The Stabilization of Employment

August 19, 1929

Report Outline
The Chronic Unemployment Problem
Recently Adopted Measures for Stabilizing Employment
Plans for Future Stabilization of Employment
Special Focus

Announcement by the Department of Commerce, August 15, that commodity production and consumption had been larger, and business in general more active during July, 1929, than in any corresponding month of the nation's history followed close upon the heels of a statement by President Green of the American Federation of Labor that during 1929 at least 500,000 wage-earners had been added to the number enjoying the five-day week and that millions of additional dollars for expenditure in retail trade had been provided through wage increases received by organized workers during the year. Unemployment, Green added, did not seem at this time to be “unusually large,” There was more of it in the smaller towns than in large cities, but whether the total was above or below normal he was unable to say, for “there has never been any determination of what normal unemployment might be.” The first countrywide figures of this nature will be obtained through the census of unemployment to be taken as of April 1, 1930, in connection with the next decennial enumeration of the population.

Labor leaders have directed attention with increasing emphasis during recent years to the fact that sub-normal employment may exist side by side with super-normal business activity; that full employment is not by any means an inevitable accompaniment of conditions of prosperity. The new machine processes that have been so rapidly introduced, and have contributed so largely to corporation earnings, have at the same time displaced large numbers of wage-earners. According to Prof. William Leiserson, well-known labor economist, “present unemployment is a product of prosperity,”-for American industry is becoming so organized that it can use only the more efficient workers. Those who lose their jobs are “the less efficient, less adaptable, and more unemployable”; they are not readily absorbed in other lines of activity and they tend to create “a surplus of labor, more or less permanently unemployed.”

Prospect of Action by Congress on Unemployment

During the last regular session of Congress, ended March 4, 1929, unemployment was an important subject of debate. Pursuant to a resolution offered by Senator Wagner, Democrat, New York, the Senate ordered an investigation of the problem by its Committee on Education and Labor. While the investigation was in progress two bills to provide for construction of public works in times of depression as a means of alleviating unemployment were before the Senate, one introduced by Senator Jones, Republican, Washington, and the other by Senator Wagner. The committee's report was not submitted to the Senate until the end of the session. In the present special session two measures recommended by the committee have been adopted by Congress., the first providing increases in appropriations for the Bureau of Labor Statistics to permit the collection of improved current statistics of employment, and the second authorizing the forthcoming census of unemployment. Other measures recommended by the committee will receive consideration at the first regular session of the present Congress, which convenes on December 2, 1929.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Labor Standards and Practices