Today In History – January 5

On January 5, 1914, Henry Ford raised his workers’ wages from $2.50 to $5 daily. At the same time, he also reduced the working day from nine to eight hours a day. As a result, Ford’s company became one of the first companies in America to adopt the forty-hour work week.

In 1913, the Model T’s production increased from 68,773 to 170,211. The Ford company did phenomenally well, so Henry Ford is said to have wanted the company to do something to help its employees. According to an article published in the Post and sponsored by Henry Ford himself, “He wrote on the board the Ford wage standards: minimum pay of $2.34 for a nine-hour day. He tossed down the chalk and said: “Figure out how much more we can give our men.” By the end of the day, the company raised the wage to $4.80. One unhappy executive commented, “Why don’t you make it $5 a day and bust the company right?” That is exactly what Ford did.

Many business owners looked down upon this bump in pay. Some believed that a double in revenue would cause employees to leave cities. Or employers who tried to match him would go bankrupt. Some believed Ford employees would be “demoralized by this sudden affluence.” However, none of that happened. Instead, Ford helped change the world.

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