For all wage earners in the metal office division of the furniture in­
dustry, hourly earnings averaged 66.9 cents in October 1937. Prob­
ably the most noteworthy feature of the distribution of individual
earnings in table 56 and chart 6 is the relatively small number of
employees found in the lower-wage classes. Only 0.7 percent averaged
less than 40 cents an hour, and all except 9.1 percent received 47.5 cents
and over. Another distinguishing characteristic of the distribution is
the absence of a pronounced concentration in any single class. Instead,
nearly three-fourths (74.0 percent) are distributed in fairly uniform
proportions over the 35-cent range from 47.5 to 82.5 cents. Slightly
over one-sixth (16.9 percent), however, received 82.5 cents and over,
with less than 1 percent paid $1.10 and over.

T a b l e 56.—

D istrib u tio n o f workers according to average h ourly ea rnings in metal
office-furniture d iv isio n , by skill, October 1 9 3 7

Total workers
Average hourly earnings
Number
Under 40.0 cents, _ _
27
40.0 and under 42.5 cents___
100
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
248
47.5 and under 52.5 cents _ _
460
462
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
57.5 and under 62.5 cents . _
474
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
486
67.5 and under 72.5 cents__ _
450
72.5 and under 77.5 cents___
400
335
77.5 and under 82.5 cents___
235
82.5 and under 87.5 cents__
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
197
152
92.5 cents and under $1_. .
$1 and under $1.10_____
81
17
$1.10 and under $1.20
11
$1.20 and over, _
4,135
Total.,
__.

Skilled workers

. Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled workers

Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
per­ Number per­ Number per­ Number per­
centage
centage
centage
centage
0.7
2.4
6.0
11.1
11.1
11.4
11.7
10.9
9.7
8.1
5.7
4.8
3.7
2.0
.4
.3
100.0

1
15
46
64
83
117
136
163
172
167
114
94
105
72
16
11
1,376

0.1
1.1
3.3
4.7
6.0
8.5
9.9
11.8
12.6
12.1
8.3
6.8
7.6
5.2
1.2
.8
100.0

14
44
132
220
275
268
273
242
189
127
99
93
46
8
1

0.7
2.2
6.5
10.8
13.5
13.2
13.4
11.9
9.3
6.3
4.9
4.6
2.3
.4
0)

12
41
70
176
104
89
77
45
39
41
22
10
1
1

1.6
5.7
9.6
24.2
14.3
12.2
10.6
6.2
5.4
5.6
3.0
1.4
.1
.1

2,031

100.0

728

100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.
These relatively high earnings may be explained partly by the fact
that all of the 19 metal-office-furniture plants covered were located in
the northern territory. On the other hand, the earnings are relatively
high in spite of the fact that the semiskilled workers are the dominating
group in this division. Of the 4,135 employees, 49.1 percent were
semiskilled, as compared with 33.3 percent skilled and only 17.6
percent unskilled workers. (See table 57.)
94




M ETAL

O F F IC E

95

F U R N IT U R E

The average hourly earnings varied considerably among the different
skill groups. The figures were 75.1 cents for skilled, 64.5 cents for
semiskilled, and 57.8 cents for unskilled workers. The extreme spread,
therefore, was 17.3 cents, of which 10.6 cents was the differential
between skilled and semiskilled and 6.7 cents that between semiskilled
and unskilled.
CHART 6.

PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES
IN M E T A L O F F IC E F U R N IT U R E
AND P U B L IC SEATING D IV IS IO N S
BY AVERAGE HOURLY EARNINGS
UNITED STATES, OCTOBER 1937
PERCENT
OF t o t a l

PERCENT

METAL OFFICE FURNITURE

of t o ta l

PUBLIC SEATING

U. S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

T a b l e 57.—

A verage hourly ea rn in gs, w eekly hours, and w eekly earnings o f workers
in m etal office-furniture division, by skill, October 1 9 3 7

Skill
Skilled workers
Semiskilled workers_ __ _ __
__ __ __ _
Unskilled workers-__ ______ __ ______ _____ _
Total workers____________
_________ _ _




Number
of
workers

Average
hourly
earnings

1,376
2,031
728
4,135

$0. 751
.645
.578
.669

Average
weekly
hours
40.8
39.9
39.9
40.2

Average
weekly
earnings
$30. 66
25. 73
23. 03
26.90

96

W AGE AND

H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

A comparison of the three distributions indicates that very few
workers in each skill group averaged less than 40 cents an hour.
The number paid under 47.5 cents was 4.5 percent for skilled, 9.4
percent for semiskilled, and 16.9 percent for unskilled employees. By
contrast, the number paid 82.5 cents and over was 29.9 for skilled,
which may be compared with 12.2 for semiskilled and only 4.6 for
unskilled workers.
Geographical location appears to have little bearing on average
hourly earnings, as shown by the fact that plants located in the same
State and often within proximity of each other have a wide range in
average earnings. For example, the spread between the lowest and
highest individual plant averages amounted to 13.7 cents in Western
New York, 25.5 cents in Illinois, and 33.6 cents in Ohio. These
rather wide variations are undoubtedly due to the competitive in­
fluence of wage levels of other industries in the same locality. Thus,
wages in metal office-furniture plants located near the large steel
producing centers are influenced by those paid in the steel plants. In
terms of geographic divisions, the spread was 18.3 cents in the Middle
Atlantic and 37.5 cents in the Midwestern States.
In metal office furniture, the average hourly earnings were some­
what higher in non-trade-union than in trade-union plants, which is
contrary to the experience in wood household and office furniture.
The average earnings per hour in metal office furniture were 67.7
cents in non-trade-union and 65.3 cents in trade-union establishments.
It is true that one of the three plants with the highest averages (over
70 cents) was unionized, but the establishment with the very lowest
average was also operating under a trade-union agreement. In fact,
all except two of the trade-union plants had hourly earnings below
the average for the entire division.
The 19 plants engaged in the production of metal office furniture
were located in communities of different sizes, varying in population
all the way from 5,000 to 1,000,000 and over. (See table 58.) The
coverage is too thin to warrant any definite conclusions, but there
does not seem to be any correlation here between average hourly
earnings and size of community. In the 7 establishments located in
places between 50,000 and 100,000, for example, the average earnings
per hour varied from a figure under 50 cents to one over 70 cents.
Furthermore, of the 6 plants averaging between 65 and 70 cents, one
was located in a community between 10,000 and 50,000, 2 in places
between 50,000 and 100,000, 2 in communities between 100,000 and
500,000, and 1 in a metropolitan area between 500,000 and 1,000,000.
Lastly, the 2 establishments in communities of 1,000,000 and over
averaged less than 60 cents, which is below the average for the entire
division.




M ETAL
T

able

O F F IC E

97

F U R N IT U R E

5 8 .— D istrib u tio n o f in dividu al plants in m etal office-furniture d iv isio n , by
size o f c o m m u n ity and average hourly ea rn in g s , October 1 9 8 7

Average hourly earnings
Size of community

Total

5.000 and under 10,000...........
10.000 and under 50,000..........
50.000 and under 100,000........
100.000 and under 500,000___
500.000 and under 1,000,000.
1,000,000 and over__________
Total_______________

Under
50
cents
2
2

50
and
under
55
cents

1

2
2

1

19

60
and
under
65
cents

65
and
under
70
cents

2

1
1

7
4

55
and
under
60
cents

3

2

1

1

1

1

6

1

2

75
cents
and
over

2
2

2

1

70
and
under
75
cents

2

1

1

3

Most of the plants in metal office furniture were either medium­
sized or large. Of the 19 establishments, 4 had 100 employees or
less, with the remaining plants varying in size from over 100 to over
500, as will be noted in table 59. Although the coverage is too thin
to justify any conclusions, this table indicates the existence of direct
correlation between size of establishment and average hourly earnings.
For example, each of the 3 plants that averaged above 70 cents em­
ployed more than 500 workers. In fact, none of the 7 establishments
that employed over 500 wage earners averaged less than 60 cents.
By contrast, of the 7 plants with 250 employees or less, all but 2
averaged under 55 cents.
T

able

5 9 .— D istrib u tio n o f individual plants in metal office-furniture d iv isio n , by
average h ou rly earnings and size o f pla n t , October 1 9 3 7

Average hourly earnings
Size of plant in terms of
number of employees
6 to 100 employees_____ _
101 to 250 employees_______
251 to 500 employees _ __ _
501 employees and over. _ _
Total_______________

Total

4
3
5
7
19

45
50
55
60
65
70
75
80
and
and and and
and and
and
and
under under under under under under under under
50
55
60
65
70
75
80
85
cents cents cents cents cents cents cents cents
2
2

