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JULY 1, 1946

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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 a 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 journeymen.

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.

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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



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

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.


TABLE 4.-Average union hourly wage rates in the building trades, by cities and population groups, July 1, 1946-Continued





1. 133
















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workers. Butte, Mont., one of the smallest cities surveyed, was highest among the cities of 40,000 to 100,000 population and ranked eleventh among the 75 cities studied. For journeymen, Charlotte, N. C., and Jackson, Miss., had the lowest city averages.

In 52 of the 75 cities studied the average increases for journeymen between 1945 and 1946 were over 10 percent." Charlotte, N. C., and Houston, Tex., with increases of approximately 17 percent each, had the largest average gains for this group, Charleston, S. C., the smallest (less than 6 percent).

New York and Newark, as in the case of journeymen, also had the highest average rates for helpers and laborers; Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., were the lowest for helpers and laborers. With few exceptions (generally the highest-wage cities), there seemed to be little relationship between the level of rates for journeymen and help

These net changes were based on the specific rates for 1945 and 1946, weighted by the membership for each union in 1946. Only those quotations showing comparable data for both years were included. As building-trades hourly wage rates in normal years tend to be changed by additions of either 122 or 10 cents, specific increases for 1946 will reflect larger percentage changes among those trades with comparatively low scales. For this reason cities which have lower scales tend to show the greatest percentage increases.

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