Industrial Revolution Working Conditions Essay Help

Factory Workers In The Industrial Revolution

Imagine being 13 and spending 12 hours a day in underground tunnels pulling coal cars for wages that were hardly enough to buy food. Or having to spend 12-16 hours a day in hazy factories just to make ends meet. That’s what many people’s lives in the industrial revolution were like. Although it had many benefits, there were many problems with the factory system. Workers suffered from battling frequent unemployment, dangerous working conditions, along with extremely low wages and long hours, and how the government dealt with these problems.
The population in the industrial revolution had increased so rapidly there were people everywhere and all looking for jobs. It was rare for a person to work at one factory or job for their entire lives. Either they would screw up and be replaced or because of the unsafe conditions, they would be injured and unable to work, therefore being put out of a job. There were many new factories being built creating new jobs for people. This was competitive between the people because they all wanted to be hired. Older factories were being changed with new machinery either creating new jobs or getting rid of old ones.
Factories were not very sanitary or safe places to work but people needed the money so they had no choice but to work where they could. The fumes from machines along with poor ventilation made the air foul and hard to breathe (Beers, p.77). This could lead to further health problems or just make life that little bit more unpleasant. Loud machines and dozens of workers caused loud noises that assaulted the ear (Beers, p. 77). This was not only unpleasant but could have later effects on hearing. There were countless unskilled workers so they didn’t know all the tricks to running the machines. Accidents occurred frequently, but workers injured on the job didn’t get any compensation. If the injury was severe enough to keep a worker from working he was out of a job and unable to make a wage.
Unskilled workers were not the most efficient at the jobs they often had to do and so their wages were very low. This forced the workers to have long work days often 12-16 hours or sunrise to sunset (Beers, p....

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Simply, the working conditions were terrible during the Industrial Revolution. As factories were being built, businesses were in need of workers. With a long line of people willing to work, employers could set wages as low as they wanted because people were willing to do work as long as they got paid. People worked fourteen to sixteen hours a day for six days a week. However, the majority were unskilled workers, who only received about $8-$10 dollars a week, working at approximately 10 cents an hour. Skilled workers earned a little more, but not significantly more. Women received one-third or sometimes one-half the pay that men received. Children received even less. Owners, who were only concerned with making a profit, were satisfied because labor costed less. 

Factories were not the best places to work. The only light present was the sunlight that came through the windows. Machines spit out smoke and in some factories, workers came out covered in black soot by the end of the day. There were a plethora of machines with not many safety precautions. This resulted in many accidents. The workers only received a break for lunch and a break for dinner. 

Children were paid less than 10 cents an hour for fourteen hour days of work. They were used for simpler, unskilled jobs. Many children had physical deformities because of the lack of exercise and sunlight. The use of children as labor for such long hours with little pay led to the formation of labor unions.

Labor Unions formed because workers finally wanted to put a stop to long hours with little pay. They demanded more pay and fairer treatment. They did not want children to work in factories because of the danger involved. Labor unions organized strikes and protests. However, as more immigrants came to the United States, more workers became available. These workers were willing to work, even if others were not because of unfair treatment. This lessened the effect of the labor unions since businesses had no shortage of workers. This is why most labor unions were unsuccessful. 


Living Conditions

As business began to boom and the national markets grew, more people began to move to the Northeast because they wanted jobs. Most people lived in the "slum" as depicted in the picture to the left. Five to nine people lived in a single room which was as big as an apartment. Not only was there not enough room, but more people got sick as well. Because everyone lived in terrible conditions and so close to one another, diseases spread rapidly and lack of medicine and medical care resulted in many deaths. At the time, population was increasing rapidly because of more people moving in, so apartments became more crowded and in worse condition. These were the people that lived every lives that had to fight for jobs and competed to live. 

As industrialization occurred, the middle class emerged. The middle class, skilled workers, managers, clerks, accountants, and others, had the money they needed to survive, and had money left over for other leisure goods. This extra money enabled them to live comfortably. Most moved away from the cities because they thought the "slum" was unhygienic and unpleasant. This led to the beginning of suburbs, or socially segregated neighborhoods. However, the majority of the people living in industrialized areas lived in terrible, harsh conditions because of the lack of money and the overwhelming population. 


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