Serious today's ""middle class"" wagie is worse off than in the Victorian era

KARENIN

KARENIN

He did no wrong
Jul 2, 2022
340
The salary for the lowest entry-level middle-class job, that of a junior clerk just starting out at a City firm, was typically £90 a year, which would steadily be increased to about £140/year after several years' experience. For comparison, the Chairman of the board (equivalent to CEO of a company today) made only 10x more i.e. £1000 a year. A clerk also had very good job security;
Barring accidents, his employment was safe. The hundreds of clerks in the Bank of England could stay until they dropped dead; there was no compulsory retiring age for them.
The income tax rate was a flat 3% or so, except for the one time it spiked to 6.6% during the Crimean War. Tax revenue came mainly from taxing ownership of land and property, not income.

Working hours were either 9am-4pm or 10am-5pm, and it was common practice to rent a place no further than 3 miles from your workplace so you could walk to and back on foot everyday. An entire house in a suburb could be rented for as little as £26 a year (though the typical rent was probably closer to £33/year), or you could rent three rooms in a central London townhouse for about £37/year. Every middle-class household had at least one live-in maid, who could be hired for £6 a year.
A junior clerk in a City firm might have earned less than £100 a year. The chairman of the Board might have been paid £1,000. But they shared one vital distinction; they were both members of the 'great middle class'. They worked with letters and figures, wore morning coats, stiff white collars and top hats. A skilled engineering workman might earn more than a clerk, but he worked with his hands – he was irredeemably a member of the lower classes.

The lowest rung of the ladder​

The boom in trade and the new sophistication of banking methods meant that every business and factory needed a small army of clerks. Every invoice, every letter, every ledger entry had to be accurately, quickly and legibly written by hand. It was estimated that the 44,000 clerks, accountants and bankers who had dispatched business in 1851 had swollen to 119,000 20 years later. Anthony Trollope, who became famous as a writer, began as a junior clerk in the Post Office, at £90 a year. Seven years later he had risen to £140.

But living could be cheap. The £100-a-year clerk and his wife could find a cottage to rent, in a suburb within walking distance of his work; three miles was thought to be reasonable, to cover on foot twice a day. He must have sometimes longed to board an omnibus as it splashed past him on a rainy day, but for his careful budget the fare – perhaps as much as six pence – was just not affordable except in a crisis.

Their suburban cottage could be furnished for less than £20. His wife might employ a ‘slavey’ or maid-of-all-work, for only £6 a year. Barring accidents, his employment was safe. The hundreds of clerks in the Bank of England could stay until they dropped dead; there was no compulsory retiring age for them

The middle class standard of living​

The Victorian era was a golden age, for the middle class. The huge army of clerks worked from nine to four, or ten to five. For those without a grouse moor, a family seaside holiday in Brighton or Margate could be just as refreshing.

The days of paid annual leave had not yet arrived, but the family could take lodgings in Brighton or Margate, both easily accessible by steam boat or train, and the husband could lead a bachelor life during the week and join his family by ‘the husbands’ boat’ for the weekend.

For those at the top of the pile, life was very comfortable. Servants, of course, could be worrying (just as labour-saving machines can go wrong, in our day). A man earning the very good income of, say, £1,000 paid just under £30 income tax. He ruled his household with a rod of iron, since his wife knew that she had little chance of divorcing him no matter what he did. His children were brought up to respect and obey him. If the domestic scene became too noisy or boring for him, he could always escape to his club. It seems, in retrospect, an enviable existence.
History of income tax: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/a-short-history-of-income-tax-1577708.html
Clerk salaries (per year unless otherwise stated)
  • Bank of England Clerk, £75 to £500 (a)
  • Bank Clerk, from £20 to £50 at aged 18, rising 5-10£ per year; paying-cashier receiving eg. £155 after thirteen years service (b)
  • Civil Service clerk starts at £80 rising to £200 (b)
  • General Office clerk, 25s. a week (b)
  • Post Office clerk, £90 rising to £260; senior Post Office clerks (if vacancy arose) £350-£500 (c)
  • Solicitors clerk, 18-25s. a week (b)
  • Suburban bank manager £75 to £90 (b)
  • Stockbrokers clerk £80 to £100 at aged 18; typically annual rise of £20 and a present of from £10 to £15 at Christmas (b)
SOURCE
(a) The Great Metropolis by James Grant, 1837
(b) Tempted London, 1889
(c) His Recollections and Experiences by Edmund Yates, 1885 (writing on 1840s/1850s)
Victorian salaries and prices: https://www.victorianlondon.org/finance/money.htm
 
