Labor Concerns in the West
Increased commercial activity in the West required farmers, miners, and ranchers to recruit a paid labor force. The labor shortages in the West meant high wages, but conditions for work were arduous and there was little job security. For example, once a large task was completed, such as building a railroad, workers would find themselves all of a sudden unemployed. The competition from the Chinese immigrants forced Anglo-Americans out of work because the Chinese workers could be hired for lower pay.

Westerners who did not own land were always on the move and were often unmarried. Ten percent of the West was unmarried; the highest percentage in any region of the U.S. A reason for this was women found work in dance halls and as prostitutes.

Limited Social Mobility
Advancement up the social ladder in the West maintained the process of that in the East. Those who were already financially well off when they showed up in the West advanced the easiest and most rapid.external image Paper-3b.JPG
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Racially Stratified Working Class
The Western working class was highly multiracial, even more so than the East. Whites worked along side African Americans, Southern and Eastern Europeans, Chinese, Fillipinos, Mexicans, and Indians. However, the labor force hierarchy was highly based on race. White workers took the upper tier jobs in management and skilled tasks, and the lower tiers did unskilled arduous work in the mines, on the railroad, and in agriculture, mainly non-whites. To justify the dual labor system Whites claimed that the other races were culturally and genetically suited to manual labor. They were smaller in stature, so they could work in the mines more efficiently. They were more accustomed to heat, so they could in fields better better. They did not concern themselves with material comforts, so they would accept lower wages and worse conditions to live in than whites. Whites stuck to these racial myths because it provided more oppurtunities for social advancement.
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Information: American History by: Alan Brinkley (textbook)