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PART II.-SILK GOODS MANUFACTURING IN THE PENNSYLVANIA ANTHRACITE COAL REGION.
Explanation of study-Reasons for locating the industry in the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region-Employees for whom information was secured-Text Table 82 and General Table 54].
EXPLANATION OF STUDY.
The following report has been prepared for the purpose of comparing the status of the immigrant employees in the silk mills of the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania with the older and more important divisions of the industry. It is based upon a study of employees, the data received from the households investigated being included in the tabulations for the industry as a whole.
REASONS FOR LOCATING THE INDUSTRY IN THE PENNSYLVANIA ANTHRACITE COAL REGION.
While several reasons are assigned for locating silk mills in this section of the State, there are two that are worthy of more than passing comment: (1) The cheap labor available at the time the first mills were established, and (2) the low cost of fuel.
Before silk mills were erected in this section there was no industry in which young girls could secure employment. It is claimed that prior to the establishment of the silk industry the young girls who were employed as domestic servants received for their services only about $1 per week and that there was not much demand for their
In those days fuel could be had for the hauling, for the coal companies had not then learned that they could treat with advantage the quality of coal they were giving to the silk companies. With plenty of cheap labor and cheap fuel it would be difficult to conceive of a more promising locality in which to erect a silk mill. These conditions, however, have materially changed at the present time, as will be noted by comparing the cost of labor and fuel in 1891 and at present. The wages paid and the amount per pound received by a silk company for one process, twisting, affords a good illustration of the changed conditions. For this work in 1891 the employee, according to the statement of the officials of the company, received from $2.75 to $3.25 for a week of sixty hours, and the mill received for this work from $1.25 to $1.50 per pound. To-day the employee for this same class of work receives from $4.50 to $5.25, and in some
instances $5.50, for a week of fifty-five hours, and the mill receives about 62 cents per pound. It is also stated that to secure the same results it is necessary for the mill to pay $1.50 at present for fuel, as against the former price of 50 cents, which it cost the mill for hauling from the mine. To offset these changed conditions, however, the mills have adopted improved machinery, which compensates in large measure for the loss of the former advantage of cheap labor and fuel.
EMPLOYEES FOR WHOM INFORMATION WAS SECURED.
The extent of the data secured in the anthracite coal region is exhibited by the following table, which shows, by sex, the number and percentage of employees of each race for whom information was secured:
TABLE 82.-Employees for whom information was secured, by sex and general nativity and race.
History of immigration-Period of residence in the United States of foreign-born employees-Racial classification of employees at the present time [Text Tables 83 and 84 and General Table 55].
HISTORY OF IMMIGRATION.
Silk mills in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania are of two distinct types-one depending upon the other—although in one case there is a combination of the two. One is termed a "throwing" mill where the silk is first handled after being received in this country, and where there is very little skill required; the other is a "weaving mill, where the silk is warped and woven into a finished product ready for the consumer. This last is where the skilled workers will be found. The throwing mill has been designated by an official of one of this type as a training school for the other mills. This same
official states that while his mill employs not over 500, in the course of a year his books have shown very nearly 4,000 names. He also states that his company, as well as the other throwing mill companies, employ young girls as soon as is permissible under the laws of the State.
It will be readily understood that in a throwing mill, where the girls are young and where very little skill is required, the company has, although the wages are low, a broader field from which to secure its employees than has the mill where the silk is warped and woven, and where the employee must be possessed of much more skill. The result is that in a throwing mill the second generation of the more inferior immigrant races can be and are employed to an advantage. The throwing mills have employed the second generation of immigrants from the beginning of operations, and at present the Poles, Slovaks, Magyars, and Lithuanians comprise about 70 per cent of the entire force, while the Americans and Irish-Americans make up the other 30 per cent. On the other hand, when weaving mills were first established in this locality the employees were chiefly Americans, Irish, Germans, and Welsh, with the Irish largely predominating. At that time, however, so far as the individual mill was concerned, the predominant race depended more upon the location of the mill, for the different races were more segregated then than now and the facilities for reaching the mills were not what they are to-day. Considering them collectively, the Irish predominated, with the Welsh and German following in the order named. It is asserted that not over 5 per cent of the immigrants employed are of the first generation, and this 5 per cent is made up mostly of Poles and Slovaks. The employment of the more recent immigrants occurred in the following order: Poles, 1897-98; Slovaks, 1899-1900; Magyars, 1901; and Lithuanians, 1904. Representatives of other races are employed in these mills but in such small numbers that they are in no way a factor in their operation.
PERIOD OF RESIDENCE IN THE
UNITED STATES OF FOREIGN-BORN
A further insight into the history of the employment of the several races may be seen from the table next presented, which shows, by sex and race, the percentage of foreign-born employees who had been in the United States each specified number of years.
TABLE 83.-Per cent of foreign-born employees in the United States each specified number of years, by sex and race.
(STUDY OF EMPLOYEES.)
[By years in the United States is meant years since first arrival in the United States. No deduction is made for time spent abroad. This table includes only races with 80 or more persons reporting. The total, however, is for all foreign-born.]
Of a total of 614 males and females, 23.3 per cent have been in the United States less than five years, 21 per cent from five to nine years, 23.9 per cent from ten to fourteen years, 16.4 per cent from fifteen to nineteen years, and 15.3 per cent twenty years or over. Comparing the totals of the two races, it is seen that the Polish show a much higher proportion who have been in the United States under five years than the Germans, while the difference is more marked in favor of the Germans in the twenty years or over period. In the periods from five to nine and ten to fourteen years the Poles show considerably the larger proportion, and in the periods fifteen years or over the races are reversed. Among the males it is seen that of 100 reporting, with the exception of the period from ten to fourteen years, there is an increase in the proportion of employees in each residence period over the one preceding. By far the larger proportion of the Poles are in the lower periods-that is, have been in the United States less than fifteen years while on the other hand the greater proportion of the Germans have been in the United States more than fifteen
years. Of a total of 514 females reporting, it is seen that the greater proportions are in the lower periods or under fifteen years, while as regards the individual foreign-born races, the Poles show a very large proportion in the lower periods of residence and the Germans in the longer.
RACIAL CLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES AT THE PRESENT TIME.
The racial classification of the operating forces of the mills at the present time is set forth in the following table, which shows, by sex, the number and percentage of employees of each race for whom information was secured:
TABLE 84.-Employees for whom information was secured, by sex and general nativity
The above table shows that of 4,326 employees for whom information was secured 3,759 are females and 567 are males, 61.9 per cent are native-born of foreign father, 23.1 per cent are native-born whites of native father, and 15 per cent are foreign-born.