Employment and Wages
WAGES and real wages — wages recalculated in terms of what they will buy — inevitably influenced and were influenced by the course of prices. To the wage earner himself just as important as the level of real wages was the state of employment. There has been much controversy over this last point because it is vital to the question of whether there was a depression in any real sense other than a sag of prices during the years after 1873. Our information is unsatisfactory because at that time no national figures were collected, there being no government unemployment insurance scheme in operation. We have to rely on such trade union figures as are available. Professor Rostow argued that unemployment was no higher on average than in the two preceding or succeeding decades (45, p. 48). Subsequently it has been shown, however, that this conclusion was only reached by juggling with the dates. Unemployment during 1874–95 was clearly higher than during 1851–73 and 1896–1914, the figures being 7.2 per cent compared with 5 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively. However, we have shown no great affection for these particular dates in this essay so far and there is no need to do so now.
KeywordsDepression Income Expense Straw
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