Economic Tendencies in the United States: Aspects of Pre-War and Post-War Changes

By Frederick C. Mills | Go to book overview

Foreword

Certain of the attributes of two economic eras are summarized in the following figures:

Average annual rate of change,
1901-1913 1922-1929
(per cent)(per cent)
Population of the United States+2.0+1.4
Physical volume of production+3.1+3.8
Volume of production, per capita of the popu
lation+1.1+2.4
Prices, wholesale+1.8-0.5
Volume of employment, manufacturing indus
tries+2.7+1.0
Per capita real earnings, manufacturing
workers-0.1+1.4
Prices of industrial common stocks+2.8+19.4

There are notable differences between these two periods. The physical volume of production expanded at a more rapid rate in the recent period, while population grew less rapidly. Wholesale prices rose in the earlier period, declined in the later. The volume of employment in manufacturing plants expanded considerably during the pre-war era and increased but slightly during post-war years. The real earnings of manufacturing workers declined slightly in the first period, increased substantially during the second. The prices of industrial common stocks rose in the earlier period at a rate but slightly in excess of that prevailing among wholesale prices; the more recent period was marked by a rapid climb in stock prices, at a rate sevenfold that of the pre-war era.

These figures have been given for the purpose of presenting a problem. In themselves they indicate certain resemblances and emphasize certain major differences between the two eras, but the questions they raise are more significant than is the information they give. Why do we find such pronounced differences among the changes in the real earnings of labor, in the volume of manufacturing employment, in the prices of common stocks? Over such

-xvii-

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