labourers. The women return to their parents, 
and commonly spin, in order to make 
clothes for themselves and their families
Even the independent workmen do not always 
work for public sale, but are employed by 
some of their neighbours in manufactures for 
family use. The produce of their labour
therefore, frequently makes no figure in those 
public registers, of which the records are sometimes 
published with so much parade, and 
from which our merchants and manufacturers 
would often vainly pretend to announce the 
prosperity or declension of the greatest empires
Though the variations in the price of labour 
not only do not always correspond with those 
in the price of provisions, but are frequently 
quite opposite, we must not, upon this account, 
imagine that the price of provisions has 
no influence upon that of labour. The money 
price of labour is necessarily regulated by two 
circumstances; the demand for labour, and 
the price of the necessaries and conveniencies 
of life. The demand for labour, according as 
it happens to be increasing, stationary, or declining
or to require an increasing, stationary
or declining population, determines the 
quantities of the necessaries and conveniencies 
of life which must be given to the labourer
and the money price of labour is determined 
by what is requisite for purchasing this quantity
Though the money price of labour
therefore, is sometimes high where the price 
of provisions is low, it would be still higher
the demand continuing the same, if the price 
of provisions was high
It is because the demand for labour increases 
in years of sudden and extraordinary 
plenty, and diminishes in those of sudden and 
extraordinary scarcity, that the money price of 
labour sometimes rises in the one, and sinks 
in the other. 
In a year of sudden and extraordinary plenty
there are funds in the hands of many of 
the employers of industry, sufficient to maintain 
and employ a greater number of industrious 
people than had been employed the year 
before; and this extraordinary number cannot 
always be had. Those masters, therefore, who 
want more workmen, bid against one another, 
in order to get them, which sometimes raises 
both the real and the money price of their labour
The contrary of this happens in a year of 
sudden and extraordinary scarcity. The funds 
destined for employing industry are less than 
they had been the year before. A considerable 
number of people are thrown out of employment
who bid one against another, in order 
to get it, which sometimes lowers both the 
real and the money price of labour. In 1740, 
a year of extraordinary scarcity, many people 
were willing to work for bare subsistence. In 
the succeeding years of plenty, it was more 
difficult to get labourers and servants
The scarcity of a dear year, by diminishing 
the demand for labour, tends to lower its 
price, as the high price of provisions tends to 
raise it. The plenty of a cheap year, on the 
contrary, by increasing the demand, tends to 
raise the price of labour, as the cheapness of 
provisions tends to lower it. In the ordinary 
variations of the prices of provisions, those 
two opposite causes seem to counterbalance 
one another, which is probably, in part, the 
reason why the wages of labour are everywhere 
so much more steady and permanent 
than the price of provisions
The increase in the wages of labour necessarily 
increases the price of many commodities
by increasing that part of it which resolves 
itself into wages, and so far tends to diminish 
their consumption, both at home and abroad. 
The same cause, however, which raises the 
wages of labour, the increase of stock, tends 
to increase its productive powers, and to make 
a smaller quantity of labour produce a greater 
quantity of work. The owner of the stock 
which employs a great number of labourers 
necessarily endeavours, for his own advantage, 
to make such a proper division and distribution 
of employment, that they may be enabled 
to produce the greatest quantity of work possible. 
For the same reason, he endeavours to 
supply them with the best machinery which 
either he or they can think of. What takes 
place among the labourers in a particular 
workhouse, takes place, for the same reason
among those of a great society. The greater 
their number, the more they naturally divide 
themselves into different classes and subdivisions 
of employments. More heads are occupied 
in inventing the most proper machinery 
for executing the work of each, and it is, 
therefore, more likely to be invented. There 
are many commodities, therefore, which, in 
consequence of these improvements, come to 
be produced by so much less labour than before, 
that the increase of its price is more than 
compensated by the diminution of its quantity
The rise and fall in the profits of stock depend 
upon the same causes with the rise and 
fall in the wages of labour, the increasing or 
declining state of the wealth of the society
but those causes affect the one and the other 
very differently. 
The increase of stock, which raises wages
tends to lower profit. When the stocks of 
many rich merchants are turned into the same 
trade, their mutual competition naturally tends 
to lower its profit; and when there is a like