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Title: The Cost of Living Among Wage-Earners - Fall River, Massachusetts, October, 1919, Research Report - Number 22, November, 1919
Author: National Industrial Conference Board
Language: English
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Transcriber's Note: The original publication contained 35 blank,
unnumbered pages between the last page of the Conclusion and the
page entitled _Publications of the National Industrial Conference
Board_.



                National Industrial Conference Board

                   15 BEACON STREET, BOSTON, MASS.


                            BRANCH OFFICE

               724 SOUTHERN BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.


The National Industrial Conference Board is a co-operative body
composed of representatives of national and state industrial
associations, and closely allied engineering societies of a national
character, and is organized to provide a clearing house of information,
a forum for constructive discussion, and machinery for co-operative
action on matters that vitally affect the industrial development of
the nation.


    FREDERICK P. FISH                                _Chairman_

    MAGNUS W. ALEXANDER                     _Managing Director_


                                  MEMBERSHIP

AMERICAN COTTON MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
AMERICAN HARDWARE MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
AMERICAN PAPER AND PULP ASSOCIATION
ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS' CLUB
INSTITUTE OF MAKERS OF EXPLOSIVES
MANUFACTURING CHEMISTS' ASSOCIATION OF THE U.S.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COTTON MANUFACTURERS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FINISHERS OF COTTON FABRICS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOOL MANUFACTURERS
NATIONAL AUTOMOBILE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL BOOT AND SHOE MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR INDUSTRIAL DEFENSE
NATIONAL ELECTRIC LIGHT ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL ERECTORS' ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL FOUNDERS' ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL IMPLEMENT AND VEHICLE ASSOCIATION
NATIONAL METAL TRADES ASSOCIATION
RUBBER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC.
SILK ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA
THE RAILWAY CAR MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
UNITED TYPOTHETÆ OF AMERICA


                        ASSOCIATE MEMBERSHIP

ASSOCIATED INDUSTRIES OF MASSACHUSETTS
ASSOCIATED MANUFACTURERS AND MERCHANTS OF NEW YORK STATE
ILLINOIS MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION
MANUFACTURERS' ASSOCIATION OF CONNECTICUT, INC.



                      THE COST OF LIVING AMONG
                            WAGE-EARNERS



                      FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS
                            OCTOBER, 1919


                      RESEARCH REPORT NUMBER 22
                           NOVEMBER, 1919



                          _Copyright 1919_


                NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL CONFERENCE BOARD


                          15 BEACON STREET
                            BOSTON, MASS.



                              CONTENTS


                                                               PAGE

FOREWORD                                                        vii

PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATION                                      1

METHOD                                                            1

FALL RIVER AND ITS PEOPLE                                         2

COST OF LIVING IN OCTOBER, 1919                                   3
  FOOD                                                            3
  SHELTER                                                         6
  CLOTHING                                                        6
  FUEL, HEAT AND LIGHT                                            8
  SUNDRIES                                                        9
  THE COMPLETE BUDGET                                            11

INCREASE IN THE COST OF LIVING SINCE 1914                        13
  FOOD                                                           13
  SHELTER                                                        13
  CLOTHING                                                       14
  FUEL, HEAT AND LIGHT                                           14
  SUNDRIES                                                       15
  THE COMPLETE BUDGET                                            15

CONCLUSION                                                       17



                           LIST OF TABLES


                                                               PAGE

TABLE 1: Minimum Food Budget for a Week for a Man, Wife and
Three Children under Fourteen Years of Age, Fall River,
Massachusetts, October, 1919                                      4

TABLEv 2: More Liberal Weekly Food Budget for a Man, Wife and
Three Children under Fourteen Years of Age in Fall River,
Massachusetts, October, 1919                                      5

TABLE 3: Cost of a Liberal Allowance of Clothing for a Year
for a Man, Wife and Three Children under Fourteen Years of Age
in Fall River, Massachusetts, at Prices Prevailing in October,
1919                                                              7

TABLE 4: Average Cost of Sundries in Fall River, Massachusetts,
October, 1919                                                    11

TABLE 5: Average Cost of Living for a Man, Wife and Three
Children under Fourteen Years of Age in Fall River,
Massachusetts, October, 1919                                     12

TABLE 6: Average Increase between October, 1914, and October,
1919, in the Cost of Living for a Man, Wife and Three Children
under Fourteen Years of Age in Fall River, Massachusetts         15

TABLE 7: Comparison of Distribution of Expenditures for the
Separate Budget Items in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1914
and 1919, with the Average Distribution in the Country as a
Whole in 1914                                                    16



                              Foreword


The accompanying study of the cost of living among wage-earners in
Fall River, Massachusetts, aims to establish the cost of maintaining a
wage-earner's family at a minimum but reasonable standard of living in
this textile manufacturing center; also the cost of maintaining such a
family at a somewhat better standard.

The Board has already made several broad surveys of changes in the
cost of living in American wage-earning communities since the outbreak
of the World War in July, 1914. These cover the entire country and are
designed to bring out the extent of change during the periods studied,
not the actual cost of living. The results of the present investigation
in Fall River, made independently of these broader surveys, throw
an interesting sidelight on the wider studies and also permit of a
valuable check on them.

It is intended to make similar intensive studies from time to time in
other representative industrial communities.



