Future of Price and Wage Controls

December 17, 1952

Report Outline
Coming Decisions on Economic Controls
Controls, Prices, and Wages Since Korea
Deflationary and Inflationary Prospects
Special Focus

Coming Decisions on Economic Controls

Early Deadline for Republicans on Price-Wage Curbs

What to do about price and wage controls is one of the questions that will call for early decision by the new Republican administration and the new Congress. Statutory authority for those controls, and the remaining rent controls, runs out on Apr. 30, 1953. Hence, after President-elect Eisenhower enters the White House, he and the Republican leadership in Congress will soon have to make up their minds whether (1) to let the controls lapse and dismantle the control machinery or (2) seek a renewal of the authority, even if it should be planned only to hold it in reserve, with or without a supporting skeleton control organization, for possible use in the event of a new and serious inflationary threat.

Because the Defense Production Act, which granted the price and wage stabilization powers, made their exercise discretionary with the President, the Chief Executive has authority to lift the controls at any time. At the end of November, when relaxation of inflationary pressures already had led to suspension of ceilings on nearly two-thirds of the items originally subjected to price freezing, it was rumored that President Truman was contemplating termination of all price and wage controls. The White House, however, issued a prompt denial. And on Dec. 3 President Truman publicly stated that it was his “firm intention to continue a strong stabilization program and turn it over to the new administration as a functioning, effective entity”.

Threat to Wage Control from Conflict in Coal Case

It looked for ten days as if the President would be frustrated in that purpose. His statement of intention was made in a letter to Economic Stabilization Administrator Putnam which announced that he had decided, contrary to the recommendations of all top stabilization officials, to overrule the Wage Stabilization Board and allow bituminous coal miners the full wage increase won in recent contract negotiations. The Truman decision in the coal case threatened to result in complete collapse of the machinery for wage stabilization. W.S.B. Chairman Cox immediately resigned in protest, and his resignation was followed almost at once by that of all the board's industry members, who in a joint letter of resignation bitterly assailed the coal decision and said it made the wage stabilization program “nothing but a sham and a mockery”.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Cost of Living and Wages
Apr. 17, 2020  Inequality in America
Sep. 08, 2017  Universal Basic Income
Apr. 08, 2016  Future of the Middle Class
Apr. 18, 2014  Wealth and Inequality
Jan. 24, 2014  Minimum Wage
Jun. 19, 2009  Rethinking Retirement
Mar. 06, 2009  Middle-Class Squeeze
Mar. 14, 2008  Gender Pay Gap
Dec. 16, 2005  Minimum Wage
Sep. 27, 2002  Living-Wage Movement
Apr. 17, 1998  Income Inequality
Oct. 27, 1978  Wage-Price Controls
Jun. 16, 1978  Military Pay and Benefits
Mar. 23, 1966  Rising Cost of Living
Oct. 25, 1961  Price-Wage Restraints in National Emergencies
Jun. 21, 1961  Wage Policy in Recovery
Jun. 11, 1958  Prices and Wages in the Recession
Sep. 18, 1957  Control of Living Costs
Nov. 02, 1955  Wages, Prices, Profits
Jan. 26, 1954  Minimum Wage Raise
Jan. 02, 1954  Cost of Living
Jan. 21, 1953  Guaranteed Annual Wage
Dec. 17, 1952  Future of Price and Wage Controls
Nov. 19, 1951  Fringe Benefits and Wage Stabilization
Dec. 06, 1950  Wage Control
Jun. 13, 1949  Wages in Deflation
Jun. 04, 1947  Guarantees of Wages and Employment
Oct. 29, 1946  Decontrol of Wages
Dec. 01, 1945  Minimum Wages
Sep. 29, 1945  Wage Policy
Oct. 27, 1944  Wage Security
May 17, 1943  Incentive Wage Payments
Aug. 25, 1941  Prices, Profits, and Wage Control
Apr. 28, 1941  Wartime Changes in the Cost of Living
Sep. 21, 1940  Two Years of the Wage-Hour Law
Nov. 01, 1938  Industry and Labor Under the Wage-Hour Act
Jan. 20, 1938  Wage Rates and Workers' Incomes
Apr. 11, 1935  The Cost of Living in the United States
Sep. 01, 1930  Wages and the Cost of Living
May 24, 1930  The Anthracite Wage Agreement
Feb. 20, 1925  Measure of Recovery in Profits and Wages Since 1920–21 Depression
Regulation and Deregulation