The Labor Force in the Nineteenth Century
NBER Historical Working Paper No. 40
This paper surveys recent research on the labor force in the nineteenth century. I examine trends in the aggregate size, demographic, occupational and industrial composition of the labor force; short-run and long-run movements in nominal and real wages; hours of work; the development of the factory system; the growth of unions; and government regulation of labor markets, specifically protectionist legislation. Although my survey is deliberately broad in scope, there is an underlying emphasis on those aspects of change that had a direct bearing on the evolution of the labor force in the twentieth century. In keeping with this theme, the paper concludes with a brief comparison of labor markets at the turn of the century with labor markets today.
Published: S. Engerman and R. Gallman, eds., The Cambridge Economic History of the United States, Vol. 2. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000.