                The Cost of Living Among Wage-Earners


                      Fall River, Massachusetts

                            October, 1919


                    PURPOSE OF THE INVESTIGATION


The following report summarizes the results of a study undertaken to
determine the cost of maintaining a minimum American standard of
living in Fall River, Massachusetts, in October, 1919, and also the
cost of maintaining a somewhat more liberal standard. At the same
time, an attempt was made to ascertain the increase in the cost of
living at identical standards during the five-year period beginning
with October, 1914.


                               METHOD

For the purpose of this study, the cost of living was estimated with
reference to the needs of a man, his wife and three children under
fourteen years of age. No attempt was made to secure family budgets
from representative wage-earners. Instead, the amount of food,
clothing, fuel, heat, light and other items needed to meet the
requirements of a decent standard of living was carefully estimated on
the basis of several budget studies made by other authorities, and
prices of these various items were obtained. Thus, while the final
estimate of the money cost of maintaining a definite standard of
living is not based on actual family expenditures, but rather is a
hypothetical budget designed to maintain a hypothetical family at a
specified standard, it should closely approximate the true conditions.
In practice, expenditures for the different items in the budget may
and undoubtedly will vary considerably to meet the needs or tastes of
individual families, but although the sums allowed for the total cost
of living may be distributed in a large variety of ways, the averages
given are as nearly representative as any that can be reached. It
should always be borne in mind, however, that the figures are
averages, even though they include a large variety of data.

The investigation covered a period of one week in October, 1919. A
study was made of available statistical data relating to Fall River,
and various sections or "villages" of the city were visited to obtain
a picture of the home surroundings of the people. The latter were
observed on the street, as purchasers in stores, at work in the mills,
at a dance for women wage-earners, and, in several instances, in their
own homes.

Visits were made to the headquarters of the various social and
community agencies of the city, from which much valuable information
on the cost and standard of living was secured.[1] To obtain the cost
of the various items entering into the family budget and the increases
in cost over a five-year period, figures were collected from retail
food and clothing stores, coal dealers, and other corporations,
associations and individuals in close touch with the local situation.

      [1] The following organizations and individuals were consulted:
      Chamber of Commerce, Association for Community Welfare, King
      Philip Settlement, Instructive District Nursing Association,
      Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Women's
      Union, Boy Scouts, Immigrant Aid Society, Fall River Cotton
      Manufacturers' Association, President of the Textile Council,
      Superintendent of Schools, superintendent of one of the mills,
      physician in charge of the city clinics for children, a Roman
      Catholic priest, mill operatives.


                      FALL RIVER AND ITS PEOPLE

The population of Fall River in 1915 was approximately 125,000, of
whom 75,000 were native born and 50,000 foreign born. A large
percentage of the native born are of foreign parentage. French
Canadians and Portuguese are the leading foreign nationalities and are
represented in approximately equal numbers. Together they comprise
over half the foreign-born population. The English are next most
important in numbers, approximately 10,000. Over 4,000 were born in
Ireland, over 3,000 are Poles and some 2,000 are Russians, the
majority of the latter undoubtedly Jews.

The people originally settled in neighborhood groups of a single
nationality rather than around the particular mills in which they were
employed. There are, in fact, ten different villages, so called, into
which Fall River outside of the center may be said to be divided. The
nationalistic character of these villages, however, is now to some
extent breaking up, owing to decreased immigration, the Americanizing
effect of the war, and the efforts of the Immigrant Aid Committee and
other local social agencies, so that French, Portuguese, Irish and
other foreign nationalities are coming in closer contact one with
another.

Families in Fall River often are large; the French Canadian and
Portuguese not infrequently have eight or more children, and sometimes
12 or 15. This means that in many families there is inevitably a period
of poverty before the children become old enough to work; this is often
partially relieved by the employment of the mother. When, however, the
children begin to go into the mills, a considerable increase in income
takes place very rapidly.

The most important industry in Fall River is the manufacture of cotton
cloth. There are in the city 111 cotton mills and an additional number
of industries directly allied to cotton manufacturing. Retail selling
is confined, with the exception of two or three large food stores and
three or four department stores, largely to small neighborhood stores,
the proprietors of which are of the same nationality as the people to
whose trade they cater, or, in the case of specialty clothing stores,
Jews.


                   COST OF LIVING IN OCTOBER, 1919

_Food._ To obtain the average cost of food, several budgets including
articles sufficient for a week's supply for a family of man, wife and
three children were used as a basis. From these were constructed food
budgets designed to meet the requirements of a minimum standard and of
one slightly above the minimum. Prices were collected from four of the
large down-town stores, from branches of two different chain stores,
one of them represented by 21 separate branches, and from various
neighborhood grocery stores: one Polish, one Portuguese and two
French. When there was more than one quality of an article the price
used was the lowest consistent with what appeared to be good value.
The quotations collected for each article were averaged and are given
in Tables 1 and 2.

