The largest expense item in conducting the retail meat business is for wages or salaries. It would seem, therefore, that this most important item should be studied more closely by the meat retailer than any other miscellaneous expenses.
Meat cutters and clerks are cautioned to practice economy on paper, twine, light and other minor expense items. In fact, more attention is generally paid to stopping small expenses which is, of course, advisable but comparatively little attention is given to the most important expense, namely wages. While small items are being saved to stop a small leak, the big hole where money is freely floating out is left wide open.
As the cost of living is advancing, it is but natural that wages in the retail meat industry should also increase. From all statistics, which are available, the increase in wages in the re-tail meat industry has been exceptionally rapid in recent years.
Wage Increase In Industry
By comparing the results of various investigations made in the retail meat industry, it will be discovered that there has been a great advance in wage percentages during the years 1919, 1924 and 1926. In the report of an investigation made in 1919, by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the United States Department of Agriculture, described in Bulletin No. 1317, relating to wages in individual markets and chain store branches, the following results are given.
WAGES AND SYSTEMS OF WAGE PAYMENTS
RESULTS OF INVESTIGATION (1919)
Percentage of Wage Expense in Individual Markets and Chain-Store Branches. Individual Markets
$ 25,001 to $ 50,000 9.89%
50,001 to 100,000 9.20&
100,001 and over 8.14%
Semi-wholesale trade concerns (30 to 90% hotel & restaurant trade)..5.97%
$ 25,001 to $ 50,000 9.83%
50,001 to 100,000 9.46%
100,001 and over 7.78%
Courtesy United States Department of Agriculture, Bulletin No. 1317
This table shows very clearly that individual markets investi-gated doing a business from $25,000 to $100,000 per year, had a wage expense on sales of between 8 and 10%. The meat retailer who compares the figures of 1919 to those of today, will probably find that there is considerable difference in this percentage. This is brought out by the facts discovered in another investigation made by the same bureau and reported in Department Bulletin No. 1442. This investigation was made by Kelsey B. Gardner and shows the following results for the year 1923.
More figures on the subject of wages are described in the very interesting investigations made by Horace P. Secrist, Ph. D., Director of the Bureau of Business Research, Northwestern University, School of Commerce, in the bulletin issued by the Institute of American Meat Packers. Mr. Secrist gives the following results of his investigation, which was also made in 1924: