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Social Science Ueit^JSoofcs 






By RICHARD T. ELY, PH.D., LL.D. Revised and 
enlarged by the AUTHOR and THOMAS S. ADAMS, 

















Associate Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin 
Formerly Superintendent Minnesota Public Employ- 
ment Office ; Chief Statistician, Minnesota 
Department of Labor and Industries 





All righls reserved 


Set up and electrotyped. Published November, 1919. 

NotiDOOD 10KB8 

J. S. Cushing Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 

Co flfcs iWUfe 






THIS work has a very definite purpose. It aims to prove the 
necessity for national machinery for the control of the problem 
of employment and to furnish information which the author 
hopes will be of value to employment office managers and to 
students of the employment and the labor problem. The 
conditions of supply and demand in the labor market are 
analyzed in Part I; past, present, and needed labor market 
machinery are discussed in Part II ; while the common laborer 
and the farm laborer are given special consideration in Part III. 

The writer has had three groups of readers in mind in the 
preparation of the work : (i) the general reader, particularly the 
employer and the legislator; (2) the employment official; and 
(3) the college or university teacher and his students. Readers 
who desire to make a comprehensive survey of the subject of 
employment, and teachers who want a concise but fairly ade- 
quate library for class use, will find that the following books 
supplement the present work: "Employment: A Problem of 
Industry," W. H. Beveridge; "Industrial Good Will," John 
R. Commons; "The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner 
Slichter ; and "Hiring the Worker," Roy W. Kelly. Beveridge's 
work is the foundation upon which all subsequent writers have 
builded, and the writer wishes to add his tribute of appreciation 
of its informing and suggestive pages. The bibliographical 
note in Appendix I will be of assistance in directing the reader 
to valuable sources of current information. 

The author has called attention to a large amount of sup- 
plementary material in the footnotes, chapter references, and 
bibliography. The references do not exhaust the material on 
the subject of employment. The author has simply selected a 
sufficient number of references to corroborate his points, to 
present the views of those who disagree with him, and to furnish 


additional reading for students of the problem. He has not 
cited any of the French or German references at all, although 
there are many studies of employment in the foreign languages. 
Suggestions and criticisms of much value have been received 
during the preparation of this work from the author's colleagues, 
Professors Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. 
Ross. Professor B. H. Hibbard, of the University of Wisconsin 
College of Agriculture, kindly read and criticized Chapter XIII, 
on Farm Labor. The author also desires to acknowledge in- 
debtedness to Dr. William R. Leiserson of Toledo University; 
Dr. M. B. Hammond of Ohio State University ; Dr. Charles B. 
Barnes, formerly state superintendent of the employment offices 
of New York State ; Sanford E. H. Freund, formerly Director 
of the Clearance Division of the United States Employment 
Service; Frank E. Hoffman of the Minnesota Department of 
Labor ; and David C. Adie of the Minneapolis Civic and Com- 
merce Association, for suggestions which they have contributed 
to the writer's thought on employment at one time or another 
during the last few years. The New York State Industrial 
Commission, through L. W. Hatch, chief statistician, has 
kindly loaned the author a series of curves which appear in 
Chapter II, while the Texas Mechanical and Agricultural 
College, through Professor H. M. Eliot, has extended the same 
courtesy. Their charts appear in Chapter XIV. 





Five characteristics of labor supply .... 3 

Immigration and the labor supply .... 3-9 

The labor reserve 9-13 

Decentralization of the labor reserve .... 13-18 

Labor turnover 18-19 

Unorganized labor distribution 19-20 


Decentralized character of the demand for labor . . 21-22 
Rise and decline of industries and occupations . . 22-24 
Fluctuation of labor demand due to changes within in- 
dustry ......... 24-29 

Fluctuation due to changes in industrial prosperity . 29-32 

Fluctuation due to seasons 32-51 

Irregular fluctuations 51-58 

Casual demand fluctuations 58-64 

Cyclical fluctuations 64-67 


Types of unemployment 68-70 

Causes of Idleness 70-97 

Maladjustment of supply and demand ... 71 

Effect of inefficiency 71-89 

Dissatisfaction with the work 89-92 

Industrial incapacities 92-93 

Health and employment 93~94 

Personal causes of idleness 94-96 

Non-industrial causes of idleness .... 97 

Incidence of unemployment ...... 97-100 

The unemployable 100-102 

Social costs of unemployment 102-110 




Types of turnover ....... 111-113 

Causes of turnover ....... 113-115 

Costs of turnover 114-118 

Statistics of turnover 116-118 

Reduction of turnover . 118-121 

Significance of unemployment 
Stabilization of production . 
Dovetailing of establishment demands . 
Conservation of labor efficiency . 
Relief work 





"Market" denned 141-143 

Direct employment 143-144 

The labor market before the war 145 

Private, fee charging agencies 145-158 

Regulation of private agencies I S5~i57 

Employers' employment offices 158 

Trade union employment service . . . . 159 

Philanthropic offices 159 

Public offices 160-163 


Organization before the war 

Attitude of employers 

Causes for organization 

Evolution of public thought on subject 
State contributions to employment practice . 
National farm labor exchange .... 
Early federal efforts 


Depression and unemployment in 1914-1915 
Recovery of industry 







Labor shortage 180-184 

Chaos in the labor market 182-185 


Military motives in its creation 186 

Failure of immigration bureau employment service . 186-187 

Creation of United States employment service . . 186-187 

Evolution of organization 187-189 

Expansion of service 189-192 

Public Service Reserve and Boys' Working Reserve . 191-192 

Difficulties 192 

Attitude of employers and wage earners . . . 193-194 

State advisory boards 194-195 

Community labor boards 195-196 

Appraisal of service 196-198 

Summary 198-199 



British System 

Board of Trade Department of Labor 

State Advisory Boards 

Number of exchanges 

Clearing system .... 

Attitude of employers 

Purpose of system .... 

Business principles .... 
Canadian employment service 


Cooperative plan 

Federal plan 

Financial responsibility 
Administrative control .... 

Advisory boards 

National Employment Service Council 
Executive organization 






Employment policies within industry . 
The employment manager . 

. 200-211 

. 2OO-2IO 

. 2OO-2O2 


. 2O2- 2O6 
. 203-204 
. 207-208 
. 2O8-2IO 
. 2IO-2II 

. 212-241 

. 214-215 
. 216-223 
. 22O-226 
. 221-226 
221, 223-226 
. 221-227 
. 227-231 
. 231-234 
. 234-240 
. 240-241 


. 242-244 
. 245-246 




Relation of employment manager to employment ex- 
change ....... 246248 



Relation of the laborer to the employment exchange . 251 

Classification of laborers, by skill 252-255 

Classification of laborers, by regularity . . . 255-256 

The steady laborer 255-258 

Sources of laborers 257-259 

The irregular laborer 250-263 

The casual 263-267 

Decasualizing the casual 267-270 

Migratory laborers temporary .... 270-271 

Migratory laborers confirmed . . . .271-274 

Policies of employment service 274-275 

XIV. FARM LABOR 276-306 

The farm labor problem ; what is it? .... 276-279 

Farm labor demand, types of 279-283 

Crop diversification and labor demand .... 283-286 

Factors influencing labor demand .... 286-288 

Peculiarities of farm labor demand .... 288-301 

Pennsylvania 288-289 

Indiana 289-290 

Tennessee 290-291 

Kentucky 291 

Kansas 291-292 

South Dakota 292-294 

Minnesota 294-295 

Montana 295-296 

Texas 296 

Mississippi 296 

Washington 296-298 

California 298-301 

The employment exchange and the farmer . . . 301-306 




INDEX 335-338 




THERE are five essential facts with respect to the labor supply 
of the United States which must be taken into account when we 
attempt to cope with the American labor problem : (i), the fluc- 
tuating but unceasing flow of immigrant laborers ; (2), an ever- 
present labor reserve ; (3), the decentralized character of that re- 
serve ; (4), excessive labor turnover ; and (5), a defective system 
of labor distribution. These five phenomena are closely related. 
Each is both a cause and a result of the others. Taken together 
they furnish a picture of the labor supply side of our labor market. 
The opposite or demand side of the picture is presented in the 
next chapter. 


Immigration has been in a large measure a response to an ac- 
tive demand for labor in America. Year by year, as the power 
of our industries to absorb labor has increased, the tide of im- 
migration has mounted higher and higher. Each successive 
wave of immigration reached a higher point than the one which 
preceded it, until we attained the high-water mark of 1,285,349 
entrants in 1907, a figure almost equaled again in 1914, just 
before the outbreak of the war cut short our sixth great im- 
migration wave. The movement from Europe to America 
since 1898 has outstripped all labor migrations in human history. 
In almost every year the number of immigrants increased by 
tens or hundreds of thousands, and 1908 was the only year which 



did not increase our immigrant population. Six years each 
brought more than a million, and the only year in the last 
quarter century which has witnessed a decrease in our alien 
population (1908), produced a reduction of only 124,124 aliens, 
which was almost balanced by our net increase in the succeeding 
January and February. 1 

America has continually called for more labor. 2 Her de- 
mand, transmitted across the waters in a hundred ways, has 
attracted Europe's sons by the millions. The slackening move- 
ment of Germans, Scandinavians, English, Irish, and Scotch 
has been more than compensated by the hundreds of thousands 
who have each year left the hills, valleys, or plains of Italy, Greece, 
the Balkans, Austria-Hungary, and Russia. Penetrating ever 
farther into Europe and Asia, America's invitation reached the 
Italian, the Slav, the Magyar, and the Jew; then the Syrian, 
the Arab, and the Hindoo ; and the gates of Asia have opened 
for new races who are crossing the seas to try their fortunes in 
the cities and fields of America. During the war, Mexico's 
peons heard the call of opportunities across the border more 
strongly than ever before, and they came as far north as Min- 
nesota to find a place in our industry. 

Our net increase of population by immigration between 1900 
and 1917 was over ten millions. The simple facts that such mul- 
titudes have come to us and have somehow found a livelihood, 
that the volume of immigration has been much larger in pros- 
perous than in dull years, and that emigration is heavier in 
work-slack periods, have suggested that the inflow of immigra- 
tion adjusts itself to the labor demand and forms an elastic 
element that helps us out when we are busy and relieves us of 
our excess labor when business is dull. 

Unfortunately, the conclusion is not entirely true. A frac- 
tion of the immigrants come to America to fill our short-time 
demands for labor, but a large majority of our immigrants do not 
leave as soon as they find that industry's demands for labor are 

1 "Immigration and Crises," H. P. Fairchild, American Economic Review, Vol. I, 
No. 4, December, igu. 

1 We do not overlook the fact that many non-economic reasons cause immigration 
to come now as in the past. 


beginning to slacken. They come to America to establish their 
homes here. They come to stay, not to sojourn. The "bird 
of passage," about whom so much has been said and written, 
is the least important element in immigration. The immigrants 
who come to "make a stake" and then return to Europe to live 
are insignificant in numbers, compared with those who come to 
America to become Americans. 1 A large proportion of those 
who do return to Europe come back to America again and bring 
others with them. 

An increase in immigration during our prosperous years 
and a decrease in dull times is perfectly natural. If you or I 
were migrating to Australia and had to depend upon our hands 
for a living, we would try to time our arrival so that we would 
have the maximum chance of earning a living. If the letters 
of those who had gone before indicated that work was plentiful, 
we would go. If they told us of unemployment and low wages, 
we would bide our time. If we were already there, and had 
accumulated some money with which to go home and get our 
families and times became dull, we would return home at once 
rather than remain abroad in idleness. But when conditions 
picked up we would go back again. If we had gone to Australia 
with intention to remain there, we would "stick it out" until 
prosperity returned. This is exactly what occurs among the 
European immigrants to America. 

Consequently, immigration does not produce that accurate 

1 Professor H. P. Fairchild has made this clear with respect to the unusually heavy 
emigration of igo8 : 

"Now what catches the public eye in such an epoch as this, is the large number of 
departures. We are accustomed to immense numbers of arrivals and we think little 
about that side of it. But heavy emigration is a phenomenon, and accordingly we 
hear much about how acceptably our alien population serves to accommodate the 
supply of labor to the demand. But if we stop to add up the monthly figures, we find 
that for the entire period after the crises of 1907, when emigration exceeded immigra- 
tion, the total decrease in alien population was only 124,124 scarcely equal to the 
immigration of a single month during a fairly busy season. This figure is almost 
infinitesimal compared to the total mass of the American working people, or to the 
amount of unemployment at a normal time, to say nothing of a crisis. It is thus 
evident that the importance of our alien population as an alleviating force at the time 
of a crisis has been vastly exaggerated. The most that can be said for it is that it has 
a very trifling palliative effect." American Economic Review, Vol. I, No. 4, De- 
cember, ion, p. 758. 


adjustment of labor supply to labor demand which some have 
assumed. The movement of labor from Europe to America is 
a movement of human beings seeking new homes in a better 
environment. It is not controlled by any accurate knowledge of 
market conditions; neither is it regulated by any authority. It is 
due to the fact that millions of people in Europe believe that 
America is a better place for them to live than their homelands. 
They come by hundred thousands in response to letters from 
relatives and friends who are here. Whole villages and districts 
have been almost depopulated of able-bodied men when returned 
immigrants flaunted their American prosperity in the eyes of 
simple peasants and told fascinating tales of the wealth, the 
liberties, and the opportunities of America. Steamship adver- 
tisements and agents have played no negligible part in turning 
many to our shores, and employers have found a host of ways 
in which to send the lure of a job to peasants eking out a scanty 
existence. The foreman has found it easy to suggest to his 
laborers that their countrymen would find work at good wages 
if they came over, and the home-going letter carried a message 
backed by the words of " the boss." Foreign grafters in America 
padrones, immigrant bankers, and other "leaders" of foreign 
groups have encouraged the immigration of fresh material 
for their exploitation. In times of prosperity the letters pour- 
ing across the Atlantic fascinate with high wages, plenty of 
work, hope, and enthusiasm. In dull times, they warn of un- 
employment, lowered earnings, and the hardships of the out of 
work. By such undirected means as these the fluctuation is 
produced. 1 

1 The United States Immigration Commission says on this: "Through the 
medium of letters from those already in the United States and the visits of former 
emigrants, the emigrating classes of Europe are kept constantly if not always re- 
liably informed as to labor conditions here, and these agencies are by far the most 
potent promoters of the present movement of population. ... In fact, it is en- 
tirely safe to assert that letters of friends at home from persons who have emigrated 
have been the immediate cause of by far the greater part of the remarkable movement 
from southern and eastern Europe to the United States during the past twenty-five 
years. ... It was frequently stated to members of the Commission that letters 
from persons who have emigrated to America were passed from hand to hand until 
most of the emigrant's friends and neighbors were acquainted with the contents. 


When the flow gets under way immigration continues for 
some time after depression has begun in this country, because 
it takes a long time for retarding influences in America to be 
thoroughly felt on the other side. Similarly, when conditions 
improve, it requires positive assurance of better times before 
the immigrants will start out again. Supply adjusts itself 
to demand only in an inaccurate manner that produces untold 
suffering for thousands and leaves imprints in our social life 
that cannot easily be effaced. When the flow is on, too many 
are apt to come, producing unfortunate surpluses. When times 
get dull, those surpluses remain and make the unemployment 
situation more acute. Even during the prosperous period many 
go to places where they are not needed, rather than to localities 
where labor is in demand. In thousands of cases their destina- 
tion in America is determined by the residence of relatives or 
friends rather than by industrial demands. When times become 
slack, only a fraction want to return to Europe and many who 
would like to go are unable. 

The fact cannot be too emphatically stated that the flow of 
Europe's living stream to America is in obedience to a law of 
life as real as the law of gravitation. It is part of a world process 
of social equilibration. Human population tends to flow from 
poorer environments into better ones and will do so as long as 
there are marked inequalities of welfare in different lands. A 
decline of immigration from northwestern Europe has occurred 
during the past twenty-five years because social conditions 
there are more nearly equivalent to those in America. Immi- 
gration from southeastern Europe, on the other hand, began 
during this period because knowledge then penetrated to Austria, 
Russia, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor that America would be 
to them a Promised Land. The better wages and expanding 
opportunities of employment in America were dynamic forces 
that loosened these peoples from their custom-bound lives in 

In periods of industrial activity, as a rule, the letters so circulated contain optimis- 
tic references to wages and opportunities for employment in the United States. . . . 
The reverse is true during seasons of industrial depression in the United States." - 
Abstract of Reports of the United States Immigration Commission, Vol. I, 
pp. 187-188. 


Europe and drew them to our shores. But the pull of these 
forces was not nicely adjusted to the actual volume of employ- 
ment open to them here. 

It does not necessarily follow that the accretions of popula- 
tion due to immigration have produced a surplus of labor in 
America that could not be employed. Our industries have 
been expanding and developing with marvelous rapidity in 
the last quarter century. Mr. I. A. Hourwich r cites govern- 
ment reports which indicate that our coal consumption, bank 
clearings, and railroad ton miles trebled between 1888 and 1908, 
our copper production quadrupled, and our steel production 
increased fivefold, while our population increased but 46 
per cent. There can be no doubt that the important cause 
of the increase of immigration in the last twenty-five years 
has been the necessity for more crude labor to work in con- 
junction with our labor-saving machinery and expanding capital 
in the development and utilization of our natural resources. 
A growing country has required an increasing population. It 
is probably true that the multitude of cheap immigrant laborers 
which poured into the country between 1900 and 1907 and again 
between 1909 and 1914 tended to stimulate production and 
contributed to undue business expansion, but it is likewise 
beyond question that the nation had reached a stage where it 
was ready for more rapid development and able to use a greatly 
increased labor force. 

It is important to note in this connection that in modern 
industry labor is used in combinations. The specialization of 
tasks and subdivision of occupations has created a situation in 
which skilled, partly skilled, and unskilled workers are each and 
all required for the performance of a single piece of work, and the 
absence of one of the necessary types of labor may prevent all 
the other workers in the group from securing employment 
just as surely as the absence of a demand for the product, or 
a lack of machinery, raw materials, or of buildings. The immi- 
grant has in some cases competed with the American for a job ; 

1 Cf. "Economic Aspects of Immigration," Isaac A. Hourwich, Political Science 
Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, No. 4, pp. 615 f. 


in other cases he has completed the crew and enabled the 
American skilled worker to be employed. 1 


And yet, in every year and month, and on every day when 
these millions have been coming, 14,298,018 between July i, 
1900, and June i, 1918, there have been idle workmen on 
the streets of practically every city and town in America. 
Labor shortage and labor surplus have been coexistent. 
Abundant supplies of land, rich natural resources, and plentiful 
capital have needed labor for their utilization. Wages higher 
than those prevalent in Europe bespoke an insistent desire for 
men. Nevertheless almost every morning in the year found 
idle men at tens of thousands of factory gates, or hanging around 
employment offices and loafing places. The workless paced 
the streets of the cities and were present in nearly every country 
town. Labor surplus has been as ever present as labor shortage. 
Investigation after investigation of employment conditions 
has demonstrated a continuous supply of idle men. No records 
yet compiled (so far as I know) have ever found the unemployed 
reduced to zero. 2 Employers have lacked men and at the very 
same time men have lacked work. 

An explanation of this paradox is fundamental to intelligent 
discussion of conditions in the labor market. It is certainly 

1 A typical illustration may be cited. A steam-shovel crew consists of an engineer, 
who controls the power-creating apparatus of the shovel and the movement of the 
shovel from point to point along the job; a "runner," who operates the dipper; 
and three or four pitmen, who are common laborers, often recent immigrants. If 
the employer lacks an engineer, the whole crew must remain idle. If he lacks a 
"runner," the same thing is true. If he could not find the pitmen, the engineer 
and runner, skilled as they are, would be unable to operate. The entire labor 
combination must be available or the work cannot proceed. 

This condition is as characteristic of manufacturing, many phases of agriculture 
and merchandising, railroad work, lumbering, and many other industries as it is of 
shovel operation. 

1 Professor M. B. Hammond of Ohio State University states that after February, 
1915, the level of unemployment in Great Britain was less than one per cent, "a 
level lower than that reached at any other time since such figures began to be 
gathered." American Economic Review, Vol. VIII, No. i, Supplement, March, 
1918, p. 147. 


true that surplu:, and deficit cannot steadily coexist in the 
commodity market of the whole nation. We either have more 
wheat than we want, or less, or just enough. How, then, can 
we have deficit and surplus coexistent in the labor market ? 

We omit from consideration for the moment the fact that 
some of the "unemployed" are not entitled to that designation. 
They are "unemployable " ; either through incapacity or incli- 
nation. 1 They are idlers or unfits rather than "unemployed." 
It is our present task to account for the presence of unemployed 
workers in a labor market that is calling for men. 

The first fact which we must note is that the supply of labor 
cannot fluctuate in amount in harmony with the fluctuation 
of demand for it to the extent that the supply of commodities 
does. The supply of iron, grains, or cloth is controlled by the 
acts of persons who produce or fail to produce according as they 
expect or do not expect that production will be profitable. 
Supply is quickly increased or diminished in response to cal- 
culations by producers of prospective prices. Intelligence and 
prudence dictate their action in the matter. If producers 
err and give us an oversupply, they suffer in lowered prices 
and we store the commodity for future use. Future output 
is decreased until the surplus is consumed. In normal times 
oversupply or undersupply is a temporary, short-time phenom- 
enon, often local in its effects, and simply affects prices and 
future production. 

The labor supply is entirely different. Labor is an expression 
of the personal energy of a human being. The productive 
energy which the laborer sells to his employer is inseparable 
in existence and in use from the personality of the laborer. In 
order to increase the supply of labor power in the world we must 
either increase the number of people or materially increase their 
efficiency. In order to decrease the total available supply of 
labor power we must decrease the world's population. Neither 
increases nor decreases in population can be accomplished 
quickly. The labor supply has other interests than work. 
It is produced in response to other than economic motives. 

1 See Chapter III for discussion of the unemployed. 


It comes into existence through human reasons, not for market 
demands. It does not increase or decrease at man's quick 
word. It takes years to bring the babe to the age of economic 
labors, and he must be fed whether his labor is needed or not. 
Only war, famine, or pestilence can rapidly reduce the labor 
supply, and even the worst war in history has not produced a 
large diminution. Its chief effect is a disturbance of the rela- 
tive density of population in different countries ; a considerable 
destruction of adult workers, and the development of a large 
number of semi-skilled, highly specialized women workers to 
take the place of many of the skilled men who have died. 

The war caused thousands of men who were habitually 
unemployed to go to work. Some of these were rich men, some 
loafers, some elderly men who had retired from active work. 
It brought hundreds of thousands of women who had never 
worked for wages into industry. It compelled boys and girls 
to work in much larger numbers, especially during the school 
vacations. But this large and rapid shifting of persons from 
the unemployed to the employed class was abnormal and tem- 
porary. It could not have occurred in peace times. It was 
in violation of the standards of life that ordinarily obtain. It 
was an emergency measure to relieve shortage of labor endanger- 
ing the very existence of the nation. The suction which drew 
these persons into industry was not the need for an increased 
labor supply but the necessity for filling millions of jobs made 
vacant by men withdrawn for military and naval service. 
They entered industry to restore the labor supply rather than 
to increase it. 

Hornell Hart has gathered some interesting data on the 
American labor reserve. He found that from one million to 
six million workers were idle in the United States at all tunes 
between 1902 and 1917, exclusive of farm laborers. 1 

"The least unemployment," he says, "occurred in 1906-07 and in 
1916-17, while the most occurred in 1908 and in 1914 and 1915. The 
average number unemployed has been two and a half million workers, 

1 "Fluctuations in Unemployment in Cities of the United States, 1902 to 1917," 
Vol. I, No. 2, of Helen S. Trounstine Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio, pp. 51-52. 


or hardly ten per cent of the active supply. It will be noted . . . 
that in^igoy and 1917, the demand for labor exceeded the normal 
supply, and . . . additional workers were called in, as indicated by the 
bumps in the supply line in these years. Even at these times, however, 
unemployment is shown. The reason is this : Urban industries require 
a working labor-margin of at least four or five per cent, or a million to 
a million and a half workers. These are the men and women who, 
though normally employed, are temporarily not working because of 
sickness, seasonal fluctuations in their trades, changing from one posi- 
tion to another, strikes, shortage of material or transportation facil- 
ities, and so forth. Hence we have the paradox of a million and a 
quarter unemployed at the same time with an unprecedented demand 
for labor." 

Another valuable set of figures is found in the weekly reports 
of the Ohio free labor exchanges. Ohio has had public employ- 
ment offices in twenty-two cities since early in the war period. 
Their weekly reports show that in 1917-18, though the with- 
drawal of men for military service, a reduction of net immigra- 
tion to about 20 per cent of what it was before the war, and 
the strong demands of war industries for men combined to 
create an acute labor shortage, there were idle men at all 
times. Even in the months just before the armistice, when tens 
of thousands of workmen were needed, there was a labor reserve. 

Thtf reports of the public employment offices in other states 
show the same fact. The Monthly Bulletins of the New York 
Department of Labor on "The Labor Market" show requests 
by employers for a much larger number of men than applied 
at the offices for work during 1918 ; but they also show that the 
number of men sent to employers by the offices was smaller than 
the number of men who applied for work. In other words, 
after as many as possible of the applicants for work were given 
positions with employers, there was still left a group of workers 
who were not placed. The total for the year shows that the 
employers called for 779,972 men ; that 443,782 workers applied 
for employment, and that 283,640 were actually placed. This 
leaves a surplus of 160,142 applicants who could not find work 
from the employment offices in spite of the fact that employers 


requested approximately 500,000 more men and women from the 
offices than they obtained. The figures for 1917 and 1916 show 
a slight surplus of offers for employment over the number of 
applicants seeking employment. But in each year the number 
of persons placed in employment was considerably smaller than 
the number who applied for work. 1 

We do not wish to be misunderstood. We are pointing out that 
no matter how strong the demand for workers, some are never- 
theless out of work. Some of these will not work ; some cannot 
fit into the jobs that are open; some are out of touch with 
the opportunities of employment; some are persons who are 
continually passing through jobs rather than into them. The 
New York report just cited reveals that even when employers 
were calling for many more men than were seeking employment, 
there were more persons in some occupations seeking work 
than there were openings for them. 

The person whose eyes were open during the summer of 1917 
and of 1918 would not need statistics to prove that this was so. 
What city could you enter without finding men loafing around 
saloons, pool halls, or employment offices? The very fact 
that there was a strong demand for labor at high wages only 
made some classes of labor the more irregular. Many, on the 
other hand, could not fit into the actual jobs offered. Some 
were tied down by family responsibilities that made it impossible 
for them to go to the places where labor was needed. 


One reason for persistent labor surpluses is the decentralized 
character of our labor reserve. 2 The typical character of the 
American labor supply has been that we have not had a labor 
reserve but thousands of labor reserves, a decentralized labor 
supply. Each city has had a multitude of groups of laborers. 

1 The Labor Market in December 1918, New York State Department of Labor, p. 5. 

1 Cf . "A Federal Labor Reserve Board," Wm. M. Leiserson, United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 220, p. 33, for an able comparison in this respect 
of the money market and the labor market; "Unemployment a Problem of 
Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chap. 5. 


Every morning saw ten men at this factory gate, a hundred at 
that; saw carpenters, laborers, clerks, stenographers, sales- 
men, factory hands, peddling their labor at one business place 
or another. Each town, each large establishment was the center 
of a permanent labor reserve, composed in part of changing 
individuals but always there. 

The American employer has been able to assume as a matter 
of course that there would be idle men at his gate this morning, 
to-morrow morning, every morning. He has accepted orders 
upon the security of that expectation. If the reserve at his 
place of business or in the immediate locality disappeared, he 
complained of a labor shortage. In his mind, consciously or 
unconsciously, was an idea that he was entitled to have available 
at all times enough labor to man his plant to maximum capacity, 
even though he did not run at maximum capacity thirty days 
in the year. He expected that those who did his hiring for him 
would be able to select from an assembled group the man best 
suited to do his work ; and that laborers would compete with 
each other for the jobs he offered, thereby keeping his wage 
costs down. 

It is not strange that a policy of dependence on an ever present 
labor reserve should have developed in America. Immigration 
provided a supply of men to replenish continually local labor 
reserves, and employers found it easier to attract plenty of 
labor to each locality so that they could have it when they 
needed it than to provide labor market machinery that would 
find labor when it was needed. 1 There was no organized 
system of labor distribution to which the employer could turn 
for labor, and he was so accustomed to depending upon mis- 
cellaneous means to attract labor to his plant, that he did not 
realize that there could be an organized labor market. It did 
not occur to him that a centralization of the labor supply with 
machinery which would provide him with labor when he needed 

1 "Two years ago a manager of major rank in a great Philadelphia plant told me : 
'We are not interested in problems of personnel. We have a lot of work, but there 
are always more people to do it than there is work ; and if those we have do not 
wish to work under our conditions, they can go. and we will go out and get others.'" 
E. M. Hopkins, President, Dartmouth College, The Annals, May, 1917, p. 3. 

it and draw off his surplus during his dull seasons was an impor- 
tant need of the nation. He knew that banks enabled employ- 
ers to carry on the nation's business on a smaller amount of 
capital than would be required if each employer carried his own 
capital reserve, but he did not realize that an organized labor 
market would enable him and his fellow employers to carry on 
production with a much smaller idle labor force. 

The situation was one in which the forces operated in a circle. 
Immigration provided a multitude of laborers to furnish the 
local labor reserves. Excessive labor turnover led the employer 
to believe that there was a labor shortage even when there were 
many idle men. The lack of any organized labor market made 
him depend on the local reserves, and the presence of the 
local reserves prevented a consciousness of the need for an 
organized market. It is not difficult to understand why he 
was interested in the maintenance of the reserve and favored 
unrestricted immigration. 

The vigorous local calls for men which we find periodically 
in big headlines on the first pages of American newspapers 
are part of the process of accumulating local labor reserves. 
The reluctance of many employers and newspapers to admit 
the presence of unemployment is due to the same cause. In the 
winter of 1915-16, when unemployment was rife in most Amer- 
ican cities, the writer was in a large middle west city where 
conditions were no better than in other places, but where the 
employers' association and the newspapers refused to admit 
that work was slack. They maintained that exceptional pros- 
perity, as compared with other cities, obtained in the community. 
The result was such an inflow of men from neighboring states 
that public school buildings had to be opened for idle men to 
sleep in. In order to insure their comfort each man was fur- 
nished with a newspaper to sleep on. One who wishes to under- 
stand the bitterness of many workmen toward the more well-to- 
do classes should stop to imagine the state of mind of these 
men, some of whom had come several hundred miles to a badly 
overcrowded labor market, because of false representation of 
the industrial situation in the newspapers. 


The time has now come in our national development when 
employers must realize that the maintenance of these local 
labor reserves is unsound economic and social policy. In the 
past most of our businesses have operated on the theory of short- 
time employment of labor without responsibility resting on the 
employer for what occurs in the life of the laborer after he has 
passed out of the individual employer's service. They have 
expected a large portion of their labor force to leave after a 
short employment ; and they have expected, on the other hand, 
to discharge many of their workers, after a short period of 
service. They have expected labor to be available (just like 
land, buildings, and machinery) whenever they wished to speed 
up production, and they gave little thought to what became of 
it in the interval before it was needed again. 

The time for such indifference has passed. American employers 
and the American government are being held responsible in 
the minds of the workers for the hardships from which they 
suffer through irregular employment. Unless those who control 
our industrial policies accept responsibility for those hardships, 
and recognize that the worker's relation to production is and must 
be different from that of the raw material or the machine, we will 
have to face, sooner or later, a demand for a social and economic 
system that will concern itself. The maintenance of a labor 
reserve for each establishment, or at least in each locality, that 
is adequate to meet the employers' needs at times of normal 
maximum production, but is idle much of the year, is one of 
the principal causes of industrial unrest and bitterness. We 
recognize fully that many workers are idle through their own 
fault, but that fact does not excuse the policy of decentralized 
labor reserves. 

Immigration has played an important part in this matter 
by providing human material for the labor reserves. But 
these surpluses are not entirely due to immigration. It is 
debatable whether immigration can be held chiefly responsible. 
Reserves have developed in England as well as in America. 
They are largely due to the unorganized labor market and to 
fluctuations of production. 


"An excess of labor over the demand appears to be a normal 
condition in the skilled and organized trades," says Mr. Beveridge 1 
(the leading British authority on employment). "It is hardly 
necessary to argue at length that the same condition is found in the 
unskilled and unorganized occupations. The glut of labor in them 
is notorious. Has there ever, in the big towns at least, been a time 
when employers could not get practically at a moment's notice all the 
laborers they required?" 

Other English investigators have reached the same con- 
clusion : 

"... About each trade there tends to accumulate a pool of labor 
large enough to satisfy the highest potential demand of that industry, 
and the sum of all these pools forms a 'reserve army,' a great con- 
venience for the employer, who can draw upon it at need and feels no 
responsibility for its maintenance while on reserve. . . . 'The army 
of men and women standing at his beck and call cost him nothing 
except for the actual hours that they were at work. And the very 
existence of such a " reserve army" places each member of it more 
completely at his mercy with regard to all the conditions of employ- 
ment.'" 2 

Similar conditions can be found in America in localities and 
industries but little affected by immigration. The southern 
cotton mill situation is a striking illustration. Here the labor 
force consists of native-born whites. Immigration, at least 
up to 1909, did not furnish the labor supply. The mill laborers 
were obtained from agricultural districts or from the moun- 
tains. The companies distribute their work among a much 
larger number of "hands" than can ever be employed at one 
time and there is such a large labor surplus that the employees 
are loud in their complaint that they are "sent out to rest" 
when they are both able and willing to work. "It is a vicious 
circle," says a federal report. "There are too many hands be- 
cause the people work irregularly. The people work irregularly 
because there are too many hands." 3 At Fall River, where the 

1 "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, pp. 69-70. 
* Seasonal Trades, 1912, edited by Sidney Webb, pp. 6-7. 
1 Report on Woman and Child Wage Earners, Senate Document No. 645, 6ist 
Congress, Vol. 16, p. 155. 


labor force is largely composed of immigrants from Europe, 
the situation is almost identical. 

The migratory laborers who meet the needs of certain seasonal 
industries constitute a special type in the labor reserve. Prob- 
ably no country in the world has such a proportion of travelers 
among its workers. Thousands of young men from our farms, 
country towns, and cities are caught in the whirl of industry, 
many of them to spend their lives whirling from place to 
place, industry to industry, and job to job. Unable to get 
steady employment when they first go to the city, or not liking 
the work they get, or fascinated by the opportunities that they 
hear exist in distant places, or caught by the wanderlust, they 
start on the road to wander nowhere. Many of the immi- 
grants, free to wander, drift into the same habit. Having come 
four or five thousand miles, another thousand does not matter. 
Dependent on employers' emissaries and employment agencies 
for work, they have to go where they are sent. The fluctuating 
demands of railways, contracting, lumbering, mining, harvest- 
ing, manufacturing call for men, now here, now there. 

No one knows how many there are of these migrants ; some 
estimate that we have hundreds of thousands ; some, more than 
a million. We only know that every labor center has a host of 
employment offices, lodging houses, saloons, pawnshops, second- 
hand stores, vice and gambling dens, and often corrupt police 
officials that prey upon them and depend upon them for their 
sustenance. 1 


The ever present labor reserve encourages excessive labor 
turnover. Employers can be careless about their labor because 
they can easily get more. Workers can lightly " throw up their 
jobs" because many others are doing the same thing and they 

'See references under "Migratory labor" in index, also Chapter XIII. Cf. 
"A Clearing House for Labor," D. D. Lescohier, Atlantic Monthly, June, igi8; 
"The Employment Service as a Means of Public Education," D. D. Lescohier, 
Industrial Management, April, igio; "The Psychology of Floating Workers," 
P. A. Speek, The Annals, January, 1917; "One Thousand Homeless Men," 
Alice Solenberger. 


can therefore secure other employment. For this, and many 
other reasons, labor passes through our industries rather than 
into them. 1 A relatively small number of progressive employers 
have inaugurated labor policies which hold fairly stable forces 
in their establishments, but most employers are clamoring for 
more men while they let those they have slip through their 
fingers. The workers, for their part, are also at fault. Many 
quit jobs at the slightest provocation or for the mere sake of 
change, without any knowledge of where they will again secure 


We have already suggested, in the discussion of the decen- 
tralized labor reserve, that one of the principal reasons why 
unfilled labor demands and idle workers coexist in the labor 
market is the nation's lack of any market machinery competent 
to bring our employers and our workers together. The same 
lack of policy which permits us to receive from Europe any 
amount of labor which may happen to come, without regard 
to the chances of giving it all employment, is found in our 
domestic labor distribution. New York, Pennsylvania, or New 
England may be swarming with men, and Illinois or Missouri 
short, but we have no social machinery which can accurately 
shift the labor surplus of certain localities into the labor deficit 
of the other localities. The workers have to depend upon 
rumor or private employment agents to direct them to the work ; 
while employers naturally resort to the accumulation of local 
surpluses to safeguard the productive capacity of their establish- 
ments. The crude efforts which have been made thus far to 
provide public employment exchanges have hardly scratched 
the needs of the situation. Even during the war we had no 
labor market which could be compared with our cotton, butter, 
or copper markets. Previous to the war we had not evolved 
machinery for efficiently mobilizing, distributing, or placing 
labor. We had put the best brains in the nation to work on the 

1 Cf. Chapter IV for detailed discussion. Consult index for other data scattered 
through other chapters. 


solution of capital, transportation, commodity, and credit 
problems; but had practically ignored the employment prob- 
lem. The war, with its check on immigration and its with- 
drawal of labor for military service, artificially reduced the 
supply of labor and suddenly directed attention to the nation's 
need for machinery of labor mobilization and distribution. 
It made the nation conscious, as a thoughtful few were conscious 
before the war, that we had no labor market and needed one. 

The United States Employment Service was the answer to a 
war-time crisis produced by ineffective labor distribution. But 
this employment service was not a true organization of the labor 
market since a host of competing agencies kept labor mobiliza- 
tion and distribution in a state of chaos. Neither was it created 
to serve the employment needs of employers and employees, 
but rather to serve the military necessities of the government. 
It accepted the business of employers in non-war industries, 
but its main duty was to mobilize labor for war industries. It 
was not established to help solve the nation's employment or 
unemployment problem, but to facilitate the transfer of labor 
from industries not essential in war time to so-called "essential" 
industries. It was a piece of war machinery with a war func- 
tion rather than a piece of industrial machinery with an indus- 
trial function. Every person who realized America's need for 
an organized labor market hoped that the United States Employ- 
ment Service would be developed into a permanent system of 
control over the employment market, and that all other agen- 
cies would be discontinued. But that consummation was not 
attained during the war, and at the present time the failure of 
Congress to appropriate funds for the Service leaves the country 
in a situation almost as bad as before the war. 


THERE is one essential fact with respect to the demand for 
labor which must never be forgotten. It is the fundamental 
fact. Neglect of it has caused much unsound thinking. It is 
the simple fact that America's labor demand consists of millions 
of specific, individual demands for specific types and qualities 
of labor to work in specified establishments for more or less 
definite periods of time. It is a composite of multitudinous 
individual demands emanating from individual concerns. Each 
demand for labor is individual as to employer, place, type of 
labor sought, wages offered, hours to be worked, conditions of 
employment, and the duration of the work offered. The labor 
demand is decentralized. This is one reason for the decentralized 
labor supply. The demand comes from every sort of employer 
in every sort of place for every sort of workman. It comes 
from governments, corporations, partnerships, and individual 
employers; from cities, towns, camps, and farms; from fac- 
tories and mines; banks, stores, and offices; railroads and 
steamship lines ; and from a host of small workshops, contrac- 
tors, and personal service establishments. When an employer 
wants a bricklayer it does not help him to have a carpenter 
applying for work ; when he needs a dairy hand he cannot get 
along with a tile ditcher. The demand at any one time is a 
demand for steady, seasonal, short-time, and casual workers; 
for mechanics, office help, skilled operatives, semi-skilled, slightly 
skilled, and unskilled laborers. The seasons of maximum and 
minimum demand in some industries duplicate, in some overlap, 
in some dovetail. 

One of the most important problems which confronts our nation 
is the creation of means for feeding a decentralized demand for 


labor into a centralized organization able to locate the individual 
workman suited to each individual demand, and bring the two 
together with the least disturbance to industry and to the home 
life of the worker. It is not a problem of massing orders and 
mobilizing men so often as it is a problem of discriminating 
selection of the man who meets an employer's need and the 
employer who meets a man's need. 


The 1910 census shows a rapid expansion of American in- 
dustry in the decade from 1899 to 1909. Our population in- 
creased 15,977,691 (21 per cent). The number of farms in- 
creased 624,130 (10 per cent), farm acreage, 40,206,551 acres 
(4.8 per cent), and improved farm lands 63,953,263 (15.4 per 
cent) acres. 1 But this expansion of agricultural population 
and acreage was eclipsed by the growth in our urban industries. 
The number of manufacturing establishments (excluding hand 
and neighborhood industries) increased from 207,514 in 1899 
to 268,491 in 1909 ; the number of factory wage earners from 
4,712,763 to 6,615,046 and the factory wage bill from $2,008,- 
361,119 to $3,427,037, 884. 2 This is an increase of 29.4 per cent 
in the number of factories : of 40.4 per cent in the number of 
wage earners employed ; and of 70 per cent in the employers' 
wage bill. Our railway, street railway, public utility, mercan- 
tile, banking, and other industries supplementary to agriculture 
and manufactures experienced similar expansion. They were 
years of rapid development, broken only by the slight depression 
of 1904 and the panic of 1907-08. 

The reader of the census who finds an increase of 2 1 per cent 
in our population during the decade and an increase of 40.4 per 
cent in the number of factory wage earners is apt to conclude 
at once that here is conclusive evidence that any able-bodied 
man who was idle during this decade was loafing. But a more 
careful analysis of the census reveals that the totals quoted are 
but an average of changes which occurred in a multitude of indus- 

1 United States Census, igio, Vol. V, p. 28. * Ibid., Vol. VIII, pp. 40-43- 


tries, each of which had a different experience. Some increased 
marvelously, some slowly, some decreased, some died out. 
The number of wage earners in automobile factories increased 
3278.9 per cent, but the number in roofing material establish- 
ments decreased 67.5 per cent. The number manufacturing 
steel doors and shutters increased 1268.4 per cent, but the 
number making paving materials decreased 41.7 per cent. 
Wage earners increased 55.1 per cent in cottonseed oil prod- 
ucts and 265.7 per cent in beet sugar factories, but decreased 
44.1 per cent in oleomargarine factories, and 19.7 per cent in 
glucose and starch works. Further analysis shows that even 
such contrasts as these do not tell the story. Certain indus- 
tries, such as the manufacture of carriages and wagons, corsets, 
miscellaneous oils, turpentine, and house furnishing goods, 
decreased their force between 1899 and 1904 and then increased 
again between 1904 and 1909. Others, such as shipbuilding, 
cooperage, rice cleaning, the manufacture of rubber boots, 
wirework and cables, and malt liquors, increased up to 1904 
and decreased during the last half of the decade. The census 
tables show that seventy-one industries decreased their labor 
force during the decade. In twenty-one cases the reduction 
was large. 

The war caused striking changes in the prosperity of industries 
and their resultant demands for labor. The manufacture of 
spirituous liquors, which increased its labor force 72.8 per cent 
between 1899 and 1909, showing a growth throughout the decade, 
was suddenly stopped entirely by a governmental order. Ship- 
building, in which employment decreased 13.4 per cent from 
1899 to 1909, was given a stimulus which caused the industry 
to increase its employees by tens of thousands. 

The Food Administration requirement that we decrease our 
sugar consumption enabled the corn sirup industry to expand 
rapidly. When the Food Administration's regulation of sugar 
consumption ended, the sirup manufacturers necessarily suf- 
fered a sharp reduction of sales, compelling reductions in their 
labor force. The war brought repression to many a non-essen- 
tial industry, such as ice cream and confectionery manufactures, 


pool rooms, and importing companies ; while stimulus came to 
all businesses fortunate in their adaptability to war needs. Iron 
and copper mining, steel manufactures, typewriter manufactur- 
ing, dye making, saddlery and harness making, cheese and 
condensed milk manufactures, the cloth industries, and a host 
of others steadily increased their output under the pressure 
of the war demand. 