TABLE 1: MINIMUM FOOD BUDGET FOR A WEEK FOR A MAN, WIFE AND THREE
CHILDREN UNDER FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE, FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS,
OCTOBER, 1919

                (National Industrial Conference Board)

======================================================================
                        | Cost,   |                          | Cost,
   Item and amount      |October, |    Item and amount       |October,
                        | 1919    |                          | 1919
------------------------+---------+--------------------------+--------
    _Meat and Fish_     |         |     _Fruit_              |
 2 lbs. flank           |$  .32   |   3 qts. apples          |$  .27
 2 lbs. chuck           |   .40   |   3 oranges              |   .12
1/2 lb. bacon           |   .21   |   4 bananas              |   .15
 1 lb. dried cod        |   .20   |  1/2 lb. raisins         |   .12
 1 can salmon           |   .27   |   1 lb. prunes           |   .24
    _Dairy Products_    |         |    _Bread, Cereals, etc._|
 1 doz. eggs            |   .61   |  12 lbs. bread           |  1.28
 1 lb. butter           |   .66   |   2 lbs. flour           |   .16
1/2 lb. oleomargarine   |         |   1 lb. corn meal        |   .07
  or lard               |   .18   |   1 lb. rice             |   .16
 1 lb. cheese           |   .41   |   1 lb. macaroni         |   .16
14 qts. milk            |  2.10   |   3 lbs. sugar           |   .33
    _Vegetables_        |         |   3 lbs. rolled oats     |   .21
 1-1/2 pks. potatoes    |   .77   |   1 pt. molasses         |   .12
 3 lbs. carrots         |   .12   |     _Tea, Coffee, etc._  |
 2 lbs. onions          |   .13   |  1/4 lb. tea             |   .15
 3 lbs. cabbage         |   .14   |  1/2 lb. coffee          |   .23
 2 lbs. dried beans     |   .23   |  1/2 lb. cocoa           |   .22
 1 can tomatoes         |   .15   |  Condiments              |   .11
                        |         |                          |--------
                        |         |     Total weekly cost    |$11.00
------------------------+---------+--------------------------+--------

From the food budget itemized in Table 1, which must be regarded as a
minimum, it appears that the least that can be allowed for food for a
man, wife and three children under fourteen years of age in Fall River
in October, 1919, is $11 a week.


TABLE 2: MORE LIBERAL WEEKLY FOOD BUDGET FOR A MAN, WIFE AND THREE
CHILDREN UNDER FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE IN FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS,
OCTOBER, 1919

                (National Industrial Conference Board)

======================================================================
                        | Cost,   |                          | Cost,
   Item and amount      |October, |    Item and amount       |October,
                        | 1919    |                          | 1919
------------------------+---------+--------------------------+--------
    _Meat and Fish_     |         |      _Fruit_             |
 2 lbs. flank           |$  .32   |   3 qts. apples          |$  .27
 1 lb. hamburg          |   .25   |  1/2 doz. oranges        |   .24
 3 lbs. leg mutton      |   .75   |  1/2 doz. bananas        |   .23
1/2 lb. bacon           |   .21   |  1/2 lb. raisins         |   .12
 1 lb. dried cod        |   .20   |   1 lb. prunes           |   .24
 1 can salmon           |   .27   |    _Bread, Cereals, etc._|
    _Dairy Products_    |         |  12 lbs. bread           |  1.28
 1 doz. eggs            |   .61   |   2 lbs. flour           |   .16
 1 lb. butter           |   .66   |   1 lb. corn meal        |   .07
1/2 lb. oleomargarine   |         |   1 lb. macaroni         |   .16
  or lard               |   .18   |   2 lbs. rolled oats     |   .14
 1 lb. cheese           |   .41   |   1 pkg. cornflakes      |   .15
14 qts. milk            |  2.10   |  1/2 lb. tapioca         |   .08
    _Vegetables_        |         |   3 lbs. sugar           |   .33
 2 pks. potatoes        |  1.02   |   1 pt. molasses         |   .12
 2 lbs. carrots         |   .08   |    _Tea, Coffee, etc._   |
 4 lbs. onions          |   .26   |  1/4 lb. tea             |   .15
 2 lbs. cabbage         |   .09   |  1/2 lb. coffee          |   .23
 2 lbs. dried beans     |   .23   |  1/2 lb. cocoa           |   .22
 1 can tomatoes         |   .15   |   Condiments             |   .17
                        |         |                          |--------
                        |         |     Total weekly cost    |$12.15
------------------------+---------+--------------------------+--------

The more liberal food budget, covering a week's supply for five
persons, worked out in co-operation with the visiting housekeeper of
the League for Community Welfare of Fall River and given in Table 2,
was planned so as to include foods in particular demand among
wage-earning families. From this it appears that to feed such a family
according to a standard somewhat above the minimum, $12.15 a week
would be required.

These food budgets have been arranged with due consideration for food
values and variety, although of course the tastes of many families
might require a somewhat different combination of articles. Nevertheless
it is probable that an adequate supply of food for an average family
of five could be purchased in Fall River in October, 1919, for $11 per
week, while $12.15 is sufficient to insure a somewhat more liberal
diet. This would mean an annual expenditure for food of $572 for the
minimum standard and $631.80 for the more liberal standard.

_Shelter._ For information as to rents, the social agencies of Fall
River, the Real Estate Owners' Association, the Renting Department of
the Chamber of Commerce, individual renting agencies and landlords
were consulted. A number of rented houses also were visited.

The ordinary tenement in Fall River contains from three to five rooms
with toilet, and the rents range from $1.25 to $4 per week. For the
larger sum, a bath would be included. There are very few heated
apartment houses and rents for these would be more than $20 a month.
The majority of wage-earners probably pay between $1.75 and $3 per
week and do not have a bath. The demand for the larger apartments with
baths far exceeds the supply. Many families are forced to live in
inferior and crowded quarters at the present time because no others
are to be obtained.

