HC Deb 31 January 1929 vol 224 cc1152-4W

asked the Minister of Labour the average hourly late of wages of all workpeople for the years 1918 to 1928, and the hourly rate of real wages for those years, stated as a percentage of 1914?


pursuant to his reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th January, 1929, col. 964: Vol. 224], supplied the following statement:

The information in the possesion of the Ministry of Labour is not sufficient to provide a satisfactory basis for precise computations as to the changes in real wages, but the following tables gives (i) such estimates as are available with regard to the average level of rates of wages for a full ordinary week's work at the end of the years 1918–1928 in relation to the corresponding level in July, 1914 (taken as 100); (ii) the average level of working-class cost of living at approximately the same dates; and (iii)

Year (end of). 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.
July, 1914. 100 100 100
1918 195–200 220 89–91
1919 215–220 225 96–98
1920 270–280 265 102–106
1921 210–215 192 109–112
1922 170–175 178 96–98
1923 165–170 177 93–96
1924 170–175 180 94–97
1925 175 175 100
1926 175 175 100
1927 170–175 168 101–104
1928 170–175 167 102–105

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 workpeople, 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. The increase in hourly wages, as compared with 1914, would be greater than that in weekly wages. It is not practicable to make any precise calculation as to the rise in hourly wages, but it seems probable that in 1928 the average level of hourly rates was between 190 and 200 per cent. of that of July, 1914.

It is important to note that the figures given for wages relate to rates of wages and not to earnings. For workpeople in employment, earnings have increased in

figures indicating the average relative level of real wages for a full week which would be obtained by combining the figures in columns (1) and (2) of the table:

a greater proportion than rates of wages as, compared with 1914, owing to the greater prevalence of piece-work and for other reasons; but this greater increase of earnings is off-set to some extent by the higher general average of unemployment.