The end of the war cut the abnormal demands for certain 
products to a fraction of their war-time volume and terminated 
the demands for other products entirely. Loss of markets 
caused thousands of concerns to discharge part of their work- 
men. Machinery had in many cases to be rebuilt and orders 
for different products obtained before production could be 
resumed. No governmental regulations of the process of shift- 
ing from a war basis to a peace basis could do more than mitigate 
the hardships of the change. Shipbuilding (on its war-time 
scale) became as unnecessary in a world at peace as it was neces- 
sary in a world at war. Aeroplane, munition, and other sorts 
of war manufacturing had to stop or be cut to a mere fraction 
of war-time output. Laborers had to shift both to other indus- 
tries and to other localities, 1 while more than a million discharged 
soldiers were thrown upon the employment market during the 
four months when employment was most slack, December, 
1918, to March, 1919. 


On the whole, the period from 1900 to 1918 was a period of 
industrial expansion. During the whole period, both in peace 
and in war, some industries and establishments failed to par- 
ticipate in the general prosperity. Social forces in some cases, 

1 The metropolitan dailies and many of the papers in the smaller cities abound 
with evidence of the labor disturbance immediately after the termination of the 
war. The Chicago Tribune, particularly in December, 1918, and January, 1919, 
is rich in concrete facts, while the Madison, Wisconsin, State Journal gives typical 
descriptions of conditions in the smaller cities during the same period. The Jan- 
uary, 1919, numbers of the United States Employment Service Bulletin give a more 
comprehensive idea of the unemployment situation in the country. 


individual failure in other cases, were forcing concerns into 
bankruptcy or decline. 1 

Changes in social customs produce many of the vicissitudes 
of business. The bicycle created in a decade a new industry 
which the automobile nearly wiped out in the next decade, 
and no one can foretell what changes in social habits and in 
the demands for labor will follow the perfection of air travel. 
The New York Commission on Unemployment - discovered 
a rapid decline in saddlery and harness making due to the 
automobile ; a decline in lumber- and brick-producing industries 
since steel and concrete have become popular building materials, 
and a decline in suspender manufactures since "the college 
students have declared against wearing suspenders " and resorted 
to the belt. The soft-collared shirt has sharply reduced the 
demand for linen collars. The increasing favor enjoyed by 
ready made clothes has already effected profound changes in 
the clothing industries. All of the cheaper lines of goods 
are rapidly passing into the control of the factory industry, 
and the custom shops are being more and more restricted to 
high-class, exclusive products. So severe is the competition, 
that small custom shops are finding it impossible to exist. 3 

Changes In the proportion of capital and labor used constitute 
another factor modifying the demand for labor. The census 
reveals case after case in all parts of the country where an in- 
crease in the value of machinery, tools, and implements em- 
ployed in an industry is accompanied by a decrease in the num- 
ber of wage earners and of the employers' wage bill. For 
instance, there were nine industries in New York state that 
increased their capital and decreased their employees between 

1 Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment of the State of New 
York, IQII, Third Report, p. 157. Summaries of 653 employers' replies to questions 
of the Commission give interesting data on the causes of fluctuation in labor demand. 
Two hundred and forty-five attributed it to increase or decrease of orders; 168 to 
seasons ; 69 to busy or dull times in the trade ; 34 to new work ; 33 to inventory 
and repairs; 30 to the weather; 7 to overproduction; 9 to lack of help; 13 to 
changes in the business; 16 to employees' personal reasons or strikes; and 15 to 
other causes. 

* Ibid., p. 45. 

8 United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 193, p. 25. 


1900 and 1905,* and ten that increased their capital and decreased 
their labor force between 1890 and 1900. Men's furnishing 
goods increased their capital 17 per cent and decreased their ( 
labor force 23 per cent; while the glove and mitten industry 
increased their capital 17 per cent and decreased their labor 
force 43 per cent. The substitution of machinery for labor 
during the Civil War, both in manufactures and in agriculture, 
changed the type of American production. During the World 
War of 1914-18 this process was again stimulated by the short- 
age and high cost of labor, but it is a process that is in progress 
to a greater or less extent at all times. 

Sometimes the new machines and processes change the type 
of labor employed rather than the quantity. Skilled mechanics 
are displaced by laborers, men by women, adults by children. 
In the metal- working establishments the various stamping, 
pressing, and cutting machines have made skill unnecessary 
in a large fraction of the operations. In the textile mills, the 
machinery has opened many occupations to children which were 
the work of mechanics in earlier times. 

In other cases the work is transferred from one occupation 
to another, as when "stationary engineers are thrown out of 
work by the substitution of electricity for steam ; carpenters 
and other wood workers suffer as wood is replaced by fireproof 
material"; and teamsters are replaced by chauffeurs. One 
class of labor is displaced and must seek a new occupation, 
while another class has an increased opportunity of employment. 
An increase in the total number of persons employed does not 
mean, therefore, that no labor has been eliminated from an 

Fortunately, not all terminations of industries or occupations 
throw men into idleness. It sometimes becomes apparent 
to the workmen in a certain industry that it is in a decline. 
In other cases they foresee that a certain occupation will be- 
come obsolete by the substitution of machinery for skill, or a 
change in the kind of goods demanded by consumers. New 

1 Bureau of the Census, Bulletin 50, Table 2. (Cited in Third Report, New York 
Commission on Employers' Liabilit3' and Unemployment, pp. 46, 47.) 


workmen are discouraged from entering, and forehanded em- 
ployees begin to seek new avenues of employment. To illustrate 
with one case out of many. When the author was a boy his 
father, a mechanic, predicted, years before the invention 
appeared on the market, that sooner or later the stove factories 
of Detroit, Michigan, would succeed in perfecting a machine 
to do their metal polishing. Such far-sighted men direct appren- 
tices into growing rather than declining trades. But the sur- 
plus of labor ordinarily available enables employers to keep their 
places filled, even when such changes impend, and workmen 
almost inevitably suffer unemployment in these forward steps 
of industry. 

Business failures are a third important cause of labor dis- 
placement. Thousands of concerns go into bankruptcy, or 
pay their debts and close their doors, each year. In bad years 
the number increases, but every year witnesses a multitude of 
failures throughout the country. 

Reorganizations have a similar effect. Plants bought up 
by competitors are frequently dismantled or closed down and 
their orders transferred to other plants. The changes now 
proceeding so rapidly, whereby corporations are assuming 
control of a larger and larger fraction of our business activities, 
inevitably cause many such displacements of workmen, some 
of whom have been long with their employers. Three striking 
illustrations that came under the writer's personal observation 
may be instanced : A boy started work for a railroad as office 
boy. In seventeen years he had become chief auditor. The 
road was absorbed by another road, and its entire auditing 
department then became unnecessary. The auditor was 
discharged. After a long search for suitable employment he 
obtained a position at exactly half the salary he had been earn- 
ing. A very intelligent boy entered the freight office of a rail- 
way. In twenty-five years he became head of the freight solicit- 
ing department in an important area. His salary was $4200 
a year. The government's reorganization of the road during 
the war left him out of employment. A shoe cutter was twenty- 
seven years with a certain factory. It was the only occu- 


pation he had ever worked at. The plant was purchased by 
a competitor and he was displaced at sixty-one years of age. 
His friends found employment for him in a department store 
as freight operator at $1.50 per day. 

Reorganizations within establishments in the interest of 
economy and efficiency frequently work the same results. 
Superfluous workers are eliminated and jobs consolidated when- 
ever the employer sees it is possible to reduce costs. This is 
sound business policy, but it is a persistent cause of labor 
displacement, and creates a serious responsibility for the nation. 
The worker should not have to bear the cost of progress. 
Every case of this kind arouses bitter criticisms of our social 

Local changes in the demand for labor are often produced 
by industries moving from one locality to another. 

Each year many concerns move to other towns or cities to 
take advantage of better markets, easier access to raw materials, 
better railway facilities or other business advantages. The 
New York Commission on Employment showed 1 that eight 
of the sixteen cities containing three fourths of the manufactur- 
ing industries of New York had fewer employees in 1900 than 
in 1890, in spite of the fact that the manufactures of the state 
increased 12.9 per cent in the decade. The census reveals 
similar facts for most of the states of the country. Such figures 
as are available for the period of the war show a rapid growth 
of population and a remarkable increase in manufactures in 
some of the eastern states and cities which were favored with a 
large percentage of the war munition orders, and a decrease in 
population in other localities. The workers follow the orders. 
The reports of the Ohio Industrial Commission show approxi- 
mately the same number of employees in Ohio factories at the 
end of 1913 and of 1914, with a slump in the total volume of 
employment from June to December; but in 1915, when Ohio 
began to work on European war orders, the number of employees 
increased every month in the year, and December, 1915, found 

1 Third Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Un- 
employment, p. 47. 


Ohio with 154,918 more employees than on January i, 1915, 
in the 17,981 establishments which reported. 1 

The New York Department of Labor reports that the number 
of wage earners in New York factories increased 27 per cent 
from January, 1914, to September, 1918, but it fell off nearly 
10 per cent after the armistice. 2 

When new contract jobs are started, new demands for labor 
are created in one locality which draw workers from other 
localities, while their termination or temporary stoppages 
throw hundreds or thousands out of work generally with- 
out warning. Workmen are hired in large numbers to construct 
a drain, bridge, building, or dam during the war, canton- 
ments, shipyards, and arsenals and dropped when the job 
is finished. 

"When the construction of the New York subways was completed 
thousands of men were suddenly thrown into idleness and ... for 
months . . . the Salvation Army, the Bowery Mission, and the Muni- 
cipal Lodging House were overrun with men who were thrown into 
distress because they could not find work." 3 

The government's recognition of its duty to redistribute 
the labor mobilized for war construction is almost the first 
instance in our history of any sense of responsibility on the part 
of society for the welfare of workers who have been mobilized 
to put through society's undertakings. 


The fluctuations of labor demand considered thus far have 
been due to conditions which obtain in all years, prosperous or 
dull. These fluctuations are less important than those due to 

1 Rates of Wages, Hours of Labor and Fluctuations of Employment in Ohio in 
1914, Bulletin of The Industrial Commission of Ohio, September 15, 1915, p. 29; 
and of December 15, 1916, p. 31. 

2 The Labor Market Bulletin, September, 1918; February, 1919. Each number 
of the bulletin gives current data on the subject. 

8 New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, Third 
Report, p. 48. This is one of the best American reports on the subject of employ- 



changes in general business conditions. It is not our purpose 
at this time to consider the widespread effects of booms, panics, 
or depressions, but rather the fluctuations in business in ordinary 
or normal years. If we never had panics or depressions, it 
would nevertheless be true that some years would be busier 
than others because of a multitude of different forces which 
affect human life and its economic activities. Good crops, or 
crop prospects, the opening up of new mining fields, increased 
foreign demands, the optimistic predictions of leading business 
men, and many other social or natural forces encourage business 
activity during some years ; while bad crops, the loss of markets, 
ill-advised legislation, impending political changes, and other 
influences retard industrial activity in other years. Mr. Hornell 
Hart's careful study of the employment situation in the United 
States from 1902 to 1917 shows that while our industrial popu- 
lation increased in numbers from approximately 19,500,000 
workmen in 1902 to about 30,200,000 in igiy, 1 industry's de- 
mand for labor from year to year did not maintain any equiva- 
lence to the rate of growth of the industrial population. In 
1902 there was an average of 2,750,000 workers out of employ- 
ment at all times during the year. In 1903, 1906, 1907, 1910, 
and 1917 the annual average fell below two millions. During 
the depression of 1908 it was three and a half millions, and in 
that of 1914-15 it was four and a half millions. Throughout 
the sixteen years the unemployed constituted, on the average, 
9.9 per cent of the labor force; but this percentage reached 
14.1 per cent in 1902, 14.8 per cent in 1908, 15.8 per cent in 1915, 
and 16 per cent in 1916. On the other hand it fell to 5.5 per cent 
in 1906 and 6 per cent in 1916, and 4.7 per cent in 1917. The 
other years saw fluctuations between these extremes. The 
supply of labor increased steadily year by year, 2 but the demand 
for labor fluctuated from year to year, and from month to 
month within the year. In 1903, 1906, 1907, 1910, and 1917 

1 "Fluctuations in Unemployment in Cities of the United States, 1902 to 1917." 
Hornell Hart, Vol. I, No. 2, of Helen S. Trounstine Foundation, Cincinnati, Ohio, 
p. 49, Table 2. 

z Op. cil., p. 49. Mr. Hart estimates that the number of non-agricultural workers 


the demand for labor was strong; in 1908, 1914, and 1915, 
it was very dull. In the other nine years it averages fairly 
uniform, with something over 2,000,000 out of work at all times. 1 
A report of the New York Department of Labor 2 shows a 
continuous variation in the amount of work available from 
1904 to 1916 in New York state. In no two years of the period 
is either the maximum or the minimum number of persons 
employed equal ; in no two years is the total volume of employ- 
ment open to wage earners equal. Each year is different from 
each other year in the amount of employment it offers to work- 
men. In 1904 there was less work than in 1905, 1906, or 1907 ; 
more than in 1908, 1909, 1910, and the early part of 1911; 
less than there was in 1912 ; more than there was in 1913, 
1914, or 1915. The Labor Market Bulletin of the New York 
State Department of Labor shows a similar fluctuation since 
1916, but with a relative steady increase in the total volume of 
employment during the war period. 


Within each year, busy or dull, there is a pronounced seasonal 
fluctuation of employment. 3 Spring, summer, autumn, and win- 
in the United States increased from nineteen and a half millions in 1902 to a little 
over thirty million in 1917. The annual totals were: 

1902 . . . 19.5 millions 1910 ... . 25.6 millions 

1903 . . . 20.2 millions 1911 . . . 26.1 millions 

1904 . . . 20.9 millions 1912 . . . 26.8 millions 

1905 . . . 21.6 millions 1913 . . . 28.0 millions 

1906 . . . 22.3 millions 1914 . . . 28.6 millions 

1907 . . . 23.4 millions 1915 . . . 29.0 millions 

1908 . . . 23.9 millions 1916 . . . 29.5 millions 

1909 . . . 24.6 millions 1917 . . . 3- 2 millions 

The apparent discrepancy between Mr. Hart's figures for 1908 and those of Pro- 
fessor Fairchild (see page 5) is due to the fact that Mr. Hart's figures refer to the 
year as ending on June 30, and Professor Fairchild's as ending on December 30. 
1 Op. at., p. 48. 

* Special Bulletin No. 85, New York State Department of Labor, July, 1917, 
on p. 25. The figures in this bulletin can be brought down to date at any time by 
the reader by consulting the Labor Market Bulletin published monthly by the New 
York Department of Labor; recently renamed "The New York Industrial Com- 
mission. " 

* "We come now . . to the 'seasonal fluctuations' of business, which prevail, 


ter each produce special commodity demands. In the spring 
the consumer begins to think of summer clothes, spring vege- 
tables, outdoor recreations, screened porches, and a host of other 
spring necessities. In the summer ice cream, tennis shoes, 
golf clubs, light clothing, travel, and other summer commodities 
are in vogue. In the autumn preparation for winter causes 
a shift of demand to other types or qualities of goods, and winter 
sees money spent for commodities, pleasures, and services that 
are radically different from those purchased in summer months. 
This shifting of demand as the seasons change causes alternat- 
ing busy and dull seasons in various industries. In addition, 
the weather directly compels some industries to be seasonal. 
Crops must be raised and railways constructed in northern 
states in the summer months ; lumbering, in states like Michi- 
gan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Maine, naturally belongs to the 
winter. Much construction work can be done more cheaply 
in mild weather, while the ice harvest cannot call for men at 
the same time that the corn harvest does. 

These seasonal fluctuations are of many types. Conse- 
quently, the seasonal variation of the labor demand is a compli- 
cated phenomenon. Different industries are unlike, both in the 
degree of their response to the change of seasons and the time 
when they are affected. Some are highly seasonal, some moder- 
ately, some not at all. Some are busy in winter; some in 
spring and autumn ; some in the summer. Both the severity 
of the fluctuations and the actual months when they occur 
in each industry depend in part upon the nature of its products, 
in part upon social customs and in part upon the conditions 
essential to productivity in that industry. A summer resort 

to some extent, in almost all trades, whilst in some they amount to devastating tidal 
waves. . . . To hundreds of thousands of workmen's homes they mean, at present, 
the cessation of employment and of means of subsistence for many weeks, and 
sometimes months, in every year." Webb, "Prevention of Destitution," p. 124. 
Cf . the following citations for further important data on this subject : 
"Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridgc, Chap. Ill; "Sea- 
sonal Trades," Sidney Webb, ed.; "Unemployment in Lancashire," Chapman and 
Hallsworth, Chap. VIII; "Unemployment, A Social Study," Rowntree and Lasker, 
Chap. IV ; Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment of the State 
of New York, 1911, Third Report, Appendices I, IX. 

Tim 1N30 3d 


This curve shows the fluctuations of employment experienced by the members 
of trade unions in New York state from January i, 1904, to June 30, 1916. The 
differences in the amount of employment available in different years is strikingly 
shown by the contrast between the low percentage of idle shown by the curve for 
1904 to 1907, and again from 1909 through the summer of 1912, and the large 
amount of idleness in 1907-08; the winter of 1912-13, and 1914 and the spring of 
1915. The curve also shows very clearly, year by year, the larger amount of 
unemployment that obtains in the winter months. The returns from the building 
trades, of course, contribute heavily to this feature of the curve. 

The curve was prepared by the Statistical Bureau of the New York Industrial 
Commission, who kindly loaned it to the author . 



cannot operate in the winter, for summer recreation cannot 
be manufactured in advance and stored until sold. An electric 
light plant must be busiest in winter. Electric light must be 
produced at the time of sale. Retail millinery establishments 
must be busiest just before Easter and in the early autumn. 
Social customs originating in the changes of the seasons decree 
that women shall go forth at those times in quest of hats. The 
manufacture of holiday goods naturally tends to concentrate 
in the fall, while the holiday rush of department stores inevitably 
comes just before Christmas. Human nature and the limita- 
tions of domestic incomes preclude holiday purchases very far 
in advance of their use. Wheat, though durable and sold 
throughout the entire year, must be produced in the summer. 

In some industries none of these factors actually compel the 
busy season to fall in certain months, but the general situation 
makes it almost inevitable. Lumbering is carried on in the 
winter months in the northern states for a number of reasons. 
It is easier and cheaper to haul logs over snow and ice than over 
soft ground. The melting snows and spring rains furnish 
water to carry logs down to the mill in the spring, but the low 
water of the summer makes it impossible to move logs except 
by rail. There is a larger supply of labor available for the 
woods in winter. Tens of thousands of men who work on rail- 
ways, on various contracting jobs, and farms are out of work 
in the winter. Labor is also cheaper in the winter. The lum- 
berman hires in a labor market heavily stocked with idle men. 
Labor is more contented in the woods in the winter. Flies 
and mosquitoes make the summer woodsman's life a burden, 
while the crowded bunk house is not so attractive on an August 
night as when the temperature is ten below zero. Custom also 
plays its part. In earlier times, when the United States was 
predominantly agricultural, the lumberman had to depend 
upon farmers for labor, and they were free only in the winter. 
He also had to depend upon snow to haul his logs out of the woods 
and on streams to carry them down to the mill. The develop- 
ment of our migratory labor class has lessened his dependence 
on the farmer, and the railroad has given him another means of 


transportation, but there can be little doubt that the lumber- 
man still has sound reasons for depending on the winter months 
for the main part of his logging operations. 

Beet sugar manufacturing has an even shorter year than 
logging. The Federal Trade Commission shows in its 1917 
report 1 that the longest period which any beet sugar factory 
in the United States operated in any one year from 1909 through 
1914 was 159 days. The Mt. Clemens, Michigan, factory set 
this record in 1911-12, but it has never run more than 108 
days in any other year. The Michigan factories had an unusu- 
ally good year in 1911-12, when they had an average run of 
123 days, and the Utah factories in 1909-10, when they oper- 
ated, on the average, 127 days. As a usual thing beet sugar 
factories run from 65 to 100 days a year, though some run less 
than that minimum and others more than that maximum, 
depending upon the success of the beet crop in the particular 
locality. The report accounts for the short season in the fol- 
lowing words : 

"Sugar beets, as already stated, cannot be kept a very long time 
without deterioration. They will keep in a frozen state, but they 
must be worked before they thaw. The harvest begins in the late 
summer or early fall, and they must therefore be worked before the 
first warm days of spring. For this reason, the operating period of a 
factory is comparatively short, and the plants usually lie idle for at 
least two thirds of the year, and often longer. . . . When the plant 
ceases to operate the organization of employees is broken up, and 
most of the employees are discharged." - 

Many other industries are characterized by this single busy 
season followed by complete idleness. Tile ditching and dredg- 
ing can be done only in unfrozen ground. Oyster and salmon 
canneries, as well as the pea, corn, tomato, and other summer 
vegetable canneries of the northern states, all work "short 
years." The vegetable canners open in June and close in Sep- 

1 Federal Trade Commission, Report on the Beet Sugar Industry in the United States, 
1917, Table i, pp. 3-5. 

2 Federal Trade Commission, Report on the Beet Sugar Industry in the United States, 
May 24, 1917, pp. 2-3. 


tember or October. During the winter their force is reduced 
to their sales, office, and shipping organization. Even this 
work is often largely turned over to selling associations. The 
season of the oyster canners opens in September and closes for 
the year in April. 

Another important type of seasonal trade has two busy 
seasons and two dull seasons, instead of a short operating 
year. The garment trades are one of the most important of 
this type. They are highly seasonal. In the dress and waist 

"there are about six months of activity, four in the spring and two in 
the fall; half of them carried on under extreme, almost feverish 
pressure, followed by an equal period of sub-normal activity with 
almost complete stagnation for one month in the year. . . . There 
is a tendency to retain as many employees engaged during the busy 
season as possible and to keep all of them partly employed during the 
slow season." l 

The number of workers in custom dressmaking shops in the 
United States in 1900 varied from 39,593 in the January dull 
season to approximately 57,000 in April and May ; then dropped 
off from month to month to a minimum of 23,615 in August, 
and again reached 54,962 in November, the height of the 
autumn season. 2 There were 18,000 fewer persons employed 
in January than in May ; and 31,000 fewer employed in August 
than in November. The 1910 census shows that in January, 
1909, there were 147,000 workers in women's clothing factories. 3 
Thirteen thousand were added in February, and 6000 more 
in March. Then the summer slump began. Eight thousand 
were discharged in April, 12,000 in May; 8000 in June, and 
3000 more in July. Business now began to pick up. The 
number of employees increased 13,000 in August, 15,000 in 
September, and 4000 in October. Then the winter slump 
began. Five thousand were let out in November, and 90x30 
in December. 

1 United States Bureau of Labor, Bulletin No. 146, p. 18. * Ibid. 

'United States Census, 1910, Vol. VIII, p. 292. 


Some of the causes of these sharp seasonal fluctations in the 
volume of employment are interestingly presented in a federal 
report on the industry. 1 

"The social life of a community largely determines the dress- 
maker's season. The tendency of the wealthy class to live in the 
city only about six months in the year and to spend an ever increasing 
length of time in the country, causes social festivities to concentrate 
within the months of November to January. Upon return from the 
country in the fall, the feminine element deluges the dressmakers 
with orders for new gowns which must be completed within these few 
months. Again in the spring, the first warm day, June weddings, 
college commencements, preparation for a trip abroad or for a sojourn 
in the country, all bring in a rush of orders from March to June. 
But a beautiful autumn may tempt people to stay in the country later 
than usual thereby affecting the welfare of thousands of workers, for 
they are not employed until there is work for them to do. 

"The earlier exodus to summer resorts brings an earlier end to the 
spring 'busy season' and the later return to the city in the fall a 
later opening of the shops for the winter season. The increasing 
exodus to the South in midwinter, on the other hand, has lengthened 
the winter season in Boston. 'The winter season formerly was on 
the decline by Thanksgiving, ' said a dressmaker of long experience ; 
'now it lasts through December and in some shops well through 
January. Customers must have new clothes suitable to the southern 
climate, and their orders help fill in the slack season.' 

"The frequent and abrupt changes in style decreed by Parisian 
fashion leaders may greatly affect the seasons of individual workers. 
The vogue of 'princess' and whole dresses meant 'out of work' 
earlier for the specialized skirt workers, who make no claim to work 
on waists with artistic lines. The 'kimono sleeves' meant small need 
of specialized sleeve makers, for the waist girl made the sleeves with 
the waist. The dainty chiffons left small opportunity for the plain 
finisher, as the delicate, perishable materials must be handled with 
deft and skilled hands. The increased use of embroidery trimmings 
offered occupation to the foreign girls and women who do beautiful 
handwork, some of them working in their own homes. 

"Dependence on Parisian fashion with its consequent congestion 
of the working season is largely due to the customer. The ultra- 

1 "Dressmaking as a Trade for Women in Massachusetts," Bulletin No. 193 of 
the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, pp. 83-85. 


fashionable dressmaker whose customers insist on the latest Parisian 
whims must wait for the new models. 

"They (the fashionable dressmakers) must go to Europe once or 
twice a year, and the workrooms frequently are idle until their return. 
Social festivities then come with a rush, and the workrooms are 
suddenly transformed from barren, deserted rooms to crowded, busy 
workshops and hundreds of orders are rushed through at high speed. 
The work is soon turned out and the workers are rapidly laid off. 
The less 'exclusive' shops depend on importers, who bring the models 
from Paris to New York, while the still more modest dressmakers 
depend on fashion books and shop windows for the new styles. The 
dressmaker who caters to the middle and lower classes is much less 
bound by Parisian decrees, and as a result has a longer and more regular 
season. The small dressmaker who is clever and has good taste and 
inventive genius makes her own ' Paris models ' in the dull season, or 
persuades her customers that there is to be little change in the styles 
of evening gowns, and since they do not desire the latest freaks of 
fashion, she is not delayed by waiting for Parisian mandates. 

"The working, or 'busy seasons' vary for different localities, differ- 
ent shops, and different years, but on the whole the orders for summer 
work tend to come in from March to June and for the winter work 
from September to December. The two seasons, spring and fall, 
characterize the dressmaking trade. The working force is gradually 
taken on through March and reaches its maximum in April and May. 
During the five months, April to August, which mark the heights and 
depths of the dressmaking season, the maximum number employed 
during the year has been gathered into the folds of the trade and 
scattered again to the four winds. While there is a precipitous drop 
in the number employed in June, July, and August, an equally rapid 
rise occurs in September and October, when the workers are again 
assembled for the winter's work, and the season reaches its height in 
November. However, the decline in January and February is never 
so great as in summer, as the majority of shops resort to various 
makeshifts to hold their best workers for the coming spring season." 

In the paper-box industry the actual months when a partic- 
ular plant is busy or dull is determined by the particular trade 
to which it caters. A factory which produces candy boxes 
will have a different season from one which specializes on gun 
cartridge or hosiery boxes. But "wherever data could be 


obtained," says the New York Factory Investigating Com- 

"from Massachusetts to California, from Maryland to Oregon, 
and in the great industrial states of New York, New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, Illinois, and Wisconsin ; a like alternation of rush seasons 
in the spring and fall, with slack in the winter and summer was 
found. For instance, in Philadelphia, an investigation of five firms 
in 1913 disclosed the fact that after Christmas they made wholesale 
dismissals to the extent of 24.3 per cent of their force. In New York 
City last year the Factory Investigating Commission found that the 
number of employees rose to 6700 just before Christmas, and fell to 
6100 directly after that time." l 

The tendency to marked seasonal fluctuations is character- 
istic of a wide range of industries, but not all of them have as 
distinct spring and autumn seasons as those just referred to. 
The flour mills are least busy in June and most busy in Novem- 
ber. In 1909, a normal year, there were about 5000 more men 
at work in the autumn than in the summer. 2 Foundries and 
machine shops started the year 1909 with a force of 482,080 
men. January to April is their dull season. Then the number 
of employees steadily increased up to a maximum of 597,234 
in December. There were only 80 per cent as many men at 
work in January as in December. The hosiery and knit goods 
industry averaged about 175,000 employees from January to 
August, but only 130,000 from September to December. Boot 
and shoe factories employed 5000 more workers from August 
to March than from April to July. The rubber shoe industry 
had its dull period earlier, from January to April. Carriage 
making was busy until June and then declined the balance of 
the year. Car building fell to its minimum in May with 268,700 
employees and reached its maximum in December with 301,000. 
It was dull all through April and May. In men's clothing the 
change from busy to dull seasons is violent : December is the 
busiest month ; January the most slack. 

Interesting contrasts between industries are found in a recent 

1 New York Factory Investigating Commission, Fourth Report, Vol II, p. 529. 

2 United States Census, 1910, Vol. VIII, p. 283. 


New York Industrial Commission bulletin. 1 They reveal, 
year after year, a regularly recurring decrease in the volume of 
employment in the metal trades, clothing industries, printing, 
woodworking, transportation, and building trades during the 
winter months, and just as regularly recurring periods of idle- 
ness in the summer months, but an almost unvarying volume 
of employment for stationary engineers and firemen through- 
out the year. 

The accompanying Charts III, IV, and V, selected from those 
published by the Industrial Commission in its Bulletin No. 85, 
demonstrate in a striking manner the contrasts between dif- 
ferent industries in seasonableness. Chart III, on the build- 
ing trades, shows a large volume of unemployment of builders 
each winter; Chart IV shows that musicians and theatrical 
employees have their dull period in the summer and are busy 
in the winter; while Chart V, furnishes an illustration of a 
non-seasonal occupation, the operation of stationary engines. 

The fact that June, 1914, to December, 1916, was a period 
when factories in New York state were increasing their labor 
force and the total volume of their business does not prevent 
the seasonal fluctuations from occurring in those as in other years. 

One of the most important motives causing employers to 
concentrate production in rush periods is the desire to keep down 
interest charges and use the smallest possible amount of "going 
capital." If the employer can defer production until shortly 
before the time of sale, he does not have the sums he advances 
for raw materials, wages, and other current expenses tied up 
very long before he begins to receive payment for his product. 
He keeps down his interest charges. He often also decreases 
his insurance and handling costs. 

The unwillingness of customers to order until the last moment 
is another influence that increases seasonal fluctuation of labor 
demand. The producer has to regulate his production by his 
orders. Marketing conditions and methods are here the deter- 
mining influence. 

'"Course of Employment in New York State from 1904 to 1916," Bulletin 
No. 85, July, 1917, New York Industrial Commission, pp. 13-36. 


1N33 U3J 



^ o 


LJ o 

r-> I 

3101 1N30 3d 



3101 1N30 U3J 

3101 1N33 U3<J 


The interrelation of industries has an important influence on 
their seasons. Farming has a busy season in the spring, fol- 
lowed by a dull period before hay cutting, and then an increas- 
ingly busy period during the harvest, threshing, and marketing 
periods. It gives the railways a rush of business in the autumn 
when the crops must be moved to market, while factories which 
work up agricultural products become busy after the crops 
are brought to the cities. The busy season of beet sugar fac- 
tories, canneries, tobacco warehouses, food product factories, 
elevators, jobbers, and many others is determined by their rela- 
tions to the agricultural industry. Similarly, sawmills are 
busy in summer, when well-filled mill ponds furnish plentiful 
water power, the logs cut the preceding winter afford raw ma- 
terial, and laborers who come out of the woods provide a labor 
force. Ore and coal docks can operate only during the naviga- 
tion season, when the boats are moving the product. 

The same industry frequently varies much in its seasonal 
character in different localities and different plants. These 
variations are due either to peculiarities of the market in which 
they sell, the quality of their product, or the number of different 
products they make. Peculiarities of market may cause a 
given type of establishment in one locality to show little resem- 
blance, from an employment point of view, to the same type 
of establishments in other localities. For instance, a laundry 
located in Milwaukee, Chicago, or Boston l may run through- 
out the year with little seasonal variation. It may be partic- 
ularly busy on certain days of the week; or during certain 
weeks, as just before Easter, or in the autumn when winter 
clothes are being put in shape for use, but is ordinarily able 
to absorb its rush business by speeding up, overtime, and possibly 
a small amount of extra help. But a laundry located in Petoskey 
or Charlevoix, Michigan, where a local wag said they live "on 
fish in the winter and tourists in the summer" and where the 
population increases three, four, or five hundred per cent during 

1 Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards, House No. 1697, 1912, 
p. 62 ; United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 122, " Employment of 
Women in Power Laundries in Milwaukee," pp. 79-81. 


the summer resort season, must be a highly seasonal industry, 
with a larger labor force during "the season" than when the 
"resorters" have departed. 1 Similarly, thousands of hotels 
have an almost uniform business throughout the year, but many 
located in summer resort districts close entirely during the win- 
ter, while those in winter resorts often close in the summer. 
A federal commission reports that the manufacture of shirts 
and overalls is "fairly regular, with very little slack time and 
almost no overtime" in the Louisiana factories, but that in 
northern factories there was often a dull time in the summer 
and a rush in January, February, and March. 2 

The type of trade to which a plant caters often determines 
the regularity of its demand for labor. If a particular concern 
is manufacturing tin cans for oyster canneries which are busy 
from September to April, its busy season will be different from 
that of a concern producing cans for berry and vegetable can- 
ning. A Senate report calls attention to the contrast between 
two can factories in the same state. The first plant was "very 
highly seasonal." It made bulky cans which were hard to 
store in stock and began 

"manufacturing with a full force about the middle of April . . . 
with . . . about 1200 men, women, and children, who work 60 
hours per week regularly, and often put in overtime, if the season 
is at all fair. This continues until about the end of August, some- 
times until about the end of September. Then the force is suddenly 
reduced to about 100 or 120 employees who stay on through the 
winter." 3 

The other factory, which produced a general line of goods, 
had no busy and dull seasons, but occasionally worked over- 
time to care for rush orders. 

1 It is interesting to note that while the report on " Employment of Women 
in Milwaukee Power Laundries" in Bulletin 122, United States Bureau of 
Labor Statistics (p. 79), states that the laundry business is not a seasonal industry, 
the Report of the Industrial Welfare Commission of the State of Washington, 1914, 
classifies laundries as well as factories as more seasonal than department stores. 

'Vol. 18, Report on Women and Child Wage Earners, United States Senate 
Document No. 645, 6ist Congress, 2d Session, 1913, p. 287. 

a Ibid., p. 57. 


Another typical illustration is found in the candy factory. 
"There is little uniformity among the factories in the length 
of time which they are closed during the year." l Those cater- 
ing to the holiday trade in cheap candies have two very distinct 
and short rush seasons, one just before Christmas and the other 
just before Easter, 2 but the establishments which cater to the 
high-grade candy trade, such as fine chocolates, work with rela- 
tive steadiness throughout the year, though they are partic- 
ularly busy from April to Christmas. The cheap candy trade 
is far more seasonal than the fine candy trade ; the busy seasons 
are shorter, the help is of a lower industrial type, and wages 
both by the day and by the year are lower. 

Differences between plants in the cracker and biscuit industry 
are due to the size of the plants and to selling methods rather than 
to differences in products. The large plants, which sell in large 
lots and take large contracts to be filled during an extended 
period, are able to maintain a rather uniform labor force through- 
out the year. But in "the small factories work is often very 
irregular, depending upon the orders which come in from day 
to day." 3 

It has sometimes been assumed that all occupations are 
seasonal and employ more persons at some time in the year 
than at other times. As a matter of fact, there are many indus- 
tries which do not experience any marked seasonal fluctuation. 
Increases and decreases in their labor force are due to changes 
in the general condition of prosperity, to obtaining or failing 
to obtain orders, and to other more or less irregular influences. 
The Senate report on Women and Child Wage Earners 4 reaches 
the conclusion that cigar, cigarette, and other smoking and chew- 
ing tobacco manufactures, jewelry and clock making, corset 

1 Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards, House No. 1697, 1912, 
pp. 63 f. 

1 Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, on Condition of 
Woman and Child Wage Earners, Vol. 18, p. 121. 

Ibid., Vol. 18, p. 165. 

4 "Employment of Women and Children in Selected Industries," Vol. 18, of 
Report on Woman and Child Wage Earners in the United States, Senate Document 
No. 645, 6ist Congress, 2d session, pp. 91, 112, 149, 181, 215, 221, 278, 297, 324. 


manufacture, staple hardware, staple hosiery, and knit goods, 
needle and pin manufactures, rubber and elastic goods, stamped 
and enamel ware, and the woolen and worsted industry are not 
distinctly seasonal industries. Some of them have a somewhat 
busier season at certain periods, particularly just before Christ- 
mas, but the fluctuation of business is not often sufficient to 
affect the number of employees. During their busy seasons 
they work harder and faster, and if necessary work overtime. 
An examination of the United States Census figures agrees in 
showing little fluctuation of employment in many industries. 
This is particularly the case in some of the smaller manufactur- 
ing industries, such as the preparation of dentists' materials, 
drug grinding, and the manufacture of dyestuffs and flavoring 

It has also been assumed that the busy seasons of practically 
all industries come in the spring and fall and their dull seasons 
in the summer and winter. This is not true, but it seems 
beyond question that there is more work to be had in the total 
In the United States during the warm months. Business in 
general begins to pick up in March. A spring period of activity 
is followed by a dullness in July and August. In September 
the fall work begins and more persons are employed during 
September, October, and early November than at any other 
time in the year. The latter part of November finds production 
checked in many industries, but those which cater to a Christ- 
mas trade are especially busy. 

Hornell Hart shows that from 1902 to 1917 there were, on 
the average, nearly a million more persons unemployed in 
January and February than in any of the other months of the 
year; and, on the average, nearly a half million fewer persons 
unemployed in October than in any of the other months. His 
figures do not show much greater activity in the spring than in 
the summer, and it is probably true that the tendency to a 
dull period in the summer is becoming less prominent as we 
change from an agricultural to an industrial nation. On the 
other hand, the late summer will probably always be a "be- 
tween seasons" period for many industries, and the growing 


tendency to allow summer vacations to wage earners will tend 
to perpetuate the custom of slack production in late June, July, 
and early August. 1 The winter slump is much more important. 
From November to February, there are more industries which 
are slack than are busy, and there is always, in ordinary times, 
a decrease in employment during the winter months in most 
sections of the United States. The census on manufactures 
shows a greater number of persons at work in the spring and 
autumn than in either the winter or summer, in 1900, 1905, 
and 1910. The statistics published by the various state em- 
ployment offices show the same fact. 2 

The volume of employment in the nation is probably not so 
much less in winter as it appears to be. Thousands of men 
who are able to subsist on very little work in the summer months 
without any one noticing their comparative idleness tramps, 
loafers, and irregular migratory workers flock into the cities 
during the winter to seek a place to keep warm. They cannot 
sleep around haystacks or in an alley in the winter, and they 
clamor loudly for "inside work." Most of this type are practi- 
cally useless when placed. It is hard for them to get work, 
and when they do they are either discharged or quit their jobs 
with the greatest frequency. They swell the ranks of the 
unemployed in our cities during the winter months, and make 
the winter unemployment seem much more in excess of summer 
than it really is. Practically speaking, these men are unem- 
ployed all the year round. They never work if they can avoid 
it. But after due allowance is made for them, it is clear 

'"Fluctuations in Unemployment in Cities in the United States, 1902-17," 
Hornell Hart, in "Studies from the Helen S. Trounstine Foundation," Cincinnati, 
Vol. I, No. 2, p. 48. 

2 The figures of the Minnesota offices show that the average number of place- 
ments from April through November in 1912-13 was 5804, while it was only 3182 per 
month in December, January, February, and March. In 1913-14, the summer 
average was 5583 ; the winter average, 2617. In 1916-17, the summer average was 
5221 and the winter average 3520; in 1917-18, the summer average was 4886, and 
the winter average 3135. Biennial Reports, Minnesota Department of Labor and 
Industries, chapter on "Public Employment Offices." 

California's figures for 1916-17 show almost twice as many men per month sent 
out to work from April to June as were sent out from November to February. Cf. 
Annual Report, California Public Employment Bureau, 1916-17, p. 14. 


that there is less employment available in winter than in 
summer. 1 

Sidney Webb seems to believe that the situation just described 
for America does not obtain for Britain. He says : 

"Stating it definitely, I venture to say that if we could get accurate 
statistics of the total number of wage-earners actually in employment 
in the United Kingdom this week we should find it to be very nearly 
identical with the total number for any other week of the present 
year. This is almost certainly true with regard to the great mass of 
unskilled and only slightly specialized labour, which makes up more 
than half of the whole. 

"An economic explanation can be given for this hypothetical 
paradox. In a highly-evolved industrial community, with occupations 
of the most multifarious kinds, the 'product' of industry conies to 
market uninterruptedly throughout the whole year. There is, in 
such a community, no special month of harvest. Translated into 
practical life, we may say that nearly all of us get our incomes week 
by week, or quarter by quarter, fairly evenly, throughout the year; 
and we nearly all of us spend out incomes as we get them. It is 
true that we do not spend them each week in the same way. But 
week by week we are all using or consuming much the same amount 
in the aggregate, giving, in the aggregate, the same number of orders, 
to the same total amount ; and, therefore, indirectly setting to work, 
in the aggregate, the same amount of labour. 

"From this hypothesis there seems to flow the momentous con- 
clusion that the seasonal alternations of over-pressure and slackness 
to which so many workers are subjected, with such evil results, are 
due only to failures of adjustment. There is no more 'inevitability* 
about them than about the rattling of a motor-car. They mean 
only that our statesmen have not yet given themselves the trouble 
to make the social adjustments, and to employ the various devices, 
by which these calamitous dislocations of the lives of so many hun- 
dreds of thousands of households can be prevented." : 

"So long as we confine our attention to any one trade, the seasonal 
fluctuations in the demand for labour seem to be not only inevitable, 
but also without effective remedy. But it is one of the discoveries 
of the Poor Law Commission that there is practically no seasonal 

1 Compare Chart II. 

2 " Seasonal Trades," Sidney Webb, Preface, p. viii. 


fluctuation in the demand for labour in the community as a whole. 
Though there is a slack season in nearly all trades, this occurs at 
different parts of the year. There is, as the Board of Trade, from 
accurate statistics of the past decade, is able positively to testify, no 
month in the year in which some great industry is not at its very slack- 
est, and equally no month in the year in which some great industry 
is not at its very busiest." x 

There is unquestionably a fundamental difference between 
the industries of England and those of America. We have 
a much larger number of persons engaged in outdoor, extractive 
industries. In other words, we have more people producing 
raw materials, while England is principally engaged in working 
up raw materials into finished products, and in trade and com- 
merce. Our agriculture, particularly in our grain and meat 
areas, is a highly seasonal industry employing a multitude of 
people in the summer months and particularly in the autumn, 
for whom there is no work in the winter. Our extensive railway 
construction and repair work, and construction work in general, 
is regularly checked by the severity of our northern winters, 
while our manufactures are so closely related to our extractive 
industries that many of them have at least acquired a habit 
of reducing their production during the winter. 


There are a number of types of irregular employment fluctua- 
tions within the busy and dull seasons. They are produced 
by a variety of causes. In some cases their causes do not seem 
to be within the employer's control, in others they can be traced 
directly to his policies of management. 

Oyster canning furnishes a striking case of the first type. 
We have already shown that the oyster industry is highly sea- 
sonal. It is not only seasonal, but also irregular. The irregu- 
larity is due to the facts that the actual catch of oysters is 
extremely variable, and that the oyster is highly perishable 
in warm weather. The canning must depend upon the catch- 
ing, which in turn depends upon the weather and other factors. 

1 "Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb, p. 124. 


A few days of storm will bring all of the canneries to a dead 
stop, while in good weather, when the boats are coming in with 
large loads, work may begin as early as four in the morning and 
last twelve or thirteen hours. If the canner sends out his 
own boats, he is dependent only on the regularity of the catch ; 
but if he buys from fishermen, he frequently finds them holding 
their oysters for higher prices. Sometimes he closes down 
until they reduce their prices. Oyster canning is so irregular, 
for the shuckers especially, that they " are often at work for 
an hour, idle half an hour, and then at work again ; or they may 
have two, three, or four hours of steady work and then be idle 
the rest of the day." l Throughout the season, therefore, the 
number of days or hours worked is in constant variation. 

Much irregular employment results from employers' efforts 
to keep down their production costs and thereby increase their 
profits. In some cases they attract more labor to their locality 
than they can ever employ at one time, and keep many more 
persons on their pay roll than they can ever use at one time, 
even in a rush period, because the presence of a large labor 
surplus keeps down wages, prevents unionism, and insures 
them plenty of help when they have a rush of work. The 
friction between labor and capital on the Pacific coast has been 
made particularly bitter by the workers' conviction that their 
employers are trying to attract surplus labor to the coast in 
order to break up the unions, and then force down wages. In 
other cases, as we have already pointed out, employers economize 
in interest, insurance, and other costs by bringing the date of 
production as close as possible to the date of sale. 

