In support of the statement that the Negroes are a wage-earning people, four important facts meet us at the threshold:
(1) In 1910 there were 71 per cent of Negroes in the United States and 87.6 per cent of those in the South ten years of age and over gainfully employed. Many married women were helping to earn the daily bread for the family. The percentage of Negro married women gainfully employed was about three times as large as the percentage of white women so employed. At that time Negroes constituted about one seventh of the total working population in the United States.
(2) Nearly all of these Negro wage-earners were employed by white people. Furthermore, in both agriculture and industry these Negro workers were engaged in the same occupations, often on the same jobs, as white workers.
(3) While the overwhelming majority of Negro workers to-day are in the unskilled, lower paid, industrial occupations, in domestic and personal service, or in agriculture, they have shown marked increase in industrial occupations, in distinction from the agricultural, and from domestic and personal service. In manufacturing and mechanical pursuits in the 20 years between 1890 and 1910, Negroes increased about 165.3 Percent. In trade and transportation during the same period, they increased about 129.5 per cent.
The proportion of Negro male persons engaged in agriculture remained practically the same between 1890 and 1910. Negro female persons engaged in agriculture increased from about one sixth to nearly one third of those gainfully employed. The gain for both sexes was about 66.6 per cent in 20 years, between 1890 and 1910. In domestic and personal service the gain was about 65 per cent in 20 years, between 1890 and 1910.
In short, during the twenty years ending in 1910 Negro workers showed a very slow increase in domestic and personal service, a slightly higher increase in agriculture, a still higher increase in trade and transportation, and the highest increase in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits. These figures cover a period preceding the World War and the heavy Negro migration North. The greatest increase of Negroes in industrial occupations has taken place since, as a consequence of the high wages during the World War and the demand for their labor, so that there are probably larger numbers in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits than shown by the available figures up to 1910.
(4) Previous to the World War and the entrance of Negroes in large numbers, mainly migrants from the South, into Northern industrial plants, many local unions of white workmen, except in a few localities like New Orleans, La., Birmingham, Ala., and Chicago, 111., either excluded Negroes from their organizations or did not encourage their joining, even in the face of their national (constitutions and the liberal statements of policy by the American Federation of Labor.