Two dollars twenty-five cents a week or $117 a year for four rooms
and toilet may be set as a minimum figure for housing a family of five
in Fall River, according to existing conditions. Three dollars fifty
cents a week or $182 a year will secure somewhat better accommodations.

_Clothing._ To obtain the cost of clothing for a family of five,
budgets were constructed containing the different articles which
probably would be purchased in the course of a year and prices were
collected from a number of stores which cater to wage-earners.
Quotations were secured for comparatively low-priced but standard
grades of goods and these were averaged to obtain the prices given in
Table 3. In deciding on the quantity of each article required, the
quality of the goods was taken into account. In the case of articles
which would not necessarily be replaced every year, what was
considered to be a proper fraction of the cost in October, 1919, is
given.


TABLE 3: COST OF A LIBERAL ALLOWANCE OF CLOTHING FOR A YEAR FOR A MAN,
WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN UNDER FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE IN FALL RIVER,
MASSACHUSETTS, AT PRICES PREVAILING IN OCTOBER, 1919

                (National Industrial Conference Board)

=======================================================================
                        |  Cost,   |                         |  Cost,
     Man's budget       | October, |    Woman's budget       | October,
                        |  1919    |                         |  1919
------------------------+----------+-------------------------+---------
1 suit                  |  $28.00  | 1 coat or suit          | $26.00
1/3 overcoat            |    7.50  | 1/2 dress               |   5.25
1 pair heavy trousers   |    6.00  | 1 cotton skirt          |   1.98
1/2 sweater             |    2.50  | 2 waists                |   3.60
2 shirts                |    3.50  | 2 house dresses         |   4.25
3 work shirts           |    3.50  | 3 aprons                |   1.90
3 pairs overalls        |    5.65  | 1-1/2 pairs shoes       |  12.95
2 pairs shoes           |   15.75  | 1 pair overshoes        |    .95
Repair of shoes         |    3.35  | Repair of shoes         |   2.35
8 pairs hose            |    4.00  | 6 pairs hose            |   3.00
3 union suits           |    3.90  | 2 pairs corsets         |   4.65
2 nightshirts           |    2.80  | 4 union suits           |   4.00
4 collars               |    1.00  | 3 chemises              |   3.00
3 ties                  |    1.50  | 2 petticoats            |   2.00
1/2 felt hat            |    1.75  | 3 nightgowns            |   4.50
Straw hat               |    2.00  | 1 straw hat             |   1.75
Cap                     |    1.25  | 1 velvet hat            |   2.00
Gloves                  |    2.25  | Gloves                  |   3.00
Sundries                |    3.00  | Sundries                |   4.00
                        |--------- |                         |---------
      All items         |  $99.20  |      All items          | $91.13
------------------------+----------+-------------------------+---------


                         CHILDREN'S BUDGETS

============================================================================
                 | Cost,|                  | Cost,|                  | Cost,
       Boy       | Oct.,|       Boy        | Oct.,|       Boy        | Oct.,
    Age 13-14    | 1919 |     Age 5-6      | 1919 |     Age 8-9      | 1919
-----------------+------+------------------+------+------------------+------
1/3 mackinaw     |$ 3.20| 1/3 coat         |$ 2.60| 1/3 coat         |$3.40
1/3 sweater      |  1.20| 1/3 sweater      |  1.15| 1/3 sweater      | 2.00
1 suit           | 12.75| 1 suit           |  8.65| 1 wool dress     | 8.00
1 pair trousers  |  2.25| 1 pair trousers  |  1.80| 2 cotton dresses | 5.00
3 shirts         |  3.00| 3 blouses        |  2.75| 1 white petticoat| 1.50
3 union suits    |  3.50| 3 union suits    |  3.65| 2 pairs bloomers | 1.30
2 nightshirts    |  3.00| 3 underwaists    |  1.85| 3 union suits    | 2.75
8 pairs stockings|  3.35| 2 nightgowns     |  2.35| 3 underwaists    | 1.89
2 pairs boots    |  8.00| 6 pairs stockings|  2.40| 2 nightgowns     | 2.50
1 pair overshoes |   .95| 2 pairs boots    |  5.40| 6 pairs stockings| 2.58
1 pair mittens   |   .40| 1 pair overshoes |   .75| 2 pairs boots    | 8.00
2 caps           |  1.50| 1 pair mittens   |   .40| 1 pair overshoes |  .80
3 ties           |  1.00| 2 caps           |  1.80| 1 pair mittens   |  .40
Repair of shoes  |  2.40| 1 Windsor tie    |   .40| 1 felt hat       | 2.00
Sundries         |  1.25| Repair of shoes  |  1.65| 1 straw hat      | 1.80
                 |      | Sundries         |   .50| Repair of shoes  | 1.65
                 |      |                  |      | Sundries         |  .50
                 |------|                  |------|                  |------
   All items     |$47.75|    All items     |$38.10|    All items     |$46.07
-----------------+------+------------------+------+------------------+------

This clothing allowance for a family of five persons would cost
$322.25 a year at prices prevailing in Fall River in October, 1919.
While the prices given are comparatively low and the quantity allowed
is not excessive, clothing may be purchased for less and the
requirements of decency and comfort at an American standard may be met
with fewer articles. As a matter of fact, a large proportion of
families in Fall River do not spend so much as this for clothing,
since many of them make certain garments at home or buy them at
bargain prices, with a material reduction in cost. For this reason,
the clothing budget as given must be regarded as ample rather than as
a minimum. To allow for the different means by which the cost of
clothing may be reduced, approximately 25% was deducted, bringing the
annual minimum cost of an American standard of clothing in Fall River,
according to prices prevailing in October, 1919, to $243.36.