The cotton and steel industries have apparently operated on 
the labor reserve principle more extensively than many other 
lines of business. The cotton mills keep a surplus of labor on 
their pay rolls with the double object of keeping wages down 
and having plenty of labor on hand when rush orders are ob- 
tained. In order to hold the labor surplus, each worker is 
given employment part of the time. The jobs are passed 

1 Report on Woman and Child Wage Earners, United States Senate Document 
No. 645, 6ist Congress, 2d Session, 1913, Vol. 18, p. 46. 


around. All of them work part of the time, and none work all 
the time. 1 

The figures furnished by federal investigators show that the 
actual weekly income received by a family in the mills is almost 
never the same as their average weekly income. In other words, 
the weekly income is subject to violent fluctuations of amounts 
from week to week. For instance, a typical family earned 
$25.45 one week, $14.85 the next, and $29 the third week. 
There were only two weeks in the year when its actual weekly 
income was within $2 of its average weekly income. There 
were five weeks when it was below $20 ; there were seven weeks 
when it was over $30. One week it earned $37.36; another, 
$14.85. Another family fluctuated from $6.05 a week to $18, 
with an average of $13.65 ; while a third family's income 
ranged from $9.25 to $21.95, with an average of $15.97. The 
sixteen families whose incomes are presented in detail in the 

1 These conditions are not confined to America. J. S. Poyntz says in Webb's 
"Seasonal Trades," 1912, p. 60, in a discussion of English employment conditions: 

"The recklessness or selfishness of the employer, of course, often causes an un- 
necessary amount of irregularity of employment. There are many trades where the 
employer undoubtedly finds it to his advantage to keep a large fringe of superfluous 
labour attached to his business in case of an extra demand. He keeps them by 
sharing out carefully among them all whatever work there is. They are encouraged 
under penalty of being ignored in the future to sit about all day near the office 
ready to be called, but are paid nothing except for the time they are actually occu- 
pied. This is conspicuously the case in dock labour, sweated industries, and many 
women's trades such as jam-making, box-making, and the manufacture of aerated 
water. Furthermore, the foreman or giver-out of work finds it to his advantage 
to be always conferring a favour upon the man he employs, and a very marked 
favour upon those whom he employs frequently and constantly. This we believe 
to be the real objection to the schemes for diminishing the irregularity of employ- 
ment in the docks and warehouses of Liverpool by an association among the em- 
ployers of labour, so ably and powerfully urged by leading men of that city for many 
years. The men responsible for getting the work done are afraid to give the men 
security of tenure for fear it should weaken their power over them. In another 
town the same report states that the manager of the gas undertaking said that to 
dovetail the unskilled labour needs of corporation departments into each other in 
order to secure constant work for the men would be absolutely subversive of dis- 
cipline ! In so far as such an attitude on the part of the employers is responsible for 
irregularity of employment the best remedy is probably some form of penalisation 
for excessive use of seasonal and casual labour or of preferential treatment as a 
reward for the regular employment." Cf. also "Unemployment, A Problem of 
Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chap. V. 


report were selected as typical families, among the best at 
the mills. And yet in the entire sixteen families one can find 
but two cases where the actual weekly income was the same two 
weeks in succession. Out of 816 weeks' work performed by 
these families during this year, there are but five weeks alto- 
gether where families had the same income for successive weeks. 
And the figures were obtained from mills which "were not 
affected by the business depression, but ran full schedule time." 1 

The steel industry is extremely sensitive to the various influ- 
ences, economic, political, or psychological, which affect the 
pulse of industry. 2 The United States Bureau of Labor Statis- 
tics, after stating that the figures it gives "may be taken as 
fully representative of general conditions in the industry," 3 
shows an almost constant fluctuation in the volume of employ- 
ment from July, 1913, to June, 1915, a period of gradual but 
unsteady expansion in the business. Much of the fluctuation 
is due, however, to the companies' production policies, rather 
than to economic forces over which they have no control. 

The United States Senate report on the steel industry agrees 
with this conclusion. It says : 

" It might be expected that in an industry where there was so much 
pressure for Sunday and overtime work there would be constant 
employment throughout the year. As a matter of fact, however, the 
iron and steel industry is more irregular in its operation and shows 
greater fluctuations in its labor force during the course of the year 
than any of the larger manufacturing industries whose demand is not 
seasonal. This high degree of irregularity of employment was the 
subject of more frequent complaint on the part of the workmen than 
any other condition connected with the industry. Some of the 
managers and superintendents also consider it one of the greatest 
obstacles to securing a highly efficient working force. 

1 Report on Woman and Child Wage Earners, United States Senate Document 
No. 645, 6ist Congress, 26 Session, 1913, Vol. 16, pp. 153-171. 

2 Cf. notes in New York Journal of Commerce, August 10, Vol. 84, pp. 6431, 
6432, 6429, for typical reactions of steel and oil industries to changing industrial 

3 Wages and Hours of Labor in the Iron and Steel Industry, 1907 to 19,15. 
Bulletin 218, pp. 7, 9, 12, 32. 


"Both the overtime work and the irregularity of operation are in 
large part results of the same cause, which is one of the fundamental 
policies in the present day management of the industry. This policy 
consists in running a department at top speed and under the heaviest 
pressure while there is an active demand for its particular products 
and then shutting it down as soon as the market becomes weak. 
During these periods of heavy pressure the production is large and 
the immediate costs frequently are far below normal, presenting a 
fine showing for the mill when only a single month's cost sheets are 
considered. When the mill is shut down, however, not only do the 
heavy fixed charges continue and the machines depreciate, but the 
workmen lose their skill and efficiency rapidly and the working 
organization is frequently injured by the loss of the best workmen who 
leave to seek places elsewhere. Some of the best managers assert 
that the losses from these causes more than counterbalance the gains 
secured during the months of rush work, and they are confident 
that they could make a better showing in economy of production 
for the year as a whole if the mills were operated regularly at a 
moderate pace." l 

This alternation of rushes and idleness seems the more un- 
necessary, since production is so highly concentrated in the 
steel industry. In most industries centralization results in 
employment for a smaller number of workers but steadier 
work for them. The steel industry in America seems to proceed 
on an opposite policy. 

Many industries, and particularly many plants in a host 
of different industries, have frequent periods either of rush or 
of idleness because of the success or failure of their selling de- 
partments in getting orders. The degree of regularity in the 
flow of orders and of raw materials in different establishments 
varies with the efficiency of the management and the care given 
to steadying the business. Smaller establishments, and those 
dealing in cheap goods sold in holiday trade or spring or autumn 
selling seasons and those catering to a fashion-seeking trade, 

1 United States Congress, Senate Document No. no, Report on Conditions of 
Employment in the Iron and Steel Industry in the United States, Vol. Ill ; Work- 
ing Conditions and the Relations of Employers and Employees, 6ad Congress, 
ist Session, 1.911, Washington, 1913, pp. 21, 22. 


are especially susceptible to these short-time, irregular fluctua- 
tions of business. 

In some industries days are frequently lost in excessively 
hot weather ; in others, during extreme cold. In iron foundries, 
for example, the men often refuse to work on hot days because 
of the danger of heat prostration while carrying molten metal 
during the "pouring off." In candy factories time is sometimes 
lost during hot weather because the heat makes it difficult to 
handle the candy. The one case is typical of industries where 
the heat affects the workmen; the other, of industries where 
the weather affects the goods. In the building trades, rain, 
snow, and excessive heat or cold make work impossible from 
time to time. Sawmills are often compelled to shut down 
temporarily because of low water, which may be relieved by a 
heavy rain or the gradual accumulation of water above the 
dam. Mines frequently lose days because of car shortage or 
the presence of water in working levels. Shortage of materials 
or of coal, machinery breakdowns, lack of cars for shipping, 
and similar causes, disturb production frequently. 

Another form of irregularity is found in part-time work. The 
reports on employment abound in references to it. Employees 
are kept on the pay roll 

"but have work only for a few hours a day with two or three days 
a week entirely unemployed." "It is this short-time work which 
plays havoc with the annual income of the steady worker and which 
is seldom, if ever, balanced by the short period of overtime work 
and increased earning." 1 

The New York Factory Investigating Commission pointed 
out the fact that though the number of employees in the paper 
box industry decreased but 10 per cent in the dull season, the 
employers' wage bill decreased 30 per cent, and the average 
weekly wage of 194 women studied fell from $8.13 in the rush 
season to $5.68 in the dull season. 2 They showed that in the 
confectionery industry, the regular weekly schedule of hours 

1 Fourth Report, New York Factory Investigating Committee, Vol. II, Appen- 
dix IV. 

2 Ibid., Appendix IV, pp. 252, 253. 


was shorter in the slack than in the rush season, and often 
the actual hours worked were even less than those scheduled. 1 
The Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission in its decree 
on wages in the brush industry of Massachusetts, says : 

"In a much larger number of cases the difficulty is found in the 
fact that the worker does not or cannot work the full time. Where 
the cause of this condition rests with the voluntary action of the girl, 
not superinduced by some physical or mental condition fairly charge- 
able to the employment, it may perhaps be disregarded in an inquiry 
of this character. Where, however, the part time is chargeable to the 
industry, either for reasons like those suggested or because under the 
organization of the industry work cannot be supplied to the worker 
sufficient to keep her employed full time, it is a factor that cannot be 
overlooked by a body charged with the duty of fixing minimum 
rates (of wages). . . . The question of short time seems to the 
commissioners, perhaps, the greatest single difficulty, in connection with 
the wage situation in this and other Massachusetts industries. . . . 

"In this connection the commission is of the opinion that employers 
should give their best thought to the problem of eliminating the great 
irregularity of employment and reducing the striking amount of part 
time which marks the industry." 2 

The artificial flower industry exhibits the same phenomenon. 

"In more than half the shops the workers must expect a dull 
period of three or four months every year. Part time is another 
phase of the problem. Firms may report that they keep their 
employees 'all the year round,' and yet the workers may suffer the 
disadvantages of irregularity by a reduction of pay in dull weeks. 
For instance, a rose maker who earned $9 a week in the busy season 
was employed through the dull summer months, but she worked only 
three days a week with half pay, except for an occasional week when 
more orders were received. Even then she was paid $2 less than in 
the winter for a full week's work, a premium to the firm for not 'laying 
her off.'" 3 

1 Fourth Report, New York Factory Investigating Committee, Vol. II, Appendix 
IV, p. 213. 

2 Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission, Bulletin No. 3, August, 19,14, 
PP- 7, 13- 

3 Artificial Flower Makers, Mary Van Kleeck, Russell Sage Foundation Publi- 
cation, New York, 1913, pp. 43-44. 


The "extra" motormen and conductors carried by street 
railways constitute a group of irregular employees which totals 
tens of thousands. They are ordinarily required to report 
twice or more a day at the barns, and are subject to call at any 
time, but get "runs" only when the company needs substitutes 
or extra cars, and during the rush hours when the service is 
temporarily augmented. They may work four hours one day 
and fourteen the next. At times when the company is short 
of men they may even work more hours than the car men with 
regular runs. The "extras" are of course awaiting promotion 
to a regular run, but as their places are steadily filled by new 
"extras" their promotion does not decrease the number of men 
in this irregular occupation. The mitigating feature in this par- 
ticular type of irregulars is that each man is awaiting regular 
work and either leaves the street car service or becomes a regular 


Many irregular demands gradually shade off into casual 
work. The various branches of the contracting industry 
exhibit this type of irregularity continuously. There are four 
classes of men hired for contracting work. Every contracting 
concern of any size has a relatively small group of mechanics 
and laborers who work for it all the time. They are steady 
employees. They are but rarely out of work. They have 
been selected by the employer because of their skill, reliability, 
and suitability to his work and organization; and they, in 
turn, have attached themselves to this firm because they have 
found them "good people to work for." A certain degree of 
compatibility, industrial and personal, causes these permanent 
relations. The second type of workers is a group of mechanics 
and laborers who are hired whenever the employer gets busy 
and let go whenever his "jobs" run low. There is constant 
change in the personnel of this group. Many of them work 
more or less frequently for the same employer. But each man 
works off and on for all or many of the contractors in the locality, 
or may even go out of town occasionally to work for some out- 
side contractor; while each employer hires such as he can get 


of the local mechanics and laborers whenever he requires an 
enlargement of his labor force and lets them go as soon as the 
job is finished. Certain firms may like to get certain men 
whenever possible and each man has preferences among the 
employers hiring in the local labor market ; but there is no per- 
manent relationship between individual concerns and individual 
men. The workmen go on and off the payroll in harmony with 
the fluctuations in the employers' contracts. 

These men are steady workmen, in one sense of the word. 
They are eager to work steadily. They will stay by a job 
until it is finished. Many of them become "year round" em- 
ployees of particular concerns when they get an opportunity. 
They are competent and reliable, though probably not equal, 
on the average, to the group who succeed in holding steady jobs. 
They are, as a rule, quite steadily employed during warm months, 
and some of them often get more or less work at their trade 
during the winter. 

A third group are employed very irregularly during the busy 
season and not at all during the dull season. The contractor 
putting up a building, and the various sub-contractors doing 
different parts of the work, are continually calling for men to 
work a few days, a week, or two or three weeks. To-day it is 
some extra laborers for the excavating, or wheeling sand or 
mortar for the masons or bricklayers ; to-morrow it is rough 
carpenters ; the next day laborers to clear away debris. Every 
large contracting job employs more or less of this short-time 
help, and expects a supply of labor to be continually on hand 
to meet its short-time demands; then cast to one side until 
needed again. This irregular demand, which offers employ- 
ment for varying periods, sometimes running into weeks, or 
even a couple of months, gradually shades off into a purely 
casual demand for men to work days or even hours and be paid 
off every night. The contracting industry offers a good deal 
of this most irregular of all kinds of employment. 1 

1 The use of a fringe of irregular and casual workers is of course characteristic 
of seasonal trades in all countries. The facts are well stated by J. A. Poyntz, in a 
discussion of the English situation : 

"In general we find that the problems of unemployment in seasonal trades are 


The last two types of demand are the ones we wish to describe 
particularly at this time short-time irregular demands and 
casual demands. Each of them is an important cause of " under- 
employment, " each of them demoralizes the efficiency of many 
workmen ; each of them both produces and caters to one of the 
most demoralized groups of workmen in our labor supply. Dock 
labor is one of the most important types of casual employment. 

"In New York harbor there are from 40,000 to 50,000 men employed 
in loading and unloading vessels. Of this number it has been esti- 
mated that probably only about one half are working on any one 
day, and the number employed fluctuates violently. . . . Few men 
are steadily employed. They are hired by the hour and when the 
work of one gang is completed they are immediately discharged, be 
it one, two, or three hours, or two or three days after they have 
begun." "These longshoremen cannot be said to be unemployed, 
their trouble is unsteady employment. They work off and on. They 
may wait around a dock half a day and get but an hour or two of 
work. Other days there will be no work, and then again there will 
be a stretch of a few days or a week when work will be carried on day 
and night. One week may bring two or three dollars, another twenty 
or thirty. How shall their families adjust their living to such an 
income?" l 

of much the same nature as that of unemployment in general. There is usually, 
though not always, the nucleus of permanent, regular workers, sometimes large 
enough to account for the large majority of the hands employed and sometimes 
reduced to a negligible fraction. By their side are the irregular workers, hired for a 
few hours, a day, a week, a month, or part of a year. The tendency of each trade 
is to keep attached to itself in employment, underemployment, or unemployment, 
a sufficient number of hands to meet all possible demands of the trade. Sudden 
rushes produced by wealth, fashion, or the exigencies of trade are met by taking on a 
large number of these workers who stand ready, and dismissing them when the spurt 
is over. Thus reserves accumulate around each trade, forming a permanent surplus 
of irregular and casual labour. This surplus again contributes to the intensification 
of the evils of irregular employment by relieving the employer and the public of any 
anxiety as to the supply of labour to meet their often capricious demands. Pain- 
fully long hours and frightful pressure of work characterize the 'season' in certain 
industries, not so much because these are really necessary as because an overfull 
labour market makes heedfulness superfluous and makes it possible for the employer 
to meet the most tyrannous and thoughtless demands of his clientele." " Seasonal 
Trades," edited by Sidney Webb, p. 54. 

1 Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, 
1911, p. 48. Cf. also "The Dock Workers of New York City," Final Report In- 


Similar conditions obtain to a greater or less extent at the 
other ocean ports and the Great Lakes ports. 

Department stores, ten cent stores, and many other mercan- 
tile establishments hire much short-time help, especially at 
the holiday season, to meet rushes of business, to help unpack 
or ship goods, assist in rearranging the store, and other extra 
work. Factories call for casual help to assist in unloading cars 
of coal or raw material, to help on such emergency work, such 
as cleaning up and snow shoveling ; in the shipping rooms dur- 
ing rush seasons or on rush orders and as teamsters' helpers 
when handling unusually heavy packages. Express and transfer 
companies hire extra help in rush seasons, such as the Christ- 
mas holidays ; during the weeks in spring and fall when extra 
large numbers of householders are moving; and at all times 
during the year whenever they are unusually busy or have unusu- 
ally heavy objects to handle. Fuel companies hire extra men 
intermittently through the autumn and winter as "coal car- 
riers"; advertising companies, theaters, and business houses 
hire casual help to carry signs on their backs or distribute bills 
or samples; publishers of city directories hire short-time help 
to collect their information, and a large number of other em- 
ployers offer casual or semi-casual employment at various times 
through the year. Caterers, hotels, and restaurants hire a good 
deal of casual help for waiting on table at banquets and other 
social functions, paying the help by the hour. A typical case 
is described by a Massachusetts court. 1 

" It was a part of the regular business of the employer to provide 
and serve banquets, but for such service no men were regularly em- 
ployed. The custom of the catering business is that such banquets 
are served by waiters secured for the particular occasion. Such 
waiters might work for different employers on the same day or for 
many different employers on successive days." 

dustrial Relations Commission ; Vol. Ill pp. 2051-2212; "The Longshoremen," 
Charles B. Barnes. 

1 Joseph C. Gaynor, v. T. D. Cook and Co., Inc., and Standard Accident Insurance 
Co., Insurers, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, 104 N. E. 339. Many 
other interesting cases of casual labor will be found in the court decisions which 
construe the words "casual labor" in workmen's compensation cases. 


Some of the workers who take this casual work have other occu- 
pations during the day ; others depend upon it for a livelihood. 

There are many persons whose occupations are those of wage 
earners and whose method of earning a livelihood is more or 
less casual, who are not casual employees at all. One will find a 
number of public stenographers in a large city who earn their 
living by doing "jobs of stenography" ; teamsters who depend 
upon miscellaneous teaming work for employment; chimney 
sweeps who work at building after building throughout the 
year. These persons are in reality not wage earners at all. 
They are contractors. They carry on their trades as the lawyer 
or the doctor carries on his profession by catering to the 
needs of a succession of clients. Sometimes they are paid by 
" the job " ; sometimes by the hour. But they are not employees 
of the person they work for. They are independent contractors, 
as far as that person is concerned. 

In addition to the casual demands incident to business activ- 
ity, there is a large casual demand in the spring and fall for 
men for housecleaning, garden work, and the grading or improve- 
ment of lawns and yards. The domestic demand for casuals 
is more or less continuous through the year, but has two dis- 
tinct rush periods in May and June and in September, October, 
and November. There is little demand in the northern states 
for male domestic casuals in the winter, and they are forced 
to depend then upon the calls of municipalities, railroads, 
street railways, and business houses for snow shovelers. Women 
are in demand all through the year to do day work in homes 
(i.e., washing, ironing, and cleaning), but there is a much larger 
demand for them at housecleaning time than at any other time 
in the year. 

In general, casual work is a source of labor demoralization. 
But some is not. Many of the girls who take casual jobs in 
factories and mercantile establishments during the holidays 
are women and girls who do not ordinarily work for a living 
but earn some holiday money in this way. Others are girls 
temporarily unemployed. Many of the men who take casual 
work with factories, fuel and express companies, and other 


industrial concerns are temporarily out of work and do this 
until they are able to get steady employment. A large propor- 
tion of America's high school and college students earn money 
to help keep themselves in school at casual work. What many 
housewives earn by intermittent sewing, washing, and cleaning 
pieces out the earnings of the husband and either permits a 
little saving or a more adequate livelihood. Stenographers 
temporarily accepting "substitute" work while out of steady 
employment are doing casual work, but are not casuals. The 
male casuals who fill the domestic demands are in most cases 
"professional casuals." They never work regularly if they 
can help it. They are deteriorated. Few men with self-respect 
and ambition like to do the more or less servile work offered by 
this type of employment. The women who do day work, on 
the other hand, afe in many cases worthy women. But there 
is an element among them who exhibit many of the character- 
istics of the male casual. The subtle danger of casual work, 
which silently accomplishes serious results, is that it develops a 
habit of irregular work in those who depend upon it for a livelihood, 
It is easy to cultivate a taste for leisure. 1 Men easily learn to 
like frequent idle days. The persons whose lives are centered 
about other interests, like the student or the housewife, can 
resist its baneful influence. Their minds are inaccessible to the 
temptations which casual labor brings. But to the laborer 
who learns to support himself by odd jobs casual labor is as 
dangerous as the tentacles of a devilfish. 2 

The demand for casual labor is naturally an excessively 
fluctuating demand. Each employer seeks for help only long 
enough to help himself out of an emergency. When confronted 
by some unusual situation he hires extra help to get out of it, 
and then immediately discharges the help. The workman 

1 One of the best American discussions of this subject is "One Thousand 
Homeless Men," Alice Solenberger, Chap. VIII. Cf. also "Unemployment, A 
Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chap. VI. Also " Unemployment, A Social 
Study," S. Rowntree and B. Lasker, Chap. IX. 

* The subject of casual labor is more fully treated in Chapter XIII. The refer- 
ences for that chapter will furnish the reader with much additional information 
about the casuals in America, Canada, and England. 


who must depend upon "picking up an odd job" necessarily 
leads a very uncertain existence. It is not strange, then, that 
the men who seek casual work are just as uncertain as the work 
is. Employers who complain at the unreliability, incompetence, 
and indifference of casual laborers would do weU to remember 
that the chances of employment which they offer are as unreli- 
able as the men who accept them, and that the livelihood these 
men obtain is as insufficient for their needs as the work they 
perform is insufficient to satisfy the employer. 1 


The types of fluctuation of labor demand discussed thus 
far occur hi all years. They are normal, or characteristic, 
conditions in our industrial system. But at times we also have 
abnormal fluctuations of labor demand. These have often been 
called cyclical fluctuations. 2 These waves of undue prosperity 
followed by extreme industrial depression have occurred, 
roughly, some ten years apart during the last hundred years, 
with unusually severe disturbances in 1837, 1873, 1893, and 
1907-08. In most of them a period of unusual production 
has been followed by a sudden collapse of our industrial and 
financial system, followed by a longer or shorter period of 
gradual recovery to a normal condition. A sudden sickness 
seized industry, followed by a period of inactivity and of gradual 

The fact that there are cyclical booms which increase the 
demand for labor almost as much above normal as the depres- 
sions drag it below normal has not always been as clearly appre- 
ciated as the fact of cyclical depression. The public conscious- 
ness is not so keen to recognize boom conditions as panic condi- 
tions. It happens again and again that a period of abnormal 
business activity is mistaken for a permanent raising of the 

Cf. also "A Clearing House for Labor," D. D. Lescohier, Atlantic Monthly, 
June, 1918. 

2 Cf. Third Report, New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Un- 
employment; "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, 
Chap. IV. ; " Unemployment in Lancashire," Chapman and Hallsworth, Chap. VII. 


level of general well-being. Human nature will fight hard 
against giving way to pessimism in days of adversity, but 
yields easily to over-optimism in days of prosperity. Even 
conservative business men are loath to admit that good times 
will not last indefinitely. The boom, with its abundant oppor- 
tunities of employment, is suddenly followed by stoppage of 
industry and the laying off even of regular employees. The 
warnings of far-sighted men that speculation and investment 
were going too far are disregarded, until the crisis comes, like 
"an acute malady." 

It is not our purpose to make any study of crises and depres- 
sions. We will not undertake a discussion of their causes or 
their treatment. We accept them, as we accept the irregular 
demands for casuals, or the displacement of workmen by ma- 
chinery, as facts of the labor market. We see that in 1837, 
1873, 1893, and 1908, they threw multitudes of people out of 
employment. We see that in a number of other years they 
produced lesser depressions in the labor market. They are a 
part of our subject only inasmuch as they are forces which pro- 
foundly affect at times the volume of employment. 

Webb speaks of them as "of all causes leading to workmen being 
discharged, (the one which) stands out conspicuously." "These 
waves of depression, affecting all trades in all countries, show them- 
selves in a diminished volume of production, involving, in the United 
Kingdom alone, the dismissal of hundreds of thousands of workmen, 
from absolutely no fault or shortcoming of their own. And when, in 
such a time of depression, a workman loses his place, the Trade Union 
records prove that, even the best workmen, with the most unblemished 
of characters, may possibly be many months before they can regain 
employment." 1 

The effects of booms, crises, and depressions upon the Ameri- 
can labor market can be clearly seen in the phenomena of 1893, 
1907, and 1914. In 1893, after a period of rapid expansion, 
particularly marked by the process of consolidation of competi- 
tors into large corporations and combinations, a financial 

1 "Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb, p. in. 


crisis disorganized our whole trade and industrial life. Nearly 
six hundred banks failed during 1893, commercial failures were 
nearly double those of 1892, several important railway systems 
passed into the hands of receivers, and industries were closed 
in every locality. Want and distress were general. It was 
necessary to provide relief work and charitable assistance for 
the unemployed in most large cities, and widespread unrest 
evidenced itself in more or less violent demonstrations of the 
working classes. Millions were thrown out of employment, 
wages fell, work was scarce, and many mechanics were not em- 
ployed more than three days a week for from three to five years. 
In 1907, we had another acute disturbance. The revival 
of business which began about 1898 was stimulated by a greatly 
increased supply of money. 

"Again the business world lost its customary caution and plunged 
into reckless excesses. By 1906, the first signs of approaching dis- 
aster were visible. . . . When the banks began to contract their 
loans in March, 1007, there resulted the so-called 'rich men's panic.' 
... In October several banks and trust companies fell under 
suspicion. Runs began upon these trust companies. . . . Distrust 
spread from New York to the rest of the country." 

The boom suddenly broke, industry was again paralyzed, 
wage earners in great numbers were thrown out of employ- 
ment, and 1908 was a year of abnormal unemployment. 

In 1914, a depression resulted from the outbreak of the Euro- 
pean war. Thousands of employers, uncertain as to the dura- 
tion of the war, "marked time" while they watched the course 
of events and tried to diagnose the economic situation. Inter- 
national trade and finance also had to be adjusted to the situa- 
tion. Hundreds of thousands of employees suffered unemploy- 
ment or reduced employment for several months until business 
resumed work on a war basis. Many industries lost their 
markets and never recovered them until the war was over, but 
others soon obtained war orders and enlarged their operations. 
Labor had to shift from crippled to prosperous industries, or 
remain unemployed. 



It has been the purpose of this chapter to show that the 
demand for labor fluctuates almost continuously; that some 
persons are losing their employments at all times, no matter 
how prosperous is the general condition of business. The 
principal part of the chapter has been devoted to a discussion 
of labor demand under normal industrial conditions, and the 
treatment of the abnormal conditions which obtain in times of 
crisis and depression was reserved for the closing pages of the 
chapter. The chapter has not discussed unemployment, nor 
attempted to point out all of the causes of unemployment. 
It has been confined solely to a study of fluctuations in industry's 
demand for labor. It studies unemployment only as a result 
of changes in the amount of employment offered to labor by 
industry. In our next chapter we consider unemployment; 
and we there bring the fluctuations of labor demand into rela- 
tion with another group of causes of unemployment, many of 
which do not directly arise out of industrial conditions. 


THE purpose of this chapter is threefold : to complete the 
discussion of the causes of unemployment, to describe types of 
people found among the unemployed, and to describe the effects 
of unemployment upon the workers, industry, and citizenship. 


There are three main types of unemployment: irregular 
employment, underemployment, and unemployment. 1 It is 
unfortunate that the term "unemployment" has been used to 
cover all three types. Conforming to this common usage, 
we have used the term "unemployment" up to this point as a 
general term designating occupational idleness. But it is now 
necessary to analyze more thoroughly the idleness of workers, 
and to do so we must discriminate between the different types 
of occupational idleness and their several causes. Henceforth, 
when referring simply to the general fact that workers are out of 
work, we shall use either the term "occupational idleness" or 
"non-employment" as the inclusive term comprehending all 
three types. 

Irregular employment exists when the employee, either 
because of an intermittent demand for his labor or because of 
his own irregularity, does not work steadily, but loses time 
frequently. The building laborer who knows that he cannot 
expect to work six days a week, or even every week, and that 
his pay is bound to vary from week to week, is irregularly em- 
ployed. "Irregular employment" is likewise the proper term 
to designate the experiences of the worker subjected to seasonal 

1 Cf. "Idleness as a Source of Waste," Thomas N. Carver, in "The Foundations 
of Prosperity," Ely, Hess, Leith and Carver, Part IV, Chap. Ill, Macmillan 1917. 



fluctuations of employment. He often works at from two to 
a dozen different jobs in the course of a year, with loss of time 
while shifting from job to job, and loses one or more days while 
working on some of the jobs. 

Unemployment occurs when a man is definitely out of a job ; 
when his employment is definitely terminated. An unemployed 
man has either been discharged by his employer, quit, or been 
laid off for a time. It is correct to say that unemployment 
obtains when, as in a period of depression or after a disastrous 
fire, a workman retains his right and expectation to work for 
a particular employer but is "laid off" for a prolonged period. 
A worker is unemployed when he is definitely "out of a job" 
for the time being. 

Underemployment may be the result of frequent unemploy- 
ment or of irregular employment, or may occur without the 
presence of either. It is a question of earnings. Underemploy- 
ment occurs when the employee cannot get in enough days or 
hours of work to earn an adequate livelihood. Probably half 
or more of our wage earners suffer more or less from under- 
employment. In any individual case the underemployment 
may be due to inability to get work, to unsteady work, to re- 
duced hours, or to personal irregularity. A workman is under- 
employed when he is unable to earn a decent living at his occu- 
pation because he does not work full time. When the cause of 
insufficient income is low wages rather than irregular employ- 
ment, the problem, of course, belongs to the wage question 
rather than employment. As a matter of fact, the cause of a 
family's poverty is frequently the combination of a low wage 
and irregular employment. 1 It is precisely those who work 

1 A number of studies of workingmen's family incomes in this country during the 
ten years preceding the war reveal that a surprising proportion of American workers' 
families make ends meet only because two or more persons contribute to the family 
budget. A large percentage of American " heads of families" are unable to maintain 
their families in a satisfactory standard of life by their own efforts, and either the 
mother or the children have to "help out." There can be little objection to the wife 
working when it does not impair her health or the performance of her duties as wife 
or mother, especially if it enables the family to save and advance themselves. But 
in a large percentage of cases the wife and children work to their own or the family's 
detriment. The same condition is even more prevalent in England and Europe. 


most unsteadily who earn the least when they do work. They 
work more unsteadily than other men because they are less 
efficient, and they earn a lower rate of wages for the same reason. 
The number of such persons seeking work seems always to be 
larger than the demand for their services, and they are there- 
fore almost continuously in excessive competition with others 
of their own type for such jobs as are available. This puts 
them in a position of peculiar disadvantage in bargaining with 
employers and compels them to accept such rates as the employer 
offers. Their underemployment is therefore cumulative in its 
effects, compelling the acceptance of low rates of pay as well 
as an inadequate amount of work. The part-time work which 
many skilled and competent employees have to accept during 
dull seasons and dull years affects the welfare of distinctly 
higher types of labor than the habitually underemployed 
common laborers to whom we have just referred. 

The Causes of Idleness 

Our previous chapter demonstrated that involuntary idle- 
ness of large numbers of workers is typical of our industrial 
life. If any further demonstration was required to prove that 
it is not true that any one who desires work in this country can 
obtain it, and that most of those who are idle, although able 
to work, are idle by necessity, one would only have to stop and 
reflect that laziness is a constant rather than a variable in 
human nature, while idleness is a variable rather than a con- 
stant in human experience. If unsteady employment were 
principally due to the laziness, incompetence, and irregularity 
of workmen, the amount of unemployment would be approxi- 
mately the same one year with another. Not many more 

Both inadequate wage rates and insufficient employment enter into the causes of the 
condition. For the benefit of the interested reader we here cite a few specific studies 
of this matter: "The Standard of Living in New York City," Robert Coit Chapin, 
IV, pp. 54-60; "The Standard of Living," F. H. Streightoff, Chap. Ill; "Wage 
Earners' Budgets," Louis B. More, pp. 27, 84; "Poverty and Social Progress," 
Maurice Parmalee, Chap. VII. Twelfth Biennial Report, Minnesota Bureau of 
Labor, 1909-10, p. 560. 


persons are sick, disabled, delinquent, and lazy in winter than 
in summer; and certainly no more in 1904, 1908, 1912, and 
1914 than in intervening years. And yet, as we pointed out 
in the previous chapter, the curve of employment shows that 
year after year there are more men idle in January than in 
March; more idle in July than in September; fewer idle in 
October than in any other month; and millions more unem- 
ployed some years than others. Certainly incapacity, laziness, 
and shiftlessness do not vary to the extent thus indicated. 

But the fluctuation of industry's demand for labor is not 
the only cause of non-employment, and does not explain all 
the phenomena connected with irregular work, and it is not 
necessary to examine a group of causes that are at most but 
indirectly related to the fluctuation in the amount of work 


It often happens that an employer is seeking a certain kind 
of worker when there are men of that very kind out of employ- 
ment in that very locality but neither the employer nor the 
worker knows about the other's need, and the two do not come 
together. They are ships that pass in the night. A lack of 
agencies for quickly and accurately bringing together unfilled 
labor demands and idle workers able to fill them causes hundreds 
of thousands of workmen to lose time each year who would 
be profitably employed if they only knew the names and loca- 
tions of specific employers who needed their services. 1 


Inefficiency of workers probably decreases the total volume 
of employment open to wage earners. There is no way to 
determine quantitatively the extent to which inefficiency causes 
idleness. But any one familiar with industry and labor can 
hardly fail to notice the large proportion of workers who fall 
short of the productivity that should have been possible for 

1 Cf. Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and IX. 


them. 1 Employers, workmen, social workers, and economists 
can agree on this one point at least. They may get into an 
argument when an attempt is made to locate the causes for the 
inefficiency, but the fact that large numbers of workmen are 
not so productive as they might have been is admitted by all. 

Inefficiency affects employment in two ways. It determines 
which individual workmen will be let out first, and it increases 
the total amount of unemployment. In other words it affects 
both the incidence of unemployment and the total number of 
workers unemployed. We are interested at this point only in 
its effect upon the volume of idleness. Its determination of 
the incidence of unemployment is discussed later in the chapter. 

Employers produce goods in order to earn profits. // their 
cost of production equals or exceeds the selling price, they have no 
object in producing. In years or seasons when business is not 
prospering and prices are falling closer and closer to the neces- 
sary cost of production the employer begins to retrench. At 
such times, employers who can produce at the lowest cost per unit 
of product can continue their normal production after those 
whose cost of production is higher have to decrease their output 
or close down. 

Efficient labor, i.e. labor whose output is large in proportion 
to its cost, enables an employer to continue production even 
in an unfavorable market. Inefficient labor costs so much 
that the employer must decrease his output sooner. His high 
labor cost causes his cost of production quickly to exceed the 
falling price. This is the way that inefficiency increases unem- 
ployment. It forces employers either to cut wages in a falling 
price market or to stop producing. 

An interesting illustration recently came under the author's 
observation in a large steel plant. The labor cost per ton of 
product in this plant had risen above the labor costs of certain 
competitors. The firm was unable to get new orders. The 

'Cf. Beveridge, "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," Chaps. VI and VII; 
Chapman and Hallsworth, " Unemployment in Lancashire," Chap. V ; Third Report 
New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, 19 n, especially 
in testimony. 


relative inefficiency of their labor was forcing them out of the 
market. When the workers discovered that the firm was short 
on orders they decreased their output still more in order to 
''make the job last" as long as possible. The firm decided 
that the only solution for the problem was to put the whole 
situation up to the men. They called them in and told them 
that orders were so low that decreased employment had become 
inevitable; showed them their books and proved that labor 
inefficiency was the cause of their inability to get orders, and 
pointed out that the only thing which would prevent a complete 
shutdown was an increase in output per man. The men would 
have to work harder and faster and to accept a temporary wage 
reduction that would enable their concern to underbid competi- 
tors. When the men saw the situation they agreed to the firm's 
proposal. The problem they had to face was clearly to accept 
unemployment as a penalty for their low productivity or in- 
crease their output, cut their employer's labor cost, and recover 
their employment. They made the temporary sacrifice, enabled 
their employer to compete successfully, and reestablished them- 
selves in steady, remunerative work. 

The effect of inefficiency upon the regularity of employment 
is not always as apparent as it was in this case, but there can 
be no question that one means of steadying employment is to 
improve the efficiency of labor so that the employer can pro- 
duce even when prices are low. This is notably true in those 
industries (now to become more numerous in America) which 
sell their products in foreign countries. It is likewise true 
in those industries which sell over wide areas, many of whose 
competitors have peculiar advantages of location. The labor 
item is a large element in the cost of production of many indus- 
tries, and even small variations in the product per man often 
have marked effects on the employers' position in competition. 
Irregular employment is one of the most persistent causes of 
inefficiency among workers. That very inefficiency becomes, 
in turn, the cause of further lack of employment. 

There are a number of different types of inefficiency among 
our workers which are susceptible of elimination or modifica- 


tion. Lack of technical skill, inability to apply themselves 
steadily, poor physique, a defective sense of responsibility, 
absence of a sense of loyalty to the concern for whom they are 
working, lack of ideals of workmanship, and lack of interest in 
the work stand out among the causes of inefficiency. Each 
and all of them are largely susceptible of control. 

The lack of technical skill among American-born workmen 
has been due to five characteristics of our economic and edu- 
cational system : we have no general systems of apprentice- 
ship training; we have no general system of industrial educa- 
tion; our subdivision and specialization of tasks makes it 
impossible for workers to learn a trade in the shop ; the rapid 
turnover of labor in our industries prevents more than half of 
our workmen from remaining long enough in one establishment 
to become skilled workmen ; and we have depended upon immi- 
gration for a large part of our skilled labor. 

It is not necessary to dwell at length on the fact that Ameri- 
can industry has had neither an apprenticeship system nor an 
adequate substitute for one. That fact is well known, and both 
our industries and our educators are now trying to fill the gap. 
Indeed, the changes in industry which have been splitting up 
trades into specialized tasks have rendered the old-fashioned 
apprenticeship obsolete for the mass of the wage earners. One 
of the essential difficulties in our industries is that the employers 
now teach a worker a specific task and lay him off when they 
no longer need him for that task. He has not that general 
capacity which enables him to be fitted into other work, and can- 
not be expected to have it. He, and often his employer, has 
come to look upon that task as his occupation, and when he is 
laid off he begins to seek work in some other establishment at 
that task. Frequently he wastes weeks in a fruitless search 
for a certain job which he considers his occupation, but which 
is in reality but one detail in a complex production process. 
This worker, a victim of American subdivision of tasks, is often 
worse off than if he knew nothing but crude manual labor. 
The type of skill he has is so specialized that it is hard to market, 
and yet it represents to him his highest attainment in work- 


manship and earning capacity, and he does not want to step 
down to a lower grade of occupation. 1 To the business or pro- 
fessional man there may not appear to be any difference in 
industrial grade between a stamping press operator or a crater 
in the shipping room, and a pick-and-shovel laborer or a team- 
ster's helper, but to the worker there is so much difference that 
he will tramp the streets looking for the work he "follows" 
until actual hunger forces acceptance of the cruder employment. 
He no longer considers himself a "common laborer." This 
fragmentary training of workers often improves their economic 
status if they are able to hold the job permanently, or work 
in a community where employers use many men at that kind of 
work, but it unfits many workers for other occupations with- 
out giving them any steady employment at the work they have 
learned. A little skill, like a little learning, is often a dangerous 

Dr. Frank Tucker described his experiences with inadequately 
trained workers in his testimony before the New York Com- 
mission on Unemployment : 2 

"We have the most serious problem in obtaining employment for 
those who are essentially inefficient. I mean by that that they have 
not been taught an occupation which is steady in its character. I have 
come in contact with many men who know only what is called clerical 
work. They have not been trained as bookkeepers, they have not 
been trained as accountants, they have not been trained as cashiers 
or cashiers' assistants. In other words, their early training has not 
equipped them for existence, and for obtaining employment in a com- 
munity where employment is highly specialized. 

"Then there is the type of so-called handy man (casual) who 
usually has no capacity whatever. He cannot even attend to the 
furnace well. He does not know how to remove the ashes from the 
kitchen to the sidewalk without leaving a trail. He does not know 
how to clean a window and seemingly has not the capacity to learn 
how, and at any rate no one has the time or the inclination to teach 
him. Then there is the great group whose working capacity has been 

1 This question of industrial training is discussed constructively on pages 135 ff. 

* Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, 

April, IQII, Appendix n, pp. 191-192. Cf. also Beveridge, op. cit., Chaps. VI, VII. 


destroyed both through lack of proper training for a vocation, and 
whose earning capacity is weakened by some weakness of character 
that we usually find to be overindulgence in stimulants, which has so 
fastened itself upon them as really to become a disease. That type 
of man is not an uneducated man. He is not a man who has been 
limited as to his early opportunities in life. He is usually a man who 
has had opportunities and who has not established himself, and who 
has reached an age where he cannot unlearn the habits of the past, 
and he cannot learn or develop a new form of earning capacity suffi- 
cient to maintain himself. 

"These are types of men whom we, who have dealt with dependent 
families, are constantly in contact with. And it is from that group 
that the need for the custodial institution which Doctor Lewis spoke 
of this morning has grown an institution where there can be 
control, so that the desire for drink will be controlled, or at least 
minimized, and where some form of earning capacity can be developed, 
at any rate to such an extent as to enable the individual to go back in 
society and establish for himself a place where he can maintain him- 
self independently without outside assistance." 

The "blind alley" occupations, into which hosts of young 
people are drawn like flies into the web of the spider, throw 
thousands of unfits upon the labor market. Children enter 
industry with but a crude education and no specialized training 
and enter occupations in which they cannot hope to remain for 
more than a few years and in which they are not being fitted for 
any permanent career. Mrs. Helen W. Rodgers, Director of 
the Boston Placement Bureau, testifying before the Industrial 
Relations Commission, said : 

"We get a great many tragedies at 18, coming into the placement 
bureau, or from the great factories where those boys have gone at 14 
at high wages, doing mechanical work. They have done it for four 
years. They reached the limit of income ; that is, they reached their 
earning capacity there, and they come out to us at 18, deadly tired 
of it, and not having any idea of the next step. They have been 
doing treadmill work. They know nothing else but that one machine. 
They don't know what else is going en in industry. After four years 
of life in industry, they are as blind as the boy of 14 as to the opportu- 
nities there are for them to do. I should say in our placement work 


those 1 8-year-old boys are going out of industry, they are great 
tragedies." 1 

These "blind alley" occupations must be abandoned when 
man's estate is reached. Sometimes the boy or girl is employed 
in a factory upon some special light work minding a simple 
machine, paper folding, packing, and the like. Thousands are 
hired by mercantile establishments for bundle wrapping, selling 
notions, and other more or less unskilled work that is not fol- 
lowed as an adult occupation. The employer in St. Paul who 
put a sign in his window, "Wanted, an Apprentice to Run 
Errands," pictured the situation. Often the employment is 
of a more general character ; such as that of the thousands of 
newsboys, messengers, or bellboys. In each type, however, 
the position of the boys or girls is the same. They enter, not 
as learners, but as wage earners, doing some work too simple or 
too light to require the services of grown people. When they 
have grown up and begin to expect the wages of grown people 
they must go elsewhere to obtain those wages. They leave or 
are dismissed and their places are taken by a fresh generation 
from the schools. Worse still, most of them do not continue 
in any particular establishment or occupation even during their 
pre-adult years. Shifting from job to job is characteristic of 
these youths. They acquire the habit of working irregularly 
even before they are thrown upon the labor market as untrained 
laborers. Consequently, they find themselves at eighteen or 
twenty years of age without any obvious career before them, 
without a trade in their hands, with no resource save unskilled 
labor, and often without a habit of working steadily. It is 
not strange that many of them make a failure of life. 2 

There can be no doubt as to the tendency of these very 
prevalent forms of youthful employment to turn out men who 
take necessarily to unskilled, often eventually to casual, labor. 
It is well known that a considerable fraction of those who apply 

1 Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, p. 1336. 