1
2
3

2
2

2
1
3

1
1
1
3
6

2
2

1
1

Male workers predominate in the metal division of the officefurniture industry. Among the skilled male occupational groups, the
highest average earnings per hour were 88.2 cents for tool and die
makers, 87.1 cents for working foremen, and 84.7 cents for die setters.
The averages of the remaining occupational groups ranged from 76.6
cents for miscellaneous skilled maintenance workers and welders
other than spot to 66.1 cents for shear operators. The spread among




98

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

the semiskilled occupational groups was much narrower, the averages
ranging from 68.8 cents for miscellaneous semiskilled maintenance
workers to 59.3 cents for hand-finish sanders. As regards the un­
skilled occupational groups, the averages covered a spread from 62.0
cents for miscellaneous helpers in the paint department to 50.0 cents
for watchmen. The 55 females found in this division averaged 50.2
cents. (See table 60.)
T

60.— A v era g e h o u rly ea rn in g s, w eek ly h ou rs, and w eek ly earnings o f w orkers
in m etal office-furniture d iv isio n , b y sex , skill, and occup ation al group, October
1937

a b l e

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Number Average Average Average
of
hourly weekly weekly
workers earnings hours earnings

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled_____________________ _
B pnding-machine operators______________ ______________
Die setters _ ____________________________________
Foremen, working ____________ ____ _________ ________
Grainers ____________________________ - __________
Inspectors . . _ __________ -- _______ ________
Maintenance workers, miscellaneous, skilled. _ _________
Shear operators _____________________________ ______
Sprayers
_________________ ______ _________ _
Tool and die makers __ ____ ____________________ _____
Welders, other than spot________________ _________ _
Other skilled workers _______________________________ _
All males, skilled _ __ _ ________ __________ ___
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled. _ ____________ _
Craters, packers, and wrappers... . ____ ________ _ _ _
Dippers
_ ______ ___ ___ _________ ___________ _
Filers __ __________________________________ ______
Grinders, miscellaneous __ _ ____ ________ _______
Helpers, assemblers’ _______ __ _ _______ _______
Helpers, welders’
__
_ _____ __ __ __
Maintenance workers, miscellaneous, semiskilled.________
Polishers and rubbers. _____ _________ ._ __ _________
Punch-press operators_____ _______ ____________
Sanders, finish, hand _ _______________ ____ _______ _
Trimmers and upfitters___ _____ ___ ________ ___ _ _
Welders, spot __________ _____ ______________ ________
Other semiskilled workers_________________ ___ ______ .
All males, semiskilled_________________ ______________
Unskilled:
Helpers, machine operators’ _ _____________________ _
Helpers, miscellaneous, paint department______ ._ _ _____
Janitors and sweepers ____ __ _ ____________ _
Laborers, general ___________________ ___ _ _ ___ _
Truckers, hand __________________ ___________________
Watchmen
__ ________________ ___ ______________
Other unskilled workers______________________ ________
All males, unskilled______ ____ _____________________
Total, all males________ _________________________ _

Females

All female employees i_ _ __ _____________________ _
Total, all occupations__________ _______ __________

172
155
39
151
58
54
58
98
94
176
74
76
155
1, 360

$0,709
. 722
.847
.871
.703
.715
.689
.766
.661
.718
.882
.766
.750
.753

39 5
40.8
39. 6
44.3
37. 6
40.8
40. 2
43.6
39.0
40.6
40. 6
39. 7
41.4
40.9

$28.03
29.45
33. 57
38.62
26. 41
29.18
27. 71
33.40
25. 79
29.12
35.82
30. 42
31. 05
30.76

387
221
42
58
67
102
44
26
25
349
83
33
243
317
1,997

. 680
.629
.645
.660
.670
.600
. 617
.688
.670
.669
. 593
. 640
.668
.610
.648

39.6
40. 4
40. 6
40.8
38. 8
41. 7
37.2
43. 5
37.8
38.4
40.1
39.9
39.5
41.7
39.9

26. 91
25.40
26. 20
26. 92
26. 00
24. 99
22. 94
29. 96
25.32
25. 69
23. 78
25. 50
26. 41
25. 42
25. 87

158
112
47
38
145
53
170
723
4,080

.615
.620
. 505
.536
.561
.500
.593
.578
.671

39.0
39.7
42.8
41.4
37.9
46.7
39.3
39.9
40.2

24.00
24.58
21.60
22.19
21.23
23.33
23.29
23.07
27.00

55
4.135

.502
.669

38.1
40.2

19.10
26.90

i N ot enough female employees in the different occupational groups to justify the computation of separate




99

METAL OFFICE FURNITURE'

W eekly Hours
The 40-hour week generally prevailed in the metal office-furniture
division in October 1937. Of the 19 plants, the weekly full-time hours
were 40 in fourteen, 44 in one, 45 in three, and 48 in one.
The actual weekly hours of all wage earners in metal office furniture
averaged 40.2 in October 1937. (See table 57.) As is seen from the
distribution in table 61, as many as 40.1 percent of the employees
worked exactly 40 hours, with 46.1 percent working 40 and under 44
hours. There were 19.3 percent with a workweek of 44 and less than
48 hours, and 8.3 percent with a workweek of 48 and under 52 hours.
Only 3.6 percent, nearly all of whom were in occupations that cus­
tomarily operate on a workweek in excess of the regular full-time hours
for the plant as a whole, worked 52 hours or longer. This leaves 22.7
percent working less than 40 hours, most of whom were wage earners
on part time for various reasons during the week scheduled.
There was very little difference in actual weekly hours among the
skill groups, the averages being approximately 41 for skilled and 40
for semiskilled and unskilled wage earners.
Of the six unionized plants, the weekly full-time hours were 40 in
four and 44 and 45 respectively in the two remaining establishments.
As a result, the average actual weekly hours were slightly longer in
trade-union than in non-trade-union plants, the respective figures
being 40.6 and 40.0.
An examination of the full-time hours in the 19 establishments
does not show any evidence of correlation between weekly hours and
either size of community or size of plant.

T a b l e 61. —

D istrib u tio n o f w orkers according to actual w eekly
office-furniture d iv isio n , October 1 9 8 7

hours

in

metal

Weekly hours
Workers

Total Under
24
hours

Number of workers.. _ 4,135
Simple percentage____ 100.0

126
3.0

24
32
Over
and and Ex­ 40 and
under under actly under
40
32
40
44
hours hours hours hours
253
6.1

562 1,657
13.6 40.1

249
6.0

44
48
52
56
and and and and 64
under under under under hours
48
52
56
64 and
hours hours hours hours over
797
19.3

342
8.3

79
1.9

59
1.4

11
0.3

Among skilled males, the average actual weekly hours were longest
for working foremen and miscellaneous skilled maintenance workers,
the figures being, respectively, 44.3 and 43.6. The averages in the
remaining occupational groups ranged from 41.4 for “ other skilled
workers” to 37.6 for grainers. The miscellaneous semiskilled main­
tenance workers had the highest average hours per week (43.5) of the
semiskilled occupational groups, the remaining averages showing a
spread from 37.2 for welders’ helpers to 41.7 for assemblers’ helpers




100

WAGE AND HOUR STRUCTURE, FURNITURE MANUFACTURING

and “ Other semiskilled workers.” Of the unskilled occupational
groups, the watchmen had the longest average weekly hours (46.7),
with the averages of the remaining occupational groups ranging from
37.9 for hand truckers to 42.8 for janitors and sweepers. The females
averaged 38.1 hours per week. (See table 60.)
W eekly Earnings
The average weekly earnings of all employees in metal office furni­
ture amounted to $26.90 in October 1937. (See table 57.) According
to the distribution in table'62, four-fifths of the total (80.2 percent)
received $15 and under $35, and nearly one-half (48.6 percent) were
paid $20 and less than $30. Only 5.1 percent earned under $15, most
of these having worked part time during the week covered. As many
as 14.7 percent received $35 and over, but only 0.9 percent earned as
much as $50 and over.