_Fuel, heat and light._ The average wage-earning family in Fall River
burns about three tons of coal per season. This provides fuel for a
kitchen range and usually for one other stove. Prices of coal quoted
by three dealers were as follows: Chestnut, $13.75, $13.75, $13.00;
stove, $14.00, $14.00, $12.75.

This means an average annual expenditure of approximately $40.63 for
the grade of coal generally bought.

Many families, however, buy their coal in small lots from the
neighborhood stores, which would make the total annual cost of fuel
somewhat higher, provided the same amount were purchased. For this
reason, and to allow for a minimum amount of kindling wood, it has
been estimated that at least $45 per year would be required for fuel
at the prices prevailing in October, 1919.[2]

      [2] Some of the mills were reported to be selling coal to their
      employees in small quantities at low prices.

Gas is commonly used for lighting. The local gas company reported that
there were 27,236 meters in use in the city, or one meter to every 4.5
persons. A gas stove is in practically every wage-earner's home. The
present price of gas is $1.05 net per thousand cubic feet. The average
monthly gas bill for wage-earners is said by the company to be about
$1.90 net. Electricity is burned for lighting purposes in many of the
newer tenements even when the rent is low, and the average bill for
wage-earners for electricity is about $1 per month. In recognition of
the fact that some families burn gas for cooking only and have an
additional expenditure for electric light, the yearly cost of gas and
electricity together is estimated at $25.20 in 1919.

The average annual cost of fuel, heat and light combined in Fall River
at prices prevailing in October, 1919, may therefore be placed at
$70.20, or $1.35 per week. For families having larger homes the cost
of these items would be somewhat greater. To allow for this, the
expenditure for fuel, heat and light has been increased somewhat in
the more liberal budget, making the annual cost of this item $84.25,
or $1.62 per week.

_Sundries._ From information received from the local street railway
company, it appears that not over 25% of the mill operatives use the
street cars in going to and from work. The single fare is ten cents,
but a commutation ticket plan was put into operation in September,
1919, by which 50 rides could be obtained for $3 provided the ticket
was used within a month. It has been found, however, that many of the
more poorly paid wage-earners are not able to spend $3 at one time for
car tickets and the street car company reported that, in practice, the
tickets were sold mainly to those earning above $25 a week. Some of
the mills have now arranged to sell the $3 tickets to their employees
on the instalment plan.

The chief form of amusement in Fall River is moving pictures. There
are a dozen houses in the city to which admission is usually 15 cents,
or 17 cents with the war tax. Children are admitted to the smaller
houses on Saturday afternoons for six cents. The patronage is large.
One or two of the theaters frequently offer vaudeville shows and plays
for which prices of admission range as high as $2. There are also a
number of public dance halls, to which admission is 25 cents.

Doctors' fees, by recent vote of the local medical society, are $2 for
an office call and $3 for a house visit.

Almost all wage-earners in Fall River carry burial or life insurance
and the insurance business is said to be thriving. The Philanthropic
Burial Society alone, a local organization which has extended its
activities to New Bedford and elsewhere, has a membership of 30,000 in
Fall River. This society pays a funeral benefit of $125 in return for
monthly dues of 15 cents to 30 cents. It was the belief of the
secretary of the society that most of its policy-holders were insured
in other organizations also. The Metropolitan and Prudential Life
Insurance Companies have offices in Fall River and together they
insure 75,000 persons. Their policy-holders make payments averaging
about 10 cents per week. In addition, Fall River has 73 lodges of
various fraternal organizations for men, many of which provide
insurance benefits for their members. Many of the mills are reported
to be carrying life insurance policies for their employees valued at
from $500 to $1,000. A contributory system of cash benefits for
sickness also obtains in some of the mills.

The price of daily newspapers, French and English, is two cents and
the Boston Sunday paper, which is extensively read, is seven cents.

A considerable proportion of the amount spent for sundries apparently
goes to the support of the church. The city is about 80% Roman
Catholic. There are a large number of Roman Catholic churches, 17
parochial elementary schools, a Roman Catholic academy and a Roman
Catholic commercial school. These schools are maintained chiefly by
the French and Irish. The French parochial schools require a payment
of 50 cents per month per child and the child furnishes his own books.
The Irish Roman Catholic schools on the other hand are supported
through contributions to the church itself and tuition and books are
free to any child in the parish. While of course public schools are
provided in the city, about one-third of the children attend the
parochial schools.

It is practically impossible to estimate the amount spent for each
separate item in the sundries group, but in Table 4 is given an
approximation of expenses in this division of the budget. Since
expenditures for sundries vary widely as between different families,
the total allowed may be spent in a large variety of ways. It is
believed, however, that $5.10 per week, or $265.20 per year, for the
minimum budget is sufficient; the more liberal allowance is $6.80 per
week or $353.60 per year.