2 Cf. also "One Thousand Homeless Men," Solenberger, Chap. XIII; "Unem- 
ployment, A Social Problem," Rowntree and Lasker, Chaps. I, III; "Child Prob- 
lems," George B. Mangold, Chap. V; Final Report Industrial Relations Commis- 
sion, Vol. II, pp. 1315-23; 1328-37:1336; 1384-86. 


for charitable relief on account of unemployment are persons 
whose early years were spent in employments of this character, 
and prepared only for a place in the labor reserve. As an Eng- 
lish writer has put it: "Large numbers of young people drift 
through cul-de-sac boy employments into the overstocked 
ranks of the unskilled, and many of them verge on inefficiency 
not by reason of inborn defects, but because their early occu- 
pations, which called for little application, and were interspersed 
with periods of loafing, gradually undermined their powers. 
The need of agencies to direct boys and girls to trades at the 
critical age is only less pressing than the need of better educa- 
tion and a more extensively utilized continuation system. . . . 
And as regards education, it is urgent that the community 
should realize how fast the demand for developed intelligence 
and alertness is growing, that it is growing naturally at the 
expense of mere physical power, and how necessary it is that 
provision should be made for this by our training of the young." 1 
It is bad enough when the "blind alley" occupation leads 
to casual labor and industrial inefficiency. 2 How much worse 
when it produces a warping of the youth's valuations that unfits 
him for normal industrial life. When Mrs. Florence Kelley was 
testifying before the New York Commission on Unemployment 
she said : 

"I know about these young unemployables, because I have been 
watching them for eighteen years. What they do now is to send the 
boys fourteen years of age into the messenger service, and at sixteen 
years old they let them work on the night messenger service, and by 
the time they are sixteen years old, they learn nothing by which they 
can support themselves ; they are too old for that service, and they 
are thrown out of it, and they largely recruit the body of tramps, a 
body of young people who do not keep any jobs. There are no tasks 
that fall on the settlement so discouraging. We try to get work for 

^'Unemployment in Lancashire," Chapman and Hallsworth, p. 78. Interest- 
ing historical data on " blind alley " employments in England will be found in " Eng- 
lish Apprenticeship and Child Labour," Jocelyn Dunlop and R. D. Denman, es- 
pecially Chaps. V and XVIII. 

2 The question of child training and the mitigation of " blind alley " conditions 
is further discussed in Chap. V, pp. 117 ff. 


the multitudes of them ; they don't want to work ; they have become 
entirely disillusioned. The same thing is true of a great many young 
boys who have been in employments like driving sewing machines in 
tailor shops and doing physically exhausting work, and in the fac- 
tories ; they have seen the working people, and in their own expression, 
'there is nothing in it,' and they have to be made over ; they have to 
be physically set up, habituated to an entirely different kind of work 
than anything they have had before. . . . There are about six 
thousand of them put off every year, employed by one single company 
here in this one single city in the State. The payroll of the Western 
Union covers 2000 permanent, and in order to keep 2000 on the 
payroll, they hire 6000, and of those 6000 the great majority, accord- 
ing to the statement of one of the officers of the company to me, do 
not stay in their employment more than three months. It is just a 
floating experience they have. 

" By Chairman Wainwright : Q. Have you any statistics of the num- 
ber of prosecutions and convictions of those boys for petty offenses? 

" A. No, we are getting that now. Personally, I know that the 
proportion of boys committed who have floated through this service, 
the proportion of floaters is very large among the boys committed, 
but we are getting the actual figures." 1 

The serious effect which a frequent change of jobs has upon 
the efficiency of a workman was not fully realized until skilled 
employment managers working for progressive concerns began 
to study out ways and means of increasing the productive 
power of their labor forces. They discovered that the essential 
obstacle to be overcome was that the men they were training 
one day were gone the next; while the men who stayed with 
them were often not interested in developing themselves because 
they expected to be discharged at no distant date. "What's the 
use?" had acquired possession of many workmen's minds. 

There is a sharp disagreement between the employers and 
the men concerning the responsibility for this shifting and 
turnover of labor. The employers say : "Men do not stay with 

1 Third Report, New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemploy- 
ment, 1911, p. 166. The state of New York has since passed legislation which 
forbids the employment of young boys in the night messenger service, but the 
quotation is an accurate description of conditions surrounding thousands of boys 
in various occupations. 


us long enough to permit us to teach them more than one or 
two things. They leave us as soon as we have taught them 
enough so that they are valuable. We lose what we invest in 
training them." The men say : "If we stay with an employer, 
he puts us on one particular job and keeps us there all our 
lives. It is more profitable for him to keep a man on something 
he knows than to teach him a trade. And anyway, they are 
more to blame for men changing employers than the men are. 
As soon as the busy season is over they let most of us go and we 
have to find work elsewhere." As a matter of fact, of course, 
there is fault on both sides. Employers, in working out their 
subdivision and specialization of tasks, have very frequently 
neglected to consider their men's interest. The easiest pro- 
cedure is to put a man on a task and keep him there ; to hire a 
man who knows a given task rather than to promote and train 
a man in the plant; to depend upon hiring skill rather than 
producing it. Workmen, on the other hand, have a tendency, 
when they have half or two thirds learned a trade or skilled 
occupation, to quit the employer who has taught them, represent 
themselves to another employer as competent workmen, and 
try to get higher wages by changing establishments. The men 
maintain that they do not stay because their employers do not 
give them a chance for advancement; the employers contend 
that they cannot give the chance for advancement because the 
men quit after the employers have invested in their training and 
before the training is completed. 

The monotony and lack of interest of many occupations is 
another influence which prevents workmen from remaining 
long enough to become skilled. 1 It is interesting to make 
something, but it is not interesting to make, hour after hour, 
day after day, month after month, a hundredth part of some- 
thing, and often not even know what the finished product 
looks like. The worker who finds little to interest him in his 
work is apt to satisfy his craving for interest by changing 
employers, changing industries or changing localities. He 

1 The most thorough discussion of this topic is "The Instinct of Workmanship," 
Thorstein Veblen. 


knows that if he does not like his new job, he can change again ; 
and he does. The employer who splits up an occupation into 
a hundred monotonous, repetitive tasks must seek to replace 
the interest which has evaporated from the work with a shop 
environment which appeals to the workman's personality. 
Otherwise he can hardly expect his workers to stay with him. 
This is one of the main functions to be performed by industrial 
welfare activities, and there is no excuse for a spirit of charity 
creeping into them, since they but replace in the life of the 
employee an interest of which modern industry has more or less 
thoughtlessly deprived him. The employer owes it to his 
workman and to himself to make the workplace livable. 

A considerable number of progressive firms, even in lines 
where work is highly subdivided and specialized, have found 
that a policy of training labor can be successfully and profitably 
installed. The first essential is to convince every workman or 
woman who enters the establishment that steady work and 
promotion are possible to them if they avail themselves of the 
opportunities which will be open. The second is the promotion 
of persons within the establishment to better positions when- 
ever there are openings for which persons in the plant are quali- 
fied or can be qualified by training. Workmen must see pro- 
motion in progress to be convinced of its possibility for them. 
The third is a careful training and instruction of each employee 
in each task he performs. There is a right way to do even the 
simplest work, and the workman must respect his work if he 
is to remain at it. The fourth is advancement of wages with 
advancement in skill. These are but simple, fundamental 
principles which must underlie a training policy. They con- 
vince the workmen of the firm's sincerity and that real oppor- 
tunities are open to them. 

Employers in the United States have been encouraged to 
neglect the training of workmen by the influx of European 
mechanics. Throughout our history we have drawn thousands 
of skilled workmen from Europe each year. But in recent 
years the percentage of skilled workmen among our immigrants 
has been very small. Our rapidly expanding industries call 


for larger and larger numbers of trained workmen; immigra- 
tion has been giving us fewer and fewer. The reduction of 
immigration during the war directed employers' attention to 
the necessity of emphasizing industrial training rather than 
dependence upon immigration as nothing had done before. 
The marvelous results attained in the swift, intensive training 
of war workers demonstrated something of what can be accom- 
plished. If immigration continues to remain considerably 
below the pre-war figures for ten years more, as it probably will, 
it will no doubt cause our employers to give unprecedented 
attention to the development of a higher average of technical 
skill among American workmen. 1 

At the same time, experience has amply demonstrated that 
only a relatively small percentage of people (wage earners or 
others) will attend night school. It requires unusual ambition, 
determination, and persistence to go to school after doing a 
day's work. A city night school superintendent of long experi- 
ence recently stated to me that in his judgment not more than 
two per cent of the adults of any city can be attracted to night 
school. The training given, to be effective, must therefore be 
connected with the day's work or given during periods of idle- 
ness. 2 

The training of adults at their workplace can be carried on 
in a number of different ways. Of late, considerable discussion 
has centered about the "vestibule school" as a solution of the 
industrial training problem. The vestibule school is a course 
of training which new employees, or employees transferred to 
new work, are given before they start work. It does not provide 
a general training for a trade or occupation but it affords a 
short, intensive training for a single operation. It is a job 
preparation, not an occupation preparation, and it is a natural 
development from the subdivision of work in modern industry. 
It was widely used during the war for the so-called "dilution 
of labor," to teach women and "green hands" how to perform 

1 Cf. "Immigration and the Supply of Labor after the War," D. D. Lescohier, 
Atlantic Monthly, April, 1919. 

2 Cf. Discussion of Training During Idleness in Chapter V. 


some single operation ordinarily performed by skilled me- 
chanics as a regular part of their trade. It is a device to assist 
employers to develop in employees a particular specialized skill. 

The vestibule school is, of course, but a particular method 
of making sure that every person who is taken into an industry 
shall receive some kind of definite training for the work under- 
taken. Such training is only common sense. If the minute 
subdivision of labor which now obtains in so many of our indus- 
tries is to continue, and persons must be employed to work at 
the highly specialized jobs which require labor in those establish- 
ments, some kind of training of each person for each job is 
essential. The only alternative is a low quality of labor effi- 
ciency. Many thoughtful people, both within and without 
industries characterized by such specialization of employment, 
doubt the possibility of building a democratic civilization around 
industries whose processes are so deadening to mind and soul, 
and believe that the minute subdivision of labor which has 
developed in the last forty years will pass, and be followed by a 
broadening of occupations and occupational training. But it 
is impossible at this time to forecast the future course of our 
industrial development in this matter of labor specialization, 
and the vestibule school, with its fitting of the new worker to 
his work, is far better than the slipshod methods which have 
heretofore obtained in the induction of untrained employees 
into new jobs. 

Nevertheless, the warning of Mr. Stewart Scrimshaw, Super- 
visor of Apprenticeship of the Wisconsin Industrial Commis- 
sion, with respect to the vestibule school, is one that should not 
be overlooked : 

"Vestibule schools with their corollary dilution of labor 
have been advocated for war emergency, and naturally during the 
war no adverse comment was made upon them. But in times of 
peace and normal industrial development, the vestibule school is an 
institution which cannot be looked upon except with suspicion by all 
lovers of democratic education and opportunity for the young. A 
vestibule school is not a school at all. It is a department for beginners 
established in special rooms or space through which workers pass, 


with the idea of making these individuals efficient producers through 
a particular operation in a minimum of time. // a vestibule school is 
maintained for adults, people over twenty-one, who wish at the com- 
pany's expense to become competent on some machine, no one has a 
word to say; but if the youth of our land, are put through these schools 
and made intensive operators, especially with public assistance, we 
should have a great deal to say. As a matter of fact, a vestibule school 
can be a prosperous institution only when there is a colossal labor 
turnover, or a great influx of new workers such as occurred during the 
war ; we all know that there is a wise tendency in modern industry 
to eliminate this excessive labor turnover. If this movement is 
sincere, as we know it is, it must automatically leave the vestibule school, 
as an educational plan for minors, entirely out of the question. (Italics 
ours.) 1 

There is room in industry for another kind of training school. 
Some of our larger companies have arranged, either privately 
or in cooperation with educational institutions, for courses 
given in the establishment or at school, for the further training 
of their employees in their vocations. But most of this sort of 
training accrues to persons who already have definite trades 
or occupations and simply aims to raise them to a higher level 
of efficiency. It does not benefit those who lack training to 
such an extent that the regularity of their employment is 

Such persons, if adults, have not enough preliminary edu- 
cation and industrial knowledge to fit them to enter and benefit 
by such classes. Their principal hope for training must consist 
in a systematic policy on the part of their employers of : 
(i) giving them careful instruction (on the job} in each task they 
perform ; (2) transferring them as frequently as possible to 
other jobs, and training them carefully for each ; and (3) pro- 
moting them to higher grade work whenever possible. 

But we cannot depend entirely upon the employers to pro- 
vide our entire system of industrial training. The task of train- 
ing workers is predominantly a public educational problem. 

1 Ths Wisconsin Apprentice, Vol. II, No. 2, p. 2, March, ioig. Published by 
Wisconsin Industrial Commission, Madison, Wis. 


Apprenticeship and industrial training involve a threefold 
development of the individual in doing, seeing, and thinking. 
The boy must learn to do in the shop; he must learn to see, 
to think, and to visualize in a systematic training process in the 
school. This is not the place to attempt to suggest the details 
of an industrial educational system for the United States. 
That is a question to be worked out in part by those who direct 
the operations of industry, and in part by those who specialize 
in industrial training. But the writer offers as a fundamental 
principle the statement that : 

No program of industrial education is adequate, which simply 
aims to turn out skilled mechanics. America needs efficient 
machine operators, laborers, salesgirls, and, in general, semi- 
skilled and unskilled workers, just as badly as skilled mechanics. 
Our problem is to increase and to conserve the efficiency of the 
entire labor force ; not simply of a fraction of it. It is very im- 
portant that we realize now, at the beginning of our construc- 
tive development of industrial training, that the skill of mechan- 
ics will fail to produce its maximum results unless it is used in 
combination with the labor of unskilled and semi-skilled work- 
men who are physically fit, intelligent, and have the right atti- 
tude toward their work. Our policies must cover our whole 
labor force, not a part of it. 

The advocates of industrial education in the United States 
have given undue prominence to training workmen for a few 
trades, particularly the machinist and the building trades. 
They have even put considerable effort into teaching boys 
certain trades which are being steadily split into fragments by 
the modern subdivision and specialization of employments, 
and in which the boys could find little opportunity to use their 
training to advantage unless they were fortunate enough to 
become foremen. This shortsightedness has been due to a 
failure to adequately understand their problem. Apprentice- 
ship of the eighteenth century type is dead. It survives in 
a modified form in a small number of crafts and industries. 
But it is as little adapted to the twentieth century as eighteenth 
century ships. 


Apprenticeship, however, is not dead. It is simply under- 
going an adaptation to the new industrial life of a new world 

"Apprenticeship is not dead, and never was dead, and never can 
be dead. We are all apprentices. We have apprenticeship all around 
us. It is only a question whether it is to be organized, or unorganized. 
The only thing that can die in apprenticeship is perhaps a particular 
method or kind of apprenticeship, but the principles, the function, 
and facts of apprenticeship can never die. In other words, there must 
inevitably be a learning period in actual experience. The essential 
idea of apprenticeship is to learn by doing, and in doing. People may 
contend for a longer apprenticeship, or some modification of appren- 
ticeship, but fundamentally the same principle is always present 
to learn by doing." x 

The apprenticeship problem of the present is to develop 
conditions in industry, and relations between industry and 
our school system, such as will enable every child who enters 
a wage earning vocation of whatever grade to develop his powers 
of hand and eye and mind so that he can do his best for him- 
self, his employer, and society. 

Apprenticeship, then, in the modern conception, cannot 
be merely a process of training for certain trades; but instead, 
a developed, organized plan whereby every child who enters 
employment shall learn, consistently, and constructively, how 
to use his powers of body and mind effectively in work. 

This conception requires that apprenticeship, instead of 
being the sole method of acquiring industrial knowledge, shall 
be but a part of the method by which our youth acquire such 
knowledge; and instead of being restricted to the few who 
enter trades shall be available to all wage earning youths. 
Apprenticeship thus becomes a part of the system of industrial 
training, and must necessarily be supplemented by school 
training. In the shop, the apprentice learns to do; in the 
school, he learns to see and understand. 

1 Stewart Scrimshaw, Supervisor of Apprenticeship, Industrial Commission 
of Wisconsin, The Wisconsin Apprentice, Vol. II, No. 2, March 15, igig, p. i. 


The recently established system of vocational education, 1 
as worked out in Wisconsin, is gradually establishing in the 
state the type of apprenticeship suggested. 2 In Wisconsin, 
under a law passed in 1915, all minors learning any trade, craft, 
or business under contract, express or implied, who receive 
instruction as part of their wages, must be under written con- 
tract and the contracts approved by the state. This is to pre- 
vent employers from claiming apprenticeship for boys who really 
do nothing but common labor. These apprentices are required 
to obtain four hours' instruction in a school each week, on the 
theory of trade. ''Apprenticeship, which is confined to practi- 
cal operations in the shop, is not apprenticeship at all; only 
when theory is combined with practice can a boy get a true 
apprenticeship." 3 "Our apprentices, however, are paid by 
the employers while attending the school and are penalized 
for non-attendance by a penalty of loss of wages of three hours 
for each hour they are absent from school without cause." 3 

Side by side with this apprenticeship is the requirement, 
for non-indentured minors under seventeen years of age, of 
attendance at the vocational school eight hours per week, which 
aims to give them at least some definite preparation for success- 
ful wage earning. 

These first steps do not carry industrial training very far 
in the direction of a system of combined school and shop train- 
ing that will enable every youth to enter industry with a prepa- 
ration and guidance that will bridge the gap between the ele- 
mentary school and the opportunities of industry. But they 
are definite steps in that direction and they are being guided 
by men who recognize the needs of the situation. 

There is another important consideration which should 
cause the United States to give immediate and thorough atten- 
tion to the development of a system of industrial training that 
will meet the needs of every wage earner. Labor legislation 

1 Cf. further discussion on page 132 ff. 

2 Two very good descriptions of the theory and practice of the Wisconsin system 
are found in "Development of Apprenticeship," Stewart Scrimshaw, op. cit., and 
"Labor and Administration," John R. Commons, Chap. XX. 

* Scrimshaw, op. cit. 


has, in recent years, been imposing responsibilities upon em- 
ployers for the benefit of the wage earners which make it 
impossible for employers to provide employment for the less 
efficient workers. Workmen's compensation laws, health insur- 
ance, minimum wage laws, hours of labor legislation, and safety 
and health legislation are forward steps of society that are of 
the greatest value to those who work in our industries. The 
welfare work which employers have been stimulated by public 
opinion to develop has often materially improved the employ- 
ment conditions of those employees affected. But the work- 
man's compensation law has often compelled the employer 
to refuse work to the old, the epileptic, the near-sighted, and 
the feeble-minded ; to those who have a hernia, a defect of the 
heart or lung; to those whose hearing is not good, or whose 
activity is impaired by rheumatism. The minimum wage law 
can compel the employer to pay the woman worker twelve 
dollars a week, but he is certain to refuse employment to those 
whom he does not believe are worth it. Compulsory health 
insurance, supported in whole or part by employers, will add 
another group barred from employment by rising standards 
of labor protection. Short hours of labor are practical only 
when employees have physical and nervous vigor so that they 
can work hard and fast. They inevitably make unemployable 
the slow and weak. 

Our commonwealths are wise in insisting on these mini- 
mums of employment conditions. But we must not forget 
that each forward step throws another group of workers into 
the class of undesirable employees, and that society itself is here 
causing, by its very progress, no inconsiderable amount of 
unemployment, for which society must hold itself responsible. 

Two courses of action lie before our people with respect 
to this unemployment. They are not alternative courses. 
They are supplementary. Both must be adopted. The first 
is to provide such industrial training as will reduce the number 
of unfits to a minimum. The second is the provision of some 
means other than the poorhouse or charity for taking care of 
those who cannot be made competent to maintain themselves 


in employment in competition with other workers. We must 
train our whole wage earning population, so that the number 
of unemployables will be reduced to a minimum. Then we 
must provide some method of caring for that " irreducible 
minimum" of unemployables that will preserve their self-respect 
and that of the nation. 


Many workers are idle because the jobs they had or could 
have do not satisfy them. They prefer idleness and even hun- 
ger to working under the unfavorable conditions open to them. 
They refuse to work for certain employers who offer less than 
the going rate of wages, try to make their employes work over- 
time without extra pay, are "drivers," or maintain wet, exces- 
sively hot, or improperly heated workplaces. Sometimes the 
hours of labor are too long, or there is too much overtime; 
sometimes the worker is underemployed. Here it is a brutal 
foreman, there one who shows favoritism; in another shop, 
one too exacting. Sometimes the cause of dissatisfaction is 
real; sometimes imaginary. Workmen quit for these and a 
hundred other reasons, often apparently and often really trifling, 
but sufficient to make them dissatisfied with their working 
conditions. Trade unions voice their protests against bad con- 
ditions by sending a committee to see the firm. The unorgan- 
ized voice their protest by "asking for their time." 

Employers do not realize the number of establishments or 
parts of establishments, and farms, where the conditions of 
employment make permanence of employment impossible 
for workmen. They do not realize how much those conditions 
increase their cost of production, both by continual change in 
the labor force and decreased production by those at work. 
Bad light produces eyestrains that decrease efficiency and help 
induce various kinds of sickness. Excessive moisture, extremes 
of heat and cold, draughts, and dust, both increase illness and 
cause workmen to quit to seek more pleasant workplaces. 
Sanitary conveniences that are repulsive in type or in lack of 
cleanliness both anger workmen and spread contagion. Bad 


food, lousy beds, frost coming up through scanty floors, absence 
of mosquito nettings, drive men out of many industrial camps 
as fast as they can be brought in. Fines and petty extortions 
often keep the workmen in a state of irritation that costs the 
employer more than the exactions benefit him. 

The workman gets little for his toil but the bare necessities 
of life, and employers cannot expect a loyal, steady labor force 
when the workman's conditions of employment, or the living 
conditions forced on him by his employment, do not give him 
these basic needs. Every employer of labor should have before 
his eyes some constant reminder that even the humblest laborer 
works better and steadier when he likes his job, likes his work- 
place, likes his employer. Many employers have disregarded 
the fact that efficiency is increased by contentment. Those who 
have realized it have thereby increased their profits and their 
men's wages. It is the satisfied workman who puts his whole 
heart into his work. Workmen respond to justice and thought- 
fulness on the part of the employer just as quickly as they respond 
to injustice, indifference. They want to be treated as men, 
not as hands. Nothing else holds a steady, efficient force. 
Employers have not realized how intensely human reactions 
the very reactions which would dictate their own actions under 
the same conditions determine whether or not their men 
remain with them and the amount of work they accomplish. 

The "absence of a sense of loyalty" l in many wage earners 
is a serious matter. No workman can do his best unless his 
heart is in his work, and hosts of workers have no heart in their 
work. They work because they have to. Their interest is 
in the pay envelope. "Workhouse" and "prison" are terms 
not infrequently used by them to describe their place of employ- 
ment. This mental attitude, which leads the worker to do as 
little as he can and yet draw his pay, has grown up in American 
industry, not mainly as the result of the work of "agitators" 

1 "Industrial Good Will," J. R. Commons, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1918, is an 
illuminating discussion of the value to employers of employees' good will and methods 
of cultivating it. Cf. also "The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter; 
"Hiring the Worker," R. W. Kelly; "Scientific Management and Labor," R. F. 


but as the natural reaction of human psychology to the existing 
industrial environment. Agitators have appealed to the atti- 
tude and cultivated it, but industry itself is responsible for its 
existence. Progressive, broadminded and forward-looking 
employers may, at first thought, be inclined to doubt the state- 
ment that our industries have provided a fertile soil and good 
growing conditions for antagonism and disloyalty in workmen, 
but they will modify their points of view if they impartially 
examine some of the experiences of the worker. The minute 
subdivision of tasks ; the cutting of piece rates as soon as the 
worker earns more than a certain wage ; dirty, cobwebbed win- 
dows ; and a multitude of other conditions which can be found 
in some of the industries of every manufacturing city combine 
to produce a distaste for the work and dislike for the employer. 
Instead of awakening in the workmen a sense of duty to do their 
best for their employers they arouse in them a determination 
to do as little as they can. 

These are but a few of the influences which break down loy- 
alty. Knowledge that his employment will probably be but 
temporary prevents a worker from taking the interest in his 
work which he would take if he expected it to be permanent. 
The failure of most employers to provide definite systems of 
promotion, the refusal of employers to give wage earners notice 
that they will be "laid off" at a certain time, and the failure 
of the employer to show (through some one or more of his 
officers) a personal interest in his workers, imply indifference on 
his part to the welfare of his men. Sanitary facilities which 
suggest that the worker is an animal without esthetic and hy- 
gienic instincts; bad light and ventilation and draughty win- 
dows ; cold workrooms and low wages ; and a variety of other 
influences still further arouse in the worker the convictions : 
(i) that the employer is interested in him only for what he 
can get out of him ; (2) that the employer thinks he is a better, 
higher type of man than the worker ; and (3) that the employer 
is an oppressor. The natural reaction is to get all he can out 
of the employer and give him as little. Inefficiency is inspired 
where efficiency could be inspired as easily. The employers 


lose money and so do the workers. And both have their lives 
more or less embittered and hardened. 


Industrial accidents, occupational illnesses, and occupational 
exposure to the elements constitute another group of industrial 
causes of idleness which displace a large number of workmen 
each year, for longer or shorter periods. It is well known that 
hundreds of thousands of workmen are disabled each year by 
accidents, and many of them rendered wholly or partly unem- 
ployable. The waste of labor power by occupational disease 
and exposure has not yet been measured, but we know that it 
is enormous. Idleness due to these causes is particularly costly 
to the workmen since it both cuts off income and increases 
expenditures. It is questionable whether our workmen's com- 
pensation laws repay to the workmen of America twenty-five 
per cent of their financial losses due to industrial accidents and 
occupational sicknesses. The employer who reduces the acci- 
dent and sickness risk of his business therefore confers a large 
benefit on his workman. But he benefits himself equally as 
much. Every time a man is disabled a new man, a green man, 
must take his place. It costs to break him in, he retards pro- 
duction during his learning period, and in most industries he 
is an increased source of risk to the remainder of the force. 

The effects of industrial accidents and industrial diseases 
upon the employment and earnings of workmen may be illus- 
trated by a case from the writer's experience. 1 

A Polish laborer in an iron foundry was struck on the head 
with a piece of iron. He recovered, and returned to work for 
the same employer, but recurrent sick spells prevented him from 
working steadily. He was often incapacitated for weeks at a 
time. The employer gave him work when he was able to work. 
He stayed with the employer and worked every day that he 
could possibly stay in the foundry. But he lost more time than 

1 For three years the writer had charge of industrial accident and workmen's 
compensation work for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries. The 
case cited is but typical of hundreds that came under his observation. 


he worked, and he made only a common laborer's wages when 
employed. Seven children depended upon his earnings. His 
wife had to go out washing two days a week. The two older 
boys worked irregularly ; the older one was not strong (a clear 
product of mal-nutrition), and the other one kept getting into 
trouble. The baby died it had been getting three cents' 
worth of skimmed milk a day, diluted with water, and the 
care of a ten-year-old sister when its mother went out to work. 
The mother died of heart failure after a hard day's work, at 
the age of thirty-eight. The children were of course doomed 
to an economic life not much different from that of their parents 
by the circumstances of their childhood. The writer lost track 
of this family after the mother's death, but the above history 
is drawn from his personal observations over a period of seven 


Poor health is the most important of all causes of lost time, 
personal to the workman. Sickness causes more unemploy- 
ment than any other one cause preventing the workman from 
working. Not only so, poor physique is a widespread cause 
of inefficiency. Economic and medical writers have for many 
years been pointing out the physical inefficiency of large num- 
bers of our people, but there was no general admission of the 
fact until the army surgeons made their reports upon the drafted 
soldiers. Then the nation was astounded. Undernourish- 
ment, improper food selection, crowded sleeping quarters, 
ignorance of personal and home hygiene, inadequate medical 
care, and insufficient convalesence in sickness; drink, vice, 
and epidemic diseases are among the more important causes 
of this sub-normal physical efficiency. A considerable propor- 
tion of working class children are cursed from childhood with 
underfeeding and inadequate clothing. Investigation will 
reveal that the workingman's children, particularly the common 
laborers, have more sickness and more "children's diseases" 
than more well-to-do children. 1 Their physical endurance 

1 The reports of the Children's Bureau of the United States Department of 
Labor furnish current data in evidence of the disadvantages which the child of 
door parents must carry, 


and well-being is diminished throughout their lives by the 
wearing influence of these disadvantages. Even when we 
overlook such personal factors as drink and vice, which impair 
the strength of so many, it is apparent that there are plenty of 
causes to prevent our workers from achieving their potential 
physical powers. 


There are well-recognized causes of idleness which are personal 
to the worker. In some cases industrial conditions have con- 
tributed to the development of these personal shortcomings, 
but in a large percentage of cases they are due to personal, 
home, or general social causes. Intemperance, vice, laziness, 
bad dispositions, inability to get along with others, and other 
personal qualities make men and women impossible as employees 
or very irregular. A large percentage of the unemployable 
and irregular workers are feeble-minded or represent cases of 
stunted mental development. Tuberculosis, rheumatism, and 
other chronic diseases and disabilities wholly or partly incapaci- 
tate others ; while temporary sickness, either of the wage earner 
or in his family, such as typhoid, scarlet fever, and pneumonia, 
cause loss of time to hundreds of thousands each year. 

These personal, non-industrial causes of idleness are so well 
known that one needs but to mention them. There are other 
personal causes of idleness and irregularity that are more subtle 
but do an immense amount of harm. For instance, note the 
increase in labor turnover which frequently accompanies a 
sharp increase in wages. It has been noticed again and again 
in England, France, and America during the war. Instead 
of taking advantage of the higher wages to improve their eco- 
nomic position, many workers have preferred to work a smaller 
number of days, earn approximately the same amount per week 
as formerly, and absorb the benefits of higher daily wages in 
increased idleness rather than a larger income. Employers 

1 Cf. "Unemployment, A Social Study," Rowntrce and Lasker. This is one of 
the best studies ever presented on this subject. "Unemployment, A Problem of 
Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chaps. VI-VII; "One Thousand Homeless Men," 
Alice Solenberger. 


of southern negroes, the peoples found on many islands of 
the sea, and various groups of white laborers have furnished 
illustrations of the same fact. 

The explanation of this phenomenon is a simple one, but 
it is very significant. When any one's income exceeds his 
standard of living his incentive to work is removed. He has 
nothing to work for. The distinction between standard of liv- 
ing and scale of living must be carefully recognized. One's 
standard of living is in his mind. It is his conception of the way 
he wishes to live. It is the embodiment of his desires. One's 
scale of living is the way he lives ; not the way he wants to live. 
If one who is living in a tenement wants to own a home; if 
he patronizes movies when he wants to go to operas; if he 
walks when he craves an automobile ; if he toils six days a week 
when he wants to spend the winter traveling in Europe; he 
has a standard of living far above his scale of living. A marked 
increase in his income would be absorbed in bringing his scale 
of living nearer to his standard. Higher wages will make him 
work harder, and the probabilities are that his standard will 
keep rising as his scale of living rises, thus giving him a continu- 
ing incentive to work harder and harder. 

But one whose standard of living rises no higher than satisfy- 
ing his stomach with "something that will fill up" or who has 
no abhorrence for the crowding of the tenement, is happy when 
he has a bottle and some cigarettes, and is content with the 
clothes that come from the second-hand store, has a standard 
of living quickly attained. He will see no reason for working 
as long as he has some money in his pockets. "Why should 
I take a job? I'm not broke," is an expression that is familiar 
to employment office managers. In the state employment 
office at Minneapolis we distinguished between men who wanted 
work and "visitors." At times, one half or two thirds of the 
men who came into the office to inquire about work had no in- 
tention of accepting any. They were "visiting" the various 
employment offices to "get a line on" opportunities of employ- 
ment and wages, but would not accept work until their money 
vas entirely gone. Then they wanted a free shipment to some 


camp so that they could sleep in a warm train and get their 
meals at the employer's expense until payday. Their standard 
of living and scale of living were identical. Certain crude 
physical wants and an amount of mental and nervous excite- 
ments included them both. 

The defect in these men is a defect in vision, a wrong sense 
of values. Ambitions have died or have never been awakened. 
The future holds no hope. There is no lure to a higher scale 
of living. The mind is sordid and it leaves the hands nothing 
to strive for. Either the intellect is subnormal, the education 
defective, or the personality dragged down by ignorance, drink, 
and vice. Often all of these influences are present, for each of 
them tends to cau^e the presence of the others. Employers 
who are far-sighted enough to help their employees attain higher 
standards of living soon find that they have a higher standard 
of employees, for the men are soon busily engaged in trying 
to bring their scale of living up to that higher standard. Em- 
ployers who prefer that their men shall be ignorant and coarse, 
and live accordingly, as has been true in some steel manufactur- 
ing, mining, and other industrial districts, and in many lumber- 
ing, railway, and agricultural camps, inevitably attract to them- 
selves an irresponsible, unambitious, and unstable class of labor. 
In other words, working efficiency is impossible without spend- 
ing efficiency. People must know how to live if they are going 
to know how to work. A mind which is focused on improvement, 
and which has ambitions for better living, is essential for the 
production of a state of mind that produces enterprise and energy 
in work. Another peculiar fact about these high and low stand- 
ard types of minds is that the man whose mind is so awakened 
that he has a standard of living beyond his present attainment 
often falls farther behind his standard as he advances in earn- 
ing capacity. His mind advances faster than his earnings. 
Instead of weakening, his stimulus gets stronger as he proceeds. 
But the man whose scale of living is his standard does not raise 
his standard. He lives in his slough, unless some violent new 
force comes into his life to catch hold of the ebbing self-respect 
and put him on his feet again. 



The causes of idleness which we have discussed thus far 
have all been related, directly or indirectly, to working condi- 
tions or the economic motives of workers. There are also non- 
industrial causes of idleness. Fires are perhaps the most com- 
mon of these extra-industrial forces. Thousands of industrial 
plants are either destroyed or crippled by fire in the course of 
each year, throwing tens of thousands of work people out of 
employment for longer or shorter periods, and forcing many of 
them to seek work with other employers. Widespread epi- 
demics like the influenza epidemic of 1918; disasters like the 
San Francisco earthquake and the Galveston flood, or like the 
floods which almost annually disturb transportation, close 
factories, and otherwise disturb business in Ohio, Michigan, 
and many other states during the early spring; cyclones; 
waves of excessive heat ; unusually heavy falls of snow such as 
seriously disturbed production through most of the northern 
states in the winter of 1917-18, suddenly and unexpectedly 
cut off for the time being the livelihood of many people. The 
fact that these causes of unemployment largely lie outside human 
control does not permit us to ignore their existence. They 
increase the amount of idleness each year. They often produce 
extremely acute poverty situations. And it is possible, as we 
will show later, to have our labor market so organized that we 
will not have to depend entirely upon charity for the relief of 
these situations. 


There are two distinct problems which arise in connection 
with the causes of idleness. The first is, "Why do workmen 
lose time?" and the second, "What determines which particular 
workman will be the one to be idle?" We have been discussing 
the first of these problems, and will now pass to the discussion 
of the second. 

Unemployment, irregular employment, and underemploy- 
ment do not fall with equal force upon all members of the work- 
ing class. If economic conditions are such that some men must 


be laid off by their employers, those will be dismissed who are 
least desirable. The personal qualities of the workmen deter- 
mine to a large extent which individuals will be selected for 
dismissal. 1 The fact that a man is inclined to be lazy, insubor- 
dinate, irregular, irresponsible, or is a poor workman may be 
the reason why he rather than some one else is unemployed, 
though in no sense the cause of there being unemployment. The 
fact that a workman is steady and efficient may likewise be the 
reason why he holds a steady job, without in the least increasing 
the total number of employees kept by his employer. In con- 
sidering the personal factor in our study of employment it is 
therefore necessary to recognize the fact that the unemployed 
are not, on the average, the equals in physique, efficiency, or 
character, of the employed. Many reliable workmen are out 
of employment on each day of the year, but they represent 
the accidental, rather than the typical, element among the 
unemployed. On the whole, the efficiency, man for man, 
of those out of work, is not equal to that of those at work. 
Unemployment falls first upon the heads of the least desirable 
workmen. Our programs for reducing unemployment must 
not lose sight of this fact. 

We have already pointed out that the fluctuations of unem- 
ployment divide our working class into four groups : those who 
work steadily through the year; those who work more or less 
steadily but regularly work at two, three, or several jobs in the 
course of the year; the casuals, who never work more than a 
few hours or days, or a week or two at a time ; and those who 
are on the lower fringe of the casual group and so nearly unem- 
ployable that they work but seldom and very little. Their 
main dependence is charity rather than labor. It is important 
that we now consider this fact a little further in its relation to 
the personal types of the unemployed. 

Almost every industry and establishment has a considerable 
fraction of steady men who are employed throughout the year. 2 

1 "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, p. 134. 

2 A clean-cut illustration is afforded by the description of gas works labor in 
Webb's "Seasonal Trades." 


In some industries it is ten per cent, in some it will reach ninety 
per cent. Probably fifty per cent of our entire working class is 
included in this group. Except in times of severe industrial 
depression, they work year in and year out. In some businesses 
this group loses days from time to time or may even lose a few 
weeks at some period in the year ; in others they lose no tune 
except for sickness, vacations, and similar causes. But even 
when unemployed for short periods these men have no worry 
about employment. They know that they have work that they 
can depend on, a job to which to return, a job that will give 
them somewhere near a full year's wages. 

Most industries likewise have a group of irregulars who are 
hired for the busy season and dropped when the dull season 
arrives. They also employ some casual help for short jobs. 

This industrial cleavage between steady work and irregular 
work naturally leads to the cleavage we are speaking of among 
the workers. // tends to separate out certain workmen for steady 
work and others for unsteady. Industrial depressions, violent 
seasonal fluctuations in the demand for labor, the bankruptcy 
of an employer, and similar causes at times throw some of the 
steady men out of employment, but the other group of workers 
are normally unemployed a considerable part of their time. 
And the very unemployment which is meted out to them by 
competition as a penalty for their inefficiency, in turn accen- 
tuates that inefficiency and paves the way for worse inefficiency. 

It is very important that we recognize this distinct cleavage 
among the workers. It is clearly revealed in every investi- 
gation that has looked into the point. 1 The records of trade 
union benefit societies show that it is the same group of men 
that are found most frequently on the unemployment relief 
rolls; while the records of public employment offices show a 
definite group of laborers, skilled and unskilled, returning again 
and again through the year looking for work. The Ohio reports, 
for instance, show that from one fourth to one third of the appli- 
cants for work are "renewals"; i.e., are previous customers. 

1 Cf. "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," Beveridge. Chapter VII of 
this work was the first clear demonstration of the point. 


The causes which produce these labor types are as varied as 
the causes which determine human personality. Some men 
are born with a steady, industrious temperament; others are 
by nature unsteady, flighty, poorly balanced ; some are intelli- 
gent, others handicapped by sadly limited mental powers. 
Some are brought up by "level-headed" parents in a healthy 
moral atmosphere and trained into good habits, both of working 
and living. Others are fathered by drunkards and mothered 
by slovens Some have good schooling; others practically 
none at all. Some start life with the chances in their favor 
and make shipwreck of the venture through their own fault. 
The accidents of fortune which enable one to get steady employ- 
ment when he starts his working life, while another is compelled 
to shift from job to job and place to place, separate a group of 
the steady workers on the one hand from a group of irregulars 
on the other. 


The problem of industrial idleness would be much simplified 
if all idle persons were idle simply because they could not get 
work. Unfortunately, as we have stated previously, there are 
those who will not work, those who are not able to work, and 
those who are inefficient, as well as those who are able and 
willing to work but cannot get work. 

We have the unemployable on our hands as well as the un- 
employed, and they constitute a sociological or medical problem, 
rather than a purely economic problem. Many of them are 
apparently able-bodied, but their moral values are disturbed. 
Others are mentally or morally incapacitated. Many unem- 
ployables are idle but not seeking employment; others seek 
employment but hope they will not find it ; and a third group 
desire to work but are incapable of holding a position. Part of 
the present unemployables could be made capable of employ- 
ment by medical treatment combined with some sort of indus- 
trial training or preparation for employment, who at present 
are either semi-criminal or criminal social parasites who subsist 
on society without earning their subsistence, or are proper 


persons for charitable care. In statistics of unemployment 
they are ordinarily included among the unemployed but do not 
constitute any true part of the labor supply. W. H. Beveridge 
has described the type who will not work in the following words : 
"Each of these is in truth as definitely diseased as are the in- 
mates of hospitals, asylums, and infirmaries, and should be 
classed with them. Just as some suffer from distorted bodies 
and others from distorted intellects, so these suffer from a 
distortion of judgment, an abnormal estimate of values, which 
makes them, unlike the vast majority of their fellows, prefer 
the pains of being a criminal or a vagrant to the pains of being 
a workman." l 

This strictly "unemployable" class might logically be ex- 
cluded from consideration in a study of unemployment. They 
are not affected one way or the other by the fact of unemploy- 
ment, except that some of them are at least in part the products 
of unemployment at an earlier period in their lives. But it is 
not possible entirely to exclude them from consideration. They 
shade off gradually into those who work occasionally but either 
cannot or will not retain regular employment, such as the 
casuals who are found hanging around free employment offices 
seeking short and easy jobs. 

The unemployable may be roughly divided into two groups : 
those who are rendered unemployable by physical or mental 
defects and those who are made unemployable by moral defects. 
In many cases the physical or mental defects will lead to moral 
defects. In others, moral defect is the cause of physical or 
mental defect. It is not always easy, therefore, to definitely 
classify an individual since he manifests both types of deficiency. 
But the distinction is nevertheless important. The treatment 
of the two classes of cases must be radically different. The 
first group makes a stronger claim on the average citizen's 
interest than the second. The degree of social responsibility 
for the human product is different in the two classes of cases. 
Industrial conditions are probably more responsible for the 
physical and mental defectives than for the moral defectives. 

1 "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," p. 134. 


Economic and educational reforms could perhaps accomplish 
more for the first type than for the second. 


The cost of unsteady employment to society is a topic that 
has been frequently and ably presented. 

The first and most apparent effect of unsteady employment is 
its effect on wages. And it is one of the most important effects. 
Our incomes are one of the determining factors in our lives. 
They determine, to a considerable extent, where we can 
live, how we can live, and what opportunities we can give our 

Unsteady employment affects wages in four ways : it reduces 
the amount of the workman's earnings; it causes irregularity 
of income ; it produces uncertainty of income ; and it decreases 
his efficiency. It, therefore, cuts down both present earnings 
and future earnings. Financially considered, it probably 
reduces the annual earnings of American workers more than 
3-ny other type of misfortune to which they are exposed. Here 
and there industrial accidents, sickness, a bad investment, or 
some other misfortune may bring more serious adversity to an 
individual family or even to an individual community, but 
no other form of industrial adversity impairs the livelihood 
and seriously decreases the earning power of so many working 
people. The figures cited in the previous chapter showed 
that from one to several million employees are out of work in the 
United States at all times. The personnel of the group changes, 
but the group is ever present. In addition, there are large 
numbers who are irregularly and insufficiently employed. 

What this means to the workers may be suggested by a brief 
consideration of the results of unemployment in Chicago in 
the winter of 1913-14. 1 

The report of the county commissioners of Cook County, 
Illinois, for 1913-14 shows that 250,000 residents of Cook 
County received charitable aid during the year; one in ten of 

1 The illustration is simply selected as a typical case. The conditions it reveals 
are common throughout the United States and in Europe. 


the total population. The United Charities alone received 
applications for help from 20,628 families, comprising over 
80,000 people. During the previous year they received appli- 
cations from but 14,269 families with 56,000 individuals. In 
1913-1914 when over 20,000 families asked help, 9514 were in 
need because of unemployment, and 888 because of insufficient 
earnings (underemployment). Unsteady work caused a little 
over one half of the applications for help. In 1912-13, when 
but 14,269 families applied, only 2066 were cases of unemploy- 
ment and 817 of insufficient earnings. Only 20 per cent of 
the cases, therefore, were employment cases. The entire 
increase in charitable calls in 1913-14 over 1912-13 (as 
measured by the experience of the United Charities) was due 
to the increase in unemployment. If but 20 per cent, instead 
of 50 per cent, of the calls for help in that year were due to un- 
steady work, it would certainly be matter for serious consider- 

But let us carry the analysis a step further. Twenty-five 
hundred and thirty families applied for help in 1913-14 and 
1330 in 1912-13 because of the birth of a child. This was 
12 per cent of the total number of cases in 1913-14 and 9 per 
cent of those in 1912-14. These cases, too, were due to insuffi- 
cient earnings to unemployment, underemployment, and 
low wages. 