T a b l e 62.—

D istrib u tio n o f w orkers according to actual w eekly earnings in m etal
office-furniture d iv isio n , by sk ill, October 1 9 8 7

Total workers
Weekly earnings
Number
Under $5_ __ .. . $5 and under $10_______
$10 and under $15
. ...
$15 and under $20--------------$20 and under $25.._ ______
$25 and under $30____ _____
$30 and under $35.______...
$35 and under $40--------------$40 and under $45... .. _ __
$45 and under $50___ ______
$50 and under $55 __ _ . . .
$55 and under $60 _ __ __
$60 and over _ ________
Total_____________ -

22
37
154
539
1,000
1,002
768
382
144
47
21
10
9
4,135

Skilled
workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled
workers

Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
per­ Number per­ Number per­ Number per­
centage
centage
centage
centage
0.5
.9
3.7
13.0
24.3
24.3
18.6
9.2
3.5
1.1
.5
.2
.2
100.0

3
12
16
118
227
268
332
214
112
39
17
9
9
1,376

0.2
.9
1.2
8.6
16.5
19.5
24.0
15.6
8.1
2.8
1.2
.7
.7
100.0

9
16
96
269
527
574
352
145
31
7
4
1

0.4
.8
4.7
13.2
26.0
28.4
17.4
7.1
1.5
.3
.2
0)

10
9
42
152
246
160
84
23
1
1

1.4
1.2
5.8
20.9
33.8
22.0
11.5
3.2
.1
.1

2,031

100.0

728

100.0

i Less than Ho of 1 percent.
As the average actual weekly hours differed but little among the
skill groups, the average earnings per week reflect largely the varia­
tions in average hourly earnings. The average weekly earnings were
$30.66 for skilled, $25.73 for semiskilled, and $23.03 for unskilled
workers.
If one compares the three distributions, it is found that the number
of employees earning under $20 a week amounted to 29.3 percent for
unskilled and 19.1 percent for semiskilled, which may be compared
with only 10.9 percent for skilled wage earners. On the other hand,




METAL OFFICE FURNITURE

101

as many as 29.1 percent of the skilled were paid $35 and over, as
against only 9.1 percent of semiskilled and 3.4 percent of unskilled
workers.
The average earnings per week were slightly higher in non-tradeunion than in trade-union plants, the respective figures being $27.07
and $26.51.
Of the skilled males, working foremen showed the highest average
earnings per week, namely $38.62; due to the fact that they had the
longest weekly hours and second highest hourly earnings. The next
highest average earnings per week were $35.82 for tool and die makers,
$33.57 for die setters, and $33.40 for miscellaneous skilled main­
tenance workers. The averages of the remaining occupational groups
ranged from $31.05 for “ Other skilled workers” to $25.79 for shear
operators. Among semiskilled males, the highest average was $29.96
for miscellaneous semiskilled maintenance workers, who had the
highest hourly earnings and longest weekly hours in this group. The
averages of the remaining occupational groups showed a spread from
$26.92 for filers to $22.94 for welders’ helpers. For unskilled males,
the averages ranged from $24.58 for miscellaneous helpers in the paint
department to $21.23 for hand truckers. The females averaged $19.10
a week. (See table 60.)

161633°

-3!




-a




P A R T 4.— Public Seating
Chapter X II.— Public Seating
Average H ourly Earnings

The average earnings per hour of the 3,118 wage earners employed in
the 25 plants making public seating amounted to 56.3 cents in October
1937. (See table 63.) Looking at the distribution of individual
earnings in table 64 (see chart 6), the outstanding feature is the wide
range covered by the data. Omitting the first and last classes the
average hourly earnings of almost 99 percent of the employees covered
a spread from 25 cents to $1.10, with none of the intervals between
these extremes accounting for more than a relatively small fragment
of the total. Such massing as does occur, in terms of 5-cent class
intervals, appears in the 45-cent range from 32.5 to 77.5 cents, within
which are found more than three-fourths (77.4 percent) of the labor
force. Relatively few workers are found in the lowest-earnings
classes, only 0.5 percent receiving less than 25 cents and 3.9 percent
under 30 cents. However, as many as one-fifth (20.6 percent) were
paid less than 40 cents. On the other hand, 14.6 percent earned
77.5 cents and over.
Of the total number of public seating establishments, only three
were located in the South, and these employed 10 percent of all wage
earners. Another noteworthy feature of this division is the relatively
large number of semiskilled employees, who constituted 51.2 percent
of the total labor force. This may be compared with 33.2 percent
skilled and only 15.6 percent unskilled workers.

T able

63.— Average hourly earnings in 'public-seating fu rn itu re division, by region
and skill, October 1987

Total workers
Region
United States___ _________
North. _________ ________
South____________________




Skilled workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled workers

Average
Average
Average
Average
Number hourly Number hourly Number hourly Number hourly
earnings
earnings
earnings
earnings
3,118
2, 806
312

$0.563
.593
.342

1,035
940
95

$0. 644
.675
.399

1,597
1, 452
145

$0. 552
.579
.336

486
414
72
103

$0.428
.458
.272

1 0 4 W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G
T

a b l e

64.— D istribution o f workers according to average hourly earnings in 'public­
seating fu rn iture division, by skill, October 1937

Total workers
Average hourly earnings
Number
17
Under 25.0 cents _______
56
25.0 and under 27.5 cents___
50
27.5 and under 30.0 cents___
129
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
100
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
180
35.0 and under 37.5 cents----113
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
165
40.0 and under 42.5 cents----245
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
284
47.5 and under 52.5 cents. _ _
268
52.5 and under 57.5 cents —
307
57.5 and under 62.5 cents----262
62.5 and under 67.5 cents----239
67.5 and under 72.5 cents----246
72.5 and under 77.5 cents----135
77.5 and under 82.5 cents----87
82.5 and under 87.5 cents----82
87.5 and under 92.5 cents----89
92.5 cents and under $1___
45
$1 and under $1.10. ____ _
19
$1.10 and over. - ______
Total____ _____ ____ 3,118

Skilled workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled workers

Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
per­ Number per­ Number per­ Number per­
centage
centage
centage
centage
0.5
1.8
1.6
4.1
3.2
5.8
3.6
5.3
7.9
9.1
8.6
9.9
8.4
7.7
7.9
4.3
2.8
2.6
2.9
1.4
.6
100.0

4
1
17
28
52
18
50
64
70
72
93
80
73
93
77
59
65
69
31
19
1, 035

0.4
.1
1.6
2.7
5.0
1.7
4.8
6.2
6.8
7.0
9.0
7.7
7.1
9.0
7.4
5.7
6.3
6.7
3.0
1.8
100.0

4
13
17
66
67
96
69
80
100
153
156
192
152
158
144
54
26
16
20
14

0.3
.8
1.1
4.1
4.2
6.0
4.3
5.0
6.3
9.6
9.8
11.9
9.5
9.9
9.0
3.4
1.6
1.0
1.3
.9

13
39
32
46
5
32
26
35
81
61
40
22
30
8
9
4
2
1

27
8.0
6.6
9.5
1.0
6.6
5.3
7.2
16.7
12.6
8.2
4.5
6.2
1.6
1.9
.8
.4
.2

1,597

100.0

486

100.0

The wide dispersion in hourly earnings is partly explained by the
different wage levels among the three skill groups. Skilled em­
ployees averaged 64.4 cents, as against 55.2 cents for semiskilled and
42.8 cents for unskilled workers. This makes a total spread of 21.6
cents, with the differential between skilled and semiskilled (9.2 cents)
somewhat less than the one between semiskilled and unskilled (12.4
cents).
No skilled workers earned less than 25 cents an hour, and only
0.3 percent of semiskilled and 2.7 percent of unskilled employees were
found under that limit. The great majority of skilled wage earners
(88.5 percent) received more than 40 cents, while all except 0.5 percent
averaged more than 30 cents. Earnings of less than 40 cents, how­
ever, were reported for somewhat more than one-fifth (20.8 percent)
of the semiskilled and almost two-fifths (39.7 percent) of the unskilled
group. Moreover, although the hourly earnings of all except a very
fewTof semiskilled employees (2.2 percent) were above 30 cents, 17.3
percent of unskilled workers were found below that limit. Conversely,
the skilled group is relatively well represented at the upper end of
the distribution, but very few semiskilled or unskilled employees are
found in the higher wage brackets. Compared with not far from a
third (30.9 percent) of the skilled group earning 77.5 cents and over,
only 8.2 percent of semiskilled and 1.4 percent of unskilled workers
had earnings of this amount.




P U B L IC

S E A T IN G

105

Although the southern representation in the coverage is relatively
small, it gives some indication of existing sharp regional differentials.
For all employees, the average earnings per hour were 59.3 cents in
the northern and 34.2 in the southern territory, which is a spread of
25.1 cents. Substantial differentials in favor of northern over southern
plants are also found in connection with each skill group. There are
too few cases to present a detailed distribution by skill groups in the
South, but it may be noted that among unskilled workers 9.8 percent
received less than 25 cents, 59.2 percent less than 30 cents, and all
received less than 40 cents.
In the Northern States with 3 or more establishments, there is
much greater difference between plant averages in a single State than
there is between the averages for the various States. Thus, the highest
wage plant in Michigan averaged 38.5 cents more than the lowest
wage plant in that State. The spread was 33.5 cents in Indiana, 31.0
cents in Illinois, and 14.7 cents in Wisconsin. The relatively wide
range in the averages for each State, coupled with the fact that there
is considerable overlapping in the averages among the several States,
indicates that on the whole geographical location appears to have
little influence on hourly earnings within the northern region.
Among the northern establishments, hourly earnings were generally
higher in plants operating under trade-union agreements. In all
except one of the unionized establishments, the average hourly earn­
ings were substantially above those for the entire division. The
average for the 4 unionized establishments was 62.9 cents, or 4.2 cents
higher than the 58.7-cent figure for the 18 non-trade-union plants in
the North.
As in other branches of the furniture industry, men constitute the
overwhelming majority of the labor force in public seating. Of the
3,118 workers, 2,994 were males and only 124 females. Among the
male occupational groups, the average earnings per hour ranged from
36.2 cents for watchmen to 89.9 cents for tool and die makers. Aside
from watchmen, none of the occupational groups averaged less than
40 cents. In addition to tool and die makers, relatively high averages
were reported for upholsterers (85.4 cents), welders (other than spot)
(83.5 cents), and foundry molders (79.0 cents), all of which are skilled
occupations. The averages of the remaining skilled occupational
groups showed a spread from 53.6 cents for other skilled woodworkingmachine operators to 67.7 cents for miscellaneous skilled maintenance
workers. Among the semiskilled occupational groups, finish grinders
averaged 85.6 cents, but this high figure is due to the relatively high
earnings of employees in one establishment who were paid straight
piece rates. There were 3 other semiskilled occupations with averages
above 60 cents, namely, miscellaneous semiskilled maintenance
workers (64.6 cents), drill-press operators (63.1 cents), and spot welders