TABLE 4: AVERAGE COST OF SUNDRIES IN FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS,
OCTOBER, 1919

               (National Industrial Conference Board)

----------------------------------+-------------------------------------
                                  | Minimum standard |   More liberal
                                  |                  |     standard
                                  |--------+---------+--------+---------
             Item                 | Average| Average | Average| Average
                                  | weekly | yearly  | weekly | yearly
                                  |  cost  |  cost   |  cost  |  cost
----------------------------------+--------+---------+--------+---------
Carfare:                          |        |         |        |
  To work                         |  $ .30 | $15.60  |  $ .30 | $ 15.60
  For shopping and recreation     |    .20 |  10.40  |    .30 |   15.60
Movies and other entertainments   |    .55 |  28.60  |   1.00 |   52.00
Medical care                      |    .60 |  31.20  |    .65 |   33.80
Insurance                         |    .70 |  36.40  |    .90 |   46.80
Church and parochial schools      |   1.00 |  52.00  |   1.40 |   72.80
Candy, tobacco, etc.              |    .45 |  23.40  |    .60 |   31.20
Reading material                  |    .20 |  10.40  |    .25 |   13.00
Household furnishings and supplies|   1.00 |  52.00  |   1.10 |   57.20
Organizations                     |    .10 |   5.20  |    .30 |   15.60
                                  +--------+---------+--------+---------
      All sundries                |  $5.10 | $265.20 |  $6.80 | $353.60
----------------------------------+--------+---------+--------+---------

_The complete budget._ In Table 5 have been combined the figures given
for the cost of a year's allowance of each of the separate items
entering into the average family budget. From this it appears that
at least $1,267.76 per year is necessary to maintain a family of
five persons at an American standard of living in Fall River,
Massachusetts, on the basis of prices prevailing in October, 1919.
This would require an income of $24.38 per week the year round.

In order to maintain life at a somewhat more comfortable standard,
through allowing for slightly more liberal expenditures, $1,573.90 per
year will be necessary, or a steady income of $30.27 per week.

In neither of these estimates is any provision made for savings other
than insurance. It should be noted, however, that while allowance has
been made in the budget for medical care, recreation and insurance,
these are to a certain extent provided free if operatives care to
avail themselves of the facilities offered. Thus, life insurance
premiums are paid by many of the mills; social activities are
supported by a few and a nursing service by some. Although allowance
for parochial schools is included in the budget, there are good public
schools available in the city without cost. Taking these circumstances
into account the estimates of the sums needed to maintain an American
standard of living in Fall River in October, 1919, are as
representative as any which can be reached.

These sums provide for the maintenance of a family of five at an
American standard of living, where the father is the sole wage-earner.
It should be recognized, however, that the foreign families are
frequently larger and that in many of them there are several
wage-earners. Their standard of living, on the other hand, is
intrinsically lower.

These averages may be compared with the results of an investigation
made by a totally different method by the United States Bureau of
Labor Statistics in Fall River in 1918 when the average cost of living
of 158 families earning roughly from $900 to $2,500 per year was found
to be $1,320.84.[3] For 12 of these families, yearly expenses averaged
$826.23; for 56, they were $1,058.30; for 48, they were $1,292.54.
Thus, nearly three-quarters of the families were spending about the
same amount or less than that determined by the National Industrial
Conference Board to represent the minimum cost of living. Making
allowance for increases in cost since the Bureau's study was made, the
results of the two investigations are seen to be in substantial
agreement.

      [3] _Monthly Labor Review_, May, 1919, p. 154.


TABLE 5: AVERAGE COST OF LIVING FOR A MAN, WIFE AND THREE CHILDREN
UNDER FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE IN FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS, OCTOBER,
1919

               (National Industrial Conference Board)

------------------------+----------------------------------------
                        | Minimum standard  |   More liberal
                        |                   |     standard
                        |--------+----------+---------+----------
     Budget Item        | Average| Average  |  Average| Average
                        | weekly | yearly   |  weekly | yearly
                        |  cost  |  cost    |   cost  |  cost
------------------------+--------+----------+---------+----------
Food                    | $11.00 |$  572.00 |  $12.15 |$  631.80
Shelter                 |   2.25 |   117.00 |    3.50 |   182.00
Clothing                |   4.68 |   243.36 |    6.20 |   322.25
Fuel, heat and light    |   1.35 |    70.20 |    1.62 |    84.25
Sundries                |   5.10 |   265.20 |    6.80 |   353.60
                        +--------+----------+---------+----------
      All items         | $24.38 |$1,267.76 |   $30.27|$1,573.90
------------------------+--------+----------+---------+----------


              INCREASE IN THE COST OF LIVING SINCE 1914

_Food._ It was difficult to compare the cost of food in Fall River in
October, 1919, with the cost in October, 1914, since no stores could
be found in the city from which prices of all articles at these two
dates could be secured. One store, however, for years has published a
"fair price-list" in one of the daily papers, covering most articles
of food except fresh meat and vegetables. It was possible to compare
prices quoted in this list in October, 1919, with those in October,
1914. Prices of meats were obtained from advertisements of certain
stores in 1914 and compared with prices prevailing at the same stores
in 1919.

