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Many factors contribute to the salary differentials among different business groupings. The New York situation is further accentuated by the location there of an unusually large number of central offices. These offices generally pay higher salaries than business as a whole. For example, in the 1954 survey, where central office average salaries for clerical occupations were published separately, they led the overall average in 17 out of 21 instances where comparisons could be made and lagged but once. Most frequently their levels were $1.50 to $4 a week higher. Since typically, but by no means exclusively, these are the home offices of manufacturing enterprises, they contribute to the general manufacturing differential.

typists, class B file clerks, and duplicatingmachine operators, which comprised the first band, ranged from 6 to 16 percent above the level for office girls. The next higher group consisted of 13 occupations, ranging in salary level from 25 to 35 percent above the office girls. Included in this group were such diverse occupations as comptometer operators, switchboard operators, general stenographers, and class B accounting clerks. The third group of occupations, with salary levels 42 to 48 percent above that of office girls, consisted of tabulating-machine operators, class A bookkeeping-machine operators, and payroll clerks. Finally, the top group, 59 to 67 percent higher, included technical stenographers, class A accounting clerks, and secretaries.

The sharp rise in the level of all clerical salaries over the last 10 years has brought some changes in the interoccupational relationships. The lower salaried jobs have, in general, maintained a very steady relationship to each other since 1948. The large group of jobs for which salaries averaged 25 to 35 percent above the office girls' salary average in 1958 ranged from 33 to 42 percent higher in 1948. Within this group of 13 jobs, salary relationships have remained fairly constant. However, there has been some compression of the

Interoccupational Variations

Average salary levels for the 23 women's clerical occupations studied in 1958, despite a wide range, clustered into four more or less clearly definable bands. These bands are apparent in table 2, which shows 1948-58 indexes of average salaries for the 23 occupations, with the average salary of office girls as the base, arrayed according to their ranking in 1958. The extremes in April 1958 were the averages for secretaries and office girls, with the actual average of $85 a week for the former two-thirds higher than the $51 average for the latter. The average salaries of class B

* Insufficient data are available for men to warrant their inclusion in this comparison.

TABLE 2. Indexes of pay levels of selected office clerical occupations, New York City,' 1948-58 ?













158 (3)

176 161 (3)

171 158 (3)

169 154 ()

170 157 157

172 162 162


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(Average salaries of office girls in each year=100)




Stenographers, technical.
Clerks, accounting, class A.


162 (3)

160 (3)

152 158 (5)


Clerks, payroll..
Bookkeeping-machine operators, clase A.
Tabulating-machine operators.
Stenographers, general.
Transcribing-machine operators, general.
Billers, machine (bookkeeping machine).
Comptometer operators.
Clerks, filc, class A.
Switchboard operators.
Switchboard operator-receptionists.
Billers, machine (billing machine).
Clerks, order.
Typists, class A..
Clerks, accounting, class B.
Bookkeeping-machine ope ators, class B.
Key-punch operators...
Duplicating-machine operators.
Typists, class B.
Clerks, file, class B..


an luu 139 134 134 134 135 (3)

133 (*)









121 117 107

120 117 108

121 116 107

118 115 106

116 115 106

: Not available.

i See footnote 1, table 1.

: The data relate to payrolls in speciñc months, ranging from January to April for the years shown.

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differentials between this group as a whole and the lower paid jobs. With allowance for gaps in the early data, a similar compression has taken place with respect to most occupations in the two top groups. Average salaries of secretaries and tabulating-machine operators, for example, were 76 and 49 percent higher, respectively, than office girls in 1951, but only 67 and 42 percent in 1958. Thus, it appears that there has been some, but by no means a dramatic, narrowing of differentials in percentage terms between the lowest paid group of jobs and all the others. Excluding this lowest

group, most occupational relationships have re: mained reasonably constant, although there are

some sharp exceptions.

FACTORY EARNINGS (All Production and

Related Workers)




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Scheduled Weekly Hours. The gradual shortening of the clerical workweek has been the outstanding development in work schedules since 1949.8 In April 1958, 56 percent of the clerical workers in New York City were employed in establishments with a 35-hour schedule, compared with approximately 40 percent in 1949. The 40-hour week now accounts for only 9 percent of the clerical employment; the comparable earlier figure was 25 percent. The importance of workweeks of 36% and 3774 hours has remained roughly the same; about one-third of the workers fall in this range. Despite this general movement toward shorter hours among office workers, the 40-hour week is still predominant for plant workers in all the major industrial classifications cited.

