Scanned from The Pittsburgh Survey, Vol. 3: The Steel Workers

    This excerpt is from the chapter titled "Industrial Organization Under the Non-Union Regime."

The aim today seems to be to make the whole process as mechanical as possible. Fifteen or twenty years ago a large proportion of the employee in any steel plant were skilled men. The percentage of the highly skilled has steadily grown less; and the percentage of the unskilled has as steadily increased.* The plants of the Carnegie Steel Company in Allegheny County employ in seasons of prosperity an aggregate of over 23,000 men. Of these about 17 per cent are skilled, 21 per cent semi-skilled, and 62 per cent unskilled, according to the classification employed by the company. I do not know the exact standards used in determining these divisions as to skill, but from other data at hand it would appear that in the industry as a whole the percentage of what would be lumped roughly as common labor is even larger. In wage schedules furnished me from the office of a leading steel company, it was found that of 2,304 men employed, only 125, or 5.43 per cent, received over $5.00 a day. A wage classification of this sort may not be a sufficient basis for an absolute judgment, but one is justified in assuming that where there are few highly paid men there are relatively few skilled positions.