106

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

(61.4 cents), the averages of the remaining semiskilled occupational
groups ranging from 45.4 cents for cabinet hand sanders to 56.4 cents
for stainers and fillers and other semiskilled workers. Excluding
watchmen, the averages of the unskilled occupational groups were
spread from 40.6 cents for general laborers to 46.3 cents for miscel­
laneous helpers in the paint department. The 124 females averaged
50.6 cents, and the only occupation with a large enough number of
women to justify a separate average was that of hand and/or machine
sewers, who averaged 55.9 cents. (See table 65.)

T able

65.— Average hourly earnings, weekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers
in 'public-seating furn itu re division, by sex, skill, and occupational group, October
1987

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Males

Skilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, skilled _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ________
Foremen, working. __ _____________ __ _________ ____
Inspectors____ ___ __ ______ _____________ __ __ _
Maintenance workers, miscellaneous, skilled__ __ _____
Molders, foundry------------ ------------------------- --------Sanders, belt___ _____________ ______
_ ______
Sawyers, miscellaneous, skilled________ _____ ______
Shear operators_____________________________________
Sprayers_____________________________________________
Tool and die makers_______ ________ ____
___
Upholsterers _
___
__ _____ _ _____ _
Varnishers and finishers_____ ________________________
Welders, other than spot_______________________________
Woodworking-machine operators, other, skilled___
__
Other skilled workers____ ________ _ __ _ __ _ _
All males, skilled_____ _________ __ _________ —
Semiskilled:
Assemblers, miscellaneous, semiskilled. _ _ ---------_____
Craters, packers, and wrappers. _____
_______ __ __
D ippers.______ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ ___ _ ______
Drill-press operators __
__________
__ ------Gluers, rough stock. __ __
_ _______ _ _ _ ______
Grinders, finish, ___ _
_________ _ ----------------Maintenance workers, miscellaneous, semiskilled _____ _
Metalworking-machine operators, miscellaneous, semiskilled.
Punch-press o p e r a to rs_____ _ __________________ ___
Sanders, cabinet, hand... ------ ---------- _ _ --------Sanders, finish, hand------ ------------------------------------------Sanders, machine_________ _____ ________________
Sawyers, miscellaneous, semiskilled__ ____ _________
Stainers and fille r s.-.------ ___ _ ___ _ _______ _____
Welders, spot------------- ------------------------------------------------Woodworking-machine operators, other, semiskilled.. __ _
Other semiskilled workers _ ______ ___ ___
All males, semiskilled--------------------- ---------------------- _ _
Unskilled:
Helpers, machine, and off-bearers_____ ____________
Helpers, miscellaneous, paint department____ ___ ___
Janitors and sweepers__ _ _______ _______ _ _ ___ ___ _
Laborers, general___ ______ _ _______ _ __ _________
Stock movers and hand truckers.__ ____ ___________ _
Watchmen______________________________________
Yard laborers________ __________________ __ ___ _ _ ___
Other unskilled workers
____
_______ _____
All males, unskilled _____ _ . ___
_ _ ._____
Total, all males____________ _______________________




Number Average Average Average
hourly weekly weekly
of
workers earnings hours earnings
62
92
43
75
35
50
69
25
72
36
104
41
45
113
134
996

$0. 543
.658
.604
.677
.790
.555
.557
.627
.539
.899
.854
.643
.835
.536
.670
.650

45.7
47.8
40.1
46.3
32.5
43.9
45.3
43.8
46.3
45.6
33.1
44.9
41.4
44.0
41.7
42.8

$24. 79
31.50
24.23
31.40
25.64
24.34
25.24
27. 44
24.93
40.98
28.26
28.86
34. 58
23.56
27.94
27. 84

308
131
34
29
27
47
25
34
153
32
58
83
44
30
59
64
360
1, 518

.545
.491
.535
.631
.523
.856
.646
.557
.558
.454
.475
.532
.533
.564
.614
.508
.564
.553

43.2
43.9
49.3
35.0
44.3
40.8
41.7
39.2
43.9
47.7
43.5
42.8
43.0
43.8
43.7
44.4
41.4
42.9

23. 54
21.55
26. 37
22.07
23.15
34.96
26. 94
21.83
24. 51
21.65
20.69
22. 80
22. 94
24.69
26. 81
22. 56
23. 34
23. 72

61
38
33
31
93
29
53
142
480
2,994

.416
.463
.425
.406
.449
.362
.412
.443
.429
.565

42.9
45.1
44.6
44.5
42.8
55.4
44.8
40.7
43.6
43.0

17. 85
20.88
18. 95
18. 08
19.21
20. 05
18. 47
18.05
18.70
24.29

P U B L IC
T

107

S E A T IN G

65.— Average hourly earnings, w eekly hours, and weekly earnings o f workers
in public-seating fu rn itu re division, by sex, skill, and occupational group, October
1937— Continued

a b l e

Number Average Average Average
of
hourly weekly weekly
workers earnings hours earnings

Sex, skill, and occupational group

Females

Skilled:
All females, skilled-_ __ __________ ___ ____ ___ _
Semiskilled:
Sewers, hand and machine
__________ _
Other semiskilled workers
All females, semiskilled
_________ ______ _
_______ ____ _ _______
Total, all females-Total, all occupations________________________________

39

$0.494

40.5

$20.03

41
38
79
1124
3,118

.559
.486
.521
1.506
.563

33.2
37.8
35.4
136.3
42.7

18.56
18. 37
18. 47
118.36
24. 05

1 Includes unskilled females who were too few in number to permit the presentation of separate data.
W eekly Hours

Of the 25 public-seating plants, 8 were operating on a full-time
schedule of 40 hours a week in October 1937. Among the remaining
establishments, 2 had full-time hours of 44, 6 of 45, 1 of 47.5, 2 of 48,
1 of 49, 2 of 49.5, 2 of 50, and 1 of 55.
The effect of these full-time hours was to produce considerable dis­
persion in the distribution of actual weekly hours worked by indi­
viduals, as may be seen from table 66. Fully a fourth (25.5 percent)
of the employees had an actual workweek of exactly 40 hours, and 7.0
percent worked over 40 and under 44 hours. There were 15.5 percent
working 44 and under 48, 12.0 percent 48 and under 52, 7.5 percent
52 and under 56 hours. Relatively long hours (56 and over) are
shown for 7.4 percent of the total. On the other hand, one-fourth
(25.1 percent) worked short time during the week covered by the survey.
T

a b l e

6 6 .—

D istribution o f workers according to actual weekly hours in public­
seating furn itu re division, October 1937

Weekly hours
Under 24
_______ ___
24 and under 32
____ 32 and under 40 - ________
Exactly utiH nndf»r 44
40 _____________
OvPf 40 aiiu lUlUul ---—
OVt/I xU
----44 and under 48 __- ___

Number Simple
per­
of
workers centage
105
177
500
796
218
484

3. 4
5. 7
16.0
25. 5
7. 0
15! 5

Weekly hours
48 and under 52 __ _
52 and under 56_________
56 and under 64 ______ _ _
64 and over - - ___________
Total ______________

Number Simple
of
per­
workers centage
375
234
146
83
3,118

12.0
7. 5
4.7
2. 7
100.0

According to table 67, the average actual hours per week of all
wage earners in the industry as a whole amounted to 42.7. There
was very little variation in the averages among the skill groups, but
substantially fewer hours were worked in the northern than in the
southern territory. This was true of the average for each skill group
as well as for all employees.