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KARENIN

KARENIN

He did no wrong
Jul 2, 2022
340
Read every single character. Some questions. What % of society was middle class back then? How difficult was it to move from lower/working class to middle class?
The Victorians defined class by breeding (family wealth and background) and occupation rather than income. Membership in the middle class was limited to men employed in the white-collar professions, of which the lowest-paid, most junior position was clerk. People who worked with their hands as labourers, skilled craftsmen/artisans or tradesmen were working-class, even though master craftsmen and tradesmen earned much more income than a clerk.
A skilled London coach-maker could earn up to five guineas (=5 pounds five shillings) a week – considerably more than most middle class clerks. This was the top of the working class pyramid.
The only requirement to become a clerk and "move to the middle class" was to be literate and have good handwriting, besides impressing the employer during the interview and maybe passing a pen-and-paper test the employer adminstered. In fact, many clerks began as lower-paid apprentices in their mid-teenage years and and only began receiving the standard salary at age 18.
In one of the many late nineteenth century British novels about the lives of office clerks, Besant wrote the following about a fictional clerk named Allen: "He is eighteen years of age; he has been for three years a clerk in the City of London. He goes there every morning at half-past eight, and returns every evening at half-past six. He is away, therefore, for ten hours. During this long time he sits upon a stool, he copies letters, he enters figures in a book, he adds up, he makes notes, he carries messages, he goes here, he goes there.... He is a servant. ... In Allen's service he cannot rise unless by extraordinary chance, because he has no money. For him there is no future, he must always be a servant. It is already, for him, the life of a dog. In ten years it will be the life of a thousand dogs." (Besant, 1883, p. 130)

In a later British novel, a clerk in London named Robert Thorne says: "Being junior in our room, which dealt largely with correspondence, I had a junior position there, and that meant inferior duties--copying letters, indexing papers, addressing envelopes, clearing trays, carrying and fetching messages, keeping the correspondence book, besides duties of a more servile nature, such as making up the fire, attending the telephone, working the revolving stamp. (Bullock, 1907, p. 139)
Writing lay at the heart of the Victorian bank clerk's duties. Today, many people are so used to typing that they cannot write by hand for more than a few minutes without developing pains, but the Victorian bank clerk would have spent hours at a time writing, day after day. One of the most essential qualifications for his job was his ability to write clearly and accurately. He would have been required to supply a sample of his handwriting as part of his job application. Few people today would make the grade in such a test, but in the Victorian era good handwriting was a valuable job skill, and was given significant attention in schools.

The result of the great expertise and care that so many Victorian clerks put into their work is that today, historians often find surviving records from 150 years ago easier to read and use than those from just 50, or even 5, years ago. Few of those clerks from long ago can have imagined that the products of their daily work would survive so long, or be so treasured today for the glimpses they give us of our vanished past.
Although clerks and other office workers enjoyed a more stable and comfortable working environment than working-class craftsmen and tradesmen who toiled in workshops, their work was extremely dull and repetitive and paid less than many kinds of skilled labour jobs.
In these wretched counting houses boredom ruled. The work was repetitive and mind-bendingly dull, leaving clerks exhausted by the end of the day.
An article in Liverpool's Daily Post from 1877 noted: "The clerk returns home tired, certainly, but there is this difference between his and the mechanic's fatigue, he is tired of, not with his work."
It wasn't just the boredom. The status wasn't what it had been 50 years earlier and the money had got worse too. Much of the wage had to go on keeping up appearances - the absolute necessity of the black suit, and the need to rent a house in the terraces of Clapham and elsewhere.
Often, to make ends meet, clerks would sublet rooms to manual workers, who were almost certainly earning more than they were. Worse still, the manual workers, far from respecting the better educated clerks, actually looked down on them.

