Economic Reform

Women WorkforceAt the time, there were no rules about who could work and for what pay. The government believed that private enterprise could run without interference. Industry took advantage of the situation! With an abundance of workers (mostly due to immigration) they offered low wages. There were no safety precautions taken by factories to prevent accidents, there were no benefits and no compensation if a person was harmed on the job. Children became a growing part of the labor force and were usually paid less than adults and treated just as harsh. Many of the child laborers were sent to work by their families in order to help make ends meet at home. The picture above shows boys ranging from 9 to 12 years old working to sort coal.

Women were entering the workforce in far greater numbers. Most found work in the textile industry. Conditions for women were harsh, and they were usually paid even less than men.

Company TownWhen it came to company towns, a single company would own everything in the town. This included the factory, the stores, the housing, the schools and even the church. Strict rules for living there were established by the company, and entire families would move in to work. These families were given very little freedoms. Many times, these families were taken advantage of, as their rent and price of living barely matched their pay. Essentially, families were retained as "wage slaves", unable to break free.