The effects of irregular employment upon income may be 
further illustrated by a few figures gathered in recent investi- 
gations. In Connecticut it was found that the actual earnings 
of 942 cotton mill workers fell 13 per cent below full-time 
earnings; of 1175 silk workers 18.2 per cent below full time; 
of 662 brass workers, 14.3 per cent below; of 701 hardware 
workers, 14.1 per cent below, and of 2541 metal workers, 13.9 
per cent below. 1 

The New York Factory Investigating Commission found 
that 62.1 per cent of the paper box workers investigated in New 
York City, and 63.4 per cent of the confectionery workers, fell 

1 Connecticut Commission of Wage Earning Women and Minors, Report of 
February 4, 1913. 


more than 10 per cent below full-time earnings. 1 The Com- 
mission comments on these and similar figures in the following 
words : 2 "This study of the actual incomes of working women 
brings out clearly the indisputable fact that rate of pay is but 
little indication of income ; ... it is found that for trained and 
experienced workers also, the actual income falls from 10 per 
cent to 20 per cent below the possible income based on rate of 
pay." Regularity of employment is as vital to the worker 
as a living wage. It is inextricably bound up with the ques- 
tion of what wages are necessary to maintain the employees 
of any given industry. No worker can count on casual or 
supplementary work to fill in the time lost by industrial fluc- 
tuations Df employment. No worker can count on less than 
the usual expectancy of sickness. The question of irregularity 
of employment is a very vital one to the woman earning wages 
barely sufficient to maintain her even when she has steady 

The records of the Charity Organization Society of New 
York revealed in 1911 that the majority of those who applied 
for relief were men of unskilled occupations, and "the skilled 
trades represented were those which are highly seasonal in their 
demand for labor. Thus about half the men were laborers, 
teamsters, or longshoremen and about 15 per cent belonged to 
the building trades. Laborers and the building trades were 
the two most highly represented callings." "Irregular or 
casual employment is characteristic of unskilled labor and 
seasonal fluctuations mark the building trades. Despite the 
high wages in the latter, the discontinuous employment seems 
to have a demoralizing effect." 3 

The New York Society for Improving the Condition of the 
Poor declared the same year that 4 "70 per cent of our appli- 
cants would probably require no outside aid if work could be 

1 Fourth Report New York Factory Investigating Commission, 1915, Vol. II, 
Appendix IV, pp. 512, 513. 

2 Ibid., p. 511. 

8 New York Report on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, Appendix VII, 
p. 148. 

4 Ibid., p. 151. 


regular and continuous, and wages proportionate to service 
rendered and price of living," and of the remaining 30 per cent 
they state that two thirds would fail of self-support only because 
of " poor management or general inefficiency " and that their need 
would consist largely of "direction and educational attention." 

The reports of the Massachusetts Commission on Minimum 
Wage Boards furnish additional facts on the depreciation of 
annual earnings. They found that although 72.8 per cent of 
the workers in the women's clothing industry were rated to 
earn $6 a week or over, only 49.9 per cent actually earned it. 1 

The suggestion of Frank Julian Warne that a man out of 
work "is not a problem for anybody" "as long as he is able 
to take care of himself" will not be questioned by anyone who 
looks at irregularity of employment as a charity problem, but 
will be disputed by every one who recognizes that unemploy- 
ment, whether it leads to charity or not, is a menace to the secur- 
ity of family life ; a source of demoralization to character, and 
a preventive of adequate training of children. Few who have 
studied the employment situation will coincide with his com- 
ments on the seasonal trades : 

"Take the men of seasonal occupations ; it is very much a matter of 
doubt in my mind, whether a seasonal occupation is a problem of un- 
employment. I am inclined to think it is more a wage problem. 
For instance, if a man is out of work three months of the year, if he 
is able to take care of himself, if he has earned during nine months 
enough money to take care of himself during three months, it is no 
more of a problem of unemployment than if a man is idle one day out 
of seven. I would say, as a general statement, this great problem 
of building trades, a seasonal occupation, is not a problem of unem- 
ployment at all. There may be certain numbers of men engaged 
in those trades that fall into the unemployed class, but as a rule, they 
all get sufficiently high wages to take care of themselves the rest of 
the year. . . . My idea is to find out, as far as possible, the definite, 
concrete facts as regards the effect of unemployment, then find out 
as much as possible about the definite, concrete causes of unemploy- 
ment. My own idea is that there is no cure-all ; Mr. Bates' rec- 

1 Bulletin No. 9, September, 1915, "Wages of Women in Women's Clothing 
Factories in Massachusetts." 


ommendation that you distribute labor is only an insignificant small 
part of the problem of unemployment." l 

The Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission found 
that more than one half of those scheduled to receive over $8 
a week in retail stores failed to get it, 2 and that a similar 
situation obtained in the paper box factories. 3 They found 
that though only 24.8 per cent of the employees in candy 
factories were supposed to draw less than $5 a week, 49 per 
cent actually fell below that amount. 4 

Three hundred and sixty-five trade unions in New York 
reported in 1909 that but two thirds of their members worked 
the year round ; 191 reported an average dull season of three 
and one third months, while 211 showed an average loss in 
wages of 20.9 per cent. The figures for unskilled labor would, 
of course, be at least as bad. 5 

It is impossible to tell how much the actual earnings of 
America's laboring classes in the course of a year fall short of 
their potential earnings because of loss of time. Neither is it 
necessary. Any one who reads our preceding chapter knows 
that the loss of wages sustained by our workers is enormous. 
He knows that millions of families receive ten, fifteen, twenty, 
or twenty-five per cent less wages in the course of a year than 
they would receive if wage earners worked full time. 

Irregularity of earnings has almost as vicious effects as their 
absolute reduction. It prevents intelligent expenditure of 
the income, encourages improvidence, and prevents planning 
of purchasing. It leads almost inevitably to extravagance 
when earnings are good, and debts when work is slack. 6 

1 Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability, April, IQII, 
Appendix XI, pp. 175-176. 

2 Bulletin No. 6, March, 1915, "Wages of Women in Retail Stores." 

3 Bulletin No. 8, September, 1915, "Wages of Women in Paper Box Factories." 
4 Bulletin No. 4, October, 1914, "Wages of Women in Candy Factories in 


6 Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, 
IQII, pp. 162-16.5. 

6 For specific illustrations see Volume XVI, Report on Condition of Woman and 
Child Wage Earners in the United States, Senate Document No. 645, 6ist Congress, 
2d Session, on "Family Budgets of Typical Cotton Mill Workers." 


It is not difficult to get plenty of illustrations of the wage 
losses of specific industrial groups due to irregular work. The 
reports of the New York Factory Investigating Commission, 
the Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, and 
other minimum wage commissions, and some of the bulletins 
of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics abound in data. 
Since our interest is in the readjustments in industry and in 
employment methods that will mitigate the situation, rather 
than the statistics of unemployment, we will not delay longer 
to prove a case that has been proved again and again. 

Unsteady employment attacks the worker's efficiency in 
so many ways that probably no one could enumerate them all. 
It undermines his physique, deadens his mind, weakens his 
ambition, destroys his capacity for continuous, sustained en- 
deavor ; induces a liking for idleness and self-indulgence ; saps 
self-respect and the sense of responsibility; impairs technical 
skill; weakens nerve and will power; creates a tendency to 
blame others for his failures ; saps his courage ; prevents thrift 
and hope of family advancement ; destroys a workman's feel- 
ing that he is taking good care of his family ; sends him to work 
worried and underfed; plunges him in debt. Mr. John A. 
Hobson has wisely stated that, "Though the physical, moral, 
and social injuries, due to alternating periods of over- and under- 
work, are generally admitted, the full costs of such irregularity, 
human and even economic, are far from being adequately 
realized, ... by the workers themselves and even by social 
reformers, the injury inflicted upon wages and the standard of 
living by irregularity of employment is appreciated far more 
adequately than the related injury inflicted on the physique and 
morale of the worker by sandwiching periods of overexertion 
between intervals of idleness." 1 

The case is even more powerfully presented in Webbs' "Sea- 
sonal Trades" (p. 51) : "All who have experience of such situa- 
tions testify to the nerve racking effect of habitual running into 
debt with the prospect of paying out of the wages of uncertain 
future employment. 

1 "Work and Wealth ; A Human Valuation," J. A. Hobson, igi4, pp. 79-80. 


"... As a matter of fact, the nervous reactions to such 
demoralizing influences are so powerful as to transform many 
strong-willed, well-intentioned workmen into the irregular 
material that overfills the army of casual labour or even into 
the will-less, hopeless, indifferent objects called the unemploy- 
able. Demoralisation, moral and physical, is the inevitable 
result. One foreman speaks vividly of the effect of a spell of 
unemployment. The man's skill deteriorates, because he does 
not get enough food for a start and is not half worth his money. 
... I naturally have to get a job out as quickly as possible ; 
it is my duty to do so. If I employ a man who cannot do his 
work and he fails in an hour or two because, perhaps, he has 
not been fed for weeks as he ought to have been, I have to dis- 
miss him. I do not know the cause of the failure, and I do not 
ask the cause. I cannot go to him and say, ' My man, have you 
not had anything to eat for a week ? ' or something of that sort. 
I simply say, ' Come to the office and get your money.' 

"It is a generally admitted fact that regularity of employ- 
ment is essential for the preservation of the physique and morale 
of the worker. A keen observer, and one well acquainted with 
conditions in London, says that the poverty that is due to low 
wages is, in London, less in volume as well as less acute than that 
which is consequent on some form of lack of work. He quotes 
the words of a workingman, who says: 'The great curse of a 
journeyman's life is irregularity of employment. When I 
thought it likely that I should be thrown out of employment 
it seemed to paralyse me completely, and I used to sit at home 
brooding over it until the blow fell. . . . The fear of being 
turned off is the worst thing in a workingman's life, and more or 
less acutely it is almost always, in the case of the vast majority, 
present to his mind.' ' 

The New York Commission says : 

"The effects of unemployment as gathered from the records in these 
cases illustrate very strongly what the most dangerous results of un- 
employment are. First, is the fact that when a man is thrown out of 
regular employment he is likely after a time to take any job that is 
offered. This draws him into the great group of irregular, casual 


laborers. At first, unable to get steady work, he soon becomes 
unable to work steadily, even if the work be available. Secondly, 
the unemployed workman with a family to support is apt to resume 
work after a period of idleness at a wage lower than his real earning 
capacity. The necessity of his condition compels him to accept any 
wage that is offered. Thirdly, the lower earning capacity of the men 
compels the women to go out to work, and that means several children 
neglected. And fourthly, the children neglected while they are under 
the legal working age are sent to work as soon as the law allows. 
The reason that we found such few cases in which children were 
contributing to the support of the family is that they were too young. 
As soon as they reach the legal age they help to keep the family self- 
supporting ; but they are seldom trained in any occupation which will 
make them capable of supporting a family when they grow up ; for 
that means a period of apprenticeship with little or no earnings, and 
the family needs the earnings of the child at once. Thus is the cycle 
repeated. The present family's self-support is secured by making the 
future generation liable to dependency." r 

Commissioner John Mitchell, summed up the whole matter 
in a nutshell when he said : 

"All the data regarding unemployment is so very easy of access 
you can be simply smothered in information regarding the volume of 
unemployment. People cannot get jobs; there is no use talking; 
the thing is to arrive at a remedy." 2 

Mr. Lyndon Bates also stresses the need for action : 

"To get down to this particular subject about the fact of unem- 
ployment, I believe anybody who has been in politics in New York, 
and had an average of about ten men a day at times come up looking 
for work, and simply going to their assemblyman or alderman because 
he is the outward and visible sign of officialdom, where you see appar- 
ently about half of those men are clean, decent, hard-working people 
that simply cannot get work, you could get a pretty good idea of the 
fact that very certainly unemployment does exist, and when you 

1 Report of the Commission on Employers' Liability of the State of New York, 
April, 191 1, p. 150. 

2 Commissioner John Mitchell in Report of New York Commission on Em- 
ployers' Liability, April, 1911, Appendix XI, p. 173. Cf. also "Misery and Its 
Causes," E. T. Devine, especially Chaps. Ill and V. 


have seen those men in the course of a year or two years go down into 
the lower ken you cannot help feeling a certain amount of sympathy 
and a desire that some of the brains and some of the intelligence 
of the body politic be put into this problem." l 

1 Lyndon Bates in Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability, 
April, 1911, Appendix XI, p. 169. 


TEN years ago the expression "labor turnover" was known 
only to a limited number of employment managers and business 
men. Five years ago it had become a familiar term in employ- 
ment offices and among a somewhat larger group of employers. 
During the war the idea of "labor turnover" became familiar 
to the nation. Ten years ago literature on the subject was 
hard to find. To-day books, magazines, technical papers, and 
even the daily press abound in discussions of the subject. The 
nation is now awakening to the menace of ceaseless shiftings 
of labor as it awakened between 1907 and 1912 to industrial 
accidents, and as it has been awaking for the last fifteen years 
to its need for some adequate system of industrial education. 

Labor turnover, or the shifting of workers from job to job, 
is found throughout our industries. Technically speaking, 
turnover occurs whenever a workman's employment is termi- 
nated and another person is employed in his place. He may 
have died, obtained advancement with another concern, gone 
into business for himself, or quit to "join the leisure class." 
Practically only that turnover due to preventable causes, and 
which produces a loss either to individuals or to society, is worthy 
of discussion. It is therefore necessary to distinguish at once 
between normal or necessary labor turnover, and abnormal or 
unnecessary turnover. 

Normal turnover occurs when workers leave their employ- 
ment for death, serious or chronic illness, a disabling accident, 
old age, to continue their education, to go into business or on a 
farm, to marry, to accept a better position with another em- 
ployer, or similar reasons. Abnormal turnover occurs when 
the severance of employment is due to such causes as careless 


methods of hiring, discharging, and handling men ; to wages 
lower than those offered by competing establishments; to 
unhealthy or disagreeable shop conditions; unfair systems of 
computing or paying wages ; the wanderlust of workers ; the 
unreliability or unsteadiness of employees, the excessive fluc- 
tuation of labor demand described in our second chapter, and 
the labor supply. Such turnover seriously decreases national 
production; wastes and destroys labor power; prevents a 
large part of our labor force from developing that efficiency 
which is possible to it; increases unemployment and under- 
employment ; and impairs the quality of the man (and woman) 
power of the country. 

The labor turnover which we called "normal" simply con- 
stitutes one of the facts of life to which we must adjust ourselves 
with the fewest words possible. It is at times irritating, but 
does not constitute an industrial problem. Indeed it is in many 
cases a distinct benefit. 1 Abnormal turnover, however, is a 
distinct menace to our social welfare. In discussing it, we are 
considering the labor reserve of our first chapter, the fluctuating 
demand for labor of our second chapter, and the occupational 
idleness of our third chapter from another point of view. We 
are now discussing the process of labor shifting as a serious evil 
in itself. "Labor turnover, which is a group phenomenon and 
not an individual question, suddenly looms up as an intangible 
overhead cost. The employee or superintendent or publicist 
who fully grasps all that is implied in this profound subject 
of labor turnover will be in a position to meet the critical prob- 
lems of the future." 2 

Abnormal labor turnover is due to a variety of causes. 3 Our 
first chapter demonstrated that a continuing, decentralized 
labor surplus in a country devoid of an organized labor market 
naturally leads to incessant changes in the personnel of employ- 

1 Cf. "Labor Turnover," George J. Eberle, American Economic Review, March, 

2 John R. Commons, in "The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter, 
1919, p. xiv. 

3 Much information on turnover is scattered through other chapters.. Chapter 
III must be read with Chapter IV. The index contains other citations. 


ers' labor forces. Our second chapter showed that the fluctua- 
tions of labor demand, alternately suck workers into industry 
and cast them out ; both forcing a considerable portion of our 
wage earners to depend upon irregular work for a livelihood 
and training them in unsteadiness. In Chapter III we pointed 
out non-industrial and personal causes of the instability of 
workers. In Chapter V we will show how better methods of 
training workers can increase the steadiness of their employ- 
ment and produce a greater capacity for working steadily. Our 
discussion of the causes of labor turnover in this chapter is 
therefore but supplementary to the facts suggested in these 
other four chapters. 

The essential fact, with respect to labor turnover, is that 
fully half of our labor passes through our industries rather 
than into them. Employers clamor for more men while they 
let those they have slip through their fingers. Workers com- 
plain of lack of work, though yesterday they made no effort 
to hold the jobs they had. "Suddenly it is found that one of 
the greatest costs of labor is not the inefficiency of the individual 
but the lack of good will as a whole." l A certain proportion 
of our employers have inaugurated definite labor policies cal- 
culated to hold a steady labor force for their businesses and 
have achieved a success that has surprised themselves. Half 
of our workers, more or less, have fitted themselves into some 
industry and become a part of its permanent labor force. Why 
does a procession of workers pass through the plants of the rest 
of the employers? Why do a large part of the workers keep 
step in that procession instead of becoming a part of some 
specific business ? Dr. Sumner Slichter 2 has given us a some- 
what thorough analysis of the causes of labor turnover in fac- 
tories. He distinguishes eight general causes for the shifting 

1 John R. Commons in "The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter, 
1919, p. xiv. Cf. also "Industrial Good Will," John R. Commons, 1919, for a 
thorough study of this conception. 

2 "The Turnover of Factory Labor," Part III. This book is the most thorough 
treatment of the subject available. Cf. also "The Problem of Labor Turnover," 
Paul H. Douglas, The American Economic Review, June, 1918, Vol. VIII, No. 2, 
p. 306. 



of labor: (i) Reduction of the labor force by the employer 
on account of reductions in output due to industrial depressions, 
seasonal fluctuations of business, completion of contracts, and 
other decreases in his need for labor. (2) Disagreeable charac- 
teristics of the job, such as low wages, irregularity of work, 
excessive hours, Sunday work, lack of opportunity for advance- 
ment, or distance from the workman's home. (3) Faulty 
methods of handling men. (4) Disagreeable relations with 
fellow workmen or quitting to leave with a friend. (5) Causes 
pertaining to the worker, such as wanderlust, desire for a change, 
ill-health, age, death, marriage, or lack of fitness for work, 
insubordination, laziness, or mischief making. (6) Attractive 
opportunities in other places or other establishments. (7) Dis- 
like for the community in which the work is or of bad camp 
conditions, or desire to go to a particular community. And 
(8) conditions in the family of the worker, such as desire to 
move to another community or locality for the sake of the 
family, or sickness in the family that causes quitting of a cer- 
tain job. Add to these the competitive recruiting of labor by 
employers, the lack of an adequate public employment office 
system, and the migratory habits engendered in the American 
people by the industrial allurements which appear now here, 
now there, in a developing country, and we have men- 
tioned the important causes of rapid turnover of labor in 

The migratory habits just referred to have probably received 
less emphasis in this connection than they are entitled to. 
Mechanics, laborers, clerks, salesmen all sorts of workers 
are continually influenced by the characteristic American hope 
that there is a big opportunity somewhere else for them. The 
very ambition which is a spur to progress in America is also a 
force which causes restlessness in the job and leads to failure in 
thousands of cases. The spirit of the frontier, which has done 
so much for our development, has produced its unfortunate 
by-products. Like a will-o'-the-wisp, it leads multitudes of our 
people from job to job and place to place until many have 
their feet entangled in a slough of irregular habits and ineffi- 


ciency. There is only one way to become an expert, whether 
at washing dishes, digging ditches, or making watches or battle- 
ships. It is by study and practice. The man who changes 
jobs frequently and drifts from industry to industry never learns 
any occupation thoroughly. But this is not all. Irregular 
work produces its results. First the worker drifts, and then 
he can't anchor. 

It is not possible to estimate the cost of excessive turnover 
of labor to the nation. We know that the cost is enormous. 
The employers' losses have been estimated at from $20 to $250 
per extra man hired ; the exact figure depending upon the degree 
of skill required by the work, the extent to which the new man 
slows down or impairs the work of fellow workmen, and the 
period of time which elapses before the new worker is able to 
reach his maximum productivity. It takes the time of execu- 
tives to interview, hire, and break in the new employee ; machin- 
ery and appliances are not used to the best advantage during 
the learning period ; more materials are wasted ; plant wear 
and tear is increased ; more accidents occur ; there is loss of good 
will and business due to mistakes of inexperienced help ; and 
the esprit de corps of the business is lowered by the influx of 
strangers. When the turnover is large it is not possible to 
train the new employees thoroughly, and the average efficiency 
of the whole force is kept at a lower point. 

The workers' losses are equally large. Their earning power 
is wasted while unemployed ; they have to accept lower wages 
when at work because they are not so efficient as if steadily 
employed ; the skill they acquire on one job is frequently value- 
less when they take up the next one ; their character and work- 
ing ability are deteriorated by frequent idleness and shifting; 
they have greater accident exposure ; they find it increasingly 
difficult to obtain work after they are forty years of age ; and they 
are sapped of ambition when they are at work by the knowledge 
that they will soon be discharged. 

The worker who is subject to frequent changes of employ- 
ment is robbed of that elemental self-respect which is the dear 
possession of the man who has an occupation, however humble, 


in which he sees himself performing some useful part in the 
world's work. The shifter is industrially homeless; and a 
home domestic, political, religious, and industrial is one 
of the needs of human nature. A man cannot have the proper 
attitude toward his work or his life who is constantly made to 
feel that no industry needs him. 

The impairment of industry's efficiency and the waste of 
labor's efficiency record themselves in an increased cost of pro- 
duction. There are few American commodities whose price 
is not increased by an extra labor cost due to turnover. The 
employer, the worker, and the consumer all suffer heavy financial 
losses. And in addition to that, society's burden of poverty 
and misery is unnecessarily increased. 

No one knows, even approximately, what the total unneces- 
sary turnover is in American industry. A number of investi- 
gators have given us fragmentary but extremely suggestive 
figures in specific groups of establishments. Dr. Slichter cites 
one group of 105 plants with 226,038 employees in which 225,942 
new employees were hired in the course of a year a turnover 
of almost exactly one hundred per cent. One of these plants 
had a turnover of but eight per cent; another a turnover of 
348 per cent. Eleven of these plants hired more than twice 
as many employees in the year as the average number on the 
pay roll ; but twenty-one hired less than one man for each five 
on their annual payroll. In other words, the eleven hired more 
than ten times as many men in proportion to their average labor 
force as the twenty-one. Dr. Slichter's investigations, which 
were perhaps the most exhaustive of any student of the problem, 
led him to the conclusion that, on the average, in factory industries, 
the labor turnover equals about one hundred per cent. Most 
authorities agree that a twenty per cent turnover is all that is 
necessary. This average, however, conceals rather than illu- 
minates the situation. His detailed figures show that in the 
plants he studied, fifteen or twenty per cent had a low labor 
turnover, hiring one employee in a year for each four or five on 
the payroll ; that approximately one half put from a little less 
to a little more than twice as many names on the payroll in a 


year as the average number employed ; and that thirty or forty 
per cent hired from two to six times as many as their average 
labor force. 

The New York Factory Investigating Commission found 
that seven New York department stores in 1913, which had a 
total average labor force of 26,628 employees, hired 42,444 new 
employees ; a turnover of approximately 160 per cent. One 
firm with 3750 employees hired 12,159 during the year, and a 
second with 3500 employees hired 8155. But another with 3497 
employees hired only 875. 

Paul Douglas has brought together some of the available fig- 
ures on turnover in specific groups of plants. 1 He shows that 
W. A. Grieves found a turnover of 157 per cent in twenty 
metal plants in the middle west in 1914; Magnus Alexander 
found a turnover of 83 per cent in twelve plants in six states 
in 1915 ; Boyd Fisher found a turnover of 252 per cent in fifty- 
seven plants in Detroit, Michigan, in 1916; the Ford Auto- 
mobile Company had a turnover of 416 per cent in 1912-13, 
which they reduced to 57 per cent by constructive labor policies 
later; a Philadelphia concern had a turnover of 100 per cent 
in 1911 ; the carding department of a certain cotton mill had a 
turnover of 500 per cent. But these figures, startling as they are, 
are easily eclipsed. The writer found a turnover of 400 per cent 
on a construction job that lasted three years, and a turnover 
running from 500 to 1000 per cent is not uncommon among 
lumber camps, and on railroad and construction work. The 
writer was recently informed by the superintendent of a manu- 
facturing establishment in Wisconsin employing 2000 men that 
they hired, on an average, 1000 men a month, a turnover of 
600 per cent. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 
reports an average turnover of 224 per cent in twelve establish- 
ments about San Francisco Bay during 1917 and 1918* One 
can safely assert that the average turnover in American industry 
is over 100 per cent. 

The turnover for juvenile labor is especially high. 

1 American Economic Review, Vol. VIII, No. 2, June, igi8, pp. 308-309. -^ " 

2 Monthly Labor Review, Vol. VIII, No. 2, February, 1919, pp. 45-62. 


"The Board of Education of Rochester, New York, found that 
boys between the ages of fourteen and sixteen changed their jobs 
on the average of every seventeen weeks. This is a turnover for 
juvenile labor of over 30x3 per cent. The employment records of 
Swift and Company of Chicago show that the average term of em- 
ployment for a boy in their service was only three and a half months. 
This means that nearly three boys and a half are employed every year 
for each position, or to be accurate, that there is a labor turnover of 
342 per cent. Figures from Indianapolis, Indiana, show that of 6710 
jobs held by children leaving school, 7 per cent were for less than two 
weeks ; 15 per cent for less than a month ; 30 per cent for less than 
two months ; and 48 per cent, or practically one half, for less than 
three months." l 

These conclusions are corroborated by English investigations. 2 
The first chapter of Rowntree and Lasker's "Unemployment" 
is particularly valuable in its demonstration of the definite 
relations between "blind alley" occupations and a habit of 
shifting on the part of juvenile, and later adult, workers. 

The reduction of abnormal turnover of labor is one of the 
important problems for which American industry, the American 
educational system, and an American employment service 
must develop definite and adequate policies. No one of them 
can accomplish the entire task alone. 

It must be recognized, in the first place, in any program of 
turnover reduction, that the shifting of workers from plant to 
plant is characteristic of a fraction of the labor force, not of the 
entire labor force. The point has already been made that a 
considerable percentage of the wage earners work steadily for 
the same employer or at least at the same occupation and in 
the same locality; that another large group work as steadily 
as the fluctuating labor demand permits, and that the high turn- 
over of labor is localized in a minority of the total labor force. 

1 "The Problem of Labor Turnover," Paul H. Douglas, American Economic 
Review, June, 1918, Vol. VIII, No. 2, p. 309; Final Report, Industrial Relations 
Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1315-1337. 

1 "The Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb, p. 135. Cf. also, "Unemploy- 
ment in Lancashire," Chapman and Hallsworth, Chap. V; "Unemployment, A 
Social Study," Rowntree and Lasker, Chap. I. 


The problem which confronts us is to develop policies that will 
check the frequent change of jobs by that portion of the labor 
force with whom changing jobs has become or is becoming a 

The task, as already suggested, is one that requires coopera- 
tion between industry, education, and an organized labor mar- 
ket. Industry holds the key to success in its hands. Noth- 
ing that the educational systems or an employment service can 
do will materially reduce labor turnover if industry fails whole- 
heartedly to undertake its part of the work. But American 
industry is not going to fail. Progressive American employers 
have already inaugurated new labor policies in their establish- 
ments which have materially reduced their labor turnover. 
They have demonstrated what can be done by the employer, 
and have contributed valuable experience on methods. 1 They 
have shown that new methods of hiring, training, supervising, 
transferring, and promoting labor will mitigate or eliminate 
many of the industrial causes of turnover. They have dis- 
covered that a closer knowledge of the personal points of view, 
prejudices, and problems of their workers enables them to over- 
come many factors personal to the individual worker which 
would have led to irregularity of employment. 

Industry's objectives must be the selection of employees fitted 
to the work to be performed; the stabilization of production 
to give those workers the greatest possible steadiness of employ- 
ment ; and the creation of working conditions and opportunities 
that will cause the workers to want to stay with the establish- 
ment when they are employed. The writer ventures to suggest 
that an essential element of success in this endeavor must be 
the creation of opportunities for self-advancement. It is 
impossible to keep the energetic workman in an establishment 
if there is no hope of better wages or better work there. Am- 
bition is one of the causes of labor turnover. Not all workers 
shift because they lack the steadiness to remain. Many seek 
with a new employer the opportunities which their last employer 

1 Cf. Chapter XII and references at end of that chapter and of this chapter for 
further discussion and illustrations. 


neglected to provide. This is true of thousands of workmen, 
even common laborers, whom employers believe are simply 
unsteady. Only too frequently workmen see the employer go 
outside the establishment for the man to fill the good position 
instead of seeking out some present employee for promotion. 1 
It is not strange that they conclude that changing employers 
is the only road to advancement. 

The relation between industrial training and regularity of 
employment 2 was discussed in the preceding chapter. But 
the contribution of an educational system to turnover reduction 
cannot stop with industrial training. Many non-industrial 
and non-economic motives play a part in causing the unsteadi- 
ness of that group of workers who shift most frequently. Their 
consumption standards are often as deficient as their industrial 
skill. Their sense of values is warped. 

The writer was on a train and heard a young soldier say : 
"Well, I hope when I get home that I can get a good job." 
He asked the young man, "What is your idea of a good job?" 
"Good pay and easy work," was the reply. This absence of a 
conception of service and accomplishment as a necessary char- 
acteristic of a "good job," with the absence of the desire to 
give an equivalent in service for the wage received, is a common 
defect in the minds of those workers who are found frequently 
looking for a job. The search for "easy money" is of course 
no more common among wage earners than among the people 
of other economic groups. You can find among business and 
professional men a large number of individuals who are con- 
tinually risking their money in speculative investments in an 
effort to get rich without effort. The same point of view appears 
in the wage earner in the form of seeking for such "good jobs" 
as the young man described. Just as the speculator "takes a 
flyer" at this or that investment, so this type of wage earner 
"takes a flyer" at this job and that. The search for income 
without effort, for prosperity without sacrifice, for comfort without 
earning it, is a subtle cause of labor shifting that can be 
reached only by educational and home influences that send 

1 Cf. Chapter III. * Cf. Chapter III. 


young people into the world with sound ideas and sound 

The reduction of turnover can be promoted by an efficient 
employment service in many ways. It can sift the individuals 
who seek employment frequently at the exchanges and direct 
many irregular workers into regular employment. It can dis- 
cover the causes of turnover in individual establishments and 
localities and bring them to the attention of the employers. 
It can carry on extensive observation and study of the problem 
in its many phases and form a center of education on the sub- 
ject for employers, educators, the government, and the workers 
themselves. 1 

1 Cf. Chapters IX-XI for detailed discussions. 


WHAT are the possibilities of reducing non-employment and 
decreasing labor turnover? The writer wishes that he could 
answer the question definitely and quantitatively. But it 
cannot be done. We do know, however, that both the involun- 
tary and the voluntary idleness of workers can be reduced a great 
deal. A number of practical measures to steady employment 
and to reduce the total amount of idleness have already been 
tried or suggested. 1 Many of the methods which will mitigate 
the evil are known. What is needed now is the early inaugura- 
tion of the policies which we know are necessary. The object 
of this chapter is to stimulate action rather than to analyze 
policies. It is now a time for deeds, rather than words. 

"Unemployment means not only idle men; it means idle capital 
and sleeping machinery. It means partially paralyzed productivity 

1 Sidney Webb and W. H. Beveridge have probably given the most constructive 
suggestions on this subject of any writers on employment. Chapter VI of Webbs' 
"Prevention of Destitution" is the most complete, concise, and constructive study 
of means of preventing unemployment to be found. He proposes the concentration 
of public works in bad industrial years as much as possible in order to take care of 
the cyclical fluctuations of employment ; the dovetailing of occupations through the 
public employment service to take care of the seasonal fluctuations ; and the con- 
centration of the labor reserve under control of the employment service; the 
decasualization of the irregular employees by training, and systematic efficient train- 
ing of every boy and girl so that they do not drift into casual work. Chapters 
VIII-X of Beveridge's "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," was the first 
important and fundamental treatment of the question. 

Commons and Andrews make a valuable contribution in their "Principles of 
Labor Legislation," in Chapter VI of which they give particular attention to Amer- 
ican conditions. A particularly useful publication for the employer or the employ- 
ment manager who seriously desires to develop constructive policies for the reduction 
of unemployment is the bulletin issued in May, igis, by the American Association 
for Labor Legislation, 131 East 23d St., New York City, entitled, "A Practical 
Program for the Prevention of Unemployment in America," American Labor 
Legislation Review, June, 1915. 



one of the old luxuries incident to pre-war democracy which the 
Nation of to-morrow will not be able to afford. Will not the State 
undertake to prevent it where it is preventable? For instance, will 
railroads be allowed to ignore the regularly recurring necessities for 
repairs to roadbed and equipment and to 'lay off' their labor in order 
to maintain in a time of diminished business a fictitious showing of 
profits and a regular dividend rate ? Will the doors of shoe and textile 
manufacturers be shut for weeks at a time because great speculators in 
leather, wool, and cotton are disturbing price conditions and dis- 
abling the manufacturers from purchasing raw materials ; or because 
manufacturers themselves prefer to delay production in order to 
effect a quick turnover of their capital invested in materials and labor ? 
Will not the State's interest in continuous productivity here come to 
outweigh the private interests of the comparatively few? Will not 
private speculation necessarily give way in the end before public 
compulsory standardization ? In Great Britain, where more intensive 
industrialization has generally brought about an earlier diagnosis than 
ours of labor problems, writers in the Labor Party upon ' reconstruc- 
tion' problems after the war have called strongly for the 'de- 
casualization ' of industry. In America, organized labor has con- 
tinued up to the present time to accept the ' laying off ' of men by the 
employer practically at will as an inevitable incident of industry. 
Yet the wage question is inextricably bound up with the question of 
continuity in production. 

"The wage is the mark of the class in industry which has no regular 
status. Industrial tradition has it that the individual worker has no 
contract with his employer and has hanging over him continuously 
the specter of discharge at the employer's convenience; that no 
matter how satisfactory his work may be, the worker may at any 
moment without the slightest responsibility upon the part of the 
employer be exposed to the risks and ravages of idleness. The in- 
security of labor in law, in tradition, and in practice is the out- 
standing fact in the labor problem ; more than any other fact it places 
labor in natural hostility to capital and to the rest of the industrial 
and civic world which is aligned with capital ; it is the great subcon- 
scious element in the labor problem. 

"Yet the employer has not chosen the institution of the wage nor 
of the contingent employment of labor. Age-old tradition brought 
it to him, and he has used it in his competition according to the rules 
of the game the rule that the man who produces most cheaply 


wins. Even in his resistance to wage increases the fear of his com- 
petitors who may be able to underbid him has generally been his 
chief motive. The bitterest struggles of labor in America are not 
to be laid to class antagonism but to unregulated industrial compe- 
tition. The stabilization of employment and pay would not be 
strongly opposed by the employer if he could be shown that it will not 
hurt him more than the other fellow. Suppose for a moment that 
the Government were by statute to define a list of industries capable 
of regularization, were to regulate speculation in raw materials used 
by them, were to lay special taxes for idle days in establishments 
within such industries, or were to require that, except by special 
ruling, employment of labor in such industries shall, after a certain 
time, begin to be upon a yearly basis. The final result of such a 
policy would be a decided increase in the productivity of the capital 
invested in these industries; a great improvement in the relation 
between employer and employee; and a scientific standardization 
of production based upon reckonable demand and supply over long 
periods of time, beyond what the public would have thought of as 
conceivable. And on the whole the manufacturing class would find 
it in the end a blessing. Many kinds of industry and a certain pro- 
portion of every occupation would always remain upon a casual or 
seasonal basis ; but even in these the conditions of production would 
be improved by the stabilization attained elsewhere, and labor would 
receive higher pay on account of the greater element of risk. At 
the same time, labor exchanges operated by the State or by labor 
unions could effect transitions with minimum losses through idle- 
ness." 1 


The individual employer can do much to stabilize employ- 
ment, if he will study ways and means for making his demand 
for labor more uniform throughout the year. 2 The individual 
employer has hitherto believed that he was in the grip of eco- 

1 Louis B. Wehle, in "American Problems of Reconstruction," edited by Elisha 
M. Friedman, pp. I73~i75- 

2 See, for illustrations, articles in Annals of American Academy of Political and 
Social Science, May, 1916. Cf. also, "What the Awakened Employer Is Thinking 
on Unemployment," Robert G. Valentine, American Labor Legislation Review, 
June, 1915; "Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter; "The Regulation of 
Employment by Employers," J. H. Willits, in Report of the Ontario Commission on 
Unemployment, pp. 3i~37- 


nomic forces which compelled him to carry on his business in a 
highly seasonal or irregular manner, with frequent changes in 
the number of persons he employed. In a large percentage of 
cases, he was mistaken. Those employers who have adopted 
definite policies for stabilizing production in order to stabilize 
employment have found that they could regulate the volume 
of their business from month to month to a much greater extent 
than they had believed possible. They have found that they 
could smooth the curve of production, eliminating the sharp 
fluctuation from rush to dull periods and producing a more 
equal demand for labor throughout the year. They have 
increased the annual wages and standard of living of their 
employees, obtained a steadier and more efficient labor force, 
and reduced their cost of production per unit of output. 1 

It is only recently that American employers have begun to 
appreciate the fact that the establishment of good employment 
conditions in their business is one of the essential functions of 
management. Labor has been, to most employers, but one of 
the raw materials of production a particularly obstreperous 
and uncertain raw material. Some of them are now beginning 
to see that labor is an integral part of the enterprise itself ; like 
machinery, land, or buildings, rather than a commodity pur- 
chased for use in the industry. This realization forces upon the 
employers' attention the vital necessity of thinking out the 
problems connected with the maintenance of a steady labor force, 
loyal to the establishment. 

The up-to-date employer cannot think of his labor as a 
"problem." He must recognize it as an integral part of his 
business. 2 Instead of thinking of his labor problem, he will 
begin to recognize his laborers' problems. Their life and live- 

1 See, for illustrations, articles in Annals of American Academy of Political and 
Social Science, May, igi6. Cf. also, "What the Awakened Employer is Thinking 
on Unemployment," Robert G. Valentine, American Labor Legislation Review, 
June, igis; "Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter; "The Regulation of 
Employment by Employers," J. H. Willits, in Report of the Ontario Commission on 
Unemployment, pp. 31-37. 

2 The workers' point of view is at least partly stated by John F. Tobin, in "The 
Workers and Unemployment," American Labor Legislation Review, June, IQIS, 
p. 429. 


lihood and that of their wives and children are to a large extent 
determined by conditions of employment which he throws 
around the wage earner ; and it is as much a part of his man- 
agerial duty to concern himself with his workers' problems as 
it is with his customers' problems. A larger measure of democ- 
racy in industry is certain to develop in the next decade, and 
represents the only means by which those causes of labor turn- 
over found in the worker's attitude to his employment can be 
effectively dealt with. 

There are several methods by which American employers 
have found themselves able to stabilize employment for their 
workers. In the first place, study of their individual business 
has revealed to individual employers that their businesses have 
been more seasonal than they needed to be. They had been 
accustomed to alternating a rush period with a dull one and 
had made little effort to spread the work uniformly. They 
found upon study of the business that there were marked 
possibilities of decreasing the alternation of employment and 

We recognize, of course, that there are strong incentives to 
the concentration of production in rush seasons rather than to 
its distribution through the year. Customers hold back their 
orders as long as possible while they gauge their prospective 
sales. Producers refrain from production to the last possible 
moment in order to keep down their interest charges. Speciali- 
zation on particular products naturally tends to extreme activity 
during months when these products are being made or grown, 
and a dull time during the intervening months. Stocks accu- 
mulated and stored create additional fire risks, insurance, and 
handling costs. But these incentives to concentration can be 
overbalanced by the gains obtained from policies of em- 
ployment stabilization. 

Different concerns will of course find it necessary to adopt 
different policies in order to accomplish the desired end. In 
some cases employment can be made more uniform through- 
out the year by producing certain products at one time in the 
year and other products at other seasons ; or certain qualities 


or types of a product at one season and other qualities or types 
at another. The management should study out sidelines which 
are good during the dull season of the main product ; or cultivate 
a staple line which can be made during the whole year, and upon 
which most of the force can be used in seasons when other lines 
are dull. 

Stabilizing of employment both in agriculture l and in manu- 
factures depends to a large extent upon producing a variety of 
products. It is single-crop agriculture in which the demand 
for labor is most highly seasonal. The same is true in "single- 
crop" manufacturing. Many establishments with elaborate 
and expensive machinery are centered on one or two products 
and using their plants only a part of the year when they could 
just as well produce other products and utilize their plant and 
labor force practically the entire year. 

In other cases, a closer cooperation between the sales department 
and the production departments is what is needed. A leading 
American employer recently said that the selling department 
runs most concerns. The salesmen make promises and the 
production departments have to fill them. The salesman 
humors the demands of customers. He knowingly seeks orders 
which will overburden departments already rushed rather than 
orders which will take up the slack in departments that are dull. 
He makes promises on rush orders that compel excessive speed- 
ing and overtime instead of persuading customers to wait a 
few days longer. He embarrasses production, and compels 
the production department to adjust its work to his sales. The 
salesman seeks orders. He knows little about the effects of his 
methods upon the inner workings of the production departments, 
and does not know how to plan his work to steady theirs. The 
defect here is clearly a defect in the organization of the business. 
The management should make the sales and production depart- 
ments understand each other's problems and give both an oppor- 
tunity to help mold the company's market policies. Then the 
management should establish absolute rules controlling the 

1 Cf. Chapter XIV on "Farm Labor," where this topic receives extended dis- 


promises which salesmen may make to customers; and make 
them rely on the quality of goods, prices, and the perfect ful- 
fillment of agreements, to get orders, instead of the humoring 
of customers. If the management will study the diversifica- 
tion of products so that the selling department can obtain orders 
to keep the production department busy through the year, 
and if the management will definitely educate the customers 
upon the way in which seasonal concentration has affected the 
employment of their workmen, it will be possible for a great 
majority of concerns to materially stabilize employment through 
directed selling. 

Faulty organization within the production departments is another 
defect in industry that increases the workman's uncertainties. 
Many concerns do not have the interrelations of their several 
departments properly worked out. Foremen discharge men 
only a few hours before they are notified that additional men 
are needed to take care of orders on hand. Transfers of men 
from departments that are slack to those that are busy are too 
uncommon. One department in an establishment lets out men 
of a certain grade at the very time when another is going out 
to hire men of that grade, and neither knows what is taking 
place in the other department. Private employers have not 
been derelict in pointing out inefficiencies in public business 
offices, but one who impartially observes the labor policies, if 
they can be called policies, which obtain in a large portion of 
our private businesses will be inclined to make some remark 
about people who live in glass houses. The solution for this 
difficulty is found in the establishment of a central employment 
department which hires and discharges all workers for the 
establishment. 1 

Another common fault within industries from the employ- 
ment point of view is the ignorance of foremen and subordinate 
executives with respect to the volume of orders ahead. If foremen 
knew how much or how little work was in prospect, they could 
plan their work and their employment of men with some intelli- 
gence. But being as ignorant of the work ahead as the work- 

1 See Chapter XII for further discussion and references on this matter. 


men themselves, they have to determine each day's policy by 
each day's needs. 

The faulty methods of hiring and discharging described in the 
preceding chapter increase the uncertainty of employment of 
all workers in the establishment. In most factories, and in 
many contracting, mercantile, and other kinds of enterprises 
each foreman "hires and fires" the men of his gang. He has 
arbitrary power of selection and of discharge. He varies his 
labor force with changes in the volume of work in his depart- 
ment. Ordinarily, he uses little care in selecting men because 
he can discharge them without notice if they do not please him. 
His arbitrary power of discharge he likewise uses for discipline. 
As a result, a large part of the labor force is in a continual 
state of rotation. The concern which does its hiring through 
a specialized employment department can reduce its labor 
costs. It can afford to do more dull season work and thereby 
give each of its workmen a better livelihood. 

