§ Captain FANSHAWE
asked the Minister of Labour if he can state the increase or decrease of the real wages in the country for the years 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927, respectively?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
The information in the possession of the Ministry of Labour is not sufficient to provide a satisfactory basis for precise computations as to the changes in real wages during the period referred to. The following table, however, gives (1) such estimates as are available with regard to the average level of rates of wages for a full ordinary week's work at the beginning of each of the years 1924–28 in relation to the corresponding level in July, 1914 (taken as 100); (2) the average level of 377W working-class cost of living at the same date; and (3) figures indicating the average relative level of real wages for
— Rates of wages on the basis of a normal working week. Cost of Living. Real Wages, i.e., rates of wages and cost—of—living combined. (1) (2) (3) July, 1914 … 100 100 100 1st January, 1924 … 165–170 177 93–96 1st January,1925 … 170–175 180 94–97 1st January, 1926 … 175 175 100 1st January, 1927 … 175 175 100 1st January, 1928 … 170–175 168 101–104
The figures as to wages represent only approximate estimates arrived at after consideration of such data as are available, relating almost wholly to those industries, or sections of industries, in which organised arrangements exist for the negotiation of changes in wage rates on a collective basis. The cost-of-living figures are those regularly calculated by the Ministry of Labour as to the average changes in the cost of maintaining the pre-War standard of living of working-class families. In view of the incompleteness of the data on which the estimates as to changes in wages rates are based, and of the fact that these estimates represent averages of conditions varying widely among different classes of work-people, the figures given in the final column should not be regarded as affording more than a very general indication of the average movement of real wages, on the assumption of a full week's work. It should be noted that the figures relate to rates of wages and not to earnings. For those in employment, earnings have increased in a greater proportion than rates of wages as compared with 1914, owing to the greater prevalence of piecework and for other reasons, but this greater increase of earnings is offset to some extent by the higher general average of unemployment.