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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 52


In order to illustrate the statements in the text, some tables are subjoined, exhibiting the fluctuations in the Wages of the four principal English Industries—the Cotton, Woollen, Worsted, and Iron manufactures. The figures are extracted from the Reports issued by the Board of Trade, under the title "Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom." Unfortunately these Reports contain very little evidence upon which positive conclusions can be based. They contain, it is true, a good deal of miscellaneous information about Wages; but they appear at irregular intervals, and their information is exhibited on miscellaneous principles of inconvenience and confusion. In one Report an industry is scheduled by itself, which in the next is lost among a mass of details of the state of trade in certain districts. Sometimes Wages are estimated by the hour: sometimes by the week, and sometimes by the piece. Upon occasions the employments of workmen are distributed; while, upon others, an industry is treated as a whole, and its rate of Wages is expressed in averages; and, not unfrequently, an important trade, the condition of which has been described for several years with a most useful fulness, drops out entirely from the record never to appear again

But, in spite of the impaired value of such ill-arranged statistics, the figures are useful up to a certain point for purposes of comparison; and, in respect of the four great industries already named, they have been presented with some approach to an uniform method. These trades together give employment to about one-half of the Working Class, so that the varying rate of Wages paid in them, during the last thirty years, will indicate an approximate answer to the question—"Whether Wages in England have on the whole risen or decreased?"