1 08

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

The 4 unionized plants in the northern territory averaged 42.5 hours,
which may be compared with 41.8 hours for the 18 non-trade-union
establishments.
T

a b l e

67.— Average weekly hours and earnings in 'public-seating fu rn itu re d ivision ,
by region and skill, October 1937

Region

Semi­ Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers

Semi­ Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers workers

Weekly earnings

Weekly hours
United States.-North
____
South _ _ _ __

Region

42.7
41.9
50.2

42.7
41.9
51.0

42.5
41.6
51.6

43.3
42.8
46.4

United States. __ $24.05 $27.54 $23.46
North _______ 24. 81 28. 27 24.07
South_________ 17.18 20. 34 17. 37

$18. 55
19.58
12.63

Among the skilled male occupational groups, the longer average
actual weekly hours were 47.8 for working foremen, 46.3 for miscel­
laneous skilled maintenance workers and sprayers, 45.7 for miscellan­
eous skilled assemblers, 45.6 for tool and die makers, and 45.3 for
miscellaneous skilled sawyers. In 2 occupations, namely, upholsterers
and foundry molders, the averages were very low, amounting respec­
tively to 33.1 and 32.5 hours. Of the remaining skilled occupational
groups, the averages ranged from 40.1 for inspectors to 44.9 for
varnishers and finishers. Among the semiskilled male occupations,
only dippers (49.3) and hand cabinet sanders (47.7) had average
weekly hours in excess of 45, and only miscellaneous semiskilled
metalworking-machine operators (39.2) and drill-press operators (35.0)
averaged below 40 hours. In the unskilled occupations, watchmen
showed an average of 55.4 hours, the remaining occupational groups
varying from 40.7 for “ Other unskilled workers” to 45.1 for miscellan­
eous paint-department helpers. The average weekly hours of all
females were 36.3, although the skilled females had an average of as
high as 40.5. (See table 65.)
W eekly Earnings

The average earnings per week of all workers in public seating for
the country as a whole were $24.05 in October 1937. (See table 67.)
On the basis of the distribution of individual earnings in table 68,
more than three-fourths (77.5 percent) of the total earned $15 and
under $35 a week, and not far from one-half (46.7 percent) were paid
$20 and less than $30. One-tenth (9.9 percent) received $35 and over,
but only 1.4 percent earned $45 and over. Lastly, one-eighth (12.6
percent) had weekly earnings less than $15, although a number of
these worked part time during the week scheduled.




P U B L IC
T

a b l e

6 8 .—

109

S E A T IN G

D istribution o f workers according to actual weekly earnings in 'public­
seating furn itu re division, by skill, October 1937

Total workers
Weekly earnings
Number
Under $10________ ______
$10 and under $15______ ___
$15 and under $20__________
$20 and under $25__________
$25 and under $30__________
$30 and under $35___ ____
$35 and under $40.__ ... ...
$40 and under $45___ _____
$45 and under $50
$50 and over
Total_______________

110
284
589
800
656
372
180
83
28
16
3,118

Skilled workers

Semiskilled
workers

Unskilled workers

Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
per­ Number per­ Number per­ Number per­
centage
centage
centage
centage
3.5
9.1
18.9
25.7
21.0
11.9
5.8
2.7
.9
.5
100.0

21
57
129
223
223
168
123
53
22
16
1,035

2.0
5.5
12.5
21.6
21.6
16.2
11.9
5.1
2.1
1.5
100.0

44
150
307
433
381
193
55
28
6

2.8
9.4
19.2
27.0
23.9
12.1
3.4
1.8
.4

45
77
153
144
52
11
2
2

9.3
15.8
31.5
29.6
10.7
2.3
.4
.4

1,597

100.0

486

100.0

Reflecting largely the differentials in average hourly earnings, the
average earnings per week amounted to $27.54 for skilled, $23.46 for
semiskilled, and $18.55 for unskilled workers. Hence, the differentials
were $4.08 between skilled and semiskilled and $4.91 between semi­
skilled and unskilled employees.
According to the distribution of weekly earnings by skill groups, the
relative number of wage earners receiving less than $15 a week was 7.5
percent for skilled and 12.2 percent for semiskilled, as against 25.1 per­
cent for unskilled employees. On the other hand, only 3.1 percent of the
unskilled and 17.7 percent of the semiskilled were paid $30 and over,
which may be compared with 36.8 percent of the skilled employees.
For all employees, the differential in weekly earnings in favor of
northern as against southern establishments amounted to $7.63, the
respective averages being $24.81 and $17.18. Each skill group showed
a substantial differential in favor of the North as compared with
the South.
The average weekly earnings amounted to $26.69 in trade-union
and $24.54 in non-trade-union plants in the northern territory, which
is a differential of $2.15 in favor of the former as against the latter.
The highest average weekly earnings for any occupational group
were $40.98 for tool and die makers. Welders other than spot came
next with an average of $34.58, which was followed by $31.50 for
working foremen and $31.40 for miscellaneous skilled maintenance
workers. As regards the remaining skilled male occupational groups,
the averages ranged from $28.86 for varnishers and finishers to $23.56
for other skilled woodworking-machine operators. It is interesting
that, although upholsterers had the second highest average earnings
per hour, their weekly earnings were sixth in order, due to the short




110

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

hours worked by them. Outside of finish grinders, who averaged
$34.96 a week, the averages of the remaining semiskilled male occu­
pational groups covered a spread from $20.69 for hand-finish sanders
to $26.94 for miscellaneous semiskilled maintenance workers. Al­
though watchmen had the lowest average hourly earnings among the
unskilled occupational groups, their average weekly earnings ($20.05)
were next to the highest. Of course, this is due to the relatively longer
hours worked by watchmen. Miscellaneous helpers in the paint
department had the highest average weekly earnings, $20.88, as well as
the highest hourly earnings among unskilled workers. The remaining
unskilled occupational groups had averages ranging from $17.85 for
machine helpers and off-bearers to $19.21 for stock movers and hand
truckers. The average weekly earnings of all females amounted to
$18.36, but those of skilled females averaged $20.03. (See table 65.)




P A R T 5.— Comparisons and Summaries
Chapter X III.— Comparisons and Summaries
Interdivisional Comparisons

In connection with wood household furniture, a comparison has
already been made of the data covering case goods, upholstered furni­
ture, novelties, and kitchen furniture. It now remains to compare
these divisions with wood and metal office furniture and public
seating.
Looking at the average hourly earnings of the seven divisions in
the furniture industry, it will be seen that the highest figure, namely
66.9 cents, appears for metal office furniture. The next highest
average is 56.5 cents for upholstered furniture, which is only slightly
higher than the figure of 56.3 cents reported for public seating. The
latter is followed by 48.9 cents for novelties. There is very little
difference among the averages of the remaining three divisions, the
figures being 44.4 cents for wood office, 44.1 cents for case goods, and
43.1 cents for kitchen furniture. (See table 69.)
Any comparison of the all-round averages among the seven divi­
sions, however, is obscured by differences in the composition of the
respective coverages as to region and skill. Hence, a more logical
comparison among these divisions would be for the same region and
skill.

T able

69. — Average hourly earnings in furn iture industry by product, region, and
skill, October 1937

Wood household furniture
Region
United States....................... .......
Skilled ____ ____________
Semiskilled _ __________
Unskilled ____ _ _____
North___________ ___ ___
Skilled ______________
Semiskilled____________ _
Unskilled.... ........ .................
Sou th _____________________
Skilled__________________
Semiskilled ________
Unskilled __ ____ _____




Case
goods
$0. 441
. 518
.422
.339
.513
. 578
.494
.402
.347
.419
.330
.280

Office furniture

Kitchen Novelty Uphol­
stered
furniture furniture furniture Metal
$0. 431
.488
.427
.351
.447
.502
.442
.366
.361
.413
.365
.300

$0. 489
.550
.491
.392
.503
.564
.505
.405
.334
.392
.326
.272

$0. 565
.681
.505
.354
.627
.742
.556
.393
.398
.478
.371
.287

$0.669
.751
.645
.578
.669
.751
.645
.578

Wood
$0. 444
.506
.423
.356
.467
.525
.447
.375
.322
.368
.315
.275

111

Public
seating
$0. 563
.644
. 552
.428
.593
.675
.579
.458
.342
.399
.336
.272

112

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

If the comparison is limited to the northern region, the order of
averages is 66.9 cents for metal office, 62.7 cents for upholstered, 59.3
cents for public seating, 51.3 cents for case goods, 50.3 cents for
novelty, 46.7 cents for wood office, and 44.7 cents for kitchen furniture.
The order among the averages for skilled workers is exactly the same,
but it is somewhat different for semiskilled and unskilled employees.
In each case, the highest averages are found in metal office furniture,
and the lowest appear in kitchen furniture, with the averages in wood
office furniture only slightly above those in kitchen furniture. Al­
though upholstered furniture has the second highest average for
skilled workers, its averages rank third for semiskilled and fifth for
unskilled employees.
As the survey did not include metal office furniture in the southern
territory, the comparison of wages within this region is restricted to
the remaining six divisions of the industry. It should also be remem­
bered that there are relatively few southern plants in some of the
divisions, so that the figures should be used with caution. With this
limitation, it will be seen that the highest average, namely 39.8 cents,
was reported for upholstered furniture. This is followed by 36.1
cents for kitchen furniture, 34.7 cents for case goods, and 34.2 cents
for public seating. The lowest averages are 33.4 cents for novelties
and 32.2 cents for wood office furniture. As regards each of the skill
groups, the order of averages varied somewhat, but, except for un­
skilled workers, upholstered furniture ranked first and wood office
furniture ranked last. It will also be seen that the variation among
the averages in the southern territory was considerably less than that
found in the northern region.
Data for Wood Household and Office Furniture Combined 1

Thus far figures have been presented separately for wood household
and wood office furniture. Since these divisions have many problems
in common, it is interesting to combine the data for both in a single
tabulation. It will be remembered that in selecting the sample, the
coverage in terms of wage earners included one-fourth of the wood
household-furniture and one-half of the wood office-furniture divisions.
Hence, in developing tabulations for wood furniture combined, the
figures for wood household were given a weight of 4 and those for
wood office a weight of 2. However, one should keep in mind the
fact that these weights are approximate, so that the resulting tabula­
tions are in effect estimates.

