IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Strikebreaking and the Labor Market in the United States, 1881-1874

Listed author(s):
  • Joshua L. Rosenbloom

Improvements in transportation and communication combined with technological changes in key manufacturing industries substantially increased competitive pressures in American labor markets during the last half of the nineteenth century. One manifestation of these changes was the widespread use of strikebreakers. In this paper I examine the extent and pattern of strikebreaking in the United States using data from a sample of over 2,000 individual strikes between 1881 and 1894 drawn from reports compiled by the U.S. Commissioner of Labor. Consistent with other evidence of increasing geographic integration at this time, I find that the use of strikebreakers did not vary substantially across regions or by city size. On the other hand, I find that employers in smaller cities and in regions other than the northeast were more likely to have to turn to replacements recruited at a distance, underscoring the important role that employer recruitment played in establishing an integrated labor market. Pronounced variations in the likelihood of strikebreaking across industries suggests, however, that the impact of increasing integration differed for different groups of workers and employers. Finally, the strike data confirm the importance of labor market integration on the outcomes of labor conflict in this period. After controlling for other strike characteristics the use of strikebreakers had a large and negative impact on workers' ability to win strikes.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0086.

in new window

Date of creation: May 1996
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic History, Vol. 58, no. 1 (March 1998): 183-205.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0086
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Janet Currie & Joseph Ferrie, 1995. "Strikes and the Law in the U.S., 1881-1894: New Evidence on the Origins of American Exceptionalism," NBER Working Papers 5368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Card, David & Olson, Craig A, 1995. "Bargaining Power, Strike Durations, and Wage Outcomes: An Analysis of Strikes in the 1880s," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 32-61, January.
  3. Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1996. "Was There a National Labor Market at the End of the Nineteenth Century? New Evidence on Earnings in Manufacturing," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 626-656, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0086. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.