Overtime aggravates this evil. If employers never worked 
overtime, work would have to be spread more evenly through 
the year. Overtime is most common in those industries which 
are otherwise irregular. It is characteristic of seasonal and 
irregular industries rather than of those which work steadily 
through the year. It is more common as a means of filling 
seasonal orders than of filling intermittent rush orders obtained 
by concerns which otherwise work regularly. It is in such 
businesses as the garment trades, bag, tin can, and paper box 
factories, candy factories and calendar factories, where you 
find overtime most frequent, rather than relatively steady 
industries such as flour mills, machine shops, or cigar fac- 

The remedy for the overtime evil is clear. It must be abol- 
ished. Either employers must do away with it, or the state 
must forbid it. Some of the concentration of production in 
rush seasons can be distributed over the dull seasons by com- 
pulsory limitation of each day's work. Progressive employers 
are finding that overtime does not pay, and many of them protest 
against competitive methods which force overtime upon them, 


Those who cannot see the fact should be forced to adhere to a 
normal day's work. 1 

The diversification of industry, managerial policies calculated 
to spread work uniformly through the year, and the reduction 
of overtime to an absolute minimum, are the particular contribu- 
tion which the employer himself can make to the reduction 
of unemployment. They constitute the most important means 
available for cutting down this worst evil which the working 
people have to face. The employer has an opportunity of social 
service of the first importance. Incidentally, these policies will 
increase his profits in the long run. 


The dovetailing of employments and the systematic replace- 
ment of men necessarily let out by employers is the second means 
of reducing unemployment. This is a function which must 
be performed partly by employers and partly by a well-organized 
public employment service. 2 In other words, it involves public- 
private cooperation. 

The central office of the public employment service in each 
city can establish a system whereby each employer will notify 
the employment office of his intention to lay off workmen, 
of the number who are to be thrown out of work, and of their 
occupations. The office can thereupon call the attention of 
other employers in that community who are using that class 
of labor to the fact that a given number of men will be available 
on a certain day. The objection which employers have made 
to the use of public employment offices in the past has been 
that the quality of men who patronized the offices was not the 
quality they wanted in their establishments. But an employ- 

1 The author was for nine years a member of the Department of Labor of the 
State of Minnesota. In practically every one of those nine years the employers 
operating certain bag, can, and candy factories came to the commissioner of labor 
to plead for his connivance in a violation of the laws regulating the hours of labor 
of women so that they could work overtime during their rush seasons. His refusal 
compelled them to get their orders earlier and spread production over a longer 

2 See detailed discussion of such service in Chapters VIII-IX. 


merit office which thus systematically transferred men from 
one industrial establishment to another in the community ac- 
cording to the changing demands for men in the different indus- 
tries, would be able to furnish employers with steady, reliable 
workmen. But the employment office could go farther than 
this. In the course of a few years it could make records which 
would show that about the first of May, Brown and Company 
usually reduced their force and let out machinists, press hands, 
and certain other classes of workmen. The record of appli- 
cations for men should show that about the first of May, Griggs 
and Company were hiring certain of these types of men, while 
some other concern was hiring other types. In the middle of 
April the employment office would address an inquiry to Brown 
and Company asking whether men would be let out as usual this 
year, the approximate number and occupations of such men and 
the wages they had been earning. At the same time, it would 
address inquiries to the employers who increase their force 
about the first of May, asking how many men they would need, 
what kind of men, and what they would pay. Before any of 
these men were actually out of employment this employment 
office would have prepared to re-place in another establishment 
the majority of the men let out. It would be expecting too 
much to assume that the office could place every one of these 
men as soon as he lost his employment. That would happen 
sometimes. But it could frequently place a large percentage 
of them. It would prevent them from losing time while shift- 
ing to a new employment. It would give the nation and the 
nation's industries the benefit of their continuous labor through 
the year. Such a plan carefully worked out and operated sys- 
tematically throughout the year in all of the larger cities of the 
United States would reduce idleness of American workers by 
millions of days each year. It would involve considerable 
work during the early years of its establishment but in five or 
six years the system would be accomplishing its results with 
a minimum of effort. The cost involved would be insignificant 
compared with the addition that it would make to the annual 
wages of American workers and the annual output of American 


industry. It would even be possible in many individual cases 
for the employment office to make arrangements whereby 
a given workman would work for six or eight months of the 
year for one employer and for the balance of the year with 
another employer. 

There is no doubt but the employment offices in the smaller 
cities could work out this plan even more rapidly and efficiently 
than those in the larger cities and that in the course of time a 
large percentage of the workers of America could be insured 
of a maximum amount of employment. 1 


The dovetailing of jobs which has just been discussed would 
materially conserve the efficiency of our workers by eliminating 
the worry and waste of time incident to our past method of 
throwing them out of employment with utter disregard for 
their future, and by improving their standard of living. It 
will strengthen their confidence both in our government and in 
our economic system. 

But we should not let the question of conserving working 
efficiency rest at that point. Any constructive program for 
reducing unemployment must take cognizance of the fact that 
the inefficiency and irregularity of workers increases their 
liability to unemployment, and must develop plans to train 
them for efficiency. 

There are three measures which Mr. Webb has pointed out 
that are essential elements in any adequate program: a 
nation-wide system of continuation schools, the adequate relief 
of widows and others whose children are now denied education 
and opportunity for development 2 by the poverty of their 
parents, and the prevention or adequate regulation of child 
employment in " blind alley " occupations. 

The minor under eighteen years of age who is employed 
should be required to attend school for a certain portion of 

1 For other discussions of dovetailing see index. 

2 The questions of apprenticeship and vocational guidance are discussed in 
Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1328-1337, 1801-1003. 


each week and special schools for this purpose should be pro- 
vided in every state in the union. Our federal government 
has already taken steps to promote such education by the pas- 
sage of the law of February 23, 1917, which created the Federal 
Board of Vocational Education "with the duty of disbursing 
Federal moneys to the states for approved institutions in trade 
and industrial lines of less than college grade, and of promoting, 
in cooperation with the states the establishment of such institu- 
tions." Wisconsin and some of the other states have already 
established vocational schools in cooperation with the federal 
authorities, where working children must attend school a portion 
of each week. In Wisconsin every child from fourteen to seven- 
teen years of age who is employed must be permitted by his 
employer to attend the vocational school at least eight hours 
each week if such a school exists in his locality, and these eight 
hours are counted in the total number of hours which the child 
is permitted by law to be employed. All minors of fourteen to 
seventeen years of age who reside in a town where there is a 
vocational school are required to attend such school eight hours 
a week, whether employed or not, if they are not in attendance 
at some other school. The only exception is in the case of 
regularly indentured apprentices. 1 

It is both an injustice and a folly for the nation to deny chil- 
dren an opportunity because their parents are poor. The 
poverty of parents has been one of the reasons in most states 
why children may leave school and go to work. This policy 
is exactly wrong. If the parents are in poverty, if the child 
has inadequate food and clothes, if he lives in a crowded dwell- 
ing, if his parents are unable to give him the proper care, that 
is exactly the reason why that child should have more education than 
other children. Society has in the past visited the incompetence 
and misfortune of the parents upon the children, often genera- 

1 Cf. Bulletins No. i and No. 17, Federal Board for Vocational Education, 
Washington, D. C. ; Bulletin No. i, Wisconsin State Board of Vocational Education, 
Madison, Wisconsin ; " Labor and Administration," John R. Commons, Chap. XX; 
"Development of Apprenticeship," Stewart Scrimshaw in The Wisconsin Apprentice, 
Vol. II, No. II, March 15, 1919. Issued by Industrial Commission of Wisconsin, 
Madison, Wisconsin. 


tion after generation. We have permitted poverty to be cumu- 
lative, and in one sense of the word, hereditary; instead of 
breaking the line of causation and setting the child free from the 
shackles that have bound the parents. 1 Where families need 
charitable assistance we should give enough aid to enable them 
to get the necessities of life and should make it a condition and 
part of such relief that their children receive the food, clothes, 
medical care, education, and vocational guidance that will 
enable them to escape from the conditions of their parents and 
become self-supporting. 

We have previously referred to the well-recognized "blind 
alley " occupations. 2 An effective public employment service 
and the vocational education departments which are developing 
in our public schools should cooperate to sift out these occupa- 
tions in which child workers have no opportunity of passing 
naturally into an adult occupation. Either state labor com- 
missions or legislation should be utilized, to prohibit the em- 
ployment of children in such occupations, or insure such train- 
ing and guidance of such children as will prepare them to earn 
an adequate livelihood in their maturity. There are plenty 
of men and women in our labor supply who would be glad to 

1 One typical case which was under the author's observation for nearly ten years 
illustrates the point. A man fifty-four years old married a woman of thirty. He 
had been a plasterer. Sickness and other reasons had caused him to let his union 
dues lapse. He therefore turned to labor. His age and an accident to his ankle 
made him one of those inefficients who could not hold a job steadily. He was willing 
to work and did work when he could get employment. Certain employers hired him 
when they were taking on irregular help. He did not drink. He was a steady family 
man. He was faithful, but underemployed. Four children were born, the last 
when he was sixty-four years old. The family had to resort to charity from time to 
time after the birth of the first child in 1908. They lived in the poorest quarter of 
the city, but they had the cleanest home in the neighborhood. Sometimes they had 
food and sometimes they did not. The reader may say anything he desires about 
the improvidence of parents who would continue to bear children under such con- 
ditions. The author will not disagree with him. But what about the children? 
Must they be cursed by their parents' improvidence ? Must they grow up as four 
more inefficients to produce another and still larger spawn of inefEcients? Must 
they, too, constitute part of the underemployed labor reserve? Must they help 
make that "casual fringe" of unemployed for some industry? Or does sound social 
policy dictate that society intervene with a strong enough hand to fit those children 
for self-support, self-respect, and social value? 

* Cf. Chapter III. 


obtain such employment, and one may seriously inquire whether 
" blind alley " occupations should not be reserved to those for 
whom the future can in the nature of the case hold no advance- 
ment. One thing is certain, every child, no matter how poor 
his parents are, should be protected against drifting into occu- 
pations which lead naturally to casual or low-grade employ- 
ment in adult years, and insured an education and an industrial 
experience which will fit him for earning a decent livelihood. 
Vocational guidance of children is an essential part of the na- 
tion's employment program, and must be definitely worked out 
in cooperation by the employment service and the schools. 1 

The successful inauguration of the dovetailing of occupations 
and the guaranteeing of children a proper start in life require 
action by the community. 2 The federal employment service, 
in order to attain adequate efficiency in this work, must per- 
manently cooperate with and be influenced by the people of 
each local community in dealing with these problems. The 
state and municipal governments, and those interested in the 
welfare of the workers in each community, must assume the 
main responsibility for this part of the work of reducing unem- 


The training of adults to make them more efficient workmen 
is another important part of an adequate employment program. 

We have already suggested this in the case of adults who 
are employed and have pointed out that this means for most 
wage earners that the training must be given by the employer 
as a regular part of his labor management. 3 Mr. Sidney Webb 
has suggested that training also be given by public authority 
(and possibly under public compulsion) during periods of idle- 
ness. 4 His presentation of the need for a system of public 
education for the unemployed is worthy of serious consideration 
by the United States. He proposes that unemployed laborers, 

1 Cf. Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1328-1337. 
* Cf. pages 79 ff. Cf. pages 79 ff . 

4 "Prevention of Destitution," pp. 141-149. 


registered at the public labor exchange, for whom no work 
can be found, be permitted to draw their unemployment in- 
surance only on condition of "their submitting themselves to 
such training physical and mental, general and technologi- 
cal as may be found appropriate to their needs." "If there 
are really no vacancies for such men, . . . seeing that such 
men (like the rest of us) are always physically ' out of condition ' ; 
that, although sometimes possessed of a skill which has become 
valueless, they are usually quite inadequately educated and 
trained ; that many of them are suffering from hardship and 
exposure, if not from bad habits ; . . . the most valuable use 
to which the community can put their necessarily unemployed 
time is to make it in the highest sense productive by spending 
it in their own training." The . . . "Labour Exchanges 
that have been opened throughout the country have had brought 
to them the paramount and pressing need for supplying train- 
ing to the Unemployed. Every manager of a Labour Exchange 
has had repeated experience of having opportunities for getting 
men and women into good and steady wage earning employ- 
ment which he cannot embrace . . . because he can find no 
qualified person disengaged. On the other hand, every manager 
also has the melancholy experience of seeing a crowd of men 
on his books, often men of good conduct and unimpeached 
character, who, because of their inability to do any work for 
which there is a demand, remain, in a time of good trade, month 
after month unemployed too many of them degenerating 
steadily under his eyes, from idleness, hopelessness, and insuffi- 
cient food, for sheer lack of the discipline and regular life that 
training would afford. 

"What is proposed is that there should gradually be opened, 
under the Ministry of Labour, and in close association with 
the Labour Exchanges ... a number of small Training Estab- 
lishments, under carefully chosen instructors, at one or other 
of which any man or woman, for whom the Labour Exchange 
could find no situation, should willingly (but entirely option- 
ally) be enrolled. . . . These Training Establishments . . . 
should be both town and country . . . they should be run 


exclusively as places of training, with a single eye to the improve- 
ment of their inmates, without the least pretense of making 
their labour productive, and without, indeed, producing any- 
thing for sale or use outside the institution itself. . . . The 
men should be required to attend every morning at 6 A.M. and 
to remain for at least the full working day, with suitable inter- 
vals for rest and meals." 

The details of Mr. Webb's plans are as interesting as his 
general conception. Physical examination, followed by medical 
treatment and physical training, the development of "imper- 
fect painters, carpenters, bricklayers," and other mechanics 
"into more competent craftsmen," the guidance of those in 
decaying trades into developing occupations, and the improve- 
ment of the manual efficiency of laborers are some of the objec- 
tives sought. 

Mr. Webb, of course, recognizes that training alone will 
not eliminate unemployment, but, he says, "It is demonstrably 
better for the community to have, as its citizens, strong, dis- 
ciplined, and trained men than half-starved and physically 
incompetent weaklings, unable to use either hands or brain 
to any practical advantage, with irregular habits and uncon- 
trolled will and all the more so if they are liable to be periodi- 
cally unemployed. . . . Idleness is demoralizing ; . . . but phys- 
ical and mental training in companionship is invigorating and 
hopeful; the regular hours and continuous occupation under 
discipline are exactly what is required; and the obvious im- 
provement in physical efficiency has, in itself, a bracing effect 
on character." 

This idea of training the worker while unemployed has not 
been advanced by Mr. Webb alone, and its complementary 
idea training while in employment has already received 
serious attention and some development in the United States 
as well as in foreign countries. There is probably no aspect 
of labor efficiency which has received more stimulus from the 
war. 1 Those concerns which, in recent years, have introduced 

1 Cf. "Training Labor: A Necessary Reconstruction Policy," C. T. Clayton, in 
The Annals, January, 1919, p. 137. 


a constructive policy of labor management in their establish- 
ments and have studied the causes of labor turnover, of ineffi- 
ciency, and of lack of interest, have discovered that lack of 
training is responsible for many of the shortcomings of their 
workers and a cause of much higher labor costs to the employer. 


Relief work should be confined to the concentration of large 
public and public utility constructions in periods when private 
employment is slack. There are some public works which must 
be put through without delay. There are others, federal, 
state, municipal, or railroad, which can be determined upon and 
then deferred to a time when a slack demand is throwing many 
men out of employment. 1 At such times the public work should 
be utilized to furnish employment for thousands of otherwise 
unemployed persons. The public work can be done at a lower 
cost than if it competed with private employers for labor in 
a busy labor market, and it can at the same time relieve the 
unemployment which is rife. We would not be understood to 
advocate the so-called "relief work." We do not believe that 
it is sound policy to undertake any public work for the mere 
purpose of furnishing relief. This only results in distributing 
charity in the form of wages. We believe in calling charity 
by its right name. What we advocate is that public work 
which would be done under any circumstances be done at times 
when it will mitigate the unemployment situation, that the 
workers be hired at market rate of wages, and that they be re- 
tained in employment only so long as they earn the wages 
which they are paid. We advocate giving honest men an hon- 
est chance to work. 

Cf. "A National Policy: Public Works to Stabilize Employment," Otto T. 
Mallery, The Annals, January, IQIQ, p. 56; "Redistribution of Public Work in 
Oregon," Frank O'Hara, American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915 ; "Seasonal 
Fluctuation in Public Works," F. E. Richter (ibid.). 



PROFESSOR H. R. SEAGER has defined a market as "the place 
or conjunction of means of communication through which buyers 
and sellers are brought together for the exchange of economic 
goods." x There are two facts suggested by this definition which 
are fundamental to our discussion in this and the succeeding 
chapters: That buyers and sellers need a common meeting 
place at which they can buy and sell their goods; and that 
markets are sometimes places where buyers and sellers meet 
face to face, and in other cases a means of communication, 
such as the office of a New York broker where stocks may be 
placed for sale by a telegraph message from Philadelphia and 
sold by wire to a purchaser in Sacramento. A market is a 
place where facilities are provided by means of which buyers 
and sellers may effect exchanges. 

The term "market" is also used in a somewhat different 
sense to signify the economic area in which a given commodity 
is sold. When we speak of "the market for New York apples" 
we may mean either the definite places at which such apples 
are sold, or the areas of the world's surface in which New York 
apples find sale. Professor Richard T. Ely has expressed this 
conception of the word "market" thus: "In this connection 
we mean by the market not a particular place for buying and 
selling, but the general field within which the forces determining 
the price of a particular commodity operate. For some commodi- 
ties, especially perishable ones, like fresh milk and cream, 
the market is distinctly a local one. In the case of great staple 
commodities, like wheat and cotton, the market is a world 
market, for it is impossible that the prices of wheat or cotton in 

1 "Principles of Economics," 1913, p. no. 


Europe should differ for any considerable time from their 
prices in America by more than the expense of transport." l 

The writer will use the expression "labor market" in Part 
II of this book in the sense in which Professor Seager uses the 
word "market," i.e., to mean by "the labor market" the 
definite places where labor is sold and the organizations through 
which the sales are effected. The discussion aims to show what 
social machinery is necessary for this purpose, and what ma- 
chinery has or has not been provided for the marketing of human 
muscle, brains, and skill. 

It is necessary to remember, however, that the labor market 
may also be studied from the other point of view. It is per- 
fectly proper to speak of conditions in the American or the 
European, the New York or the Alabama labor market, hav- 
ing in mind the supply of, demand for, or types of labor present 
or sought, in the several areas. Our first five chapters (Part 
I) discussed the American labor market from this point of view. 
In our first chapter we showed that the demand for labor oper- 
ates internationally and that Europe's supplies of labor have 
profoundly affected the life and welfare of the American wage 
earner and the development of American industry. Similarities 
or differences of wages in different countries, the relative pros- 
perity of the various nations in specific years, and many other 
peculiarities of the modern world's economic life are continually 
affecting the wage earners of the various countries. From this 
point of view there is a world labor market. There are also 
national, regional, state, and local labor markets. Large buyers 
of labor often seek their help at distant points, while multitudes 
of employers depend entirely upon the local market for employees. 
Differences of wages in different countries and in different 
localities in the same country are in part due to the failure of 
labor to flow readily from one local market to another and in 
part to custom and other special conditions. In our second 
chapter we pointed out that the demand for labor in any mar- 
ket area is often for a highly specialized type of labor, rather 
than simply for "labor," and that individual workers have 
1 "Outlines of Economics," 1916, p. 154- 


peculiar qualities which prevent them from accepting the great 
majority of employers' offers of employment. These employers 
and these workmen may have open to them a rather large mar- 
ket, geographically, hi which to sell their labor, but a narrow 
market industrially. In other words, in order to buy or sell, 
they must find means to seek out a particular person who fills 
their particular specialized need. 

Within the market area, geographical or industrial, there 
must be market places and market organization, where those 
who wish to find labor and those who wish to find work can 
bring their needs and offerings together. It is this phase of 
the market idea in which we are now particularly interested. 


Day by day each day and every day the labor power 
of the multitudes is being offered for sale. Day by day, employ- 
ers are seeking help. New needs for workers are opening up 
here; employees are being laid off yonder. What sort of 
market has America provided in which the purchase and sale 
of this, the most important of all "goods" offered for sale, can 
be effected ? What sort of market is needed ? 

It may be noted, hi the first place, that a very large percent- 
age of the places filled each day are filled without the utiliza- 
tion of any definite labor market machinery. The workers 
make direct application to the employers for work and are engaged 
by foremen or by the firm's employment department. Most 
employers seek from employment offices only that labor which 
they are unable to get in any other way. Newspaper ads, 
street car posters, signs placed in windows, and bulletin boards, 
have ordinarily brought to the employer many more workers 
than he can possibly hire. Hundreds of thousands of wage 
earners are engaged each year through information of openings 
conveyed to them by friends already working in the establish- 
ments in question. A majority of the orders placed by employers 
at employment offices are for labor to go out of town, though an 
efficient employment service would have an opposite experience. 
It would find its most important field in dovetailing the de- 


mands for labor within the community in such a way that men 
laid off in one establishment would be transferred to others in 
the community, thus keeping both the local capital and local 
labor steadily employed. 

This system of direct employment, which is so characteristic 
of American industry, has certain serious faults. It has the 
advantage, from the employer's point of view, of enabling him 
to "pick over" the applicants at his gate; and, from the man's 
point of view, of enabling him to bargain directly with his 
employer. But, unfortunately, it cannot meet the employer's 
needs unless it brings to the place of employment many more persons 
than he desires to engage. Otherwise he would have no oppor- 
tunity of selection. It assumes and requires the existence of a 
considerable idle labor surplus. The employee, while apply- 
ing at one or two establishments, is losing his chance of employ- 
ment on that day at other establishments which he is unable 
to visit. If there is a strong demand for labor, many positions 
may go unfilled because so many of the workers are scattered 
around at the gates of establishments which do not need their 

services. 1 

The search for work, fruitless each day for multitudes, wastes 
the workers' strength, time, and carfare, undermines their self- 
respect, impairs their efficiency. It makes suppliants of them 
for employment. A large number of positions will always be 
rilled by direct application of the worker to the employer who 
he knows is looking for help, but we should have an organization 
of the labor market which would make this peddling of a man's 
or a woman's labor unnecessary. It is a survival of an obsolete 
industrial order, and persists only because of the decentralized 
labor surplus discussed in our first chapter. But the organiza- 
tion which is provided must be entirely different from the em- 
ployment agencies of the past. It must be efficient, honest, 
and neutral. 

1 The relative advantages and disadvantages of the employer and employee in 
bargaining are effectively presented by Dr. Richard T. Ely, of Wisconsin University, 
in his work on "Property and Contract," Vol. II, Part II, Chap. VI, "Contracts 
for Personal Services with Especial Reference to the Labour Contract," pp. 627- 



It is necessary to trace the history of conditions in the Amer- 
ican labor market during the decade before the war. To under- 
stand the present situation one must be familiar with the condi- 
tions out of which it developed. 

America had no system of labor placement before the war. 
We had employment offices thousands of them. And the 
more we had, the worse off we were. Chaos ruled where order 
alone could furnish the needed service. Commercial, fee-charg- 
ing agencies ; philanthropic and semi-philanthropic ones ; union, 
employers', and commercial association offices ; federal, state, 
and municipal agencies existed side by side competing, 
duplicating, working at cross purposes. Each and all of them 
were inadequate for the country's needs. Nearly all of them 
did as much harm as good. The fact that all of these types 
have persisted through the war period and are functioning at 
the present date makes a detailed examination of them well 
worth while. 


There are a number of distinct types of private employment, 
agencies, conducted for profit, which cater to distinctly different 
types of trade. The teachers' agencies, the collegiate women's 
vocational bureaus found in more than a dozen cities, a small 
number of agencies for the placement of social workers, and the 
offices which furnish high-grade help to business concerns, 
represent the most efficient and most reputable group of private, 
fee-charging offices. The collegiate women's bureaus differ 
from the other types just referred to in being conducted for 
service rather than for profit. Many of these, perhaps all of 
them, have been operated at a loss. They have been able to 
continue in operation only because subsidized by interested 
citizens. 1 The teachers' agencies and those which provide high- 

1 Cf. "Regulation and Control of Private Employment Agencies," M. B. 
Hammond, Bulletin 192, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 79 ; "Relation 
of Public to Private Employment Offices," pp. 38-39. 


grade business help can continue in business only by giving 
reputable and reasonably efficient service. They are middle- 
men dealing with intelligent clients, and though their fees are 
often exorbitant, their business is necessarily free from the 
abuses which characterize the agencies dealing in manual labor. 
The writer does not believe that it should be necessary for public 
school teachers to pay large fees to job-brokers in order to get 
positions. He believes that these agencies are as indefensible 
as the corrupt ones dealing in some other classes of employment. 
But the reasons for their elimination must be found in consider- 
ations of justice and public policy rather than in abuses. 

The profit-seeking employment agencies which supply em- 
ployers with manual laborers, on the other hand, have developed 
most objectionable business methods. They are a social men- 
ace rather than a social benefit. 1 They disorganize rather than 
organize the labor market; they increase instead of decrease 
labor turnover ; they are honeycombed with graft, dishonesty, 
and trickery ; and they increase the discontent and bitterness 
of the working classes. It is the writer's earnest conviction, 
after years of contact with these agencies, that the only sound 
national policy is to eradicate them from our social fabric, root 
and branch. 

Some able employment men believe that we should depend 
upon the slow processes of competition to eliminate these private 
offices. Others hope for federal regulation. 2 The writer does 
not agree with them. He considers it unsound in principle 
to compel a citizen to pay for a chance to get work, while he knows 
that the influence of these offices is pernicious. The state of 

1 Cf. Report of the Commission on Immigration of Massachusetts, 1914, House 
Document No. 2300 ; Report of the Commission of Immigration of the State of New 
Jersey, 1914; Report of Bureau of Industries and Immigration of New York State 
Department of Labor, 1911 ; abstract of Report of Immigration Commission, ign, 
Vol. II, pp. 443-49, ibid., pp. 321 ff. ; also pp. 375-386; also pp. 391-408; Annual 
Report of U. S. Commissioner of Immigration for 1911, pp. 121 ff. ; also Annual 
Report for 1907, pp. 70-71. 

1 Cf. M. B. Hammond, op. cit.; "Experience in Extending and Improving the 
Work of a Public Employment Office," W. F. Hennessy, Bulletin 192, United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 109; "What Must Be Done to Make Public 
Offices More Effective?" L. D. McCoy, ibid., p. 52. 


Washington enacted a law, 1 initiated and passed by popular 
vote, which made it unlawful for any employment agent "to 
demand or receive either directly or indirectly from any person 
seeking employment . . . any remuneration or fee whatsoever 
for furnishing him or her with employment or with information 
leading thereto." This law was held unconstitutional by the 
United States Supreme Court in a five to four decision on June 
17, 19 1 7, - as "arbitrary and oppressive," and an undue restric- 
tion on the liberty of the appellants, and therefore a violation of 
the Fourteenth Amendment. It is hard for one who knows 
these offices to believe that the law was as arbitrary and oppres- 
sive as the court's decision, which overruled the wishes of the 
people of the state of Washington. We cannot believe, however, 
that this decision is the last word which will be said on the 
subject by American legislative bodies or by the Supreme 

The best organized and most powerful of the private employ- 
ment agencies are those which supply our railways with common 
labor. They are strong business organizations with central 
offices in such labor centers as New York, St. Paul, Minneapolis, 
Chicago, or St. Louis, and branch offices or representatives in 
a number of other cities. They make a contract with one or 
more railways which provides : (i) that the agency shall keep 
the railway supplied at all times with such section, extra gang, 
and other construction labor as it needs ; (2) that it will provide 
an adequate commissary service to sleep and feed the railway's 
laborers where they are at work; (3) that the railway will 
hire no laborers of the types specified except through such 
agency; (4) that the agency shall have exclusive rights to 
operate the commissaries along its lines ; and (5) that the rail- 
way shall provide for the transportation of the laborers hired to 
the point of employment. 

Most of the laborers which the railways seek and obtain by 
this method consist of recent immigrants who are ignorant of 
our language and who have not acquired American standards 

1 Chapter I, Laws, 1915, State of Washington. 

* Joe Adams, el al. v. W, V. Tarrner, 37 Supreme Court Reporter, 662. 


of wages and living conditions. 1 Sprinkled among them are 
Americans, generally hard drinkers, most of whom " have 
seen better days." In the actual assembling of particular 
gangs these are often kept separate from the immigrant crews. 
The railway's order is placed with the central office of the 
agency. Perhaps it is for one thousand men between March 
15 and March 31 on a given piece of line in North Dakota. 
The agency has offices in a number of labor centers, such as 
St. Louis, Chicago, Omaha, and Minneapolis. The order is 
split up among them. They in turn make arrangements with 
padrones or other racial leaders among the immigrants to assem- 
ble laborers of their own races and bring them to the agency. 
These agreements, which are almost always verbal (the agencies 
put as little of their business as the law allows on paper) com- 
monly require the padrone to assemble a given number of men. 
Often the initiative comes from the padrone in an offer to furnish 
a given number of men on given terms. The padrone's com- 
mission is sometimes paid directly to him by the agency "split- 
ting" the cash fees charged the men given jobs, but as frequently 
consists of a job as foreman over the "gang" and the privilege 
of bleeding them for interpreter's fees, commissions for getting 
them their jobs, for keeping them from being discharged, and 
other petty grafts. The immigrants, when in Europe, lived 
in a social order honeycombed with "graft." Bribes and 
"presents" to those in authority over them were their ordinary 
experience. When they come to America they accept grafting 
by bosses and employment agencies as natural. Before they 
become sophisticated, they are "rich picking" for those engaged 
in selling and buying the labor of men as they would the labor 
of horses. When they come to understand that better earnings 
are possible to them than the railways pay, and learn enough 
English so that they can seek their own jobs, they leave rail- 
way work and enter other occupations ; but the agencies which 

1 Cf. Abstract of Reports of Immigration Commission, Vol. II, p. 405; "The 
Chicago Employment Agency and the Immigrant Worker," Grace Abbott, A merican 
Journal of Sociology, Vol. XIV, No. 3 ; Final Report of Industrial Relations Com- 
mission, Vol. II, pp. 1170, 1341-1362, 1908. 


supply the railways with labor have been able, until the Euro- 
pean war period, to turn continually to new supplies of raw 

The furnishing of labor to railways by employment offices is 
essentially an interstate business. The men obtained by the 
agency have to be distributed over the railway's lines, which 
generally spread through a number of states and often reach 
into Canada. The supply of labor, as we have already sug- 
gested, must also be accumulated by the agency from labor 
centers located in different states. Often agencies located in 
the middle west place part of their orders for railway labor with 
agencies located in the east or south or with agencies on the 
Pacific coast, and bring the laborers long distances. 

The interstate character of the business, the fact that the 
men dealt with are ignorant, and the absence of any standard 
fees which the agency can or must charge are all conditions 
which lead naturally to many abuses. 1 The interstate char- 

1 The reader may be interested in some specific cases illustrating employment 
abuses. Before presenting a few cases and references to others, the author wishes to 
call the reader's attention to the fact that in most of the cases cited he will find the 
employer as much at fault as the employment agent. The employers who patronize 
the agencies seem to include a good many who either have no interest in looking 
after their workingmen properly or do not realize the many injustices which men 
suffer through their carelessness. 

Sixteen men were hired by an employment agency in St. Paul as rough carpenters 
and laborers on bridge construction work in Montana. They each paid $2 for 
their jobs. They were shipped on a single pass for the sixteen men. They reached 
their destination on November i, 1916, at 5 P.M. and went directly to the foreman of 
the contracting company doing the work. He was much surprised at their arrival 
and said that there was no place for them to stay except in a tent, and no bedding 
or blankets for them. The next day they were informed by the time keeper that 
he would sell them blankets at $2.25 apiece, cash. The time keeper would not 
let them have blankets unless they paid cash or deposited their tools with him 
as security. As a result the men refused to go to work. 

The fare home was $27.08, and at least three of the men were married men with 
their homes in St. Paul. One man's wife succeeded in wiring him the fare, and his 
losses therefore consisted of the $2 fee, $27.08 fare, and a week's time. Both of 
the other carpenters' wives were in want and unable to raise money to wire them 
their fares. One of them had six children. This exploit was the work of a rail- 
road agency. 

A Minneapolis agency, during the harvest season, started sending men to Canada 
to a certain farm near Regina, which had not placed any order with the agency. 
Eleven men were in this gang and paid $2 each for their jobs. When the men 


acter of the business makes it impossible for individual states to 
adequately regulate the agencies. When a state has a good law 
the agency can generally make it ineffectual by shipping men to 
distant points. For example, men sent from Minneapolis 
or St. Louis to Montana or the Canadian Northwest find it 
difficult to return to those cities and file a complaint and prove 
their case, if they do not find conditions at the job as they were 
represented by the agency. Many states have not tried to 
regulate the agencies, or have laws which are entirely inadequate 
even for intrastate regulation. 

The recent Ontario law on the regulation of private employ- 
ment agencies embodies most of the provisions found in the 

got there they of course found no work and complained to the Dominion authorities, 
who referred the matter to the state authorities of Minnesota. The agency quickly 
refunded the fees when it was caught, but after investigation of its record, its license 
to do business was revoked. 

Here is a part of that agency's previous record. Definite information of sixty 
other cases sent under the same conditions as the eleven cited above was in the 
possession of the chief of police. The owner of the agency had a personal police 
record which covered half a page, closely typewritten, which included the passing 
of worthless checks and the management of a disorderly house. A warrant was 
out for his arrest at the time, at Hartford, Connecticut. 

In May, 1917, this same agency charged a man and wife $15 for a farm job 
in North Dakota and agreed to pay their fare out of the fee. When they got there 
they found that the fare was to be taken out of their wages. The wife had been told 
that she would have to cook only for her husband, but when she arrived she had to 
cook for fourteen men. When a demand was made for a return of part of the fee 
the agent said "that there was no limit on the amount that he could charge if he 
wanted to." 

Another man was sent to work for a company in Browns Valley, Minnesota, and 
when he arrived there found that there was no such company. The agent refused 
to refund either his fee or his expenses. 

In the complaint to the mayor which resulted in the revocation of his license, 
thirty similar cases of fraud were presented as evidence against the agency. 

Cf. also Chapter XV "The Common Laborer" ; "The Immigrant Worker and the 
Public Employment Bureau," Anne Erickson, United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, Bulletin 192, p. 128; "The Immigrant and the Industrial World," W. F. 
Hennessy, ibid., p. 133; "The Employment Service as a Means of Public Educa- 
tion," D. D. Lescohier, Industrial Management, April, 1919, Vol. LVII, No. 4, 
p. 398; The Biennial Reports of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Indus- 
try from 1910 to date; the First Annual Report of the Bureau of Industries and 
Immigration of the New Vork State Department of Labor, 1911 ; the Report of the 
Commission of Immigration of the State of New Jersey, 1914; and the Report of 
the Massachusetts Commission on Immigration, "The Problem of Immigration in 
Massachusetts," 1914- 


best American laws. 1 It, unfortunately, has their essential 
defect, since it is the law of a province rather than of the Domin- 
ion. All employment agencies must be licensed annually by 
the Superintendent of the Trades and Labour Branch of the prov- 
ince, and must also obtain licenses from each municipality in 
which they operate "an office, branch, or agency." The Lieu- 
tenant Governor in Council is empowered to fix the fees to be 
paid for licenses, to promulgate rules regulating the conduct 
of the business and prescribing the records and accounts "to 
be kept by any class of employment agency," to fix the fees 
which may be charged employees or employers by the agencies, 
requiring reports to the provincial government, for the cancella- 
tion of a license "upon the conviction of the holder thereof 
for any offence or upon proof to the satisfaction of the superin- 
tendent that the business of the licensee is being conducted 
dishonestly, unfairly, or improperly," for the "conferring upon 
the superintendent and upon inspectors of employment agencies, 
the power to hold inquiries into the conduct of the business of 
an employment agency and to take evidence under oath" 
and giving such official "the powers which may be conferred 
upon a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act." 

The Lieutenant Governor's regulations issued during 1917 
provided for a provincial license fee of $25, accompanied by a 
bond of $200. The superintendent who issued licenses was 
given broad discretionary power in selecting those to whom 
licenses should be granted. He can refuse to license any appli- 
cant whom he finds "is not a proper person to engage in the 
business of an employment agency," or whose proposed place 
of business is on or immediately adjoining "unsuitable prem- 
ises." A license may be revoked for violation of the law or of 
any rules or regulations thereunder, "or if any ground appears 
on which a license might have been refused at the time of appli- 
cation." An agency is not permitted to "charge any person 

1 The Employment Agencies Act, 1917 Session, Legislature of Ontario. Digest 
of law and of regulations issued thereunder by the Lieutenant Governor in Council 
will be found in Report of the Trade and Labour Branch of the Department of Public 
Works, Province of Ontario, 1517, pp. 88-gi. 


a larger fee than one dollar for securing employment for him, 
or any employer a larger fee than one dollar for each employee 
secured for him, and no further or other reward or remunera- 
tion shall be accepted by an employment agency," and the 
agencies are not permitted to charge for transportation "an 
amount greater than the actual cost of transportation." No 
agency is permitted to divide "with or to any employer or work- 
man, any fee received by it for services rendered to such employer 
or workman." If a workman fails, through no fault of his own, 
to obtain employment from the employer to whom he has been 
referred by an employment agency, "the whole amount paid 
by such person to the employment agency as a fee (or for trans- 
portation) shall be refunded to him upon demand." The agen- 
cies are not permitted to accept registration fees. They can- 
not accept a fee from an applicant unless "at the time" they 
have "in hand a written and dated order from an employer 
offering the position which the applicant is seeking," and the 
agency must give a receipt to each person from whom it accepts 
fees, giving the particulars about the fee and the position, and 
a copy of the receipt must be kept in the agency for twelve 

"A private employment agency shall not engage for any 
employer any person seeking employment, unless at the time 
it has in its possession a written and dated (italics ours) order 
from the employer stating the number of men or women re- 
quired, and full particulars as to the nature of the employment, 
the rate of wages, the cost of board (if provided by the employer), 
all deductions from wages and all other terms affecting the em- 
ployment and such other particulars as may be prescribed by 
the superintendent." 

Every agency must keep posted in a conspicuous place its 
license and the Employment Agencies Act, 1917, must have 
all forms of contracts used in its business approved by the 
superintendent, must keep such records and in such form as 
required by the superintendent, and have them open to inspec- 
tion at all times by any officer of the Trades and Labour Branch, 
and make such reports as the superintendent prescribes. 


This vigorous effort at regulation has not been in force long 
enough to enable us to ascertain its practical results. It em- 
bodies the best ideas found in American employment agency 
regulation, but confers greater discretionary power upon the 
administrative officials than any American statute. It will 
furnish an interesting test of the truth of the contention of pri- 
vate employment agents that they cannot profitably carry on 
their business on a flat one dollar fee. 1 

The ignorance (often due to intoxication) of the men handled, 
both with respect to their rights and with respect to the proper 
authorities with whom to file complaints, makes it very easy for 
private employment agencies to cheat them or to send them to 
jobs which they do not want. The lack of any standard or 
legal fees to be charged men for jobs enables the agency to 
fix the fee according to the conditions of the labor market 
and in individual cases according to the degree of intelligence 
of the man seeking a job. When there are many men out of 
work and employment is scarce, they charge a high fee. When 
men are scarce and jobs are plentiful, they charge a low fee. 
Offices serving railway companies often refrain from charging 
fees at times when men are scarce, for they must get the men 
needed by the railway even if they have to carry on their busi- 
ness at a loss for the time being. But when employment is 
relatively scarce the agencies gather in their harvest. Even 
in times when work is plentiful they often charge exorbitant 
fees if the applicant is unfamiliar with our language, ignorant, 
feeble-minded, intoxicated, or otherwise unable to protect his 
own rights. Their general principle is to charge whatever 
the traffic will bear. And the more incompetent the worker 
is to protect himself, the more he pays for his job, and the more 
liable he is to be sent out to misrepresented work. 

The same employment agencies which handle railway work 
also accept orders from other classes of employers. They 
obtain workmen for lumber woods, farming and harvest fields, 

1 Some of the best American statutes are those of California, Illinois, New York, 
Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The laws of all the states are published from time to time 
in bulletins of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics entitled "Labor Laws 
of the United States." 


contractors, out of town manufacturers, and for many other 
lines of business which find it necessary to hire labor from a 
distance. In other words, they cater to the seasonal demands 
of many lines of business and make a specialty of shipping labor 
from one locality to another. They speak of their business as 
"moving labor," and when men are sent to a job they are 
"shipped." These two expressions summarize the private 
employment agent's conception of his occupation. It is his 
job to move labor, not to place it where it will stay. It is his 
job to ship labor, not to place men. 1 During the winter season 
when the railways' demand for labor is slack, they give especial 
attention to lumbering and during the harvest season they 
emphasize the harvest work. The railways in the small grain 
country do not urge their needs for men during the harvest 
season. They would rather see the farmer supplied with help 
and the harvest brought in than to push their own work. The 
success of the railroad in the grain area depends upon the suc- 
cess of the farmer, and the employment agency is therefore 
free during the harvest period to concentrate on that work. 

There are many small private agencies existing side by side 
with the larger ones holding the railways' orders. Some of 
these smaller agencies have offices in but a single town. Others 
have offices in two or more cities. The large agencies dominate 
the private employment agency world just as the United States 
Steel Corporation dominates the steel world or the Standard 
Oil Company dominates the oil industry. In neither case does 
the large competitor monopolize the field, but in each case it 
dictates to a large extent the policies and practices of the smaller 

The smaller local agencies depend upon orders from lumbering, 
contracting, farming, and manufacturing, and other such indus- 
tries. Their methods of doing business are the same as those 
found in the railway agencies. We will now briefly sketch the 
business practices found in private employment agencies han- 
dling manual laborers. 

1 A. good illustration will be found in "Destructive Labor Recruiting," C. T. 
Clayton, Bulletin 247, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


In most states the agencies are required by law to take out 
licenses. In Minnesota, for instance, the state law requires 
a license to be taken out in the municipality in which the agency 
is located. This law requires the business name and address 
of the agency and the name of its manager to be filed with the 
license department ; requires the employment office to record 
certain specified facts concerning the job and the man who 
has accepted it; to retain in the office a carbon copy of the 
slip which is given to employees sent out ; and specifies the data 
which shall be entered on that " send-out" slip. If the agency 
misrepresents the facts with respect to wages or the kind of 
work which is to be done, or in any other way, the workman is 
entitled to reimbursement of his fee and of his financial losses ; 
but as already stated, most of the men are shipped far enough 
away so that they will not be able to go back and make a com- 
plaint. Only a federal law with real teeth can reach these agencies. 
Most of the wrongs they perpetrate on workmen are in the inter- 
state shipment of men. State laws cannot meet the situation. 
Workmen could make complaint to federal officials without 
returning to the point of shipment and could get redress in 
federal courts at the point where they suffered wrong. 

The agencies should be abolished; but if that is impossible 
at present, they should certainly be put under stringent federal 

Most of the larger orders for men come into a relatively small 
number of offices. For instance, in Minneapolis, where there 
are approximately thirty-five private offices licensed and oper- 
ating, less than half of the agencies receive the orders for more 
than two thirds of the men supplied to employers. If the 
agency which receives an order doubts its ability to fill it in 
the time available, it places parts of the order with a number of 
other agencies in the district so that a number of competitors 
are working on the same order; but all men are shipped out 
by the company which had the order in the first instance. The 
agencies which are given the privilege of working on the order get 
the fees for the men they secure, but the holder of the order 
gets the credit with the employer for having secured the men. 


