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WILL A TARIFF HARM LANCASHIRE?

A LESSON FROM AMERICA

By far the most important British manufacturing industry is the gigantic cotton industry. During the last few years it has produced on an average about 120,000,0001. worth of cotton goods per year, of which approximately 80 per cent., or 100,000,0001., were exported. Great Britain exports more cotton goods than all the countries of the world combined. At first sight Great Britain's supremacy in the cotton industry appears unchallengeable.

According to the American Census Bulletin 113 there were in the world in 1911 137,792,000 active cotton spindles. Of these the United Kingdom had 54,523,000, while the United States had only 29,515,000 spindles. In 1911 Great Britain had 39.46 per cent. of the spindleage of the world, while the United States had only 21.1 per cent. The United States' exports of fully manufactured cotton goods come to only 4,000,0001. or 5,000,0001. per year. The spindleage of the British cotton industry is almost twice as large as that of the American cotton industry, while the British export trade in cotton goods is about twenty times as large as the American export trade.

However, closer examination of the cotton industry in the two countries reveals the fact that the United States cotton industry is far more powerful than it is generally believed to be in Great Britain.

Although the United States have only a little more than half as many spindles as the United Kingdom, they consume far more raw cotton than does Great Britain, the figures being as follows: Consumption of Raw Cotton in 1911

Bales
United States.

4,705,000
United Kingdom

3,782,000 The fact that the United States, notwithstanding their very marked inferiority in spindles, consume much more cotton than the United Kingdom seems very strange. Englishmen who are insufficiently acquainted with the American cotton industry glibly explain that the Americans with fewer spindles use more

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cotton than the British because the United States, having an inferior cotton industry, make chiefly the coarser yarns, while Great Britain, having the cream of the cotton trade of the world, specialises in the finest yarns and tissues, leaving the coarser manufacture to other nations. That explanation is currently given, and it seems very plausible, but unfortunately it is not quite correct. The American and the British cotton spindles are implements of different character. Great Britain uses nearly exclusively mule spindles, while the United States rely almost entirely on ring spindles. Vast quantities of yarn, identical to that which is made on ring spindles in America, is made on mule spindles in Great Britain. Employed on the same yarn, ring spindles consume 50 per cent. more raw cotton and produce 50 per cent. more yarn than do mule spindles. Ring spindles are labour-saving spindles. Consequently they are preferred not only by American cotton spinners, but by German and Japanese cotton spinners as well. It seems that British conservatism is largely to blame for the small percentage of ring spindles running in Lancashire. Ring spindles represent greater output and greater mechanical efficiency. The American cotton industry seems to be more efficient than the British cotton industry, not only in the spinning department, but in the weaving department as well, as will be shown later on.

Let us now test the often-heard assertion : "The British cotton industry is the largest in the world.' According to the number of spindles used, the British cotton industry is indeed the largest in the world. According to the quantity of cotton used, the United States cotton industry is the largest in the world. Should we then measure the importance of the cotton industry by the spindleage or by the consumption of raw cotton ? The best measure of the importance of an industry is evidently not the quantity of machinery employed, nor the quantity of raw material worked up, but the value of its finished productions. As regards Great Britain we have no exact official figures regarding the value of the output of the cotton industry, but merely unofficial estimates by experts, which are fairly reliable. According to these the total value of the cotton goods produced in Great Britain should in 1909 have amounted to about 100,000,0001. or 110,000,0001. at factory. The United States combine with their census of population a census of production. According to the last census—that of 1910—the value of the cotton goods produced by the United States in the year 1909 was no less than $628,391,813, or 125,678,3651.

There can be no doubt that the American cotton industry has overtaken the British cotton industry, not only in the quantity of raw material worked up, but also in the value of cotton goods manufactured. The outlook for the Lancashire industry is serious. In 1880 Great Britain made considerably more steel than the United States. Now the United States make four times as much steel as Great Britain. The United States cotton industry has been growing, and continues growing, with incredible rapidity, while ours is growing but slowly. It . is to be feared that before long America's supremacy in cotton manufacturing may be as great as her present supremacy in manufacturing steel, unless we take suitable steps in time.