In 1958, there were some rather sharp distinctions in the work schedules of office workers among broad industrial groupings. In manufacturing industries, 68 percent of the office workers were in establishments with a 35-hour week. Among

I For the years 1948 through 1957, salary Indexes (relating to the standard work schedule for which straight-time salaries are paid) are based on data relating to specific months which have fluctuated from January to April; the Consumer Price Index and factory earnings (gross average hourly earnings) represent annual averages. For 1958, all data relate to April, since annual averages are not yet available.

See footnote 1, table 1, for area definition. other major groups, the 35-hour week was scheduled in establishments employing 62 percent of the office employees in service industries, 58 percent in finance, 52 percent in public utilities, 50 percent in wholesale trade, and 16 percent in retail trade. In retail trade, the 37%-hour week was most common, although schedules of 36% and 40 hours were each well represented.

Paid Holidays. Paid holiday practices varied considerably at the time of the 1958 survey. The most common practice 11 paid holidays—applied to establishments employing 40 percent of the office workers in New York City. No other provision was at all widespread, with 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12 each applicable in establishments employing about 10 percent of the workers.

Of the 6 major industry groups for which the BLS surveys show separate data, 3 had sharply

8 1948 data on scheduled weekly hours are not comparable with data for later surveys.

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defined patterns. In public utilities, 70 percent of the employees were in establishments with 11 paid holidays. This provision also applied to 59 percent of the workers in finance; in this group, another 26 percent were under 12-day provisions. In retail trade, 52 percent were in establishments with 7 paid holidays; but 20 percent were in the 10-day group.

In manufacturing, 10 days was most common, but it affected only 25 percent of the clerical staffs; 8, 9, or 11 days were only slightly less prevalent. Wholesale trade establishments provided from 7 to 11 days, with no distinct preference for any single provision. Among the service industries, the most prevalent holiday provisions were 8 days (32 percent of the workers), 7 days (26 percent), and 11 days (17 percent).

Since 1950, the earliest date for which comparable data are available, the pattern of paid holidays for business in general has been quite stable in New York City. Although there has been some movement, the number of holidays that were most important in 1950 held the same position in 1958.

The 1958 BLS survey report, for the first time, identified individual holidays in terms of their prevalence. Seven holidays were almost universal: New Year's Day, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Approximately 2 out of 3 employees were in establishments observing Election Day, Columbus Day, and Lincoln's Birthday. Veterans Day was observed in firms employing slightly more than 50 percent of the office work

All other holidays were considerably less prevalent.

time this practice was initially reported in 1953, 35 percent of the office workers were employed in establishments observing it. This provision applied to 56 percent of the office workers in both 1957 and 1958. Concurrent with this change has been a parallel development in the 4-week vacation. For the first time in 1958, more than half the workers were in establishments providing 4 weeks for their 25-year employees, compared with a level of 37 percent in 1954. Moreover, provisions of 4 weeks after 20 years and 3 weeks after 5 years have also developed to a point where 20 percent of the workers are in establishments offering these benefits; these two provisions have shown a small but quite steady growth over the past few years.

Among the city's major industrial groups, vacation practices showed both striking similarities and variations at the time of the 1958 survey. The employee of 6 months was generally eligible for a week's vacation, although longer vacations up to 2 weeks were common. After a year, the employee was almost invariably eligible for 2 weeks, unless he worked in retail trade—where 43 percent of the workers were in firms providing only 1 week, although 53 percent were eligible for 2 weeks. After 10 years' service, all of the industry groups provided 3 weeks to a majority of employees, except the public utilities which generally required 15 years' service. Four weeks' vacation picked up momentum at the 20-year service level, but in no industry group embraced more than 25 percent of the workers. For the 25-year employee, the 4-week provision varied widely, ranging from 80 percent of the finance workers to 30 percent of the public utilities employees.


Paid Vacations. For many years the office worker in New York has received a 2-week paid vacation, usually after a year's service with his employer. Nine out of 10 workers were eligible for such benefit, both in 1950 and in 1958.

