$5 A Day

Newspaper Article, "Gold Rush is Started by Ford's $5 Offer," January 7, 1914

Newspaper Article from January 7, 1914.

Crowd of Applicants outside Highland Park Plant after Five Dollar Day Announcement, January 1914

Crowd of Applicants outside Highland Park Plant after $5 a day announcement, January 1914.

In 1914, Henry Ford did a surprising thing by increasing the wages of his employees. He gave $10,000,000 in profits to his employees. He raised the wage of his factory workers from $2.34 a day to $5.00 a day.11 Ford also made his work days only 8 hours. This was unheard of during this time as many workers worked longer than 8 hours and made a lot less. This led to lines outside of Ford’s factory as people from all over were trying to obtain a job. There were certain conditions that went along with making $5 a day. Some of the conditions the workers had to follow were abstaining from alcohol, not physically abusing their families, not taking in boarders, keeping their homes clean, and contributing regularly to a savings account.12 Many people felt that this was an intrusion in their personal lives. Ford was trying to help create a new version of the middle class out of his employees. Ford also now made his cars affordable to his employees by increasing their wages. 

Ford’s idea for increasing the wage of his workers was successful . He was trying to seek out more long-term employees so he would have a more professional and dedicated workforce. Since he raised the wage he had some of the best production numbers ever heard of. His productivity also rose between 40%-70% and his profits rose about 20% within a year of announcing the pay increase.13 His crews were more focused and wanted to work for him. He was setting the foundation for the idea of our modern “living wage.”