1 It should be noted that this does not cover the wood-furniture industry as a whole, as certain unim­
portant branches have been left out in connection with this survey. (See ch. IV, pp. 24 to 25.)




T

a b l e

70.— Sim ple percentage distribution of workers according to average hourly earnings in wood household and wood office furn itu re com bined,
by region and skill, October 1937

Average hourly earnings

(9

0.1
.3
1.3
1.4
3.3
2.3
10.1
7.6
8.1
5.3
9.8
12.2
10.1
6.7
6.1
5.1
3.2
2.4
1.4
1.4
.8
.5
.3
.2
100.0

0. 2
1.1
5.9
4.7
9.9
4.7
17.2
9.1
8.2
5.1
11.0
8.5
5.9
2.5
2. 7
2.1
.4
.5
.1
.1
.1
(9
100.0

Total
workers
0)

0.1
.6
.4
1.8
1.1
3.5
3.4
5.4
4.7
10.7
13.0
11.6
8.3
8. 2
7. 2
4.8
4.0
2.7
2. 5
1.9
1. 3
1.3
1. 5
100.0

Skilled
workers
(9
(0
(9

0.3
.3
1.2
1.4
2.7
3.0
7.1
11.0
11.2
9.6
9.6
8.7
6.9
6.0
4. 5
4.1
3.4
2.6
2.8
3.6
100.0

Semi­
skilled Unskilled
workers workers
(i)

0.1
.5
.4
1.5
1.1
3.1
3.7
6.1
5.1
11.6
14.8
13.0
9.0
8.4
7. 2
4.4
3.4
2.1
2.0
1.1
.7
.5
.2
100.0

0) 0.7
2.4
1. 2
6.2
3.2
10.3
7.2
9.7
7.4
16.8
12.9
9.1
3.8
4.2
3. 2
.6
.7
.1
.2
.1
0)
100.0

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

0.2
.9
4.3
4.3
7. 7
4.4
22.8
13.3
11.3
5.3
6.5
6.8
5.2
2.6
1. 7
1.0
.7
.3
.3
.2
.1
.1
(9
0)
100.0

0.1
.6
.7
2.0
1.6
12. 7
9.2
13.1
7.7
11.3
11.8
11.1
6.3
4.6
2. 7
1. 7
.9
.7
.4
.4
.2
.1
.1
100.0

Semi­
skilled Unskilled
workers workers
0.2
.9
3.1
3.6
7.6
5.0
26.8
16.8
12.9
5.8
5.6
6.2
3.2
1.2
.5
.2
.3
.1
0)
(9
(9
(9

0.5
1.9
12.2
10.9
16.4
7.4
29.6
12.4
5.5
1.0
1.1
.8
.2
.1

100.0

100.0

S U M M A R IE S

0.2
.2
.7
.6
4.2
3.4
5.4
4.2
8.2
11.3
11.1
8.7
8.3
7.2
5.6
4.7
3. 5
3. 2
2. 7
2.0
2.1
2. 7
100.0

Semi­
skilled Unskilled
workers workers

AND

0.1
.4
1.7
1.5
3.5
2.1
9.2
6.3
7.1
4.9
9.4
11.1
9.7
6.7
6.3
5.3
3. 6
2. 9
2.0
1.8
1. 4
1. 0
.9
1. 1
100.0

Skilled
workers

C O M P A R IS O N S

Under 12.5 cents ... __________ _
12.5 and under 17.5 cents_____________
17.5 and under 22.5 cents_____________
22.5 and under 25.0 cents_____________
25.0 and under 27.5 cents_____________
27.5 and under 30.0 cen ts.-______ _
30.0 and under 32.5 cents_____________
32.5 and under 35.0 cents_____ _______
35.0 and under 37.5 cents___________
37.5 and under 40.0 cents_________ ...
40.0 and under 42.5 cents_____________
42.5 and under 47.5 cents_______ _____
47.5 and under 52.5 cents___________ .
52.5 and under 57.5 cents______ ____
57.5 and under 62.5 cen ts_____
62.5 and under 67.5 cents
67.5 and under 72.5 cents
72.5 and under 77.5 cents
77.5 and under 82.5 cents __ _
82.5 and under 87.5 cents _____
87.5 and under 92.5 cents
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and over
__ __ _ __
Total________________________

Total
workers

South

North

United States

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.




CO

114

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

The average hourly earnings of all wage earners in wood household
and office furniture combined amounted to 47.9 cents in October
1937. The distribution presented in table 70 shows there were only
3.7 percent of the workers earning under 25 cents an hour and 9.3
percent less than 30 cents. However, 36.8 percent received under
40 cents. In terms of 5-cent intervals, the modal concentration,
including 14.3 percent, is found in the class of 37.5 and less than 42.5
cents. There were 14.7 percent earning 67.5 cents and over, and 6.2
percent 82.5 cents and over.
According to table 71, the average earnings per hour amounted to
56.7 cents for skilled, 45.5 cents for semiskilled, and 35.6 cents for
unskilled employees. Hence, the spread between skilled and semi­
skilled was 11.2 cents, which is not much higher than that of 9.9 cents
between semiskilled and unskilled workers.
There is a well-defined difference between the average hourly earn­
ings of all workers in the northern and southern areas, the respective
figures being 53.0 and 35.7 cents. The extent of this difference is
confirmed by a comparison of the two distributions. Only 1.1 percent
of the northern employees earned less than 25 cents an hour, but in
the South this group amounted to 9.7 percent. The number receiving
under 30 cents was 4.0 percent in the North, which may be compared
with 21.8 percent in the South. Only 21.0 percent in the northern
territory were paid less than 40 cents, as against almost three-fourths
(74.5 percent) in the southern area. On the other hand, as many as
20.0 percent of the northern workers earned 67.5 cents and over, but
only 1.7 percent were found in that category in the southern territory.

T able

71.— Average hourly earnings in wood household and wood office furn iture
combined, by region and skill, October 1937

Region
United States__________ ______ __ ______
North___ __
__ ___ _ ________________
South _______ _____ _ ________ __________

Total
workers
$0. 479
.530
.357

Skilled
workers
$0. 567
.616
.431

Semi­
skilled
workers
$0.455
.505
.338

Un­
skilled
workers
$0.356
.397
.281

Comparisons o f H ourly Earnings Betw een 1937 and Previous Years
in Wood Household and Wood Office Furniture Combined

Surveys covering wood household and wood office furniture com­
bined have been made by the Bureau at intervals since 1910, but
comparable data for all employees are available only for 1915, 1929,
and 1931. The average hourly earnings of all workers were 21.4 cents




C O M P A R IS O N S

AND

115

S U M M A R IE S

in 1915, 49.0 cents in 1929, and 41.1 cents in 1931.2 The 1937 figure
of 47.9 cents, therefore, is 1.1 cents less than that of 1929 but 6.8 cents
above the 1931 average.
The 1931 survey covered 17 States.3 It included such wood house­
hold furniture as bedroom, dining room, sitting room, and parlor
suites, library and hall pieces, tables, chairs, and radio cabinets and
such wood office furniture as desks, tables, and chairs. The figures
obtained were for a representative pay-roll period during the fall of
1931, mainly in the months of August, September, and October.
It is interesting to compare the distribution in wood household and
office furniture combined between 1937 and 1931. (See table 72.)
In 1931 there were 13.8 percent of the employees earning less than 25
cents an hour, as against only 3.7 percent in 1937. As many as 23.8
percent received under 30 cents in 1931, but the figure was only 9.3
percent in 1937. The number paid less than 40 cents amounted to
47.8 percent in 1931 and 36.8 percent in 1937. At the other end of
the distribution, it will be seen that whereas only 9.5 percent earned
65 cents and over in 1931, there were as many as 17.5 percent in that
classification in 1937.

