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“For those at the bottom—immigrant and black day laborers, outwork seamstresses, the casual poor—a combination of overstocked labor markets and intense competition among employers kept wages and earnings near or below subsistence levels. Even in New England, farm girls who went off to work in factories expecting decent situations and high wages found that mill conditions had deteriorated by the mid-1830s. Those small independent artisans and well-paid craft workers who survived faced the real possibility of falling into similar distress, victimized as they were by an increasingly volatile business cycle and by the downward pressures on earnings and real wages in various important trades. By the 1830s a new working class was beginning to carve its own identity in a variety of trade unions and in political efforts aimed at redirecting the course and consequences of American economic expansion.”
-Source: Sean Wilentz, “Society, Politics, and the Market Revolution, 1815-1848,” *The New American History, 1990