Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
THE DEMAND FOR LABOR IN AGRICULTURE

THE preference of the "new" immigrants for city employments over agricultural pursuits is viewed with apprehension by philanthropists and sociologists. It is evident, however, that even the "desirable" immigrant from Northern and Western Europe who brings with him on an average $551 1 lacks the necessary means to rent a farm, let alone to buy one.2 At best he can only obtain employment as a farm hand, which depends primarily upon the demand for farm labor. And here he is confronted with the fact that the American farmer cannot keep his own sons on the farm.

The industrial development of the United States has manifested itself in a relative decrease, and in some sections in a numerical decrease of the rural population. In New England and New York an actual depopulation of the rural districts was recorded by the census of 1890. The next census showed a loss of rural population in New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, and Kansas. Maryland and Illinois sustained similar losses from 1880 to 1890, but recovered them within the next ten years.3 The published bulletins of the last census show a numerical decrease of the rural population in the following States of the Central West:

____________________
1
Reports of the Immigration Commission, vol. 4 (in press).
2
The average value per farm, exclusive of real estate, in 1900, amounted to $1173. H. W. Quaintance: The Influence of Farm Machinery on Production and Labor, p. 58.
3
Supplementary Analysis, XII. Census, p. 78, Table XXXIX.

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