Excerpts from the Press Conference
Q. Any plans for taking up the annual wage question referred to in your speech Sunday night?
THE PRESIDENT: The annual wage thing?
Q. Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: You mean the annual wage to Government employees?
Q. Insuring workmen an annual income.
THE PRESIDENT: I don't think I mentioned that, did I, in the speech?
Q. Yes, sir; you spoke of the inadequacy or possible inadequacy of wage minimums for a given short length of time such as a week or an hour or two, to establish living standards.
THE PRESIDENT: That I merely mentioned as one of the things people are beginning to think about.
Q. Would you call it an immediate problem?
THE PRESIDENT: Frankly, I don't know. I just mentioned it as something people are thinking about. As a matter of fact, when I first dictated that speech the other day I had an example which would have made more clear that phase of the wage problem.
Last winter, as you will recall, the automobile workers were down here. They were a pretty young crowd, most of those fellows were about thirty-five years or along there. I said to one of them, "What are you getting? What is your hourly wage?" He said, "A dollar and a quarter an hour." I said, "Eight hours?" He said, "Yes, sir." I said, "That is $10 a day?" He said, "Yes, sir; that is right." I said, "It seems to me that is a pretty good wage. What are you, a machinist? .... Yes, sir." I said, "I think that is a pretty good wage."
Then he said, "Mr. President, that is a pretty good wage, yes, but last year I only worked 65 days. My total gross income was $650."
I think that particular story emphasizes the thought better than anything else that you or I can use as to the reason for thinking in terms of how much a fellow gets by December 31st instead of how much he gets per hour. That is what I was driving at. . . .
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208163