From these lists and advertisements, two 1914 food budgets were
constructed and compared with the cost of the same articles in 1919.
The articles of food included were as nearly as possible the same as
those used in Tables 1 and 2.[4] The less expensive budget was found
to have increased 77%, and the more liberal budget 82% during the
five-year period. An estimate of 80% as the increase in the cost of
food is therefore representative. This compares with an average
advance of 89% up to August, 1919, on the basis of prices in 1913, as
shown by the retail food price index numbers of the United States
Bureau of Labor Statistics.[5] August, 1919, prices of food were the
highest ever recorded by the Bureau and there has been a decline of
several points since that time.

      [4] In a few cases, owing to lack of October, 1914, quotations,
      it was necessary to make substitutions.

      [5] _Monthly Labor Review_, October, 1919, p. 76.

_Shelter._ Figures and estimates regarding increases in rents were
secured from the same agencies which supplied current prices of
shelter. From these, it appears that, in general, rents of the better
houses had increased most. Since about 1,500 of the very poorest
tenements were reported to be vacant, it has been rather difficult to
raise the rents of this class of property. The Real Estate Owners'
Association voted to increase all rents 20% beginning in August, 1919,
and the secretary of the association reported that landlords had very
generally put this increase into effect. One owner controlling a large
amount of tenement property, who was consulted, had not done so.
Another, however, reported increases in rents for his property of
somewhat more than 20% in the five-year period ending October, 1919.
Individual instances were given of increases in rents up to 40% in
some cases. A renting agency set the advance at from 10% to 30%, the
larger increase being for the better property.

From these various estimates, it would appear that an increase of 15%
would be a fair allowance for the advance in rent of a tenement
previously renting for $1.50 or $2 a week, and 20% for a tenement
renting for over $2. The tendency of rents in Fall River is distinctly
upward at the present time.

_Clothing._ For men's and women's clothing, prices were collected for
the various articles of the budget which had been selling at a
specified price in October, 1914. The October, 1919, quotations from
the various stores were averaged and the total cost of all items was
then compared with the cost of the same articles in 1914. This
comparison shows an increase of 103% for men's clothing and 100% for
women's. These increases were found to be applicable to children's
clothing also. It may be said, therefore, that the cost of ready-made
clothing in Fall River increased 102% between October, 1914, and
October, 1919. When clothing is made at home, however, the increase
has undoubtedly been greater, owing to the fact that prices of yard
goods have advanced more than prices of made up garments, although as
already indicated, the absolute cost is less. To allow for this, the
increase in cost of the minimum clothing budget has been placed at
125%.

_Fuel, heat and light._ The same method of averaging prices of
chestnut and stove coal by dealers was followed for October, 1914, as
for October, 1919. The resultant figures show the average cost of
three tons of coal at the earlier date to have been $26. The present
cost, $40.63, is 56% more than this. If the coal was bought in less
than ton lots the percentage of increase was practically the same.

Gas which in 1919 cost $1.05 per thousand cubic feet net cost 80 cents
net in October, 1914. This represents an increase of 31%. Electricity
has advanced from nine cents to ten cents per kilowatt hour, or 11%.

Combining the cost of fuel, heat and light in 1914 and 1919, it is
found that the average increase for the five-year period was 46%.

_Sundries._ Six tickets for car rides could be purchased for 25 cents
in 1914, whereas the present price is 10 cents a single ride, an
increase of 140%. If, however, commutation tickets are purchased, the
increase is 44%.

The three large down-town moving picture houses have not increased
their prices since 1914, except by the amount of the war tax, but
there has been an increase of 10 cents to 15 cents (17 cents with the
war tax) in some, at least, of the neighborhood theaters.

Doctors' fees have increased 100%.

Although insurance premiums in themselves have not advanced, people
have taken out more and larger policies to cover the increased cost of
burial and relief. The daily papers have not increased in price, but
the Boston Sunday paper, which is now seven cents, was six cents in
1914.

If the increases for the separate sundries items are combined on the
basis of the distribution of items within the sundries group, as noted
above, the total advance in the cost of sundries between October,
1914, and October, 1919, was 75% for the minimum budget and 74% for
the more liberal budget.


TABLE 6: AVERAGE INCREASE BETWEEN OCTOBER, 1914, AND OCTOBER, 1919,
IN THE COST OF LIVING FOR A MAN, WIFE, AND THREE CHILDREN UNDER
FOURTEEN YEARS OF AGE IN FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS

           (National Industrial Conference Board)

=================================================
                      |Increase between October,
                      | 1914, and October, 1919
      Budget items    +----------+---------------
                      | Minimum  |  More liberal
                      | standard |    standard
----------------------+----------+---------------
Food                  |    77%   |     82%
Shelter               |    15%   |     20%
Clothing              |   125%   |    102%
Fuel, heat and light  |    46%   |     46%
Sundries              |    75%   |     74%
----------------------+----------+---------------
      All items       |    73%   |     74%
----------------------+----------+---------------

_The complete budget._ In Table 6 are summarized the percentages of
increase between October, 1914, and October, 1919, for the separate
budget items and for all items combined, for a family of man, wife and
three children under fourteen years of age.[6] From this it appears
that the cost of living at a minimum standard increased 73% between
1914 and 1919. The more liberal budget was 74% higher in 1919 than in
1914.[7]

      [6] The allocations of budget items in Fall River in 1914, as
      determined by the Board's investigation, do not differ greatly
      from the standard adopted for the Board's study of changes in
      the cost of living for the country as a whole, as is shown in
      the tabulation below. Such differences as occurred may be
      accounted for by the fact that rents in Fall River are lower
      than the average for the country as a whole. The differences in
      allocations in 1919 are accounted for by the differences in
      percentages of increase of the various budget items. In any
      locality at any time, a minimum budget would show a larger
      proportion of the income spent for food and a smaller proportion
      for sundries, than would a somewhat more liberal budget.


