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RELATION OF RATES OF WAGES TO RENTS AND PRICES. The presentation which follows shows for each of the geographical groups the mean index numbers for rent and prices and rent and prices combined, together with the mean index numbers for the weekly rates of wages of skilled men in the building, engineering, and printing industries. Paris has been taken as the base (100) in each case. In the construction of the index numbers for rent and prices combined, prices have been given a weight of 5 and rent a weight of 1. RELATIVE LEVEL OF RENT AND PRICES, OF RENT AND PRICES COMBINED, AND
OF WEEKLY WAGES OF SKILLED MEN IN SIX GEOGRAPHICAL GROUPS OF FRANCE, AS COMPARED WITH PARIS.
100 a 70
74 a 80 a 65 a 79 82
a The number of towns represented in the construction of this index number is less than the total number included within the geographical group.
If the mean of the wages index numbers in each group for the three industries (building, engineering, and printing) be taken, and the means so obtained divided by the index numbers for rent and prices combined, a comparison of the average level of “real” wages in the selected occupations may be made, viz, the money wages expressed in terms of their purchasing capacity (as shown in the index numbers of rent and prices combined). The results are shown in the table which follows:
AVERAGE LEVEL OF “REAL” WAGES AND LEVEL OF RENT AND PRICES COM
BINED IN SIX GEOGRAPHICAL GROUPS OF FRANCE, AS COMPARED WITH PARIS.
[Index number for Paris=100.]
FRANCE AND GREAT BRITAIN COMPARED.
The predominant rates of weekly wages paid in the building, engineering, and printing trades of France (industries which were found in all the towns investigated) are here brought into contrast with the rates of weekly wages paid in similar trades in Great Britain:
RATES OF WAGES IN ENGLAND AND WALES AND IN FRANCE, COMPARED,
a Apparently including Paris ; see prefatory note to table on p. 81. In the case of the building trades the weekly wages given are, for both countries, the wages for a full working week in summer. In the engineering and the printing trades, the English wages are the standard time rates recognized by the unions concerned; the French rates, on the other hand, are in most cases based on returns of actual earnings, and it is consequently doubtful how far the two sets of returns are strictly comparable. The standard time rates being often exceeded by actual earnings on piecework, it is probable that the French rates appear somewhat too high relatively to the English.
For skilled men in the building trades the French wages are about 68 per cent of the English; for skilled men in the engineering trades about 81 per cent of the English, and for compositors in the printing trade about 85 per cent of the English. The arithmetic mean of the ratios for all trades shown in the table indicates that the mean predominant wage in France is approximately 75 per cent of that in England and Wales. The corresponding figure for Germany was 83 per cent.
HOURS OF LABOR.
In the table following is presented for the building, the engineering, and the printing trades a comparison of the average usual hours of labor per week in England and Wales with corresponding data for France.
AVERAGE USUAL HOURS OF LABOR PER WEEK IN ENGLAND AND WALES AND IN
[The report does not state whether the average hours of labor here shown for England and
Wales and for France include hours of labor in London and in Paris. ]
It will be seen from the foregoing that the hours of labor in France are from 13 to 23 per cent higher than in England; or on the average of the above trades, hours of labor in France exceed those in England by about 17 per cent.
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS.
A summary of the conclusions derived from the investigation follows:
Rents.—Net rents of working-class dwellings in France (not including payments on account of local taxation) are to gross rents of working-class dwellings in England (including all local taxation) as 80 to 100.
Net rents of working-class dwellings in France are to the net rents of working-class dwellings in England (excluding that portion of English rents which represents local taxation) as 98 to 100.
Retail prices. The cost of the average British workman's weekly purchases of certain standard articles of food and fuel (for an average family) at the prices ruling in France in October, 1905, was to the cost of the same articles at English prices at the same date as 118 to 100.
If the expenditure on rent be combined with that on food and fuel (the expenditure on the latter items being taken at four times the former) the results are:
The expenditure of the average British workman (with an average family) on certain standard articles of food and fuel, and on rent at the prices and rents ruling in France would be to his expenditure on the same items (together with local taxation) at the prices and rents ruling in England as 110 to 100;
Or, excluding that portion of English rents which represents local taxation, as 114 to 100;
It appears, therefore, that an English workman in France, living as far as possible as he had been accustomed to live in England, would find his expenditure on rent (exclusive of local taxation), food, and fuel increased by some 14 per cent, or nearly one-seventh.
Wages and hours of labor.-The weekly money wages of the working classes in French towns, in certain widely distributed trades selected for comparison, are to those of the same classes in England as 75 to 100.
The average usual working hours per week of the working classes in French towns, in the trades selected for comparison, are to those of the same classes in England as 117 to 100.
Hence the hourly rates of money wages for the working classes in French towns, in the trades selected for comparison, are to those of the same classes in English towns, approximately, as 64 to 100.
CHANGES IN RETAIL PRICES AND RATES OF WAGES
BETWEEN OCTOBER, 1905, AND OCTOBER, 1907. It will be remembered that the returns upon which the index numbers referred to in the foregoing sections are based related to October, 1905, and it will be of interest to note what changes have occurred since that date. For this purpose supplementary investigations were made in August, September, and October, 1907, in regard to the movement of prices and wages in seven representative towns (Amiens, Belfort, Bordeaux, Havre, Lyon, Rennes, and St. Etienne).
The general trend of prices seems to have been upward. Taking all the meat together, and weighting the several kinds in proportion to the average consumption of each, the average increase was approximately 54 per cent. The price of coffee had risen 5 per cent at Bordeaux and 8 per cent at Belfort, but remained unchanged in the other towns. Sugar increased 9 per cent at Amiens, Belfort, and Bordeaux and as much as 20 per cent at Rennes, remaining unchanged in other towns. The price of bread rose by 4 or 5 per cent at Belfort, Havre, and Rennes and by 16 per cent at Bordeaux.
On the whole the average increase in prices between October, 1905, and October, 1907, of foods other than meat may be estimated at 41 per cent and on food of all kinds at slightly under 5 per cent.
Also, the general trend of wages was upward. In the building trades wages had increased by 16 to 20 per cent for bricklayers, masons, and laborers at Belfort; by 10 to 14 per cent for carpenters and joiners at Belfort, laborers at Lyon, and bricklayers, joiners, plasterers, and painters at St. Etienne; and by 7 to 9 per cent for all skilled workmen except plumbers at Lyon, and for all except stonecutters and plumbers at Havre. On the average, wages in the building trades increased about 5 per cent. In the engineering trades the changes were less important. Taking all the towns together the average rise was about 3 per cent. Earnings in the printing trade do not appear to have increased to any appreciable extent.
The hours of labor in the engineering trades had been reduced from “ 60 to 66 ” to 60 at Be ort and from 60 to “ 57 to 60” at St. Etienne. In the printing trade the normal hours had been reduced from 60 to 54 at Belfort, Havre, Lyon, and St. Etienne.