At the start of the 20th century, Lawrence produced nearly 25% of all the woolen cloth in the U.S. 65% of manufacturing output, 67% of all the capital invested, and 66% of expenditures for material were from woolen mills. 52% of the city’s wages came from the woolen mills.
“…there are two very desirable luxuries in the city of Lawrence, Mass., among the mill operatives, that is, molasses on their bread and water.”
— Lawrence city official testifying at the March 1912 Congressional hearings on the strike.
At the time of the strike half of the workers in the four Lawrence mills of the American Woolen Company were girls between 14 and 18.
In 1910, 65% of mill workers, most of whom eventually struck, lived in the United States less than 10 years; 47% less than five years.
The Lawrence Survey (1912) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Report on the Strike (1912), found that rent per week varied from $1 to $6, but the amount most commonly paid was $2 to $3 for a 4-room apartment and $3 to $3.50 for a 5-room apartment.