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

By Frederick C. Mills | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Price and Cost Changes in Manufacturing Industries of the United States, 1899-1914

IT is a commonplace that in a modern industrial society the pursuit of material satisfactions centers about the making and spending of money. Economic desires and activities alike are defined in terms of money and measured on a scale of prices and costs. In view of the wide scope of the activities which are thus measured, it is surprising that the price record is so scanty. Only for a limited number of goods, and these of restricted types, do we have adequate statistics of changing market values. The record is particularly meager for highly fabricated goods, and for the various services which enter as costs in the making of such goods.

There is no prospect of filling this great gap in our economic records by means of a direct attack. The statistics which would permit us to trace changes in labor costs, in overhead costs, and in the selling prices of complicated products of manufacture simply do not exist. In default of such materials we may attempt by indirect means to secure these highly important records for certain leading industries. To this end we turn to data compiled by the Bureau of the Census on manufacturing industries of the United States.1 These include statistics relating to value of products, to certain elements of cost, and to the physical volume of production. Census records for the pre-war period are restricted to the four years, 1899, 1904, 1909 and 1914.


Changes in Physical Output and in Aggregate Values and Costs, Manufacturing Industries

In Table 37 are summarized certain statistics of manufacturing production which are to be utilized. The figures in this table do not

____________________
1
I am indebted to LeVerne Beales, Chief Statistician for Manufactures, Bureau of the Census, for numerous courtesies in connection with the compilation of materials for use in this chapter and in Chapter VIII, and for a critical review of the procedure employed.

-88-

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