T able

72.— Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly
earnings in wood household and wood office furn iture com bined, 1981 and 1937

Average hourly earnings
Under 15.0 cents _ ___ __
15.0 and under 20.0 cents _____
20.0 and under 25.0 cents_______
25.0 and under 27.5 cents ___27.5 and under 30.0 cents______ 30.0 and under 32.5 cents - __
32.5 and under 35.0 cen ts.____ 35.0 and under 37.5 cents -- 37.5 and under 40.0 cents ____
40.0 and under 42.5 cents ___
42 5

and u n d e r

45 0 nfvnts

45.0 and under 47.5 cents________
47.5 and under 50.0 cents................
50.0 and under 55.0 cents......... .......
55.0 and under 60.0 cents________

1931
1.7
4.7
7.4
6.3
3.7
7.0
4.7
7.4
4.9
8.4
4.1
6.3
3.4
9.7
5.7

1937

Average hourly earnings

1931

60.0 and under 65.0 cents _____ 5. 2
65.0 and under 70.0 cents ___2.9
70.0 and under 75.0 cents ______ 1.9
75.0 and under 80.0 cents _____
1. 3
80.0 and under 85.0 cents _____
1.0
85.0 and under 90.0 cents
.5
90.0 and under 95.0 cents ____.6
.2
95.0 cents and under $1 ______
.4
$1 and under $1.10____________
.4
$1.10 and under $1.20 ________
$1.20 and over.. _______ _______
.3
4. 8
6.4
T otal___________________ 100.0
3.9
8 .8
6.2

0.1
.5
3.1
3.5
2.1
9. 2
6. 3
7.1
4. 9
9. 3

1937
6. 3
4.6
3.1
2. 5
2.0
1. 7
1.1
.5
.9
.6
.5

100.0

Using the data for identical States, it is possible to compute separ­
ately for the northern and southern regions 4 average hourly earnings
for wood household and wood office furniture combined for 1929, 1931,
and 1937. In 1929, the average hourly earnings in the North amounted
to 52.5 cents, dropping to 45.8 cents in 1931, and increasing again to

2 See U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Bull. No. 571: “Wages and hours of labor in the furniture industry,
1910 to 1931.”
3 These were as follows: California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia,
and Wisconsin.
*The Northern region includes California, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mis­
souri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Included in the southern region are
Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.




116

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

52.9 cents in 1937. In the southern region, the 1929 figure was 33.0
cents, as against 27.5 cents in 1931 and 35.6 cents in 1937. Comparing
1937 with 1929, it appears that the increase is much greater in the
South than in the North. As a result, the differential between the
two regions has decreased from 19.5 cents in 1929 to 17.2 cents in 1937.
It is evident furthermore that the lower average hourly earnings
for 1937, as compared with 1929, for the wood-furniture industry as
a whole are due to the increasing importance of the industry in the
South. In each area considered separately, hourly earnings in 1937
were higher than in 1929. In 1929, 17.0 percent of the wage earners
covered were in plants located in southern States, whereas in 1937,
24.7 percent were in such plants.5
Comparisons Betw een Wood and Metal Office Furniture

As noted before, there is considerable competition between plants in
wood and metal office furniture, so that it is essential to compare the
data between these divisions. However, since the coverage in metal
office furniture was limited to the North, any such comparison must
of necessity be for that region only.
The average earnings per hour of all wage earners in the North in
October 1937 amounted to 66.9 cents for metal office furniture and 46.7
cents for wood office furniture. This makes a differential of 20.2 cents.
Comparing the two distributions as shown in table 73, less than 1.0
percent of employees in metal office furniture earned under 40 cents
an hour, as against 29.7 percent in wood office furniture. Conversely,
the relative number paid 52.5 cents and over was 26.6 percent in wood
office furniture which maybe compared with 80.1 percent in metal office
furniture. Furthermore, the number receiving 72.5 cents and over
was only 5.4 percent in wood but 34.7 percent in metal office furniture.
Substantial differentials in favor of metal as against wood office
furniture also appear in the average hourly earnings for each skill
group. The figures are 22.6 cents for skilled, 19.8 cents for semiskilled,
and 20.3 cents for unskilled workers. (See table 69.)
It has been argued that inasmuch as metal office-furniture plants,
all of which are in the North, must compete with both northern and
southern wood office-furniture establishments, any comparison of
their respective average hourly earnings should be made for the
country as a whole.

8 Since the census does not present employers separately for wood and metal furniture, it is impossible
to compare these samples with the total number of wage earners in all plants.




C O M P A R IS O N S
T

AND

117

S U M M A R IE S

73.— Sim ple percentage distribution o f workers according to average hourly
earnings in office fu rn iture in the North, by product and skill, October 1987

a b l e

Wood office furniture
Average hourly earnings

22.5 and under 25.0 cents
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
35.0 and under 37.5 cents__
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
40.0 and under 42.5 cents__
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
47.5 and under 52.5 cents
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
57.5 and under 62 5 cents__
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
67.5 and under 72.5 cents___
72.5 and under 77.5 cents___
77.5 and under 82.5 cents__
82.5 and under 87.5 cents___
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1.20 and over
Total- __ ___

Metal office furniture

Semi­ Un­
Semi­ Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled Total Ski led ski led skilled
workers workers workers workers workers workers workers workers
1.1
.4
.8
.6
4.0
5.3
7.9
9.6
15.4
16.6
11.7
7.4
6.6
4.4
2.8
1.9
1.3
.9
.5
.4
.4

0.2
.3
.7
.9
3.5
7.5
11.8
19.2
15.5
10.2
9.2
6.5
4.6
3.0
2.5
1.6
1.0
.9
.9

(0

100.0

100. 0

1.2
.5
.9
.5
3.1
5.7
9.8
10.9
17.5
17.0
11.3
6.8
5.7
3.8
2.2
1.7
.7
.5
.1

3.7
.9
1.9
1.7
13.9
14.1
13.9
11.7
18.9
9.3
4.1
2.2
2.4
1.3

.1
100.0

100.0

0)
0)
0)
0 0.2
.2
2.4
6.0
11.1
11.2
11.6
11.7
10.9
9.7
8.1
5.7
4.8
3.7
2.0
.4
.3
100.0

0.1
1.1
3.3
4.7
6.0
8.5
9.9
11.8
12.6
12.1
8.3
6.8
7.6
5.2
1.2
.8
100.0

0.1
.1
0)
.1
.3
2.2
6.5
10.8
13.6
13.2
13.4
11.9
9.3
6.3
4.9
4.6
2.3
.4
0
100.0

0.3
.1
.8
.4
5.7
9.6
24.2
14.3
12.2
10.6
6.2
5.4
5.6
3.0
1.4
.1
.1
100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.
Between the average hourly earnings of all metal office-furniture
workers, 66.9 cents, and those of all wood office-furniture workers,
44.4 cents, there is a spread of 22.5 cents. It will be seen from the
distribution in table 74 that, whereas less than 1 percent (0.4) of the
metal office-furniture workers averaged less than 40 cents an hour,
not far from two-fifths of the wood office-furniture workers (38.6 per­
cent) had such earnings. Four-fifths of the metal office-furniture
workers (80.1 percent) averaged 52.5 cents or more, and over one-third
(34.7 percent) at least 72.5 cents. In contrast, only 22.7 and 4.4
percent, respectively, of the wood office-furniture workers had such
earnings.
Data for Furniture-M anufacturing Industry as a W hole

In addition to presenting figures for wood household and office fur­
niture combined, it is also possible to show data for all divisions of the
furniture industry covered in this survey, namely, wood household
furniture, wood and metal office furniture, and public seating. In
selecting the sample, the coverage, it will be remembered, included
one-fourth of the wood household, one-half of the wood and metal
office furniture, and all of the public seating divisions. As a result,
161633°— 39------ 9




118

W AG E A N D H O U R S T R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

in preparing tabulations for the furniture industry as a whole, the
figures for wood household furniture were given a weight of 4, those
for wood office furniture a weight of 2, those for metal office furniture
a weight of 2, and those for public-seating furniture a weight of 1.
Of course, these weights are approximations, and the resulting tabu­
lations must be looked upon as estimates.

