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Wages in Shanghai

Page history last edited by Michael 2 years, 8 months ago

back to the Index, or to Shanghai


     This comes from the Commercial Handbook of China; prices are given in Mexican silver dollars.


Unskilled Laborers


     Household servants in Shanghai are paid at the rate of $6 to $10 a month for coolies and $9 to $18 for head servants, without food, for those in the employ of foreigners, presupposing a knowledge of a certain amount of English on the part of the head servants. Chinese households pay about $5 a month for coolies and $9 for head servants, with food and lodging.

     Coolies in office employ of foreigners receive $8 to $10 a month, without food or lodging. Such a coolie serves as a combination of janitor and messenger. Those in the employ of Chinese firms receive about $5 a month, with food and lodging.

     Factory coolies receive about 25 cents a day without food or lodging. They carry ordinary weights or loads and work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., with time off for luncheon. Overseers receive from 40 to 50 cents per day, without food or lodging.

     Factory coolies employed at cotton mills and silk filatures, to carry heavy weights, receive from 40 to 50 cents a day, without food or lodging, and work from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with time off for luncheon.

     Public works coolies in the International Settlement at Shanghai receive from 280 to 320 cash per day, without food or lodging.

     Coolies for pulling rikshas are paid $10 to $13 a month, without food or lodging, for those in the employ of foreigners, and about $5 a month, with board and lodging, for those working for Chinese

     Public riksha coolies, wheelbarrow coolies, handcart coolies, and wharf coolies, on hire, make 30 to 80 cents a day depending on the strength of the coolie.

     In the interior sections of China -- that is away from the principal commercial centers -- labor can be obtained at about 30 per cent less than the prices above given.

     Women and children workers, unskilled, receive in factories 10 to 25 cents a day, working 11 to 13 hours a day.


Skilled Laborers


     Carpenters earn $0.35 a day with food or $0.50 a clay without food. For very ordinary work, requiring little skill, $10 a month is paid. One who has just completed apprenticeship can often be obtained for $6 a month. In both these cases food and lodging must be furnished in addition to pay. A skilled carpenter or a boss carpenter commands $15 to $25, with board and lodging. Those in the employ of foreigners receive more. The best are paid $0.75 a day, with a few commanding as much as $1 a day. Twenty-five dollars a month is paid for a good carpenter and as low as $12 for a very ordinary one. Those working for foreigners must, however, provide their own food and lodging. It requires three Chinese carpenters to do the work of one good American carpenter, although the Chinese carpenter works 10 to 12 hours a day.

     Masons receive $1 for three days work with food, or $0.40 to $0.70 a day without food.

     Blacksmiths usually get about $15 a month, but those in foreign employ, if skilled, make as much as $25 to $40 a month. In Chinese employ the ordinary blacksmith gets $10 to $12 a month with food.

     Locomotive engineers receive $45 to $50 a month. Dockyard engineers command about the same. Beginners who have had some training can start at Shanghai on $30. Laborers who understand engineering work and are employed in iron foundries. dockyards. etc get $18 to $35 a month. College-educated Chinese occupying important positions with railway companies, dockyards, and engineering works are paid salaries ranging from $100 to $400 per month. The supply of these is limited; hence the salaries paid are high. Chinese draftsmen get $35 to $75 a month.

     Ordinary Chinese clerks, in foreign employ, receive $15 to $25 a month, with advances of $2 to $5 a month each year until they receive double the amount stated. Clerks in the large Chinese department stores in Shanghai start on $8 a month, with food, lodging, laundry, and bonus allowances. They are advanced by $2 a month twice a year, if they prove worthy. Most of the experienced clerks receive about $25 a month, but those with better than ordinary education command $50 to $70 a month. The bookkeepers in these stores receive $25 a month.

     Clerks in ordinary Chinese shops are paid salaries ranging from $2 to $16 a month, with board and lodging, while managers of these small shops are paid $25 to $30 a month, with board and lodging. The employees also receive bonuses on the following customary basis:  The year's net gains are divided into 16 equal parts or shares; the manager receives one share, the sub manager and accountant get, between them, one share, the other employees receive one or two shares, divided between them at the discretion of the proprietor, and the remainder goes to the proprietor.

     Chinese clerks in foreign employ, who have an education in English and are able to do typing and bookkeeping, command salaries ranging from $40 to $100 a month, depending on their experience and ability. There are but few good Chinese stenographers. They can command salaries ranging from $100 to $150 a month, if good. American stenographers in Shanghai command salaries as high as $300 a month. 

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