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Table 163.–Per cent of foreign-born male employees who speak English, by years in
the United States and race.
(STUDY OF EMPLOYEES.) (By years in the United States is meant years since first arrival in the United States. This table includes
only non-English-speaking races with 100 or more males reporting. The total, however, is for all nonEnglish-speaking races.)
It appears from the above table that 33.3 per cent of the foreignborn male employees who have been in the United States under five years, as compared with 80.4 per cent of the employees who have been here from five to nine years can speak English, while 95.3 per cent of the employees who have been here ten years or over, and 57.3 per cent per cent of all employees have such ability. In the case of every race for which the percentages are given, there is an increase in the proportion of employees speaking English with length of residence in the United States. This increase is rather less marked among the Slovaks and Swedes than among the individuals of other races. All of the Slovaks and Swedes who have been here ten years or over and a large proportion of those who have been here under five years can speak English.
EMPLOYERS' OPINIONS OF RECENT IMMIGRANTS.
Finnish.—Of the recent immigrants, the Finns are more numerous than any other race on the Marquette and Gogebic ranges, and a great number of employers on these ranges prefer them and think them somewhat better all around than other races of recent immigrants. However, it is the opinion of many that there is a greater difference among the Finns than among the members of any other
It would seem that there are two general classes in the region: One, the Finns from that side of Finland next to the Scandinavian Peninsula, commonly called Swede Finns, because they speak Swedish; and the other, the ones from the Russian side of Finland. They are reputed to be good workers and very effective when they work, and all of them, or a majority, are physically rather strong and robust. They are not so regular in work as the Italian and Pole, but are more cleanly about their persons and in their homes than are those races. They live in less crowded houses and generally demand better living accommodations with regard to houses, water supply, and other conveniences, than do those races. They learn English more quickly, take considerably more interest in civic affairs, and are especially good at sending their children to school. All the employers interviewed attributed many good qualities to the Finns, but, generally
speaking, their Socialistic tendencies counterbalance this from the standpoint of the employer. Socialism seems to be much stronger among the more recent arrivals than among those who have been in the United States several years. They are more inclined to build homes than are other races of recent immigration. On the Marquette, to which range they have been coming longer than to any other, a great many of them own small tracts of land from one to two or three miles from the towns, and in summer they raise small vegetable crops in connection with their work in the mines. Fewer of them than of any other race return to Europe or send money back. This race has never been so prominent on the Menominee Range as on the others, the Finns constituting less than 10 per cent of the labor force of the first-named range and more than 20 per cent on the other two.
Italian.—At present this race constitutes 15 to 18 per cent of the labor force of the three ranges. The proportion varies with different employers, as high as 60 per cent of some forces and as low as 5 per cent of others being of this race. By far the greater proportion of the Italians in the field are North Italians, and a considerable number of them come from the Province of Tyrol, in Austria.
Opinions are somewhat varied regarding the Italian as an employee. A majority of employers interviewed say that the Italian is apt, and is a very regular and steady worker, but not so hard nor so effective a worker as the Finn, though vastly more tractable. The Italians do not maintain so high a standard of living as the Finns and do not Americanize so quickly. They are less cleanly as regards both their homes and their persons. While they are quite thrifty, they are as a rule not home builders, but save their money to take back with them, or even, in some instances, send it back to invest. They do not take the interest in civic affairs nor in becoming citizens that is shown by the Finns. Within recent years a considerable number of South Italians have come to these ranges. They are employed almost entirely as unskilled laborers, and, while they are very regular, are less effective and live under worse sanitary conditions than any other race employed.
Polish.--This race is common to only two of the ranges of northern Michigan, the Menominee and the Gogebic. A few Poles are employed on the Marquette Range, but not enough to make them a factor in the labor supply. The Poles are as a rule industrious and regular workers, but hardly so apt as the Italians. They maintain about the same standard of living, and drink a great deal, especially of beer. The Italians drink considerable beer and wine, but not to such excess as do the Poles. The Poles are also like the Italians in that the number of men compared to the number of families is very high, and in many instances they maintain the “boarding-boss” system and live in rather crowded and unsanitary conditions. There is very little Americanization, and practically no interest in civic affairs. In one row of houses owned by a mining company near Ironwood there are 25 houses, the occupants of which are principally Polish and Austrians (mainly Croatians). Each house has four rooms and one family, and about 200 men live in the 25 houses, or an average of 8 men to the family.
Austrian.—There are not so many Austro-Hungarian races nor so many individuals belonging to these races on the Marquette Range
as on the other two. In fact, these races have been coming to the Marquette Range only about five years. A very indefinite meaning is conveyed by the term Austrian. It embraces several distinct races, and when one employer speaks of an Austrian he is quite likely to refer to an entirely different race from that referred to as Austrian by another employer in the same locality. Generally speaking, the races referred to as Austrian which are most prevalent on these ranges are the Croatian, Slovenian, Slovak, and Magyar. These people have been employed largely within recent years, that is, since 1900, and only a very small proportion are employed at other occupations than common labor. Certain characteristics are common to all these races. As a rule they are not so intelligent as the Finns and North Italians, nor are they so apt and effective. The proportion of men to families is very high. The “boarding-boss” system prevails among these races wherever found, and almost every family has a houseful of boarders. The houses are generally ill kept, and sanitary conditions are bad. The Austrians are generally clannish, and members of the different races live together. They do not take any interest in civic affairs, and but few of them have made any attempt at naturalization.
Belgian.— The greater part of the Belgians employed in the iron mines in northern Michigan are on the Menominee Range. While they are employed in small numbers at many of the mines on this and other ranges of the Northern Peninsula, the largest number to be found in any locality are at Norway and Vulcan on this range. One company employs more than 100, while another company in this vicinity employs probably 50. They are clannish, and have not shown any disposition to scatter like the other recent immigrant races employed. They are not so regular nor so industrious as the Italians, but are usually very tractable and are fairly apt in learning the work. They learn English more quickly than do the Italians or Poles. They are not so thrifty as these races, and, like them, drink considerable beer.