T a b l e 74.—

S im p le percentage d istribution o f workers according to average hourly
earnings in office fu r n itu r e , by product and sk ill , October 1 9 3 7

Wood office furniture
Average hourly earnings
Under 22.5 cents
22.5 and under 25.0 cents___
25.0 and under 27.5 cents___
27.5 and under 30.0 cents__
30.0 and under 32.5 cents___
32.5 and under 35.0 cents___
35.0 and under 37.5 cents___
37.5 and under 40.0 cents___
40.0 and under 42.5 cents___
42.5 and under 47.5 cents___
47.5 and under 52.5 cents___
52.5 and under 57.5 cents___
57.5 and under 62.5 cents___
62.5 and under 67.5 cents___
67.5 and under 72.5 cents
72.5 and under 77.5 cents___
77.5 and under 82.5 cents___
82.5 and under 87.5 cents___
87.5 and under 92.5 cents___
92.5 cents and under $1
$1 and under $1.10
$1.10 and under $1.20
$1.20 and over
Total_______________

Metal office furniture

Semi­ Un­
Semi­ Un­
Total Skilled skilled skilled Total Skilled skilled skilled
workers workers workers 1workers workers workers workers workers
1.4
.7
2.7
1.2
10.3
6.2
7.9
8.2
13.8
14.5
10.4
6.4
5.7
3.8
2.4
1.6
1.1
.7
.4
.3
.3
(0

0.1
.6
.4
4.7
2.4
4.8
6.6
11.7
17.6
14.5
9.4
8.5
5.7
4.1
2.7
2.3
1.4
.9
.8
.8

1.2
.7
2.3
1.3
12.3
7.2
9.2
9.2
14.8
14.3
9.5
5.7
4.8
3.1
1.8
1.4
.6
.4
.1

100.0

100.0

100.0

4.6
2.3
7.8
2.7
18.0
12.2
11.5
9.5
15.5
7.6
3.5
1.8
1.9
1.1

.1
100.0

0)
0)
0)
0)
0.2
.2
2.4
6.0
11.1
11.2
11.6
11.7
10.9
9.7
8.1
5.7
4.8
3. 7
2.0
.4
.3
100.0

0.1
1.1
3.3
4.7
6.0
8.5
9.9
11.8
12.6
12.1
8.3
6.8
7.6
5.2
1.2
.8
100.0

0.1
.1
0)
.1
.3
2.2
6.5
10.8
13.6
13.2
13.4
11. 9
9.3
6.3
4.9
4.6
2.3
.4
0)
100.0

0.3
.1
.8
.4
5.7
9.6
24.2
14.3
12.2
10.6
6. 2
5.4
5.6
3.0
1.4
.1
.1
100.0

1 Less than Ho of 1 percent.
For all wage earners, the average earnings per hour in the furniture
industry as a whole were 49.0 cents in October 1937.6 From the
distribution in table 75, it will be seen that only 3.4 percent were paid
less than 25 cents an hour, and 8.7 percent earned under 30 cents.
The number receiving below 40 cents was about one-third of the total
(34.4 percent). One-sixth of the workers (16.9 percent) were paid
67.5 cents and over, and 4.9 percent earned as much as 87.5 cents
and over.
As one may see from table 76, the average hourly earnings were
57.7 cents for skilled, 46.8 cents for semiskilled, and 36.8 cents for
unskilled workers. This makes for a total spread of 20.9 cents,

6 It will be recalled that the average for the furniture industry for October 1937, presented in connection
with the per capita data by months from 1933 to date, was 51.8 cents. The difference is due at least in part
to differences in coverage. The present study does not include any professional furniture or metal house­
hold furniture. It is believed that their inclusion would raise the average.




C O M P A R IS O N S

AND

S U M M A R IE S

119

approximately one-half of which represents the differential between
skilled and semiskilled and the other half for the one between semi­
skilled and unskilled employees.
The differential in average hourly earnings of all wage earners
between the northern and southern regions was 18.5 cents, the respec­
tive averages being 54.2 and 35.7 cents. Comparing the two distribu­
tions, it is found that most of the relatively low-paid workers are in
the southern territory.7 This may be seen from the fact that the
number earning under 25 cents an hour was 1.1 percent in the North
and 9.6 percent in the South. The respective percentages of workers
paid less than 30 cents were 3.8 and 21.7, while below 40 cents they
amounted, respectively, to 19.4 and 74.7. Conversely, the number
earning 67.5 cents and over was 22.3 percent in the northern area, as
against 1.6 percent in the southern region.

7 It should be remembered that of the higher-wage divisions, i. e., metal office furniture and public seating,
none of the plants in the former and only three in the latter were located in the South.




S im p le percentage d istribu tion o f workers according to average hourly ea rnings in fu rn itu re in d u stry as a w h ole , b y region and
skill, October 1 9 8 7

Average hourly earnings
Under 12.5 cents ______________ __
12.5 and under 17.5 cents_____________
17.5 and under 22.5 cents_____________
22.5 and under 25.0 cents. . . . _ .
25.0 and under 27.5 cents. _ . _______
27.5 and under 30.0 cents_________ ...
30.0 and under 32.5 cents________ _ .
32.5 and under 35.0 cents_____________
35.0 and under 37.5 cents... . . . _____
37.5 and under 40.0 cents____________
40.0 and under 42.5 cents_____________
42.5 and under 47.5 cents_____________
47.5 and under 52.5 cen ts____________
52.5 and under 57.5 cents. . . _______
57.5 and under 62.5 cents
_.
62.5 and under 67.5 c en ts._____ ___ _
67.5 and under 72.5 cents____. . . _____
72.5 and under 77.5 cents . . . _____
77.5 and under 82.5 cents. _ _________
82.5 and under 87.5 cen ts____ ______
87.5 and under 92.5 cents_____________
92.5 cents and under $1______________
$1 and under $1.10___________ ___
$1.10 and over . __ _________ ____
Total.............................................
Less than M of 1 percent.
o




Total
workers
0.1
.3
1.6
1.4
3.3
2.0
8.5
5.9
6.7
4.6
8.9
10.7
9.7
7.0
6.6
5.8
4.1
3.4
2.4
2.1
1.6
1.2
1.0
1.1
100.0

Skilled
workers
0)

0.2
.2
.7
.6
3.9
3.2
5.1
4.0
7.8
10.7
10.7
8.5
8.3
7.3
5.9
5.1
4.0
3.5
2.9
2.4
2.3
2.7
100.0

South

North

Semi­
skilled
workers

Un­
skilled
workers

0.1
.3
1.2
1.3
3.0
2.1
9.4
7.1
7.6
5.0
9.2
11.6
10.1
7.2
6.7
5.7
3.9
3.0
1.8
1.6
1.0
.6
.3
.2
100.0

0.2
1.0
5.5
4.4
9.3
4.5
16.2
8.5
7.8
4.8
10.7
8.7
7.0
3.2
3.2
2.6
.7
.8
.4
.3
.2
0)
0)
100.0

Total
workers
(i)

0.1
.6
.4
1.6
1.1
3.2
3.1
5.0
4.3
9.9
12.2
11.5
8.6
8.5
7.6
5.3
4.5
3.1
2.8
2.1
1.6
1.4
1.5
100.0

Skilled
workers
0)
0)
0)

0.3
.3
1.1
1.3
2.5
2.8
6.6
10.4
10.7
9.3
9.5
8.8
7.2
6.5
5.0
4.4
3.7
3.1
3.0
3.5
100.0

Semi­
skilled
workers

Un­
skilled
workers

(!)

0)

0.1
.5
.4
1.4
1.0
2.8
3.3
5.6
4.7
10.6
13.7
12.8
9.4
9.0
7. 8
5.2
4.1
2.5
2.2
1.4
.8
.5
.2
100.0

0.6
2.2
1.1
5.6
3.0
9.4
6.5
9.0
6.8
15.6
12.7
10.5
4.8
4. 9
3.9
1.1
1.1
.6
.4
.2
0)
0)
100.0

Total
workers

Skilled
workers

0.2
.8
4.3
4.3
7.7
4.4
22.9
13.5
11.3
5.3
6.5
6.8
5.1
2.6
1.7
1.0
.7
.3
.2
.2
.1
.1
0)
0)
100.0

0.1
.6
.7
2.0
1.6
12.6
9.2
13.1
7.7
11.4
11.8
11.1
6.3
4. 6
2. 7
1.7
.9
.7
.4
.4
.2
.1
.1
100.0

Semi­
skilled
workers

Un­
skilled
workers

0.2
.9
3.0
3.6
7.5
5.0
26.9
16.9
13.0
5.8
5.6
6.1
3.2
1.2
.5
.2
.3
.1
(i)
(!)
0)
0)

0.5
1.912.1
10.8
16.5
7.5
29.8
12.3
5.4
1.0
1.1
.8
.2
.1

100.0

100.0

W AG E A N D H O U R ST R U C T U R E , F U R N IT U R E M A N U F A C T U R IN G

United States

120

T a b l e 75. —

C O M P A R IS O N S

T a b l e 76.—

AND

121

S U M M A R IE S

A verage h ourly earnings f o r the fu rn itu re in d u stry as a w hole , hy region
and s k i l l y October 1 9 8 7

Region

Total
workers

United States. __________ _________ __ _
North____ ____ _____ . . . ____ _ ______ ____
South. ________ ________________ _ _ __ __




$0,490
. 542
.357

O

Skilled
workers
$0. 577
.626
.430

Semiskilled
workers
$0.468
. 518
.338

Unskilled
workers
$0.368
. 412
.281