WAGES ABOUT THE MINIMUM
In many industries -- in most manufacturing industries -- the wages paid to semi-skilled and to skilled workers are a much more significant element of labor costs than are the wages paid to unskilled workers. Because of this fact, the provisions in the codes dealing with wages in the higher brackets, as they are frequently called, have an importance far greater than would be inferred from the few lines they occupy in the various codes.
These provisions had to be shaped in the process of code negotiation without any pattern available in the Recovery Act itself and without any precise formulation of policy by the Administration. There was, of course, an underying assumption with respect to the role of purchasing power in recovery. "The idea," said the President when signing the act, "is simply for employers to hire more men to do the existing work by reducing the work hours of each man's week and at the same time paying a living wage for the shorter work week." This, perhaps, was of some guidance in setting the minimum wage rate, but it helped not at all in the higher brackets.
A more precise prescription was initially stated in the cotton textile code, but very promptly events took a turn which blurred considerably this precision. When the President approved this code, he inserted in the executive