A large proportion of the people get their living direct from mother Earth, as farmers or stock-raisers. The latest census returns show that 125,276 persons are proprietors and employers, while 183,740 persons are wage-earners, the two classes together supporting 343,381 dependents (women, children and old people). Altogether, therefore, 652,397 persons, or nearly 30% of the whole population get their living direct from Norway’s few fertile acres. A little less than 5% (including 40,190 employers or independent workers, 10,557 employes and 58,041 dependents), get their living from the sea, through the fisheries.
About 21% (including 80,550 employers, 162,092 employes and 221,835 dependents), get their living in various industries and in mining (silver, copper, iron pyrites, feldspar, etc.)
The chief factory industries are those of the saw-mill, flour-mill, wood-pulp-mill, match-factory, brewery, clothmill, and india-rubber factory.
The smaller industries most widely practised are naturally the simple, universal crafts of the tailor, shoemaker, carpenter, mason, smith, joiner, cooper, etc. Sewing, spinning and knitting are done for wages by 22,201 women.
Not quite 67o (129,353) live on the profits of shop-keeping and wholesale trade. Transportation, including both railway and posting, provides bread and butter for 57o (116,893 people).
Three per cent. of the people are supported by the work of professional men and women, or by persons holding salaried positions under the government.
About the same number (less than 75,000) live on incomes from invested capital.
All the total figures given above include both responsible heads of families and those dependent upon them.
Norway’s money system is based on a gold standard. Only one bank (owned partly by the State and partly by individual stockholders), is empowered to issue bank-notes. The State coins gold, silver, cop-per and bronze, in values calculated on a decimal system.
The pieces in most common circulation are silver and copper or bronze coin. Values are reckoned in crowns (kroner), equivalent to 27 cents in American money or 1 shilling 1/ pence in British money. The crown is divisible into 100 parts, called ore (a little more than % cent). The heaviest gold-piece is worth 20 crowns ($5.40).
A person with an income of 10,000 crowns ($2,700) is considered distinctly “well-off”; the possessor of more than this would be accounted rich even in Christiania. The average middle-class income in one of the provincial towns is not much over 3,000 crowns ($810). A tradesman is considered prosperous if he makes half that amount. Farmers’ incomes average hardly more than $220. Ordinary mechanics and artisans earn about $150. House servants and farm laborers earn less than $100.
Wage-rates are gradually rising. It is stated in an official work on Norway (Konow & Fischer) that the average income of employers is at present actually less than the average income of employes.
Among other demands the employer of factory labor has to meet is that of a special government assessment for funds insuring their employes against accidents. This assessment cannot be transferred to the wage-account and so collected from the wage-earners, but must come out of the profits of the business. Children under fourteen years of age cannot legally be employed in factories at all. Young people under eighteen are debarred from certain lines of employment, and must not be required to work more than 10 hours daily. Men cannot legally be required to work after 6 P. M. on the day preceding Sunday, or any recognized holy-day. Except for this stipulation there is at present no definite legal restriction of the length of a day’s work for an adult, but efforts are being made to secure the passage of a 10-hour law.
Savings-banks are numerous and well-managed, having 718,823 depositors. Many of the Norwegian municipalities have Building Loan funds, from which working men may borrow money at low rates for building cheap homes. Overcrowded houses are a conspicuous evil in the capital and other large centers of population, and efforts are being made to correct it.
Life insurance is placed by agents of private companies in the few large towns, but country people seldom save on this plan. It is, however, a common custom for an elderly farmer to deed a home estate to his eldest son, himself receiving a pension for life and retiring from active management of affairs.
In connection with these facts about incomes earned within the kingdom, it is of interest to know United States postal records show that, in a single year, Norwegians living in the United States have sent home to relatives and friends over a million dollars ($1,000,000). The tide of emigration continually rises ; in 1903 the figures reached 25,109. The postal statistics are significant, showing that in spite of the departure of an increasing number of workers, the home-country is by no means allowed to lose all the results of their labor elsewhere.
The foreign commerce of the kingdom amounts annually to $79,057,620 imports, 46,878,480 exports.
Among the largest import items are breadstuffs, tea and coffee, sugar, tobacco and manufactured goods of various sorts.
Among the more important exported articles are granite and timber, for use in constructive enterprises all over Europe; wood-pulp for the European paper mills ; matches ; iron for the great cutlery works at Birmingham and Sheffield (England) ; feldspar for use in continental porcelain factories ; cod and herring for the food of Norway’s European neighbors.