Boston Region 1922 - Job listings/pay

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Boston Region 1922 - Job listings/pay

Post by Logar » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:18 pm

This is a listing of some jobs directly from ads in the Boston Globe - year 1922. The purpose is to give you an idea of some common weekly pay. Combine this with rent prices and you begin to have a better understanding of some costs/payments. There are many times when I see a player just pull a dollar amount out of the blue. Well, if that same player knows that they only make $20 a week .... As well, it should give a keeper a better understanding to help flesh out an environment and have more steady, purposeful numbers, alleviating the idea that they are making it up or have no clue (breaking immersion). Listings are divided male/female and pay is weekly for the most part, but take note that some pay is listed monthly or hourly. Please see the notes at the end of the list and I tried to alphabetize for ease.


Billing clerk - $20/week
Blacksmith - 65-75c(ents)/hour
Boilermaker - 65-75c/hour
Bookkeeper - $20-30/week ($25 most prevalent)
Butcher/Sausage maker - $25/week
Carpenter/Joiner - 65-75c/hour
Car Inspector/repairman $65/month
Chauffeur (experienced) - $25/week
Chef, pastry, Sous, general (for hotels, schools) - $30-35/week
Dentist - $30-35/week
Druggist - $30-35/week
Druggist, junior - $25/week
First year "Helpers" - $45/month
Fireman - $25/week
Hospital orderly - $40/month (with room+board) ($75/month if no board but meals)
Investigator/collector - $12/week to start (presumably $15-20 later - I only ever found one listing with pay shown)
Laborer, general - $45-50/month, "Heavy" work - $40-50/month
Ledger clerk - $25/week
Machinist - 65-75c/hour
Manager, retail - $40/week
Packer - $20/week
Press Operator - $30/week
Plumber (licensed, experienced) - $35/week (average plumber - about $30/week)
Shipping/receiving clerk - $20/week
Stenographer - $20/week
Stockboy - $10-12/week

Bookkeeper - (beginner $16-18, regular $20/week)
Candy packer - $12/week
Cook, pastry or general - $25/week
Dishwasher - $9-10/week
File clerk - $12/week
Hospital attendant (Asylum) - $10/week (+room/board)
Laundry sorter - $25-30/month
Light factory work - $10-12/week
Lunch counter girl - $10/week
Maid, cleaner - $10-12/week
Nurse, school - $40/month (+room/board)
Office worker, general - $12-15/week
Pantry girl - $8/week (+room/board)
Salesgirl, counter girl - $12-20/week (varies - assume $15 avg.)
Stitcher - $12/week
Stenographer - $20/week
Switchboard Operator - $15/week
Typist - $15-18/week
Waitress, school - $8-12/week
Waitress, cafe - $10-12/week

Quick note: From perusing listings, I get the idea that heavy/unskilled labor work makes about $12/week (maybe a bit more or less). A general job with some necessary skill in that field, about $20/week (shipper/receiver, stenographer for example). A typical educated "office type" worker (bookkeeper for example) seems to make about $25 week. Tradesmen (plumber, blacksmith, engineer) about 65c/hour (assume $30/week or so). Specialist work, $35 week (dentist/druggist for example). A typical manager/foreman seems to make about $40/week. (Consider that manager is a little different than as thought of in modern times--more exclusive I believe.) "Junior/assistant" (or beginner) positions might make around $5/week less. I would argue that this is a good generalized idea for play.

A couple of things of which to be aware:
1) Use these as a general guide. You don't need to see a specific job listed to have a pretty good idea of where it falls for the most part by using these as examples. I couldn't find librarian, for example, but taking note of other job types close to it, it is probably safe to assume it is in the $20-25 week range.
2) These jobs are taken from ads. The ads may be a little "enthusiasticly optimistic", but some ads did not list pay (send resume/salary requirements) so I had to take from what I could find. Some of the print was very faded or unreadable. We should assume the pay listings are in line of the norm for the time.
3) Some jobs like hospital orderly, school cook, etc. had the assumption that you would reside at the workplace. Orderlies at an asylum would have quarters at the asylum for example. School nurses, cooks, groundskeepers might be examples. Mostly I saw examples in schools/hospitals/asylums.
4) Some jobs like Salesman varied widely. An example for day-to-day salesman (magazine sales for example) might be $10-12/week plus a 10% commission. Professor is going to vary widely based on tenure, experience, field and institution. The only Professor job that I saw was for the equivalent of about $2000-2400/year. I imagine $40-50/week is typical for an "average"/journeyman type Professor. With more for well-experienced/leaders in their fields.
5) Work may vary per season. But I did not see too much variation. The listings were taken from the Boston Globe and it should be assumed the pay is for Boston regional work where appropriate. (A waitress in XXX, Iowa might not be expected to make the same.) And some jobs might be inherently migratory (railroad work for example).
6) Well-experienced workers should be assumed to make a little more unless specifically noted (maybe an extra $5/week).

I only ever found one job that mentioned "colored" worker. And female worker ads sporadically listed "neat, attractive" although that was very specific - usually a saleswoman for ladies clothing/cosmetics.

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Daemon Sultan
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Re: Boston Region 1922 - Job listings/pay

Post by KeeperMurph » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:49 pm

Great post! Thanks Logar!

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Re: Boston Region 1922 - Job listings/pay

Post by Nvision » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:36 pm

Excellent! I've generally avoided tracking money in games, as it meant too much work on my end to research average wages and prices. I'd usually handle player shopping on a projection of what someone of a particular profession could afford without dipping significantly into their savings. This gives a far more accurate range for that, and couples nicely with period catalogues!

Making my players feel strapped for cash when they really need supplies to tackle a monstrous problem should ratchet up the tension nicely. "Does a ritual of banishment still work if we can only afford one goat for the sacrifice?"

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Re: Boston Region 1922 - Job listings/pay

Post by KeeperMurph » Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:38 pm

Nvision wrote: "Does a ritual of banishment still work if we can only afford one goat for the sacrifice?"
Just LOL

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