This cooperation of the agencies with each other again strik- 
ingly appears when one of them is arrested. It is the common 
thing under such conditions for a subscription to be taken up 
among the different agencies to bear jointly the cost of the 
trial, and probably in some cases to divide the fine assessed. 
In other words, the agencies work together for mutual protec- 
tion just as the saloons have done. Their business, like the 
liquor business, has been one which naturally developed more 
or less grafting and violation of law, and court defense has been 
one of the natural characteristics of the business. Out of nearly 
forty agencies in one of our large cities, the chief of police told 
the author that there were only three which had not been prose- 
cuted at one time or another. Some agencies are very partic- 
ular to observe the exact letter of the law and to try to conduct 
their business as reputably as possible ; but the great majority 
expect to squeeze all they can out of the men and to do their 
best to avoid detection and conviction. 1 

The methods they use in securing men for employers are 
varied. Every one who has been through the employment 
districts which center around the railroad depots of many of 
our larger cities is familiar with the flamboyant signs which 
are displayed in front of the agencies, advertising jobs and 
wages of various kinds. But the private agent does not put 
up his sign and then go comfortably inside his office and smoke 
his pipe. He leaves that kind of employment work to public 
and philanthropic employment offices. The manager and 
clerks in the private employment agency are paid a small sal- 
ary and commissions. They get so much a head for the men 
they hire and their earnings depend upon their activity and 
success. Therefore they depend upon "personal work" to 
secure men. Generally one of the office clerks or the manager 
will be found in front of the office "buttonholing" men who go 
by on the street, urging them to come in and get a job. The 
larger agencies have "runners," who circulate among the men 
on the streets dressed in working clothes and appearing identical 

1 Cf. also testimony relative to "Employment Agents' Protective Associations," 
in Final Report of Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1177-1191. 


in type with the class of workingmen among whom they are 
working. Indeed, they are the same ; but they have tempora- 
rily secured this particular kind of job. These "runners" do 
not let the workers in the district know that they are employees 
of the employment agency, but in saloons, boarding houses, 
pool rooms, and other places where workingmen congregate 
they casually get into conversation with the groups of men, tell 
them about "a fine job" that such and such an agency has 
listed, and suggest, " let's all go out on that job to-night." They 
lead their men to the agency and get them signed up and their 
fees paid. These "runners" are paid only their commissions 
on the men whom they bring to the office. Ordinarily they 
show up with the rest of the crew at "shipping time," go down 
to the train and then, either in the depot or after they have 
actually boarded the train, they slip away to do the same kind 
of work the next day. A typical agency had two men in its 
office but eight on its staff, six of whom were doing this sort of 
work. In other cases employees of the agency go openly through 
the saloons and other "hangouts" and talk with the men, giv- 
ing those whom they succeed in interesting a card of introduc- 
tion to take to the agency and be signed up for the job. These 
men are credited with hiring such men as come to the office 
with their cards of introduction and receive a commission from 
the fees paid by such men. 

Saloons, hotels, pool rooms, and lodging houses are also 
definitely utilized by the employment agencies for the recruit- 
ing of men. It is not possible to tell whether the agencies give 
these business concerns a rebate from the fees obtained, or 
whether they get their entire profit from the workingmen who 
are directed to them by the agencies. 

In many cities certain saloons have had definite arrangements 
with employers to act as recruiting agencies for them. The 
system employed at one of these saloons is an interesting side- 
light on the sense of responsibility to their workers developed 
by some employers. Thank God, most employers are not of 
this type. The saloon in question had a restaurant in the rear 
of the saloon and a lodging house upstairs. Advertisements 


of the labor needs of four firms were written on the mirror back 
of the bar with a notice that a representative from the employers 
would come to the saloon at seven in the morning to take any 
men who wanted jobs out to the work. "Runners" came to 
the saloon each morning and took the men who were assembled 
there to the establishments, one of which was fifteen miles out 
of town, but which made no effort to provide housing at the plant. 
Each evening the runners took the men back to the saloon again 
to sleep. The men were paid off with brass checks cashable at 
the saloon. 1 Each night they received a check for $1.50, which 
was approximately two thirds of their day's wage. This check 
was cashable only at this particular saloon or by the employer 
himself. The saloon keeper did not give the men more than one 
half of a check's value in money ; the remainder had to be taken 
out in trade lodging, meals, or drinks. 


Employers' associations, and in some cases Associations of 
Commerce, 2 have maintained employment offices in many cities. 
They have had a number of reasons for doing so. In the first 
place, there were no efficient, reputable agencies to whom they 
could turn when in need of labor. They lacked confidence in 
the public agencies and held the private agencies already de- 
scribed in contempt. They had to have some reliable agency 
that they could depend on for the kind of men they needed. 
Sometimes they were actuated by the desire to have an anti- 
union office, or at least one devoid of union influence. In other 
cases, as at Detroit, their chief purpose was probably to attract 
labor from other places for growing local industries, while they 
also thought it cheaper to maintain a joint office than well- 
equipped employment offices in each plant. But workmen 
in general will not patronize an office maintained by employers. 

1 The facts in this case are fully known to the writer. Cf. "Levying Tribute on 
Those Seeking Work," The Survey, Vol. XXXVI, p. 457- 

2 Cf. " Policies and Methods of Employment Agencies Maintained by Employers 
or Associations," Andrew J. Allen, Bulletin ig2, United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, pp. 52-53. 


They are afraid that it will be used "for blacklisting, breaking 
strikes, and beating down wages." 

The well-organized trades maintain an employment service 
for their own members. The business agent or secretary of the 
union keeps a list of all unemployed members, and employers 
who need men simply telephone the business agent, who then 
notifies the men. This works very well where trades are com- 
pletely organized and employers operate under an agreement 
with the unions. But employers in general will not patronize 
a union office any more than the men will patronize an employ- 
ers' office. "It gives the union too powerful a weapon in the 
struggle for control." 

TheTieTd~of usefulness of offices maintained by groups of 
employers or by groups of workers is therefore very limited. ^ 
They may solve the employment problem for special groups 
of establishments or of workers, but they cannot provide any 
general organization of the labor market. 


Every city of any size has had free employment offices oper- 
ated by charity societies, and practically free ones operated 
by such organizations as the Y. M. and Y. W. C. A. In the 
larger cities these are often very numerous. But the suggestion 
of charity makes it impossible for them to serve more than the 
very limited number of persons who patronize the organization 
in question. They do some good for individuals, but they do 
not and could not organize, or even help organize, the employ- 
ment market. They simply constitute one more means of 
decentralizing a service which can be efficient only if centralized. 
They have done a great deal of good for particular individuals 
who have needed the particular kind of help that they have been 
able to give, but their value is negligible when they are appraised 
from the point of view of the industrial problem of employment. 
They have tided some unfortunate or some young man or woman 
over a personal difficulty in securing employment, but they 
have contributed little to the larger problem of filling industry's 
need for workers, and wage earners' needs for employment. 



We come now to the public employment agencies, which 
operate without charging fees and at the taxpayers' expense. 
They were as complete a failure, as far as organization of the 
labor market is concerned, up to the time when we entered the 
war as the private agencies. In an article 1 on this subject in 
June, 1918, the writer said : 

"We have state and municipal offices in nearly half of the states, 
but in most cases each local office works individually and without 
any correlation with other public offices in the same state. The 
federal government has had an extremely crude employment system 
in the post-offices, and has made a weak attempt at federal-state 
cooperative offices in the Immigration Bureau. Both of these experi- 
ments were failures, and the Federal government is now attempting 
to develop a real organization of the labor market through the Depart- 
ment of Labor. Little practical progress has been made, and no 
genuine success will be achieved until the nation more fully recognizes 
some of the fundamental facts in the situation with which they are 
seeking to cope." 

Our national need is very evident. 

"We must have a system of employment offices, national in scope 
and monopolizing the whole employment business, which will be so 
carefully worked out that every worker can be placed in the nearest 
job that he is able to fill and will have access to every job open to 
his particular capacity. Our system must be able to keep every 
workman employed with the maximum steadiness ; must be able 
to sift and classify the laborers, so that individuals who have a tend- 
ency to degenerate into casuals may be spotted and if possible held 
to steady employment; and must be able to sift out and furnish 
employers with the kind of men they want. It must dovetail the 
industries of each locality so as to use every man in the locality as 
steadily as possible in that locality. 

"To accomplish these manifold purposes we must have a national 
system of employment offices, with adequate branch offices and a 

1 "A Clearing House for Labor," D. D. Lescohier, in The Atlantic Monthly, 
June, 1918, pp. 779 f. 


clearance system for transferring and splitting up orders among the 
offices. . . . 

"This clearing-house system, if it were combined with a monopoly 
of the labor market, would enable the public employment offices to 
check labor migration by always finding the nearest man who was 
competent to fill the position. We should not then have men leaving 
Chicago to fill jobs in St. Louis at the same time that men are leaving 
St. Louis to fill the same kind of jobs in Chicago. The pressure 
would be put on men to make them remain where they are, instead 
of to cause them to move. Within a big labor market like New York 
or Chicago tens of thousands of jobs would be filled annually by local 
men which are now filled by outsiders ; tens of thousands of men kept 
at home who are now emigrating to other localities. 

"The effect which such a system of offices might have upon labor 
turnover is even more important. That portion of the labor force 
which is most frequently changing jobs would soon be recorded in the 
files of the employment offices. A glance at a workman's card would 
show his history whether he was a casual, an irregular laborer, or 
normally a steady man. It would show the kind of work he has 
followed. Any local office desiring further information concerning a 
certain man could quickly get it by telephoning or telegraphing other 
offices in which he was registered. The sifting of men and their 
individual treatment would become a practical possibility instead of a 
theoretical ideal. The offices could use pressure to hold a man steady. 

"The record of employers would be equally useful. Those plants 
which revealed excessive turnover could be easily sifted out, and the 
matter brought home to the attention of their managers. By per- 
sonal interview, bulletins, and correspondence the offices could call 
to the employers' attention the causes of excessive turnover, its 
cost and its treatment. The criticism of workmen against individual 
firms could be brought to the employer and the faults corrected. 

"But most important of all the advantages are two that the 
market for labor would be centralized, and that those in charge would 
be interested in serving the needs of the employer and the employee 
rather than in personal profit. Centralization in the labor market 
has the same advantage that centralization in any market has. The 
buyer and seller have the maximum opportunity of getting in contact 
with some one with whom they can do business. At present, with a 
large number of unrelated employment offices operating in the same 
town, state, federal, commercial, philanthropic, trade union, and 



the rest, the employer who wants a certain kind of man frequently 
places his order in one office while the employee who seeks that kind 
of work files his application in another. The two fail to meet. 
With a single, coordinated system of offices, the two will come together 
in every instance. 

"An employment system run for profit will never give either 
our industries, our workers, or the nation sound service. The profits 
of the employment agent come at so much per head. The more heads, 
the more dollars. The greater the turnover, the larger the profits. The 
interests of the laborer demand a steady job. The interests of the 
employment agent are exactly the opposite : the more men he sends 
out, the greater the number of fees. Private agencies are daily 
shipping men by the thousands whom they know will not stick. Fre- 
quently they know that the man's real intention is to jump the job 
he is sent to and go to some n'-arby work. But what's the difference ? 
Large turnover means large fees, and large fees are the object. 

"The state and municipal offices as heretofore managed in this 
country have in most cases (not in all) developed a similar motive 
favoring turnover. In their case it is unconscious. They measure 
their efficiency by the cost per head to the state of the men sent out. 
They brag that it has cost the state but 30, or 25, or 19 cents per man 
sent out, as compared with the two-dollar fee collected from workmen 
by the private agencies. Since most of the state and municipal 
agencies have a set budget, say five or ten thousand dollars per 
year, approximately all of which they spend, their average cost is 
lowered in proportion to the number of men sent out while spending 
the appropriation. The larger the business, the smaller the average 
cost per job filled, and the better the showing. The natural result 
is an emphasis on the number of men sent out rather than on the 
quality of service rendered. Instead of studying their local market, to 
develop policies that will give the local workers the maximum con- 
tinuity of employment and local employers the steadiest possible 
labor force, their effort has been concentrated upon getting orders 
for jobs vacated, and men to fill them. They have made no effective 
effort to decrease labor turnover, and if they do they will impair their 
showing before their legislative bodies by running up a higher per- 
capita cost for placement. Cheapness rather than quality has been 
the criterion thus far applied to their service. And it is the criterion 
that will continue to be applied until we establish a comprehensive 
system of employment offices, in charge of men who understand the 


employment problem and are technical experts in dealing with it, 
and who are independent of the annual and biennial criticism of local 
legislative bodies, not conversant with the problems being worked 
out. It is only under such conditions that the employment organi- 
zation can attack and solve the vital problem of our labor market." 1 

1 " A Clearing House for Labor," D. D. Lescohier, The Atlantic Monthly, June, 



ONE cannot understand the forces which brought the United 
States Employment Service into existence during the war 
and determined the type of its organization and policies, unless 
one is familiar with the development of public employment 
offices, federal, state, and municipal, before the war. We will 
therefore present, as briefly as possible, the outstanding char- 
acteristics of the public employment exchanges which preceded 
the war. 

The first public employment exchanges of a permanent 
character in the United States were established in 1890 by Ohio 
in five cities of the state. California had a labor exchange in 
San Francisco from April, 1868, to April, 1872, which was sup- 
ported for a few months by private subscription and then by 
funds appropriated by the legislature. But it passed into pri- 
vate hands in April, I872. 1 The offices were desired by or- 
ganized labor but opened with the discouraging handicap of 
opposition from some employers, who looked upon them as 
agencies favorable to labor, and indifference and skepticism 
on the part of others, who saw no need for them and had no 
confidence in any public office because of past experience with 
politics and politicians. This handicap has remained with the 
public employment offices, state, municipal, and federal, down 
to the present time. 2 A majority of the employers of the coun- 

1 The detailed history of this early state labor exchange will be found in "A 
History of California Labor Legislation," Lucile Eaves, University of California 
Publications in Economics, Vol. II, August 23, 1910, pp. 337-341. 

2 The British offices have encountered the same opposition. Cf. The British 
System of Labor Exchanges, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin No. 
206, p. 8. 



try have been either hostile, indifferent, or contemptuous. 
Some of them have been unable to see any need for such offices 
or have scouted the idea that they could become efficient. 
A minority have realized that public offices would not furnish 
men without some regard for the men's interests, and have 
preferred to do business with private offices that would look 
upon labor as a commodity. These employers, though rela- 
tively few in number, have hired large numbers of laborers 
through the private offices, and like their way of doing business. 

This opposition and indifference of employers must be kept 
in mind while reading this chapter and Chapter IX. It partly 
explains the slow development of public employment offices 
in the United States, the niggardliness of legislative bodies, 
the inefficient personnel which manned so many offices. The 
failure of employers to recognize the offices and interest them- 
selves in them caused many state and municipal offices to become 
"dumping grounds for labor politicians" who lacked the capac- 
ity, the preparation, and the vision for the work. No public 
employment system can be a success unless the employers and the 
workers have a mutual interest, a mutual sense of ownership, 
a mutual pride and confidence in it. This is the essential, the 
fundamental problem to be solved in organizing the American 
employment service. 1 

Twelve public offices were established between 1890 and 1900 
and fifteen more between 1900 and 1907. Widespread unem- 
ployment in 1907-08, following the panic of 1907, and an 
increasing public realization of the evils connected with fee- 
charging employment agencies, caused a vigorous demand in 
many parts of the country for adequate public employment 
offices during 1908-09. Seven new offices were established 
in 1907, nine in 1908, and four in 1909. But the public's 
memory is erratic. The experiences of 1907-08 were soon 
forgotten. Only six offices were added between 1909 and 1913. 
The panic of 1914 reaewed the agitation. In the next three 

1 Cf. Chapter, X, XI; also "Policies and Methods of Employment Agencies 
Maintained by Employers' Associations," A. J. Allen, Bulletin QQ2, United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, pp. 52 ff. 


years forty offices were added, making a total of ninety-six in 
the country. 1 

The agitation for public employment offices before the war 
arose largely out of the evils of unemployment. 2 Each time 
that industrial revulsions threw unusual numbers of people out 
of work, there was a demand for public employment offices as 
means of relief. Certain public officials and other persons 
familiar with the abuses perpetrated by fee-charging agencies 
saw the need of substituting public offices for these commercial 
ones. 3 A few perceived the need for an organized labor market 
and that employment work can be efficiently done only by a 
centralized employment system. 4 It is interesting, in the light 
of recent developments on the subject of employment, to find 
Frank J. Warne arguing before the New York Commission on 
Unemployment in 1911 that there is no problem of employment 
of which the state should take cognizance except the problem 
raised by those who are unable to take care of themselves dur- 
ing unemployment. 5 

l " Public Employment Offices in the United States," Herndon, Bulletin 241, 
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

2 Cf. Preface, Bulletin 192, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics; also "Is a 
National Bureau of Employment Desirable," Jacob Lightner, Bulletin 220, United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 28; "The Struggle against Unemployment," 
C. R. Henderson, American Labor Legislation Review, May, 1914, p. 294; "Progress 
of the Public Employment Bureaus," Henry G. Hodges, The Annals, January, 1917, 
p. 91 ; "A Federal Labor Reserve Board for the Unemployed," Wm. M. Leiserson, 
The Annals, January, 1917, p. 103. 

8 Report on Conditions and Management of Public Employment Offices in the 
United States, Charles B. Barnes, Bulletin IQZ, United States Bureau of Labor, 
Statistics. History of offices to 1914; "The Movement for Public Labor Ex- 
changes," Wm. M. Leiserson, Journal of Political Economy, July, 1915. P- 77- 

4 An interesting picture of the development of American thought on the subject 
of public employment offices can be obtained by a comparison of two articles written 
by Dr. Edward T. Devine in 1909 and 1919. The evolution of his thought epito- 
mizes the changes which have occurred in the views of thousands in the last decade. 
In an article entitled "Employment Bureau for the People of New York City," 
The Annals, March, 1909, he shows why he does not believe that employment ex- 
changes can be operated successfully "by any branch of the Federal Government." 
In The Survey, April, 1919, under the heading "The United States Employment Serv- 
ice, an Analysis and a Forecast," he reveals his enthusiasm in the possibilities of 
service of an adequate federal employment organization. 

' Third Report, New York Commission Employers' Liability and Unemploy- 
ment, pp. 174-176. 


Two new influences began to affect the situation about 1910. 
The nation began to realize the evil of excessive labor turn- 
over and this directed attention to a comprehensive system of 
employment offices as a means of relieving labor turnover. 
About the same time public employment officials and economists 
began to call attention to the fact that employment offices 
should not be looked upon as relief agencies but as a permanent 
part of our business machinery with the continuing function of 
finding men to fill the places in industry which become vacant 
from time to time and of finding work for the wage earners who 
become idle from time to time. Before 1907 the employment 
agency was thought of as a means of relieving the miseries of 
unemployed workers. After 1910 it began to be conceived as a 
piece of social machinery which has as great responsibilities to 
the employer as to the workman. 

The formation of the American Association of Public Employ- 
ment Offices in 1913 did much to clarify this idea. 1 It directed 
the attention of employment offices to the fact that they could 
not serve the needs of either the employee or the employer effi- 
ciently unless they served the interests of the opposite party 
efficiently. It tended to put the employment office in a neutral 
position as between the employers and the employed, and to 
emphasize service rather than relief. Equally important, its 
work constituted one of the first organized efforts to educate 
the nation to the kind of employment organization needed for 
efficient labor placement. 2 It is both remarkable and interest- 
ing to note that the discussions of this association were one of 
the first places in which the shortcomings of the state and munic- 
ipal offices were emphasized. These men saw and called atten- 
tion to the inadequacies and inefficiencies of their own offices. 
They saw and declared that the task was beyond the powers 
of their organizations; saw that their offices were not meeting 

1 Compare, for example, the discussions in the Proceedings of the Association 
as reported in Bulletins 192 and 220 of the United States Bureau of Labor 

1 Cf. Annual Proceedings, Bulletins 192 and 220 of the United States Bureau 
of Labor Statistics. The proceedings of the 1918 meeting, which have not yet come 
from the press, will reveal this tendency in even more constructive plans. 


the country's needs; and pointed the nation toward the kind 
of an organization needed. 1 

The Commissioner of Labor of Minnesota reveals the coun- 
try's developing conception of the employment problem in his 
1913-14 biennial report: 2 

1 The Commissioner of Labor for Minnesota furnished an interesting illustration 
of this attitude in his report for 1913-14. He says of his own system of offices : 

"We are frank to state that our state offices have in the past been as open to 
criticism as the private offices, though their fault has been a failure to take full 
advantage of their opportunity of service and not, as in the case of the private offices, 
dishonorable practices. They have been inefficient. A careful investigation of the 
State offices made during the past year by this department has uncovered their 
various defects and we have perfected a scheme of reorganization that will, we believe, 
make the offices a credit to the state and a source of widespread benefit. This 
plan cannot be carried out unless a state superintendent of the offices is 

"The offices have catered altogether too much to casual labor in the past. A 
considerable proportion of those who apply for work have been the casual laborers 
and riff-raff of the cities, many of them unsteady and almost ' down and out.' They 
are the sort of men who work only when circumstances force them to and who are 
looking for short jobs, not for steady work. Mingled with these, there have been a 
sprinkling of the better types of laborers; particularly at the Duluth office, which 
sends out more men to 'permanent' jobs (i.e., jobs lasting weeks or months, rather 
than hours or a day or two) than either of the other offices. Neither have the 
employers who have patronized the offices been, on the whole, the class looking for 
' permanent ' employees but those looking for ' handy-men ' for odd jobs. Occasionally 
a manufacturer or contractor or other employer has come looking for regular em- 
ployees, but on the whole these have patronized the private agencies except when 
looking for men for a day or two's work or when the private offices could not fill 
their orders. The major portion of the employers who have patronized the offices 
have been looking for help for from a few hours to two or three days, and the minority 
have offered steady work. 

"The fundamental failure of the offices thus far has therefore been in not securing 
the patronage of the better classes of either employees or employers and in catering to 
casual labor. This has not been the policy of the offices, but has resulted from the 
fact that there has been no one on whom the responsibility has rested to go out and 
build up business connections with those not accustomed to patronize the offices. 
In other words, the offices have lacked proper advertising. They have also lacked 
proper internal business organization and proper record systems. But we believe 
that we now understand what is necessary to be done in order to make them highly 
efficient business offices that will so organize the Minnesota labor market as to 
reduce unemployment, decrease the suffering of the unemployed, and enable em- 
ployers to get men more quickly and satisfactorily. The carrying out of the detailed 
plans now prepared depends fundamentally upon the legislature providing a state 
superintendent and giving the department power to license and adequately regulate 
the private employment offices." 

2 Introduction, p. 9. 


"The time has come in the development of our state when we must 
face the problem of regulating employment and providing some 
efficient organization of the labor market which will bring the un- 
employed man and the employer seeking help into touch with each 
other. There are at all times of the year men and women out of 
employment and employers seeking help, and in the present dis- 
organized state of the labor market both labor and capital lie idle 
when there is in reality a demand for their services if they only knew 
where the demand was. Some employers are letting out men at all 
seasons of the year while others are hiring, and there is needed a 
system of labor exchanges, that will bring the supply and the demand 
together. Private employment agencies, some conducted for profit 
and some of a charitable character, have endeavored to fill the need, 
but their work has been on the whole a failure, as far as the best 
interests of the workman and of the average employer are concerned. 
In the first place they have not conducted the work properly, and in 
the second place the distribution of labor can be efficiently carried on 
only by an organization that has a monopoly of the whole field. 
Private individuals who conduct employment offices do so for personal 
gain, except in the case of the few charitable agencies which are, in 
the total, of negligible importance. The private agencies try to 
carry on their business in the most profitable manner possible, and 
the opportunity of profit rather than the desire to serve the public 
needs is the paramount stimulus of their activity. Grafting of various 
kinds, exorbitant fees, falsehoods, trickery, and bullying of workmen, 
the shipping of men to remote places where no work exists or where the 
conditions are not as represented by the agent, have all been profitable 
and have occurred so frequently in every state in the union as to be 
justly called characteristic of their activities. These wrongs have 
been just as common in our own state as anywhere and have been 
discovered by this department in hundreds of cases which have been 
investigated during the last few years and upon which detailed reports 
are now on file among our records. Ultimately the state will prob- 
ably be compelled to assume entire control of the distribution of 
labor and to do away with the private agencies. For the time being 
the two pressing necessities are the enactment of a law giving the 
labor department power to strictly regulate the private agencies and 
the creation of a superintendent of public employment offices who may 
develop the state offices so that they can take over the major portion 
of the work of distributing labor. 


"Even if the private agencies did not stoop to unfair and dis- 
honorable practices it is apparent upon a little reflection that the 
fundamental need in the organization of the labor market a 
central clearing house where every demand for work can be brought 
into touch with its corresponding demand for help cannot be 
provided by the private agencies. There should be one central 
clearing house with which every local labor agency would be affiliated 
and to which every local agency would send every unsatisfied demand 
for labor or for help, and which could shift orders from one local 
agency to another and thus give every applicant the highest possible 
number of chances of having his needs supplied. The larger the 
number of offices in existence (unless they are parts of a unified system) 
the more disorganized the labor market is and the greater the chances 
are that when a man applies for a given kind of work he will not get 
his job because the employer offering that kind of work has filed his 
application at some other agency. Within each state there should be 
a single system of employment offices to which all offers of employment 
and all requests for work would be brought, and through which each 
employer and each workman would have the maximum opportunity 
of having his needs supplied. These state systems should be and in 
time will be, coordinated into a national system of employment offices 
supervised by a central office and assist in the interstate shipment of 

The American Association for Labor Legislation did much 
to clarify the thought of the nation on the employment ques- 
tion. Its first National Conference on Unemployment in New 
York City, February 27, 1914? represented a long step toward 
intelligent grappling with the employment question. It em- 
phasized the irregularity of employment in America and the 
inadequacy of our employment machinery, considered the Eng- 
lish and German methods of employment organization, and 
gave some attention to unemployment insurance. The associa- 
tion's second conference on unemployment, at Philadelphia, on 
December 28-29, 1914, was a constructive study of the existing 
or possible agencies which could be used for the prevention or 
relief of unemployment. 2 

1 "Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," American Labor Legislation Review, 
May, 1914. 

* American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 


These discussions, able as they were, were nevertheless dis- 
tinctly one-sided. They looked upon the question of labor 
market organization as a labor question rather than as an in- 
dustrial question. The problem before the meetings was the 
relief of unemployment, not the organization of the labor market 
to meet both the employer's need for men and the worker's need 
for employment. They did not sense the fact, at least clearly, 
that steadiness of employment is at least one labor problem 
in which the employers' and the wage earners' interests are 

The discussions in the Annals, on the other hand, have tended 
to emphasize the employers' side of the problem, and have 
neglected a study of the employment problem in its broader 
aspects. Most of the papers found there accept the existing 
labor supply and labor demand conditions, and center around 
the question, " What is the most efficient way for an individual 
employer to secure and select labor?" 1 The problem of na- 
tional labor market organization is hardly touched, and is given 
but scant treatment even in the Annal's reconstruction num- 
bers. 2 But the emphasis of the employers' side of the problem 
by the Annals is a very important contribution to the discussion 
of employment in America. It has saved the country, to a 
certain extent, from looking at the employment question as 
purely a wage earner's problem. It has forced the nation to 
take into account the industrial aspect of labor market organi- 
zation, and to realize that the plan adopted must serve the 
employer's needs as well as the worker's, and enjoy his confi- 
dence just as fully as it does the confidence of the employee. 

The state offices did not and cannot organize the labor market. 
But they nevertheless made some very definite contributions 
to the technique of public employment service. The Wis- 
consin exchanges, or offices, emphasized centralization. Their 

1 "Personnel and Employment Problems," The Annals of the American Academy 
of Political and Social Science, May, 1916; "Stabilizing Industrial Employment," 
ibid., May, 1917. 

2 "A Reconstruction Labor Policy," ibid., January, 1919; "Industries in Re- 
adjustment," ibid., March, 1919. 


state superintendent, by frequent trips to their several offices, 
and by daily reports from each office, accomplished a coordi- 
nation of the work in the state. New York, Massachusetts, 
and Ohio worked along the same lines. Ohio developed in 1917 
the most complete unification of its offices attained by any of 
the state systems. Its twenty-two exchanges were in daily 
telephone contact with a central or clearing office at Columbus, 
and orders and men were transferred from one exchange to 
the other by this central office. 

Wisconsin also contributed two other ideas of much impor- 
tance : joint financing of offices by the state and the local 
community and the community advisory board. It encouraged 
cities to bear part of the expense of the local office, thus increas- 
ing the annual appropriations for the offices and winning local 
interest and support as can be done in no other way. This was 
followed up by establishing a community advisory board com- 
posed of representatives of the state, the municipality, the 
employers, and labor organizations. This advisory board was 
a sort of board of directors to guide the policies of the local 
office, receive criticisms and complaints, and (when necessary) 
to fight its battles with legislative bodies. These boards, 
since widely used in other states and by the federal employ- 
ment service, have done much both to improve the efficiency 
of the public offices and to keep the confidence of both the 
employers and employees for them. 1 They were the first 
definite recognition of the fact that employers have as much 
at stake in a successful public employment system as the 

Massachusetts was one of the pioneer states in the develop- 
ment of specialized departments within the employment office. 
She early recognized at Boston the need for the separate han- 
dling of skilled and unskilled workers, of juveniles, 2 and of women. 

1 The advisory board, first used in Wisconsin, as far as we have been able to learn, 
was incorporated into the British employment service in 1917, and is an integral 
part of the new Canadian employment exchange system. They were also rec- 
ommended for public offices in Austria. 

2 A series of papers on the relation between public school vocational guidance, 
employment office vocational guidance, and juvenile placement will be found in 


Massachusetts also has the distinction of working out a record 
system which has formed the basis of all efficient public employ- 
ment records in the United States. Vocational direction by 
employment offices and the use of interpreters when handling 
foreigners were early features of the Massachusetts system. 
The same state first took steps to effect definite relations be- 
tween its public employment offices and the employment man- 
agers of industrial establishments, a feature of public employ- 
ment exchange policy which must be emphasized in the future. 1 
Public employment offices can accomplish the best results when 
working in intelligent contact with such employment depart- 
ments. The development of such departments, and along sound 
lines, is one of the serious needs of the American employment 
situation. 2 

The National Farm Labor Exchange, a loose organization 
composed of state employment offices and of representatives 
of the United States Departments of Agriculture and of Labor, 
organized in the winter of 1914-15 and meeting annually 
at Kansas City, attempts to coordinate the efforts of the offices 
in the middle west to meet the demand for seasonal farm labor, 
particularly for the harvest. It has no administrative powers 
or functions and represents simply a means of exchanging in- 
formation and effecting personal contact between the officers 
in the several states. It does not constitute an organization 
of the middle west labor market in any sense of the term, even 
for harvest purposes. Each officer goes home to meet his 
own problems as best he can. But it is a short step in the right 
direction. 3 

the Proceedings of the American Association of Public Employment Offices for 
igi6, in Bulletin 220, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Cf. also "Juvenile 
Employment Exchanges," Elsa Neland, American Labor Legislation Review, June, 


1 See Chapter XII. Cf. also testimony of Walter Sears, Final Report, In- 
dustrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, p. 1275-1301. 

* Cf. "Public Employment Bureaus and Their Relation to Managers of Employ- 
ment in Industry," Hilda Mulhauser, The Annals, May, 1916, p. 170. 

* Cf. National Farm Labor Exchange, Charles McCaffree, Bulletin 192, United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 117. The reader can get a vision of the 
problem with which the exchange was organized to deal in "Plan for Gathering 


The federal government made its first efforts in employment 
service under a law of 1907 which gave the Bureau of Immigra- 
tion and Naturalization power "to promote a beneficial distri- 
bution of aliens admitted into the United States among the 
several states and territories desiring immigration." Little 
was accomplished under this law, but after the creation of the 
Department of Labor on March 4, 1913, more definite efforts 
to develop an employment service were undertaken. 

The country was now divided into eighteen (originally six- 
teen) zones with employment headquarters in each zone, manned 
by an immigration inspector, sometimes styled "superintendent 
of employment." Some of these zones had branch offices, 
but neither a state's size nor its employment needs seemed to 
determine the number of districts or offices in it. Missouri 
comprised two districts and Pennsylvania one, while Texas 
contained three districts and nine branch offices. New York 
state had but one branch office at Buffalo. The state of 
Washington had more branches than there were main head- 
quarters in all the states along the Atlantic Ocean, and Cali- 
fornia had more offices than all of the states drained by the 
Mississippi River. 

It is only by courtesy that one could call these employment 
offices; it would be a falsehood to speak of them as a federal 
employment system. Their methods of operation violated 
most of the canons of good employment practice, and they made 
little effort really to serve either employers or employees in 
general. They posted notices of positions open in such public 
places as libraries and post offices, with utter disregard of the 
number who might be led to go to the job, and equal dis- 
regard as to whether any one applied for it. The inexperience 
of the immigration inspectors in employment work, their in- 
ability to use the telephone and telegraph freely, their inad- 
equate office forces and equipment, and the small number of 
offices, made any real service impossible. 

and Distributing Harvest Hands in the Grain States," W. G. Ashton, Bulletin 192, 
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 84, and in the United States Employ, 
ment Service Bulletins during 1918. 


The next step taken in the development of this pitiful l 
federal employment service was to make every post office an 
employment office. The eagerness with which this suggestion 
was received by thousands of people is a striking tribute to 
American ignorance of the country's employment needs and 
of the fact that employment work, properly done, is a profession. 
Post office clerks, like immigration clerks, have other duties; 
and those duties are their main interest. To ninety per cent 
of them, any employment functions foisted upon them would 
appear a useless burden to be disposed of as easily as possible. 
Post offices, experience has shown, can be efficiently used as a 
means for directing employers and employees to the public 
employment office, but not as placement agencies. Attempted 
cooperation with the Departments of Agriculture and of the 
Interior likewise yielded but limited practical results. Some 
of the federal officials were so concerned about who would get 
the credit for what was done that they never got to the work 
for which credit was sought. Inter-department jealousy and 
suspicion crippled much of the effort at cooperation. 

In other words, the vision of the assistant secretary of labor 
had no sound basis. Neither the organization itself nor the 
personnel of that organization justified his hopes. He said of 
this federal service : 2 

"By statutory implication, therefore, the Bureau of Immigration, 
through the Division of Information, has become an appropriate instru- 
mentality of the Department of Labor for promoting the welfare of 
wage earners especially with reference to labor distribution. It is not 
at all improbable that the Department of Labor will thereby (by 
cooperation with the post office and Department of Agriculture) be 
able to promote labor distribution extensively and satisfactorily, 

1 The reader who is not familiar with these offices can get an illuminating picture 
of their work by following the monthly reports of it in The Labor Review, United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 1915 through 1917. Their total place- 
ments for the six years ending June 30, were 35,430, of whom over So per cent 
were aliens. Their applications for work averaged from four to six times the 
number placed. We are therefore directing the reader to their most prosperous 
period, 1915-17. 

4 " Government Intervention in Idleness." The Survey, Vol. 34, p. 270. 


that public lands and arid lands unclaimed by governmental irrigation 
systems may be utilized in aid thereof, that farm credit and farm 
marketing projects may be stimulated by its further promotion, 
and that agricultural and other vocational training may come coopera- 
tively into the service for the solving of employment problems. . . . 
"... There are hopes of some experimentation with plans the 
Department is considering on a scale more comprehensive than that 
of wheat-harvesting, for establishing annual vacations for wage 
earners. The essential theory of these plans is that all interests could 
be better served if the sporadic demands for seasonal work of various 
kinds were systematically met by wage earners on vacation." 


THE war forced the nation to attempt the organization of 
the labor market, by destroying the labor surpluses on which 
the employers had depended. 

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, its immediate effect 
upon employment in America was disastrous. 

"All along the Atlantic coast industry and commerce were dis- 
located ; shipping was tied up ; men found that the war had taken 
away their work, their source of livelihood. Their number was 
increased by the sailors from interned foreign vessels. Factories 
dependent upon European trade or products began to run part time 
and then stopped. . . ." "As the weeks went by the amount and 
extent of unemployment increased throughout the country. . . . 
Bread lines have been very long during the past winter. Women as 
well as men have been in those bread lines." 1 

Dress goods manufacturers found their business dislocated 
by inability to get German yarns. 2 Canners along the Dela- 
ware coast had to shut down. 3 The oil trade was hard hit. 4 
The dye famine paralyzed colored cloth manufacture but stimu- 
lated white goods. 5 Steel mills had to retrench. 6 Copper 
mines stopped production. 7 The cotton growers were threat- 
ened with ruin. 8 Tanneries were closed by stoppage of hide 

1 Samuel Gompers in The Annals, Vol. LXI, pp. 4-10, September, 1915. 

2 New York Journal of Commerce, August 12, 1914, p. 7, col. i. 

3 Ibid., August 15, 1914, p. 9, col. 3, and August 13, p. i, col. 6. 

4 Ibid., August 15, 1914, p. 8, col. i, and August 14, p. 8, col. 3; August 12, p. 2, 
col. 3, and August 18, p. 3, col. 4. 

5 Ibid., August 15, p. 5, col. 2, and August 17, p. 7, col. 4. 

8 Ibid., August 5, 1914, p. 3, col. 5; August 12, p. 5, col. 3; August 13, p. 8, 
col. 5 ; August 13, p. 8, col. 7 ; August 14, p. 8, col. 7. 

7 Ibid., August 5, 1914, p. 3, col. 4 ; August 14, p. 2, col. 3. 

8 Ibid., August 3, 1914, p. 8, col. 2; August 13, p. 2, col. 3; August 14, p. i, 
col. 3; August 14, p. i, col. 7; August 17, p. 7, col. 6. 

N 177 


importations. 1 The congestion of export shipments in seaports 
because of disturbance to commerce was serious. 2 Seventy 
thousand employees of tin plate mills were idle because of the 
mills' inability to get raw material. 3 On August 7 the New 
York Journal of Commerce predicted that 500,000 men would 
be out of work in the Pittsburgh district if the war lasted a 
month. 4 On August 19 the Journal stated that reports of 
industrial unemployment were " growing decidedly more 
numerous," 5 and that practically all lines were sharing cur- 
tailment in New England. 6 These are but illustrations of the 
conditions which obtained in a large number of industries or 
in individual localities or plants. The reasons for the situation 
were shown by Mr. Johnson, president of the Baldwin Locomo- 
tive Works : 

"When the war broke out at the beginning of last August, the first 
result was the sudden and complete paralysis of the financial fabric 
of all the nations of the world. . . . Not only in our own country, 
but everywhere, the cessation of financial operations, including the 
closing of the stock exchanges, occasioned a discontinuance of every- 
thing looking to new business, deprived the industries of their markets, 
and left the manufacturers with nothing to do but to carry out so 
much of their existing contracts as were not affected by the outbreak 
of the war. Prior to the war a condition of business prostration 
had already existed. . . . Then came the declaration of war, which 
put all large business to an end. We discovered not only that financial 
operations had stopped, but our merchants, manufacturers, and ship- 
pers found that, because of our dependence upon the vessels of other 
nations, the means of continuing our foreign commerce was gone." 
"Little by little we have been emerging from that condition. . . . 
The belligerents have placed with us contracts for vast sums of war 
material. This has established an activity which in certain lines of 
business is almost feverish, but it has not created general prosperity. 
Many lines of business . . . have not yet been roused from their 
lethargy." 7 

1 New York Journal of Commerce, August 13, p. 8, col. 6. 

* Ibid., August 4, p. 9, col. 2. 3 Ibid., August 8, 1914, p. 8, col. 7. 

4 Ibid., August 7, 1914, P- 4, col. 3. ' Ibid., August 10, 1914, p. 4, col. 3. 

6 Ibid., August 19, 1914, p. 2, col. 5. 

T Alba B. Johnson in The Annals, Vol. LXI, p. i, September 1915. 


The recovery from the first stagnation began soon after the 
war started, but was felt only in certain lines of production. 
The powder plants began to increase their forces early in August, 
IQI4. 1 Orders for canned goods also began to come in. 2 Manu- 
facturers of some kinds of paper found their business stimulated 3 
although other lines remained quiet. The removal of foreign 
competition benefited glass factories. 4 Shoe manufacturers 
quickly obtained orders for soldiers' shoes. 5 Cotton manu- 
factures recovered under the assurance that English competition 
would be reduced. Gradually industry after industry obtained 
orders for products for Europe, commerce was reopened, and 
banking institutions readjusted their business. The withdrawal 
of millions of European workmen from production caused 
Europe to draw ever more heavily upon our productive capacity. 
The decrease in immigration to America stopped the further 
accumulation of laborers on our soil. 

The excessive labor surplus of 1914-15 slowly disappeared, 
and employers in many lines were complaining of a real or 
fancied labor shortage when the spring of 1917 arrived. Then 
America entered the war. Thousands of employers were imme- 
diately thrown into a veritable panic at the prospect of losing 
to the army and navy millions of experienced men of all grades, 
after three years of diminished immigration. 

The labor shortage which they anticipated did develop. 6 
During 1917 there was some shortage in men of special qualities, 
but no shortage in the gross number of workers. The 1917 
shortage was not so severe as many had expected it to be, and 
represented a problem only in specific occupations. The panic 

1 New York Journal of Commerce, August 10, 1914, p. 10, col. 6. 

2 Ibid., August 4, 1914, p. 8, col. 5. 

3 Ibid., August 12, 1914, p. 8, col. 5; also August 13, 1914, p. 8, col. 2. 

4 Ibid., August 14, 1914, p. 8, col. 2. 6 Ibid., August 14, 1914, p. 9, col. 6. 

8 Cf . data on shortage of common labor in Monthly Labor Review, September, 
1918, p. 300; on conditions in Ohio, ibid., pp. 302-304; the Monthly Labor Market 
Bulletin of the New York Department of Labor during 1918, or the United States 
Employment Service Bulletins for the weeks April 16, May 7, June n, 1918, and 
from then on almost every bulletin, especially July 23, August 6 and 20, igi8. 
The Monthly Labor Review, February, 1919, pp. 131-133, summarizes the labor 
demand from January, 1915, to December, 1918, in the form of a demand curve. 





S9 40.000 

Z 35.000 



Fotal App 
lel'p Wan 



s for Wo 





Female Appli 
Female Help 













































































\ % 

























19.18 19-19 



into which the employers were thrown by their fear of labor 
shortage, coupled with their ability to shift to the shoulders 
of the government excessive labor costs incurred through ab- 
normal wage offers, caused a struggle among employers for 
labor which was not consistent with the labor supply situation 
but which seriously stimulated labor turnover. The curves 
presented in Chart No. VI present the history of the labor 
market in Ohio during the war period. 1 The data for the curves 
were taken from the monthly reports of the Ohio Employment 
Service. Curves B and D show the fluctuation of employers' 
demands for help ; A and C show the fluctuation of employees' 
applications for work. A comparison of curves A and B shows 
that the number of wage earners applying for employment was 
much in excess of the number sought by employers during 1917 
and that the labor shortage did not begin in Ohio until about 
the first of April, 1918. From May, 1918, until the armistice 
was signed there was a definite shortage of labor. Employers' 
applications for help far exceeded workers' applications for 
employment from July to November. The steady rise of the 
number of applications for work during this period in spite of 
the rapid absorption of labor by the industries is due to the 
large number of persons from states farther west who went into 
Ohio to work in war industries. The rapid rise of employees' 
applications after the signing of the armistice is largely due to 
the laying off of large numbers who were then thrown upon the 
labor market. The curves from November, 1918, to February, 
1919, show a steady fall in employers' demands for help and an 
accompanying rise of employees' demands for work ; while the 
revival of business in the spring of 1919 is clearly seen in the rise 
of the employers' demand curves (B, D} in February and March. 
Curves D and C show the demand for and supply of women 
workers during the war. It will be observed that there was 
no marked increase of employers' demands for women workers 
until March, 1918. From March, 1918, to March, 1919, there 
was a much stronger demand for women workers than before 

1 This curve was drawn by Melvin Wagner, a student at the University of Wis- 
consin, under the direction of L. B. Krueger, Instructor in Statistics. 


the war. In the months just before the signing of the armis- 
tice, employers were asking for more than twice as many 
women workers as they had sought during 1917. It is both 
interesting and significant to note that the number of women 
seeking industrial employment rose as steadily as the call for 
their services developed. The women responded quickly and 
consistently to the war-time demand for them. The women 
who responded to Ohio's war-time demand were probably almost 
entirely Ohio citizens. It will be observed that the same sharp 
labor surplus developed among women workers in Ohio after 
the armistice as developed among the general labor force. 

The disorganization which had characterized our labor market 
during peace times degenerated into veritable chaos during 
the early part of the war period. Employers stole men from each 
other; labor scouts infested the centers of labor distribution; 
private employment agencies reaped a harvest. 

"A trainload of workers came from a western point to a new War 
Department construction job on the seaboard. The Employment 
Service brought them. The War Department paid the bills. The 
job is vitally important and must be rushed to the Emit. Like 
many other jobs now being done by the Government the lives of 
many of our men and the time when our full strength can be employed 
in the War depend in part upon it. But bright and early next morning 
the agent of a firm which has a Government contract and a plant a 
few miles away came over, offered the men three cents an hour 
advance, and took the whole trainload away. 

