after World War II. In view of the removal of all wage controls following Executive Order 9081 of November 9, 1946, there may be substantial wage increases in the near future. During a comparable period after World War I (1919-20), when there was also a great construction program, union scales advanced 35 percent.

The 11-percent wage increase for journeymen between 1945 and 1946 was slightly less than that for all trades combined, although the gain for helpers and laborers was substantially more (16 percent). Of the 27 journeyman trades studied 18 reported average increases exceeding 10 percent (table 2). Foremost among these were trades essential in all types of construction: Carpenters, bricklayers, composition roofers, painters, and plasterers. Larger increases were recorded for such trades as granite cutters, but these trades were relatively unimportant in the current construction program or had relatively few workers compared to the carpenters and bricklayers.

Electricians and plumbers-critical groups in the current construction program-had comparatively small gains owing primarily to the fact that large unions of plumbers and electricians in New York City maintained their wartime hourly rate of $2.00. Most other New York City unions obtained increases of about 25 cents per hour. TABLE 2.-Percent of increase in union building-trades wage rates, by trades, July 1, 1945, to July 1, 1946

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Building-trades workers surveyed on July 1, 1946, averaged $1.67 an hour, as a whole; journeymen made $1.79 and helpers and laborers $1.14 (table 3). The serious shortage of bricklayers in some areas may account in some degree for their ability to negotiate rates well above a number of the other trades. Stonecutters, a trade with very little work in the current construction program, had a rate nearly as


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high, however. Stonemasors, with the third highest average, in most instances belong to the bricklayers' union and generally receive the same scale as bricklayers. Lathers, plasterers, and plumbers likewise had averages exceeding $1.90 an hour. Paperhangers, on the other hand, had the lowest rate among journeymer ($1.60).

Almost half of the journeymen received between $1.60 and $1.90 an hour and over a fifth $2.00 or more, whereas less than 6 percent fell below $1.50. The most frequently reported rate was $1.75.

TABLE 3.--Average hourly wage rates and average straight-time weekly hours for union members in each building trade, July 1, 1946

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Among journeymen, only boilermakers, bricklayers, and stonemasons had no members working for less than $1.60 an hour, and each of these trades had a substantial number of workers above $2.00. In 9 trades, a third or more of the workers were rated at $2.00 or more, including 70 percent of all bricklayers. The lowest rate, $1.00 an hour, generally covered either roofers or glaziers and included only 228 workers. The highest rate was $2.79, paid to sign painters on outdoor advertising in New York City.

Steam and sprinkler fitters' helpers had the highest average rate among the helpers' and laborers' groups, which was explained by the very heavy membership in New York City, where the union rate was $1.73. The composition roofers' helpers had the lowest average. The building-laborer classification was most important, as it included about 65 percent of all helpers and laborers studied.

Over two-thirds of all helpers and laborers received between $1.00 and $1.40 an hour. About fifth had rates between 60 cents and

These workers will probably be excluded in future reports, as the helper system is being eliminated by the Plumbers and Steamfitters' International Union (United Association of Journeymen Plumbers and Steamfitters of the United States and Canada, AFL).

$1.00, and an eighth received between $1.40 and $1.80. The lowest hourly rate scale (60 cents) applied to building laborers in Jackson, Miss., the highest ($1.75) to plasterers' laborers in San Francisco.


The 12-month interval between the surveys of July 1, 1945 and 1946, witnessed the cessation of hostilities, an advance in the cost of living, a tremendous building-construction program, acute shortages in numerous commodities (including building materials), and intense union activity to secure improvements in basic wage rates. The forces at work manifested themselves in the current study particularly by the marked shifts in ratios revealing the extent and magnitude of rate changes.

On July 1, 1945, a third of the building-trades members for whom comparable quotations were received reported wage increases since the prior study date. By July 1, 1946, almost 89 percent of the comparable quotations tabulated, embracing all but 4 percent of the comparable membership, showed wage boosts. Whereas advances of 10 percent and over affected less than 6 percent of all members on July 1, 1945, the proportion so benefiting rose to almost 70 percent on July 1, 1946.

Principal trades which led both in the proportions of quotations showing increases and the percentage of members benefiting by rate raises were the bricklayers, carpenters, and building laborers.

A majority of the journeymen and of the helpers benefited by rate gains of 10 to 20 percent. The helper group predominated in the categories with increases of 20 percent or more, 34 percent of their members falling therein, as constrasted with 4 percent of the jour


Considerable segments of important trades registered gains between 10 and 20 percent, notably bricklayers (68.6 percent), carpenters (80.6), sheet-metal workers (73.5), painters (52.2), plasterers (53.2) and building laborers (56.7).

Elevator constructors and their helpers, plumbers, and electricians ranked highest in membership proportions working under quotations involving no wage changes. No decreases in wage rates during the year were reported in any of the 75 cities surveyed.


From July 2 until November 9, 1946 (the termination date of wage controls), the Wage Adjustment Board approved increases benefiting almost a fourth of the workers included in the July study. These raises, not reflected in any of the tables appearing in this report,

'This was the result, in the main, of increases up to 371⁄2 cents an hour to helpers in cities with low basic scales and/or high membership concentration.


averaged 15 cents an hour, and lifted the general average to $1.71 on November 9, a gain of approximately 2 percent for each of the two groups. Inclusion of these later increases would advance the index of union hourly wage rates for all workers to 132.0 on November 9 (journeymen, 129.5; helpers, 149.5). During the period from the end of the war to the end of wage controls, union building-construction wage rates advanced about 14 percent.



As in previous years, the highest city averages for journeymen were found in the New York metropolitan area (table 4). The average for the adjacent city of Newark was slightly above that for New York, which may have been caused by the higher electrician's scale in Newark, as other important trades have about the same scales in these two cities. Chicago ranked third with respect to journeymen TABLE 4.-Average union hourly wage rates in the building trades, by cities and population groups, July 1, 1946


Population group III (250,000 to 500,000):

Newark, N. J.

Toledo, Ohio.
Cincinnati, Ohio.
Kansas City, Mo.
Seattle, Wash.
Rochester, N. Y.
Denver, Colo.
Indianapolis, Ind.
Average for group III.
Houston, Tex.
St. Paul, Minn.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Columbus, Ohio.
Louisville, Ky..
Portland, Oreg.
Birmingham, Ala.
Memphis, Tenn.
Dallas, Tex.
Providence, R. I..
San Antonio, Tex.
New Orleans, La.
Atlanta, Ga..

1 Includes Rock Island and Moline, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa.


















1. 542

The averages presented were weighted according to the number of members in each local union covered by the reported rates and, in many cases, may be lower than a simple average of specific rates owing to the large memberships in the less-skilled trades carrying the lower rates.

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