Chapter 10b, Part 1

Inequality from Constancy

January 30, 2020

14 Wages vary with the constancy or inconstancy of employment.

15 “Employment is much more constant in some trades than in others.”

In most manufactures, a journeyman can get a job almost everyday. But a mason or bricklayer, on the contrary, cannot work in bad weather.

  • His employment depends on the calls of his customers.
  • He frequently has no work.
  • His earnings must:
    • maintain him while he is idle and
    • compensate his anxiety and despondence.

Where the earnings of most manufacturers are nearly equal with the day wages of common labourers, the earnings of masons and bricklayers are generally 50% or 100% more than those wages.

  • Where common labourers earn 4 or 5 shillings a week, masons and bricklayers frequently earn 7 or 8 shillings.
  • Where common labourers earn 6, the masons and bricklayers often earn 9 or 10.
  • Where common labourers earn 9 or 10, as in London, the masons and bricklayers earn 15 to 18.

Skilled labour, however, is not easier to learn than the labour of masons and bricklayers.

Chairmen in London are sometimes employed as bricklayers during summer.

  • Their high wages are not the recompence of their skill.
  • It is compensation for the inconstancy of their employment.

16 A house carpenter has a nicer and more ingenious trade than a mason, but not in most places.

  • His day-wages are lower.
  • His employment also depends on the occasional calls of his customers.
    • It is not interruptible by the weather.

17 When the trades which usually afford constant employment do not bring constant employment, the wages in those trades are always higher than the wages of common labour.

In London, almost all journeymen artificers can be hired and dismissed by their masters daily and weekly in the same way as day-labourers. The lowest order of artificers in London are journeymen tailors. They earn half a crown a day, though 18 pence are the wages of common labour. In small towns, the wages of journeymen tailors are rarely equal those of common labour. But in London, they are often unemployed for many weeks, particularly during summer.

18 When the inconstancy of employment is combined with the hardship, disagreeableness, and dirtiness of the work, it sometimes raises the wages of common labour above the wages of the most skilful artificers. A coal miner working by the piece at Newcastle earns double the wages of common labour.

In Scotland, he earns three times. His high wages arise from the hardship, disagreeableness, and dirtiness of his work. His employment is constant. The coal-heavers in London experience hardship, dirtiness, and disagreeableness, almost equal that of coal miners. The employment of coal-heavers is inconstant because of the irregularity in the arrivals of coal-ships. If coal miners earn double and triple the wages of common labour, it is reasonable that coal-heavers should earn four and five times those wages. Coal miners earn from 6 to 10 shillings a day. Six shillings are about four times the wages of common labour in London The lowest common earnings may always be considered as the earnings of the majority. If wages were higher than necessary, competition for those wages would soon increase. This competition would quickly be reduce wages in trades which have no exclusive privilege. 19The constancy or inconstancy of employment cannot affect ordinary profits of any business.

Whether the stock is employed or not depends on the businessman and not on the business.


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