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Hand Labour and New Technology

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Hand Labour and New Technology - Lesson Summary

During the 19 th century, many people migrated to the industrial centres, in search of jobs. Since the market was flooded with people, labour was cheap.

Cheap labour was a profitable option for the industrialists, so rather than installing machines, the owners preferred to hire manual labour for a short period.

Manual work was also favoured for products that required intricate design and finish. Machines could be used to mass-produce uniform goods. It required craftsmanship and skill to make goods with individual specifications. So, workers had to spend weeks of extreme hardship before they finally got jobs.

During the 19 th century, wages increased slightly but their real value remained low due to the consequent price rise. Till the mid-19 th century nearly 10% of the urban population was very poor. During the economic slump, there was a dramatic rise in the unemployed population in the cities.
The innovation of new machines would replace the workers was another threat. The Spinning Jenny, designed by James Hargreaves in 1764 increased the pace of spinning and reduced the demand for labour, leaving hand spinners jobless.

The second half of the 19 th century, the rise of building activities came as a blessing in disguise for the workers. Construction work for railways, road widening, drainage and sewers created new job opportunities.


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