One clerk, Benjamin Orchard, wrote the following bitter account of his existence in 1871:
"We aren't real men. We don't do men's work. Pen-drivers - miserable little pen-drivers - fellows in black coats, with inky fingers and shiny seats on their trousers - that's what we are. Think of crossing T's and dotting I's all day long. No wonder bricklayers and omnibus drivers have contempt for us. We haven't even health."
But it's possible that some of the gloom and doom may have been overdone.
Being a clerk was a good job for the time. This was a group of middle or lower middle class workers with relatively comfortable lives.
Percentage of Victorian society that is middle-class is impossible to calculate without exhaustive research into property records but a good proxy is the percentage of people eligible to vote in elections, because until 1918 when universal male suffrage was passed into law, only men who owned real estate with value exceeding a certain amount, or paid rent exceeding a certain amount per annum, or had a certain minimum amount of savings were eligible to vote. The exact property requirements to qualify for the right to vote were revised every couple of decades, e.g. The Second Reform Act in 1867 enfranchised males living in towns who paid at least £7 rent, males living in boroughs who paid rent or owned property worth more than £10 year, and males who had at least £50 in savings. The proportion of society which met that criteria (i.e. was deemed respectable enough to vote) was 2 out of every 7 men, or 28.5%, which is a good estimate for the percentage of middle-class and prosperous working class people in Victorian Britain at that time.
Before the Act, only one million of the seven million adult men in England and Wales could vote; the Act immediately doubled that number. Further, by the end of 1868 all male heads of household could vote, having abolished the widespread mechanism of the deemed rentpayer or ratepayer being a superior lessor or landlord who would act as middleman for those monies paid ("compounding"). [...]
It was a cautious bill, which proposed to enfranchise "respectable" working men, excluding unskilled workers and what was known as the "residuum", those seen by MPs as the "feckless and criminal" poor. This was ensured by a £7 annual rent qualification to vote—or 2 shillings and 9 pence (2s 9d) a week.[n 1][7] This entailed two "fancy franchises", emulating measures of 1854, a £10 lodger qualification for the boroughs, and a £50 savings qualification in the counties. Liberals claimed that "the middle classes, strengthened by the best of the artisans, would still have the preponderance of power".[8]
The Third Reform Act in 1885 got rid of the distinctions between males living in boroughs vs counties/the countryside and extended the right to vote to all males who paid more than £10 in annual rent or owned land worth more than £10. In England and Wales, 2 in 3 adult males (66%) met the requirements; in Scotland, 3 in 5 (60%) did; but in Ireland, only 1 in 2 (50%).
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_franchise_in_the_United_Kingdom_1885–1918
 
A

AnalAndro

NEET
Nov 26, 2022
55
I appreciate that at least you are not doing the comparison with the serf...

I cannot add much to the discussion. All I can say is that my means to get money are shrinking and I was used to do black market things, and rob restaurants sometimes, it was definitely easier to resell rolex parts and so on... nowadays it got harder... It got easier for people that are rich, but all the little people got a hard time... By contrast we will probably see an increase in the quality of welfare systems, we will be pressured to go on welfare, for a reason or another. And I suspect that most incels will gladly take statebuxxes, not even thinking of the loss of freedom, because most incels dont even care about it...

I think the great reset is not a conspiracy... and to add even more conspiracy nuttism to the discussion, I think it will be given assisted suicide as a solution for millions of people. You are now in a forum where at least 90% of the users will do assisted suicide.

Here is the strategy I would like to promote among oldcels.

Dddd
 

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