Sewing Women's Wages.
There is a movement at New York and Boston among the sewing women, to obtain higher prices for their labor. A woman will not earn as much in a week by her needle as a hodsman will earn in a day, and out of this she has to feed, clothe and keep herself warm at the present prices of every necessary of life. The hardship here is manifest, but the remedy for it is not so easy as it seems. Women are not educated to make their own living, as the necessity of labor is never apparent to them till they are left self-dependant. Then the needle is the never failing resource, because sewing is the only thing women can generally do. This causes a superabundance of such labor, and, consequently, a lowering of the remuneration. Were there fewer persons engaged in sewing, the pay would be better for those engaged in it. The pay of chambermaids, cooks and house servants generally is much higher than the pay of sewing women. Ordinary house servants command now from $1 50 to $2 00 per week and found, which is equivalent to $4 50 and $5 per week, or twice as much as one-half the sewing girls employed on government work, and in slop-shops, are able to earn with continuous labor for twelve and fourteen hours per day. Now, with this difference in the rate of compensation, we do not see why American women should starve on needle wages when they can live comfortable, and save money, as house servants. It is a foolish pride which keeps them from the latter service, though all labor honestly performed is honorable, and that which pays the best and gives the laborer the greatest comforts is the most desirable. Women with families of young children, or course, cannot enter service in other person's houses; but single women could, and the withdrawal of these from the number who are earning their living at the miserable wages the needle affords, would improve the condition of all. The sewing machine, by the immense amount of labor it is able to perform, is concentrating in the hands of a fewer number of persons the work which is to be done with the needle, and the effect is that hand-work sewing is becoming a keener and more difficult struggle against starvation. Other employments will have to be sought by women, and more systematic training for particular professions will open the door more widely to their skill. But for the mass of mere hand labor, which finds an impoverished subsistence in sewing, the immediate and most praticable relief would be house labor, for which there is a greater demand than the present supply can meet.