The most important changes are in terms of a longer vacation. Three weeks' vacation after 15 years' service was a prevailing practice as long ago as 1951, the time of the first detailed study of vacation provisions. Provision of 3 weeks after 10 years' service, however, has been growing significantly during the past few years. At the

Insurance and Pension Plans. The prevalence of most kinds of insurance and of retirement pensions has broadened steadily in recent years.' Life insurance was provided in 1958 by firms employing over 90 percent of the office workers in the New York City area. The comparable percentage in 1950 was 79. Coverage providing additional

• The surveys record only the existence of a plan and not its substantive content. Data are obtained for all plans for which all or a part of the cost is borne by the employer, excluding only programs required by law, such as workmen's compensation and old-age and survivors insurance.

benefits for accidental death and dismemberment has applied to about 40 percent of the workers since 1953, when the prevalence of these benefits was first surveyed. The numbers of hospitalization, surgical, and medical insurance plans have steadily increased. In 1958, the first two were in effect in establishments employing three-fourths of the office workers; the earliest comparable figures were 51 percent for hospitalization in 1951 and 55 percent for surgical in 1953. Medical insurance was in effect for firms with 54 percent of the workers in 1958, compared with 33 percent in 1953. Catastrophe insurance, also frequently termed major medical, was provided in firms employing 31 percent of the office workers-a dramatic growth from 6.5 percent in 1954, when this provision was first studied. Retirement pensions have advanced steadily from the figure of 60percent coverage in 1950; 81 percent of the office workers in 1958 were in establishments with formal pension plans.

Of these various benefits, life insurance and pension plans were the only ones widely found throughout all major industry groups in 1958. Accidental death and dismemberment insurance was most often provided by public utility firms, where it applied to 64 percent of the workers; at the other extreme was retail trade, where the figure was 25 percent. Hospitalization and surgical insurance coverage topped 80 percent in manufacturing, retail trade, and finance, but dropped to the 50-percent mark in the public utilities group. Medical insurance, at lower levels of office worker coverage in all groups than hospitalization and surgical insurance, had a similar pattern. Catastrophe insurance, in 4 of the 6 groups, was in effect in establishments employing between 20 and 30 percent of the workers. The highest representation was in finance, where firms employing 45 percent of the workers offered this coverage; the lowest was in public utilities, where 13 percent of the workers were covered.

A Review of American Labor in 1958


pay cuts.

RECESSION, corruption, right-to-work legislation, and jurisdictional feuding between unions were the major problems which organized labor faced in 1958.

Labor and the Recession

equipment, and railroad industries. Moreover, although the recession had a moderating influence on the demands of some unions and delayed some settlements, the heavy bargaining during the year, on the whole, yielded substantial gains for union members, both in wages and supplementary benefits. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study of major collective bargaining contracts (each affecting 1,000 or more workers) negotiated during the first 9 months of 1958 showed that 6.2 million, or about 90 percent, of the workers affected received wage increases, while wages remained unchanged for 10 percent; less than 0.5 percent had to take

The most common increases were between 7 and 9 cents an hour, for 20 percent of the workers, and 10 cents or more for 45 percent. Almost 75 percent of the contracts provided improved fringe benefits.

In some major bargaining situations, settlements became more difficult to reach. Negotiations between the United Auto Workers and Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors dragged for several months until settlement was finally reached (in September and early October) on terms which included improvements in certain fringe benefits, particularly the supplemental unemployment benefit plan, and renewal of the annual improvement factor and cost-of-living adjustment provisions.

Similarly in September, the General Electric Co. and the Westinghouse Electric Co. countered union employment-security demands with security plans of their own (based on the principle of employee savings and investments augmented by company contributions, and coupled with reduction and postponement of scheduled wage increases). The major unions, led by the International Union of Electrical Workers, rejected the plans as being based on false economic theory, and the negotiations reached a stalemate.

The recession apparently also had a moderating effect on strike activity. In the first 11 months of 1958, there were in effect 3,175 work stoppages (including 100 that began in 1957), which idled 2.1 million workers for a total of 21.4 million man-days, or 0.2 percent of estimated working time for all industries. Man-days of strike idleness were lower than in any other postwar year except 1957.

As 1958 began, the labor movement, in common with other groups in the community, was gravely concerned over the deepening recession. It is now evident that economic recovery began in the spring, and industrial production has regained about 80 percent of its loss. But the rise in employment and the decline in unemployment have shown their typical lag on the upturn. (For discussion of the employment situation and the recession, see the articles on pp. 1 and 22 of this issue.) This situation, coupled with a shortened workweek and rising prices, not only reduced workers' purchasing power temporarily but also confronted some unions with difficult problems in negotiating new contracts. On the whole, however, union members secured substantial contract improvements during the year.

A major factor in the advance in wage rates during the year was the prevalence of provisions in collective bargaining contracts negotiated in preceding years for deferred wage increases and cost-of-living escalator clauses. In the first 9 months of 1958, such provisions brought higher wage rates to about 3.9 million workers, mostly in the basic steel, aluminum, meatpacking, electrical

*Of the Office of Publications, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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