Distressed Communities

October 27, 1954

Report Outline
Industry Closing and Distresssed Areas
Self-Help Programs to Offset Shutdowns
Operation of Industrial Development Plans

Industry Closing and Distresssed Areas

Areas and Numbers Affected by Plant Shutdowns

How to rehabilitate towns or small cities that have lost their principal or only industrial enterprise is a question that is being given increasing consideration on both local and national levels. After arousing concern in the 1930s, when numerous New England textile mills shut down, the problem has gained prominence again in recent months as a result of stepped-up migration of textile manufacture to the South and of threatened or actual closing of various coal mines, steel mills, and other business ventures in small communities over the country.

Some indication of the magnitude of the problem is given by the drop in textile employment in New England—from just over 300,000 persons in 1947 to around 165,000 last summer. Statistics compiled by the National Association of Wool Manufacturers show that 74 of the 132 woolen and worsted mills shut down in the five years 1949–1953 were New England mills. The shutdowns deprived more than 48,000 workers—32,750 of them in New England—of their jobs.

Sen. Kennedy (D., Mass.), who has long worked for aid for distressed New England areas, has noted that “Since 1946, in Massachusetts alone, 70 textile mills have been liquidated, generally for migration or disposition of their assets to plants in the South or other sections of the country.” Kennedy has pointed out also that “Besides textiles, there have been moves in the machinery, hosiery, apparel, electrical, paper, chemical, and other important industries.”

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