      TABLE 7: COMPARISON OF DISTRIBUTION OF EXPENDITURES FOR THE
      SEPARATE BUDGET ITEMS IN FALL RIVER, MASSACHUSETTS, IN 1914 AND
      1919, WITH THE AVERAGE DISTRIBUTION IN THE COUNTRY AS A WHOLE IN
      1914

                    (National Industrial Conference Board)

---------------------------------+-------------------------------------
                                 |         Average distribution
                   |  Average    |            of the budget,
                   |distribution |             Fall River
                   |   of the    |------------------+------------------
    Budget items   |   budget,   |       1914       |       1919
                   |   country   |------------------+------------------
                   | as a whole, |         |  More  |         |  More
                   |    1914     | Minimum | liberal| Minimum | liberal
                   |             |  budget | budget |  budget | budget
-------------------+-------------+---------+--------+----------+-------
Food               |    43.1%    |  44.1%  |  38.6% |  45.1%  |  39.8%
Shelter            |    17.7     |  13.9   |  14.4  |   9.3   |  11.6
Clothing           |    13.2     |  14.7   |  17.7  |  19.2   |  20.5
Fuel, heat & light |     5.6     |   6.6   |   6.8  |   5.5   |   5.3
Sundries           |    20.4     |  20.7   |  22.5  |  20.9   |  22.5
  All items        |   100.0     | 100.0   | 100.0  | 100.0   | 100.0
-------------------+-------------+---------+--------+---------+-------

      [7] It is interesting to compare the actual cost of maintaining
      these two standards in 1914 with that determined by a special
      federal investigation in 1908. According to the latter, it was
      estimated that $731.64 per year would be required to maintain a
      fair standard by English, Irish and French Canadian families,
      and $690.60 by Portuguese, Polish and Italian families. A
      minimum of existence budget, based on the food allowance of the
      federal prison at Atlanta, Ga., and with totally inadequate
      clothing, required at that time only $484.41 per year for five
      people. (United States, 61st Congress, 2d Session, Document No.
      645, Family Budgets of Typical Cotton Mill Workers, pp.
      233-245.) The results of the Board's study show that if the cost
      of maintaining a minimum standard of living has increased 73%
      since 1914, the sum necessary to maintain it at that time would
      have been $732.81, exclusive of savings. The cost of maintaining
      the more liberal standard on the same basis in 1914, allowing
      for a 74% increase since then, would have been $904.54.

It should be pointed out, however, that these increases are estimated
on the basis of the maintenance of an identical standard in 1914 and
1919. As a matter of fact, standards of living have changed greatly
within the last five years. On the one hand, there have been
substitutions as prices have mounted, and on the other, wage increases
greater than advances in the cost of living have in many instances
enabled families to buy more and better goods than ever before. It is
not possible to say which influence has been the more important.


                                  CONCLUSION

From the results of this brief survey of the cost of living among mill
operatives in Fall River, it appears that to maintain a family
consisting of man, wife and three children under fourteen years of
age, at a minimum American standard of living but without any
allowance for savings, $1,267.76 per year will be required, or a
steady income of $24.38 per week. The distribution of expenses among
the different budget items is:

===========================================
     Item             |  Weekly |  Yearly
----------------------+---------+----------
Food                  |  $11.00 |  $572.00
Shelter               |    2.25 |   117.00
Clothing              |    4.68 |   243.36
Fuel, heat and light  |    1.35 |    70.20
Sundries              |    5.10 |   265.20
                      |---------+----------
All items             |  $24.38 |$1,267.76
----------------------+---------+----------

To maintain a somewhat more comfortable standard, again without
specific allowance for savings, $1,573.90 per year will be necessary
or a steady income of $30.27 per week. The cost by separate items is:

===========================================
     Item             |  Weekly |  Yearly
----------------------+---------+----------
Food                  |  $12.15 |  $631.80
Shelter               |    3.50 |   182.00
Clothing              |    6.20 |   322.25
Fuel, heat and light  |    1.62 |    84.25
Sundries              |    6.80 |   353.60
----------------------+---------+----------
All items             |  $30.27 |$1,573.90
----------------------+---------+----------

Between October, 1914, and October, 1919, the cost of living at a
minimum standard in Fall River increased 73% and at a more liberal
standard, 74%, the advance for the separate items being as follows:

==================================================
                      |  Minimum   | More liberal
        Item          |  standard  |   standard
----------------------+------------+--------------
Food                  |    77%     |     82%
Shelter               |    15%     |     20%
Clothing              |   125%     |    102%
Fuel, heat and light  |    46%     |     46%
Sundries              |    75%     |     74%
----------------------+------------+--------------
All items             |    73%     |     74%
----------------------+------------+--------------



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