The prosperity of an industry may be measured by its progress and expansion. How wonderfully the United States cotton industry has flourished and increased will be seen from the following figures :

Consumption of Raw Material Value of Cotton Goods Produced

1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910

Bales 841,975 1,026,583 1,865,922 2,604,491 3,603,516 4,516,779

Dollars 116,681,774 177,489,739 192,090,110 267,981,724 332,806,156 628,391,813

Since 1860 both the consumption of cotton in the United States and the value of the goods produced from it have grown more than fivefold. During the same period the value of the cotton goods produced in Great Britain has about doubled, while the consumption of raw cotton has less than doubled. In the last decade, 1900-1910, alone the consumption of raw cotton in the United States has grown by almost a million bales, while the value of the cotton goods produced has very nearly doubled. The progress of the United States cotton industry during the last decade bodes ill for the cotton industry of Great Britain.

The frequently heard taunt that the United States produce only the coarse cotton fabrics which Lancashire does not care to manufacture is quite unjustified. The American cotton industry works practically exclusively for the home market. It works for a prosperous nation, which demands goods of quality. The British cotton industry, which exports four-fifths of its produce, works chiefly for foreign nations. Now, two-thirds of the British cotton exports go, not to the wealthy people in Europe, North America, and Australia, but to the poverty-stricken nations of Asia, to India, China, and Asiatic Turkey, to nations which can afford to buy only the cheapest and the flimsiest materials. A visit to the United States shows that the cotton goods generally sold in that country are certainly not inferior in quality to those sold and worn in Great Britain. As less than 2 per cent. of the cotton cloth sold in the United States is

imported from abroad, it is clear that the bulk of the cottons which one sees in the shops are of American manufacture, and that the British cottons made for the British market and the American cottons made for the American market are approximately of equal quality.

The American cotton industry shows two remarkable tendencies : the tendency to grow at a truly astonishing pace and the tendency to manufacture the finest goods to an ever greater degree. Between the years 1899 and 1909 the production of cotton yarn in the United States increased from 1,467,565,971 lb. to 2,037,653,722 lb., or by 39 per cent. However, while the production of coarse yarn (No. 20 and under) increased by only 19.2 per cent., that of medium numbers (Nos. 21 to 40) increased by 60 per cent., and that of fine yarns (No. 41 and over) by no less than 103.7 per cent. In 1899 the coarse yarn constituted 58 per cent. of the total production, but in 1909 it constituted only 49 per cent. On the other hand, , the proportion of medium yarn increased from 37 per cent. in 1899 to 42.5 per cent. in 1909, while that of fine yarn increased from 5.2 per cent. to 7.7 per cent. during the same period. The progress in quality has been as remarkable as the progress in quantity. The finest cottons sold in the United States, some specialties excepted, are, as I have been told, of American make.

How greatly 'the growth of the American industry has benefited American labour will be seen from the following remarkable table which is compiled from the American censuses :

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The meaning of the foregoing table will be clear by comparison with Great Britain. From the British censuses and other Government publications I have extracted the following figures : Number of Workers in the Cotton Industry

In the United States 1881 487,777 1880

174,659 1891 546,015 1890

218,876 1901 529,131 1900

297,929 1910

378,880

In Great Britain

Difference

+41,354

Difference

+ 204,221

As the figures relating to the British cotton trade in 1911 are not yet available, I have given those for 1901. It will be noticed that the number of British cotton workers increased by 58,000 during the decade 1881-1891, and decreased by 17,000 during the decade 1891-1901. Since 1901 the number of British cotton workers may have remained stationary, though probably it has decreased. While during the decade 1891-1901 the number of British cotton workers decreased by 17,000, the number of American cotton workers increased by 79,000 during the corresponding decade 1890-1900. If we assume that the number of British cotton workers has remained stationary since 1901, we come to the extraordinary conclusion that the American cotton industry, which, measured by the quantity of raw material used and the value of goods produced, has an output approximately 25 per cent. larger than that of Great Britain, produces that larger and more valuable output with 150,000 fewer workers. If we divide the value of the output by the number of men employed, it appears that the output of the cotton workers in the two countries comes, in round figures, to 2001. per worker per year in Great Britain and to 3401. per worker per year in the United States. These extraordinary figures confirm the fact that the cotton industry of the United States possesses a far greater efficiency than the cotton industry of Great Britain.

The very valuable Report on Cotton Manufactures (Doc. 643, 62nd Congress, 2nd Session) published by the United States Tariff Board, an absolutely impartial American Government institution, contains a table giving the earnings of British and American cotton workers, and these compare, in the most important grades, as follows :

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The American cotton industry has been a very satisfactory industry to the workers. Between 1860 and 1910 the number of VOL. LXXII-No. 426

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