Industrial Revolution in the Gilded Age – Time of Hard Work and Low Wages

In the 1870’s to the 1890’s, the United States faced a very fast passed period of industrialization. This was a very big shift to become an industrial economy which drew many Americans to move to urban areas for factory jobs. This become the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age had many sources of the Industrial Revolution. Many included Raw Materials, Cheap Labor, New Technology, Laissez-faire and Big Business. During this time the population increased by 142.3%. The value of Farms increased by 150% and factories increased by 263%. The Industrial greatly increased the need for workers to work in the factory jobs for production of different goods. These factory jobs did not require any skills, or at least very little. This increased the immigration to the United States. This caused for a many positions to be filled by the immigrants in these factories. Since the factory workers made up most of the population at this time, the factory owners became very wealth. The owners of these factories became a tiny fraction of the population.


Consequences of the industrial revolution included the following: Robber Barons, Sherman Anti-Trust, Gospel of Wealth, Self-Made Man, Social Darwinism and Mass Market. Northern wages were increasingly higher than workers wages in the southern states. Exploitation and unsafe working conditions made workers  come together across the country to create the nationwide labor movement. Labor unions forced business owners to improve the working conditions. The problems were low wages and unsafe working conditions. First it started with local unions in single factories to then grew bigger to across the nation. These unions would use strikes to try to force employers to increase the workers wages and make the working conditions safer to be in. These working conditions work often times harsh and even dangerous. The workers were forced to work around dangerous and heavy machinery with no training and did work that required a repeated task. The workers would face very long hours in these conditions to make little pay, as the big business owners became increasing richer. This is what we call a robber baron as they get rich through ruthless means. (“Texas Gateway.” )


The rail roads were also seeing a big increase at this time. As there were more good and workers needing to be transported, we see a big uprising in rail roads. This provided more jobs for workers to be making the rail roads as well as a means to transport the good that the factories were producing as well as the works to different destinations. As the strikes began in the work place we also see the strikes become to affect the transportation throughout the northeast. Military force did put the railroads lines back in order, after the stickers had destroyed more than $10 million worth of property and this terrified the middle class. This became the railroad strike of 1877 (Shmoop Editorial Team).


Founded in 1869, the Knights of Labor became to join all workers of any race, gender, ethnicity or occupation. This group was able to lobby the government for the eight-hour day and child labor restrictions that we take for granted today. This group continued to grow larger throughout the late 1800’s.


This give a resolution of workers learning that they needed to come together and organize. That there is a power in numbers to make change. The workers also voiced that since they became laborers they felt that there once best practices were diminished by a machine, almost to feel less valuable. This led to depression in the working force.



Shmoop Editorial Team. “Labor in The Gilded Age.” Shmoop, Shmoop University, 11 Nov. 2008,

“Texas Gateway.” 4.1 Resistors in Series and Parallel | Texas Gateway,



Mary Bowerman

10 thoughts on “Industrial Revolution in the Gilded Age – Time of Hard Work and Low Wages

    1. I believe that this revolution caused such a great population increase because with all the new industries and factories the quality of life increased and there were a cornucopia of news jobs to make money so people could enjoy life.

    2. I believe the revolution caused a population increase because of the number of jobs and increased income that it brought. Having more money makes it a lot more efficient to have a family.

    3. I think the fact that the factory jobs were becoming so prominent and available to everyone is a main factor that contributed to the growth of the population. I think that the availability of more money to more families is what caused the population to grow so exponentially and I think that the availability of these factory jobs is what caused it.

  1. Thoughts on “Industrial Revolution in the Gilded Age – Time of Hard Work and Low Wages”

    With the introduction of the railroad what came a problem with the owners? Was there any monopolies? And who where the rich railroad owners?

  2. Very thorough overview of the industrial revolution and the aftermath it left in its wake. You mention the impact of the railroad development, what other industries did you find to be relevant to the foundation of the industrial revolution?

  3. I believe the revolution was caused by the increase of the factories and industries. It opened up more jobs, it gave people a better opportunity to make more money and be able to have a family easier. I do like that you did mention the railroads big increase. Having the factories and industries really did help with the production of the railroads.

  4. It is tough to tell if the Industrial Revolution was good or not when it comes to the fact that it provided many jobs for people and increased productivity. However, the negative is that all these newly employed workers were treated unfairly and had terrible work conditions that were unsafe. They also had to work an unreasonable amount of hours. It is tough to look at the negatives when you look at what the Industrial Revolution did for the whole world when it comes to production. It allowed us to mass produce today at a rate that wasn’t even imaginable at the time.

  5. I agree the Industrial Revolution was a tough time period, but in the long term effect, this time period kick-started many economical ideas. Many workers did face harsh work conditions and low wages, which i think is unfair. I thank them because they paved the way for us by protesting and forcing the government to make laws for more pay and less harsh working conditions. I also agree that the railroads were huge during this time because it allowed for the transportation of mass goods, as well as people. GREAT BLOG!

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