"A very enterprising labor agent in Tennessee showed his appre- 
ciation of the situation by sending, with a trainload of workmen 
dispatched to a Government contractor, a special agent, with in- 
structions to deliver the men, take the contractor's receipt, and then 
bring them back to be shipped elsewhere for another commission. 

"Hundreds of other instances occur some scandalous, some 
traitorous, and others merely humorous, like the case of the zealous 
but absent-minded young labor agent at Norfolk, who not long ago 
succeeded, by raising their wages, in hiring two men he met on the 
street, away from his own firm." 1 

1 "Destructive Labor Recruiting," C. T. Clayton, Bulletin 247, United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 56. 


J. B. Densmore, Director General of the United States 
Employment Service, described the situation in these words: 
"Thousands of private employment agents were continually 
luring men from one job to another. Men employed on govern- 
ment work in Buffalo were transported to another government 
job in San Francisco, only a week later to be carried back to 
Boston. This anarchy of employment served the welfare of 
none. Workers and their families suffered from being ever on 
the move. Employers were injured because of the inescapable 
waste due to an extravagant labor turnover. The nation itself 
was hurt because under these circumstances human energies 
which might have been directed toward victory were vainly ex- 
pended in a futile search for the achievement most desired by 
the government." 1 

Experienced employment men were not infected with this 
fear of labor shortage, but it was months before the business 
world would listen to them. These men knew that America 
could man her war industries if proper machinery for recruit- 
ing and distributing labor was provided by the government, 
and the reckless competition of employers for men was checked. 
There was no time during the war when there was a shortage 
in the quantity of labor in America. There was a real short- 
age of men of quality. It was difficult to get an adequate supply 
of certain classes of skilled workmen; although other kinds, 
like carpenters, were a drug on the market. 

The clear-headed interpretation of the situation by some of 
these experienced state employment officials is well illustrated 
by the statement which Mr. Charles B. Barnes, superintendent 
of the New York Public Employment Offices, made to the New 
York Industrial Commission in the spring of 1917. His proph- 
ecy was fulfilled by the events of 1918. He said : 

"Already there is aery of labor shortage which is not justified. . . . 
We are beginning to talk of the necessity for the use of woman and 

1 The Annals, January, igig, p. 32. The same sort of conditions obtained in 
England during the early months of the war but the British employment service 
soon obtained control of the situation. Cf. "Lessons from English War Ex- 
perience in the Employment of Labor," M. B. Hammond, American Economic 
Review, March, 1918, Supplement, p. 149. 


child labor, for which there is as yet no valid need. In reality, for a 
long time there has been a great loss of man power in this state 
because of unemployment. It is well known that up until about two 
years ago, an advertisement offering any position with fairly attractive 
wages, would bring to the factory or other work-place a large crowd of 
eager applicants. It is also well known that from all the work- 
places in every industrial community there were turned away every 
morning hundreds of men willing and eager to work. This meant a 
great loss of man power to the country, for these hundreds and thou- 
sands of workers lost anywhere from three days to three months in 
finding a suitable job. The total loss of days' work, counted in man 
power, is startling. This loss has been passed over without notice 
save when it was emphasized by bread lines and soup kitchens. 
With the expectant need of man power, we are now beginning to 
realize what we were wasting and are commencing to take up the 
slack. The truth of the matter is that there are in this country enough 
human beings potentially capable of doing all the work required, and 
that, too, without materially increasing the number of women workers. 
But there is an actual shortage of the kind of technically trained 
workers for which the changes in industry are causing demand. 
There is only one remedy for this apparent shortage, and that is, 
the training of unskilled or semi-skilled workers in such manner as 
will fit them to do the new work called into existence as a result of the 
war. We cannot escape the doing of this training, and the sooner we 
face the problem, the more productive the country will be. We are 
teaching thousands of men how to shoot a gun and handle a bayonet. 
It is just as desirable in this emergency to teach a man how to 
handle a tool and a machine. Thousands of the potential soldiers 
are just as unfamiliar with the rifle and the bayonet as are thousands 
of workers with the tool and the machine. There are enough 
human beings for both fields of training, but we must exercise as 
much care in the training and preparation for one field as for the 

"If this industrial training is not given now, and the continuance of 
the war compels us to have a second or a third draft, then we may 
be forced to ask for priority in labor and the stoppage of all so-called 
non-essential industries because we lack men of requisite skill to 
carry them on." l 

1 Annual Report of the New York Industrial Commission, 1917, New York State 
Department of Labor, pp. 208-209. 


But the government's policies during the early months of 
the war were not encouraging. The Navy Department struggled 
with the ordnance for men to get out its products ; the canton- 
ments competed with the shipbuilding; each government de- 
partment fought the other in the labor market. It did not take 
any department long to discover that there was no market 
machinery upon which they could depend for labor recruiting. 
Disreputable private agencies received orders for men for gov- 
ernment work, and the abuses connected with such agencies 
brought disrepute on the government. The government saw 
that it had to develop an organized labor market or fail in its 
military-economic program. As a result, the government under- 
took the establishment of the United States Employment Ser- 


THE United States Employment Service, created by the De- 
partment of Labor during the war to assist "in the present emer- 
gency, " is the only attempt which has been made to establish 
an adequate Federal Employment Service in the United States. 
It was the first step of our government toward a labor market 
organization equivalent to that of England ; 1 but was created 
and set into operation under conditions that made carefulness 
and economy of administration impossible. Its first year's work 
does not constitute any test at all of the cost or the capabilities 
of such a service. It was established for the definite purpose 
of securing labor for employers in industries producing commodi- 
ties of military importance. Military considerations, rather 
than industrial, controlled its policies and its purse strings. 
Many considerations which would have exercised a controlling 
influence on the Service in normal times were properly neglected 
in a war Service. Furthermore, it did not remain in operation 
on its war time basis long enough to have opportunity to 
correct its obvious faults. 

The creation of the United States Employment Service was 
made necessary by the complete failure of the federal offices 
operated by the Immigration Bureau to meet the nation's needs 
during 1917. These offices, few in number, without policies or 
funds, and without either a chief or a personnel trained for 
employment work, were corks on a stormy sea. Month by 
month the chaos of the employment market grew worse. Only 
the heroic efforts of the individual states of the northwest, 2 

1 See Chapter X. 

2 Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, California, and other important 
food-producing states worked out state plans which furnished, in the total, a very 
large amount of labor to agriculture. 

1 86 


aided by the Department of Agriculture in many cases, and of 
the federal employment office at Kansas City, saved the grain 
states from a disastrous harvest labor shortage. Ohio made 
rapid progress in handling her entire labor problem through 
a comprehensive state employment service. These cases but 
threw the general situation in our industries into stronger 
relief. Government departments competed with each other 
for labor ; ordnance stole men from shipbuilding ; shipbuilding 
from aviation; shells from powder. Turnover increased by 
leaps and bounds. On January 3, 1918, the Secretary of Labor 
ordered the separation of the Employment Service from the 
Bureau of Immigration and "its expansion and operation" as 
the United States Employment Service under the direction of 
John B. Densmore of Montana, formerly solicitor of the De- 
partment of Labor. Mr. Densmore had to face the task " of 
building a machine and operating it at the same time." The 
Service had to begin to function immediately even though it 
had neither organization, equipment, nor staff. It was expected 
to deliver results in thirty days that in normal times it would 
have been given years to attain. 

The first plan of organization adopted provided for two Assist- 
ant Directors one in charge of field work and quasi-official 
bodies and the other in charge of administrative work divisions 
of Information, Women, Investigation, Statistics, Service 
Officers, and Farm Service ; and the continuation of the Public 
Service Reserve and Boys' Working Reserve. The country 
was divided into thirteen administrative districts on February 
23, each consisting of from two to five states, with a District 
Superintendent in each district and a State Director of Employ- 
ment in each state. 

The organization was again modified on March i by an order 
of February 22, by the elimination of one of the two Assistant 
Directors, provided for in the original plan ; the creation of a 
Policies and Planning Board, composed of the chiefs of the dif- 
ferent divisions ; the creation of a Division of Training of Person- 
nel, and the elimination of the Division of Investigations. The 
Divisions of Information and Administration were combined 


and a clearance function added, in a new Division of Informa- 
tion, Administration, and Clearance. This division constituted 
the center or main body of the Employment Service. It had 
charge of the collection of information upon conditions of 
demand and supply in the labor market, of actual placement 
work, and of the shifting of labor supplies from state to state. 1 

It had become clear to the Service, after a few months of 
experience, that the secret of success was going to be found in 
a "centralized administration at Washington and decentralized 
operation with the states as the unit." A committee of advisors 
who were summoned to Washington by the Director General 
for the purpose, after a series of conferences with employment 
experts from all parts of the country, worked out a third impor- 
tant reorganization. The District Superintendents had proved 
to be a "fifth wheel," which obstructed rather than increased 
the efficiency of the organization, 2 while the necessity of clear- 
ing through the district offices retarded rather than assisted 
in the clearance of orders between states. This reorganization 
provided for "the gradual elimination of the district superin- 
tendencies ; the centering of responsibility for the field organi- 
zation on the federal directors of employment for the states ; 
the institution of uniform methods of office operation; and 
the realignment of the administrative work of the Director 
General's office at Washington into five divisions, each in charge 
of a director." 3 

The five new divisions were : (i) Control, (2) Field Organiza- 
tion, (3) Clearance, (4) Personnel, and (5) Information. The 

1 Annual Report of the Director General of the United States Employment 
Service, June, 1918, p. 8. A brief description by C. F. Stoddard of the Service 
at this stage of its development may be found in Monthly Labor Review, May, 1918, 
p. 191. 

2 The country's experience with this feature of the Employment Service is an 
interesting illustration of the way that good "paper plans" often fail in practice. 
The author, in common with most pre-war advocates of a federal service, believed 
in the district system of administration. But less than sixty days' experience with 
the district plan thoroughly convinced him that the sooner the districts were elim- 
inated the better for the service. 

3 Annual Report of the Director General of the United States Employment 
Service, June, 1918, p. 35. 


Control Division had charge of all central office administrative 
work, such as general correspondence, reports, supplies, and 
finances. The Field Organization Division's function was to 
create, perfect, and operate "an efficient system of employ- 
ment offices in each state," to supervise the Public Service 
Reserve and Boys' Working Reserve, 1 and to create special 
facilities for meeting special problems. It was the division 
of administration of employment offices. The Reserves would, 
of course, not be continued in peace times, but the other func- 
tions are of a permanent character. The work of the Clearance 
Division was closely related. Its function was to distribute 
requests for labor among the states; to obtain reports from 
each state showing its unfilled labor demands, and other reports 
showing its types of unemployed labor, and to notify state 
directors who needed men of certain types what states could 
meet their needs; and also to arrange transportation details 
for the movement of men from one state to another. The 
Personnel Division, as its name implies, was in charge of the 
selection, training, and development of the officers and employes 
of the Employment Service. It was the personal efficiency 
department of the Service. The Information Division pub- 
lished the United States Employment Service Bulletin and had 
charge of all publicity work for the Service. 

This form of organization produced a higher degree of cen- 
tralization of authority at Washington, and a more logical con- 
solidation of functions. It did not involve, however, the ter- 
mination of specialized sections within these general adminis- 
trative divisions. The Field Organization Division, for in- 
stance, could continue its farm labor section, unskilled labor 
section, or any other specialized subsection that experience 
showed to be necessary. 

The Service expanded in two ways : by the rapid establish- 
ment of new offices and by the absorption of existing state and 

1 United States Boys' Working Reserve, Monthly Labor Review, June, 1917 ; 
Boy Soldiers of the Soil, W. P. McGuire, The Forum, July, 1918 ; The Boy, the 
War and the Harrow, H. D. Fisher, The Survey, March 30, 1918; Boy's Work- 
ing Reserve, Manual Training, April, 1918; Organization and Purpose, School 
Review, February, 1918. 


municipal offices, either by agreements of cooperation or by 
assuming actual control over them. Between January 3 and 
April 23, 1918, 72 new offices were opened. On May 7 this 
total had reached 280; by May 21,350; by August 27, 560; 
and by October 21, 832 offices. Twice as many offices were 
established in nine months as were opened in England during 
the first four years of their national employment system. 
This was "approximately ten times the number functioning 
when the Employment Service was recognized as a distinct 
unit in the Department of Labor" J in January. 

Strenuous efforts were made to utilize agencies outside of the 
Service. An announcement of February 18, that 98,000 third- 
and fourth-class postmasters and rural carriers had been made 
"labor agents" of the Service says: "These new agents . . . 
together with 2000 agents of the Department of Agriculture 
whose services will be available, furnish connecting links be- 
tween the farms and the sources of farm labor supply. They 
place the United States Employment Service in direct touch 
with virtually every farmer in the United States." ; 

Efforts were also made to utilize the newspapers of the coun- 
try. On April 19, 1918, "letters were addressed to daily news- 
papers in cities of 20,000 or over, asking their aid by establish- 
ing newspaper farm labor agencies, each paper accepting the 
proposition to devote not less than four inches of space in each 
issue to the local needs of farmers for help. ... At the present 
time (June 30) 200 daily newspapers are serving with the Farm 
Service Division under this plan, with the result that in a great 
many instances local labor shortages have been materially 
relieved." 3 

The manufacturers of motion picture films, the National 
Grange and other agricultural organizations, the councils of 
defense, and farmers' telephone lines were all used to further 
promote the farm labor end of the work. Cooperation was 
also effected with the United States Department of Agriculture, 

1 United States Employment Service Bulletin No. 39, October 29, 1918. 

2 Ibid., February 18, 1918, p. i. 

8 Statement of Director General, Annual Report, 1918, p. 19. 


which rendered notable assistance through its farm labor 
specialists and county agricultural agents. 

The recruiting of labor was aided by two organizations 
created earlier in the war than the Employment Service; the 
United States Public Service Reserve and the Boys' Working 
Reserve. They were made an integral part of the Service when 
it was established. The Public Service Reserve was created 
to enroll workers with special types of skill who would be will- 
ing to leave their positions to accept war work if called. It 
was, in other words, a civil enlistment for war service. The 
Boys' Working Reserve was of the same type, but operated 
among boys, most of whom were in school. 

Both of these organizations had necessarily been doing place- 
ment work. When calls came to them for certain types of war 
workers, they looked over their records and assigned specific 
volunteers to the employer. The creation of the Employment 
service immediately produced a duplication of machinery, and 
these organizations were therefore absorbed to a large degree 
by the Employment Service and became recruiting branches 
of it. The employment office could reach the unemployed 
workers, while these recruiting organizations could make avail- 
able for war work employed workers engaged in non-essential 
industries. It was their function "to seek out workers in less 
essential occupations and through the employment offices to 
distribute them at the points where they were most vitally 
needed to bring about maximum production." 1 

"The enrollment agents of the Public Service Reserve aid 
in the recruiting of labor for the employment districts in which 
they operate. They act also as agents of the community labor 
boards in stimulating and supervising the moving of workers 
from less essential to more essential occupations; in moving 
male workers into war work from occupations that can be 
readily filled by women, and in making industrial and man- 
power surveys. The enrollment agents are also used by the 
Employment Service to register in advance men in specified 

1 Statement of Director General, Annual Report, 1918, p. 9. 


trades for which it is known from experience there will be demand 
in the war emergency." 1 

The difficulties encountered by the Service throughout the 
year 1918 can hardly be over-estimated. During the early 
months of the year, when the Service was straining every nerve 
to get an adequate complement of offices in operation, the 
labor situation was steadily growing worse. Employers were 
recklessly bidding against each other for men. Labor scouts 
infested every large manufacturing center. 

" We never know when the whistle blows at night how many men 
we will have in the morning," 

said the employment manager of a large steel concern to the 
writer one day in the spring of 1918. 

" When our men down go town in the evening labor scouts are lay- 
ing for them on every corner to steal them from us. And our scouts 
are stealing from the other fellow. If we didn't play the game we 
would have to shut down." 

These problems had to be met under conditions as difficult 
as could be imagined. It was a period in which much of the 
time and strength of the experienced men in the Service had to 
be devoted to the establishment of new offices, the selection 
and training of personnel, and the determination of the form of 
organization and policies of the Service. Several partial reor- 
ganizations had to be effected within the Service, contacts with 
employers, commercial associations, and labor unions had to be 
effected, the details of the Service routine had to be worked out, 
and the relative justice of the claims of various localities and 
industries for such labor as was available had to be determined. 
The community labor boards had not yet begun to function. 
The war crisis had passed before the Service had had time to 
thoroughly solve its initial organization problems. Our lack 
of labor market preparedness before the war made it impossible 
for us to develop an adequately equipped service quickly enough 
to meet the war-time labor emergency. 

1 Annual Report of the Director General, 1918, p. 9. 


It was impossible, under the circumstances, for the Service 
to accomplish all that was expected of it. And relatively few, 
if any, of the officers and friends of the Service fully realized 
the obstacles which they had to overcome. 

The Employment Service stated in May l that the railways 
in the west and the shipyards were going to use the Service 
exclusively. But they did not do it. On June 4 and 1 1 the Bulle- 
tin declared that the harbor workers would all be hired through 
the Service. But it was not until President Wilson announced 
on June 17 that on and after August i, 1918, all employers 
"engaged wholly or partly in war work, whose maximum force, 
including skilled and unskilled laborers, exceeds 100," were 
required to hire all of their common labor through the United 
States Employment Service, that employers began to seriously 
depend upon the Service and to discontinue competitive solicita- 
tion. 2 

The backwardness of employers in making use of the Service 
was due to a number of causes. Thousands hesitated about 
committing their interests to an employment service operated 
by the Department of Labor, which they considered "an ad- 
junct of the American Federation of Labor." Others lacked 
faith in the ability of the Service to find them the men they 
needed. They did not believe that the government could 
efficiently provide men for industry. Many of them looked 
upon all employment exchanges as places to which an employer 
should resort only in his last extremity and with no expectation 
of finding any good workman on the list. Others went into the 
local office of the Service and found it manned with inexperi- 
enced help who had little conception of what they were doing. 
Still others placed orders and lost confidence if the offices failed 
to "make good" on the first order. 

The Service soon found that one of its first tasks, once its or- 
ganization was established, was the winning of the employer's 
confidence. It had to "sell him" the idea of patronizing an 

1 United States Employment Service Bulletin, May 14, 1918, p. i. 

2 The proclamation and plan will be found in Monthly Labor Review, September, 
1918, pp. 285, 298. 



employment office, sell him the idea that it was cheaper and 
more efficient to have all employers hiring their labor through 
a centralized employment agency. 

The workers had their doubts, too. Employment offices 
had so long been associated in their minds with semi-charitable 
relief in times of unemployment, and with the gang of casuals 
who loaf around such offices, that many of them at first hesitated 
about going to them for work. As Dr. Edward T. Devine, 
of Columbia University, has put it they had long thought 
of employment offices as the place where a workman goes "after 
he has tried all other ways of getting a job and been unsuccess- 
ful." Many of them also feared that the offices might become 
a means of furnishing strike breakers. 

One of the most effective steps to overcome these prejudices 
was the establishment of advisory boards, similar to those which 
had proved so helpful in Wisconsin and Ohio. On July 9, 1918, 
the Service announced the policy of establishing state advisory 
boards, community labor boards and state organization com- 
mittees throughout the country to assist in the management 
of the Service. 

The State Advisory Boards consisted of two employers, 
two representatives of the workers, and the state director of 
employment, who was ex-officio chairman. The Public Service 
Reserve director was soon added to the board to help guide 
its labor recruiting policies. Their functions were important. 
They were responsible, to a certain extent, for the quality of 
the personnel in the state and local offices in their respective 
states. Though the Secretary of Labor retained control over 
all appointments and removals, their recommendations were 
obtained before he acted. It was their continuing function 
to act as a sort of board of directors to determine matters of 
general policy in the Service within the state. It was this 
board which apportioned the government's demands for labor 
for work outside the state among the several localities of the 
state. They determined what localities in the state should furnish 
labor for other localities and which localities had to be supplied. 
All questions of general policy came within their jurisdiction. 


The State Advisory Board was represented in each community 
where an office was established by a Community Labor Board. 
These consisted at first of a representative of the employers, 
a representative of the workers, and a representative of the 
Employment Service, but two women members were soon added, 
one representing the employers and the other the employees. 
These boards performed the same service for their localities 
that the State Advisory Board performed for the state. Appeals 
from their decisions went to the State Advisory Board, and 
from there to the Director General of the Service and the War 
Labor Policies Board. 

A thousand boards had been organized by September, 1918, 
and on October 29, there were 1386 in operation. The impor- 
tance of the Community Labor Boards in the management of 
the Employment Service is well stated in the Bulletin of Sep- 
tember 3. 1 

"The community labor boards of the United States Employment 
Service have a task and responsibility no less great than that of the 
draft boards under the Selective-Service Act. In some respects 
the work of the former is infinitely more difficult; for the draft 
boards have definite instructions to guide them and are backed by 
military and statutory authority, while the community labor boards 
have little but the general priority classifications of the War Industries 
Board and their knowledge of local conditions to steer them, and they 
cannot enforce their decisions. . . . The boards themselves must 
show tact and unquestioned fairness. Their work may meet with 
opposition in some instances, but this will be due in ninety-nine out 
of one hundred cases to misunderstanding by employers of the 
boards' functions or their unawakened realization of the labor situa- 
tion and the necessity for finding men for war work at any cost." 

The creation of the Community Labor Boards was the 
most promising step taken by the Service to bring both 
the employer and the employee to an understanding of the 
necessity for labor exchanges and their proper place in the 
nation's economic life. The Boards struck at the very roots 

1 United States Employment Service Bulletin, September 3, igi8, p. 6. 


of that prejudice against public employment offices which has 
been so serious an obstacle to their development. They dis- 
covered and in turn began to emphasize to the public the fact 
that employment work takes a high degree of skill. They were 
a barrier to the politician's desire to use the offices as "plums" 
for his least efficient hangers on. They compelled the employ- 
ment offices to assume that neutrality between capital and 
labor which is so essential to their success. 

Unfortunately, the Community Labor Boards did not get 
into operation until the Service had been operating eight or 
ten months, and only a couple of months before the armis- 
tice was signed. They had hardly started to function when 
the war ended. Their personnel had not yet fully comprehended 
their task when the labor situation began to change from labor 
shortage to labor surplus. In many communities they did a 
great deal during the winter months of 1918-19 to mitigate 
the unemployment due to the sudden termination of the war 
and helped thousands of soldiers to find their way back into 
civil life. 


The natural difficulties in the situation the existing chaos 
in the labor market, the acute shortage of skilled labor under 
which industry was laboring, the high labor turnover, the 
hesitancy of both employers and employees to use the Service 
were aggravated by weaknesses within the Service itself. 
These were of three main types: the inexperience of its per- 
sonnel ; the excessive number of chiefs, directors, and other 
administrative heads, and the overlapping or lack of coordina- 
tion of their functions ; and vacillation of policy. One who did 
business with the Service received an impression that the men 
in the Service were feverishly anxious to accomplish its task 
but that either they or their organization were inadequate to 

It is easy to see the shortcomings of the Service. It was 
easy during the war. But one must realize how nearly impos- 
sible was the task laid upon the shoulders of Mr. Densmore and 


his associates. 1 An inexperienced personnel was unavoidable, 
since there did not exist a sufficient body of experienced employ- 
ment men in the country to man the federal offices, and there 
was no time to train any. An excessive number of directors 
and specialists in the central offices was almost inevitable be- 
cause in the war emergency haste was the essential thing and 
it was quicker to hire another specialist for each task than to 
coordinate work. In the end they were tripping over each other. 
Vacillation of policy naturally accompanied the effort of an 
inexperienced chief to utilize the advice of all of the "experts," 
many of whom held inconsistent views. Haste was again the 
temptation which prevented Mr. Densmore from taking time 
to choose his way carefully and certainly. The comment of a 
publicist in July, 1918, was a just appraisal of the situation: 

"The task looks impossible. (But) ... by common consent, 
central labor recruiting has become an imperative national necessity 
. . . without it ... our national existence is threatened." 2 

But in spite of all of its difficulties and weaknesses the Em- 
ployment Service accomplished a remarkable result in labor 
placement. During the year 1918 it received orders for 8,799,798 
people; registered 3,212,581 applicants for work; referred 

1 The disciminating criticisms of Dr. E. T. Devine, in the April 5, 1919, number of 
The Survey are worthy of the reader's attention. He says in part: "It cannot be 
denied and no one seems disposed to deny that there has been inefficiency in 
many offices, and that there have been many employees whose ' separation ' from the 
Service will be no loss to it. There has been no strong, consistent directing policy, 
but too much shifting in organization and in division of responsibility between 
Washington and the states. The staff of experts and specialists at national head- 
quarters has undoubtedly been larger than necessary 'too many grand opera 
stars,' one observer expresses it. This has made the administration top-heavy, 
and accounts for some of the vacillation in policy, . . . there has been much un- 
certainty as to the location of final responsibility." "In this respect the situation 
has closely resembled thnt which prevailed too long in the Bureau of War Risk 
Insurance in the Treasury Department. The official head in each case was one of 
whom all have spoken well personally and who had the complete confidence of 
the cabinet member to whom he owed his appointment. In each case, however, 
an assistant secretary and numerous special experts exercised more or less authority 
or influence ; and in each case the result of such division of authority and such 
uncertainty proved to be adverse to good administration." 

* New Republic, July 27, 1918. 


approximately 3,985,390 to positions; and received reports 
from employers that 2,371,677 of them had been employed. In 
six months it moved 165,0x20 unskilled laborers to other states. 
It is estimated that the Service saved wage earners $8,000,000 
in fees. It is impossible to compute what the Service meant 
to employers in decreased turnover and increased production. 
Nearly 368,000 women obtained positions through the Service 
in ten months; 3000 motor mechanics and 6000 railway men 
were recruited for overseas service, and a large number of 
technicians for various government departments. Between 
July i and December 31, 1918, it placed 7500 handicapped 
men. After the armistice was signed it established 1850 bureaus 
for replacing soldiers and sailors in employment, and through 
its branches in army camps helped the soldier to go from the 
camp to employment. 

But these items do not represent the total benefits rendered. 
Two of the most valuable effects of the Service were the check- 
ing of reckless labor recruiting by employers and the restraint 
it imposed upon the private employment agencies. Equally 
important, if not more important, was its weekly collection of 
information upon conditions in the labor market throughout 
the country. For the first time in its history, the nation was 
able to obtain reliable information upon the current demand 
and supply of labor in all sections of the country. Employers 
were able to forecast the labor side of their production problem 
in a way that had never been possible before. Labor market 
data, comparable with stock and commodity market data, were 


It has been the purpose of this chapter to describe the United 
States Employment Service as operative during the war. The 
failure of Congress to appropriate $1,800,000 necessary to meet 
the expenses of the Service from March i to June 30, 1919, 
very nearly destroyed the Service during the spring of 1919. 
It is uncertain, at the time this book goes to press, whether 


or not funds will be appropriated by the next Congress for 
its continuation. 

The next chapter will describe the British and Canadian 
Employment Systems ; the succeeding chapter will present the 
writer's conception of a federal employment service, and the 
following chapter will discuss the relation of employers' employ- 
ment departments to a federal employment service. 



ENGLAND was the first nation to establish a national system 
of employment exchanges, and up to the present time England 
and Canada are the only nations which have established per- 
manent, nation-wide organizations. The United States Em- 
ployment Service was patterned to a certain extent upon the 
British system. But it differed in essential particulars, and 
not entirely to our benefit. It is worth while to give some 
attention to the essential features of the English plan. 1 

The law of 1909 which provided for the employment exchanges 
put their administration in the hands of the English Board of 
Trade, and they established the first group of offices, 61 in 
number, in February, 1910. The Board of Trade differs from 
any of our federal departments in having jurisdiction over 
matters both of a business and of a labor character. Roughly 
speaking, it combines the functions of our Department of Com- 
merce and our Department of Labor. It represents both the 
employer and the employee. It represents the public. 

The United States Department of Labor, on the other hand, 
is an organization which was created to safeguard and promote 
the welfare of the workers, and its secretary is a trade unionist. 
There is no reason to believe that the United States Employ- 
ment Service was operated with any bias in favor of either 
employee or employer. There is every reason to believe that 

1 The discussion which led to the establishment of the British system originated 
in the remarkable book of Mr. W. II. Beveridge, "Unemployment, A Problem of 
Industry." The writings of Sidney Webb and other English authors to whom 
reference is made in all bibliographies, and the reports of the Poor Law Commission, 
materially promoted the movement. It is worth noting that England based her 
plan upon a thorough and scientific study of the condition in her labor market, and 
then put her leading student of unemployment, Mr. Beveridge, in charge of the 
national system when it was established. 



every effort was made to maintain neutrality. But the Depart- 
ment of Labor unfortunately had to face a long-standing prej- 
udice, which it aggravated instead of appeased by its policy 
of featuring the words "Department of Labor" instead of the 
words, "United States Employment Service," on every office, 
on every bulletin, every post card, and circular which it issued. 
In every part of the country you will find employers demand- 
ing that the federal employment service be divorced from con- 
trol by the Department of Labor. 

The employment man'ager of a large American corporation 
reflects the employers' views in a latter addressed to the writer 
on November 12, 1918 : "Employment service must be impar- 
tial and serve two masters. It must protect the interests of 
the employer and it must render the utmost possible service 
to the worker. A careful balance must be maintained between 
the two, and the minute either phase is emphasized unduly, 
the whole machine is thrown out of balance and the value of 
the service automatically ceases. The Department of Labor 
is organized primarily to assist the workingman and to act in 
his behalf. There is therefore no place in it for a neutral agency. 
The United States Employment Service should be divorced 
absolutely from the Department of Labor and a Secretary of 
Employment should be appointed as a new cabinet officer. 
It would be just as reasonable to place the United States 
Employment Service under the Department of Commerce as 
representing the management of industry as it is to leave it in 
the Department of Labor, and I am very strongly in favor 
of establishing it as a separate agency in the position to which 
it is entitled." 

The only possible means of securing a form of organization 
which would bear the marks of neutrality on its face, as the 
English organization did, seems to be the creation of some form 
of independent commission, on which industries and agricul- 
ture, as well as labor, can be represented ; or a Central Employ- 
ment Council which would exercise the powers of a board of 
directors and leave the Service in but a nominal connection with 
the Department of Labor. 


Early in 1917, as a war measure, the British employment ex- 
changes were transferred from the jurisdiction of the Board of 
Trade to the Ministry of Labor. 1 No essential changes were 
made in the principles which guided their work or in the per- 
sonnel of the Service. The significant modification following 
this change consisted of the creation of advisory committees 
representing the employers and employes to help manage the 

" Without this cooperation and support of local employers and 
work people, the exchanges must largely fail to reach the level of 
usefulness of which they are capable," says a government pronounce- 
ment. 2 " In order to bring local employers and work people into 
close touch with the exchange and to give them an insight into its 
working and some share in its direction, local advisory committees 
have recently been set up in connection with the various exchanges." 

The creation of these advisory committees is declared by the 
Ministry of Labor to be " the most important development of the 
employment exchanges during the year 1917." 3 Two hundred 
and fifty such committees were established, some having juris- 
diction over more than one exchange. They are composed of 
equal numbers of employers and of employees and "a small 
number of additional members (not exceeding one third of the 
total membership) nominated by the Ministry of Labor as 
representing other interests." The functions include the con- 
sideration of any matters in connection with the working of the 
exchange and are not confined to matters referred to them by 
the department. 4 

The number of exchanges was gradually increased from 61 
in 1910 to 430 in 1912, and then reduced to 390 by 1916, when 
experience demonstrated that certain offices could be consoli- 
dated. 5 These offices had over a thousand sub-agencies in 

1 Board of Trade Labour Gazette, February, 1917, p. 48. 

3 Quoted, Monthly Labor Review, September, igi8. 3 Ibid., April, 1918. 

4 A similar plan was recommended in an official report for Austria-Hungary, 
Monthly Labor Review, March, 1916, pp. 89-90. 

6 A thorough report of the British offices from 1910 to 1916 by Bruno Lasker will 
be found in "The British System of Labour Exchanges," Bulletin 206, United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics. Facts taken by the writer from other sources are indi- 
cated by footnotes. Cf. also "Labour Exchanges in the United Kingdom," Hugh 


industrial suburbs, small towns, and rural districts, some of 
which are served by traveling officers who open them for but 
a day or two a week in each town. During the war 391 ex- 
changes, 173 local agents acting as exchanges in smaller centers, 
and 1081 part-time officers "appointed primarily for the ad- 
ministration of unemployment insurance in districts where the 
establishment of an exchange would not be justified." These 
exchanges registered 2,837,650 separate individuals during 1917 ; 
received applications from employers for 1,999,442, and filled 
1,555,223 positions with 1,375,198 individuals. 1 The Minis- 
try of Labour states that the exchanges proved "to be of the 
greatest value in connection with the organization of the labor 
supply during the war." 2 

In order to coordinate the work of the offices in the various 
sections of the country, the "exchanges are grouped in eight 
territorial divisions, varying in area with the industrial im- 
portance of the counties included in each," and each district 
has its central office or clearing house. These districts and 
their central offices would correspond to the states and state 
offices of the United States Employment Service; while the 
central clearing house in London, which coordinates the work 
of the eight districts, corresponds to the central office at 
Washington clearing between states. In order to effect the 
most complete cooperation between the local offices, "the ex- 
changes are connected by telephone, not only each with its 
divisional office, but also with each other, both within and 
without the division." 

During the war the country was further subdivided into forty- 
five "clearing areas," with from two to thirty-one offices in 
each clearing area, and with a clearing office in each area. 
Any local office which cannot fill a vacancy immediately notifies 
its clearance office to ascertain whether the vacancy can be 

McLaughlin, Appendix A, Report of Ontario Commission on Unemployment, 1916. 
This report is particularly valuable in its revelation of the detail of British exchange 
management, including their record forms. 

1 Monthly Labor Review, April, 1918. Their placements for the four yearc 
1914-17 are reported in Monthly Labor Review, January, 1919, p. 131. 

2 Quoted, Monthly Labor Review, September, 1918. 


filled by another office within the area. If not, and if the posi- 
tion is one for which a worker might reasonably be brought 
from a considerable distance, the "particulars are at once sent 
by the clearing exchange to the national clearing house at the 
head office in London" and there printed in an abbreviated 
form for circulation the next day to every exchange in the 
country. "Thus, any exchange which has a suitable applicant 
for the vacancy is placed in a position to submit him for engage- 
ment." About 21,000 vacancies a day are thus circulated. 1 

One of the difficult practical problems which confront us 
in working out our federal Employment Service for we must 
work one out is the determination of the number of offices 
to be established. It is important both from the point of view 
of expense and from that of employment exchange efficiency. 
An insufficient number of offices will cripple our industries ; an 
excessive number will result in a large waste of public funds 
at a time in our national life when taxes are already burdensome, 
and will also leave the persons in each office with too much idle 
time on their hands, a condition certain to result in a marked 
deterioration of their individual efficiency. 

During the war 876 offices were established within a few 
months. Congress's failure to appropriate funds for their 
continuance has closed several hundred of them. Local and 
private funds have kept the others in operation with a dimin- 
ished force. We must therefore rebuild our national system 
and reestablish a large proportion of our total equipment of 
offices. It is therefore pertinent now to consider on its merits 
the original question : How many offices do we need and what 
shall be the type or types of those offices ? 

It is perfectly clear that we will need a large number of ex- 
changes, perhaps as many or more than existed in 1918. New 
York City alone has over 600 private, fee-charging offices, 
without counting the public, philanthropic, trade union, and 
employers' offices ; San Francisco had 131 in 1902, and probably 
has more now. Thirty or forty public exchanges will be needed 
in New York. Many other labor centers, such as Chicago, 

1 Monthly Labor Review, September, igi8. 


St. Louis, Omaha, or Minneapolis, would require a number of 
offices, while many second- and third-class cities would need one 
office. The English policy of keeping the number of offices 
down to the smallest number that can handle the business is 
as good employment practice, however, as it is good economy. 
A live manager can get sufficient cooperation from many other 
organizations, such as establishment employment departments, 
the business agents of trade unions, county agricultural agents, 
country banks and mercantile establishments, rural mail 
carriers, and philanthropic organizations, to enable him to 
spread a network of contacts through the community. A 
single large, well-equipped office, with separate departments 
for skilled and unskilled workers, with possibly a separation 
of certain classes of labor like railroad workers, farm hands, or 
dock workers, clerical and office help, women, and juveniles, 
can do much better placement work and acquire a better knowl- 
edge of conditions in the local labor market, than a number of 
small offices in which one or two persons have to handle all 
classes of business. Such offices tend to degenerate into a 
condition in which they devote nearly all of their time to one 
class of workers the irregular, unreliable laborers who are 
continually patronizing employment offices because they never 
hold a job more than a few days or a week or two. 

An important economy can be attained in many agricultural 
or semi-agricultural states by establishing offices for a portion 
of the year in one section of the state to serve agriculture, and 
then moving the office to another section during the winter to 
serve lumbering or other winter employments. For instance, 
an office is needed in southwestern Minnesota from March i 
to October, to distribute labor for the farmers. Northern 
Minnesota, during these months, does not need an office. But 
in the fall, when the farmers of southwestern Minnesota are 
releasing instead of hiring men, an active demand for lumber- 
men develops around Bemidji and other northern towns. An 
office operating at Pipestone or Worthington during the summer 
could be moved to Bemidji, Park Rapids, or Detroit during the 
winter, thus providing two offices on a single salary item. 


The United States can afford, however, to support an adequate 
number of offices. Even the excessive expenditures inevitably 
incurred in the sudden creation of the United States Employ- 
ment Service during the war, do not equal what the workers of the 
nation lose each year in fees paid to private employment agents. 1 
And these fees constitute only a minor portion of what the 
nation loses by its disorganized labor market. Who can figure 
the employers' losses in excessive turnover or the nation's 
loss in deteriorating working efficiency, the embitterment of 
the workers, and the destruction of good citizenship ! 

A state like New York would require from fifty to a hundred 
offices to meet its needs; a middle west state like Wisconsin 
or Minnesota could handle its business with from ten to twenty ; 
while some of the more sparsely settled states could get along 
satisfactorily with two or three. Each office should obtain valu- 
able cooperation from many agencies outside of the Service, 
thus establishing throughout the country thousands of more 
or less active sub-agencies which would both promote the work 
and develop good will for the Service throughout the community. 

The British exchanges met the same opposition or indiffer- 
ence at the beginning that the United States Service has met. 
But they have lived it down, to a considerable degree, by serv- 
ice. "Employers at first applied to the exchanges only when 
in need of the lowest types of occasional help or when, owing 
to an unusual pressure in the demand, they had failed to fill, 
by their usual means of recruiting, vacancies for more qualified 

1 Charles B. Barnes, for a number of years superintendent of the public employ- 
ment offices of New York State, estimates that as a minimum the employment agen- 
cies in New York City alone collect $2,500,000 from the workers in fees for jobs 
(New York Tribune, February 6, 1919). At least one half as much is taken in 
Chicago, while the agencies in such cities as Minneapolis, St. Louis, Omaha, Boston, 
or San Francisco, reap a harvest which easily runs from one to several hundred 
thousand dollars a year. And many smaller cities, such as Duluth, or Bemidji, 
Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota, or Des Moines, Iowa, have a number of offices 
which do a thriving business. 

The Ohio Industrial Commission estimates, on the basis of the actual fees charged 
by private agencies in Ohio for the particular kinds of positions filled, that the 175,955 
placements made by the Ohio public offices in 1917 would have cost the workers 
$350,000 if there had been no public offices. United States Labor Review, 
September, 1918, pp. 303-304. 


and experienced workers. ... It has taken years to persuade 
employers that they must use the exchanges all the year round 
and for all classes of labor ... in order to test fairly their power 
to procure suitable men more quickly and at less expense and 
trouble than by any other method." "The greatest difficulty 
was experienced in persuading self-respecting and skilled artisans 
that the exchanges were at their service as much as that of un- 
skilled and casual laborers." They could not see the essen- 
tial difference between them and the "labor bureaus" which 
had existed under the Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905. 
These had been created by municipal "distress committees" 
at times of exceptional trade depression and had soon been 
swamped by the " unclassifiable type of unskilled, shiftless, 
often physically handicapped or old and intemperate or starv- 
ing, 'semi-employable' applicants for whom wages," as a rule, 
had to be part charity. But genuine service has removed 
much of the opposition. And service, not posters, is what 
must be depended upon for the same result in the United States. 
The purposes which Britain sought to achieve by her labor 
exchanges are identical with those inspiring such an organiza- 
tion in America; the increasing and improving of means of 
communication between employers seeking work people and 
work people seeking employment, the elimination of waste 
time when workers are changing jobs; the prompt filling of 
employers' needs for help ; the reduction of the moral and physi- 
cal degeneration which results from idleness; the abolition of 
"the wasteful system by which a large firm is apt to keep its 
own reserve of labor in the shape of half-employed work people 
waiting at its gates instead of drawing from a common reserve 
in which the variation in one branch can in some measure be 
compensated by the fluctuations in another" ; and " to contrib- 
ute to the knowledge of the labor market and (thus) ... to 
enable the National Government and the local authorities to 
shape their labor policy in accordance with theirs and, if neces- 
sary, to take steps in time to prevent by artificial means ab- 
normal unemployment and distress." "It was hoped further 
that . . . the labor exchanges would assist in the recognition 


with more precision of such general movements ... in differ- 
ent industries as would justify or necessitate alterations in the 
facilities for industrial training. Such records would further 
indicate the trades especially liable to frequent or seasonal 
cessations of work and therefore especially fit subjects for un- 
employment insurance, and the 'blind alley' employments 
which give occupation for a few years only and then throw 
those engaged in them on the labor market unequipped and 
sometimes unfitted for other work. 

"There was thus, from the beginning, a wide social policy 
behind the comparatively simple machinery created for one 
definite practical purpose." l 

They proved of vital importance in handling the personal 
problems involved in the large increase of employment of women 
and juveniles during the war. The mobilization of women 
for war work, and later the demobilization, had to be carried 
on through an experienced, reliable agency, and the govern- 
ment found one ready to its hand in the employment exchanges. 
Juvenile employment; involved the future as well as the present, 
and juvenile employment committees, by bringing the employ- 
ment offices and the schools into cooperation, have prevented 
many of the evils which might have accompanied the large 
increase in child labor during the war. 2 

The business principles which direct the work of the British 
exchanges, while not different from those that have been worked 
out in the best American public offices, are worth specific state- 

(i) The employment exchange is a market. It makes a 
rough selection for employers of workmen who answer the 
employer's description of the type of help he wants. It refers 
such workmen to the employer. It offers to the workman a 
position of the type which he wants for which he seems quali- 
fied. Neither the employer nor the workman is bound to 
accept the selection made by the office. The exchange " simply 

1 From "The British System of Labour Exchanges," Bruno Lasker, Bulletin 
206, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

* Monthly Labor Review, September, 1918; January, 1919. 


hands on information as received and leaves it to employers 
and work people to decide for themselves whether they can 
come to terms." 

(2) The best available man is in each case referred to the 
employer, not the one who registered first. Priority is recog- 
nized only by sending the first man registered who is fit. Often 
several persons are sent so that the employer can choose the 
one that suits him best. The greater the experience and sk'n 
of the manager of the exchange, the less frequently is it necessary 
for him to send more than one applicant to the employer. 

(3) If the local office has no man who fits the employer's 
need, he advertises the position on his bulletin board, or tele- 
phones his division office to see if they can get the needed worker 
from some other office. 

(4) Help is sent to establishments where a strike or lockout 
is in progress, but a full statement of the facts is given each 
workman so sent out. 

Mr. Hugh McLaughlin has given us a good analysis of the 
fundamental principles which underlie the British system. He 
says : 1 

"The Labour Exchange System in the United Kingdom is essen- 
tially a business organization. Employer and employee are brought 
together by the Labour Exchange, just as vendor and purchaser 
have, for centuries, been brought together in markets of various kinds. 
Not only is each community organized in one labour market, but all 
these small labour markets are so correlated, that there is, in reality, 
but one labour market in the United Kingdom. 

"In connection with the work of the Labour Exchanges, there are 
several outstanding principles : 

"First The system is industrial: Everything possible has been 
done to free the Labour Exchange from any form of association with 
charity and the relief of distress. The only thing to be obtained 
through the Labour Exchanges is ordinary employment, and there is 
no inducement for those to come who only want poor relief. 

"Second The system is voluntary: No compulsion is or can be 
exercised either on employer or workman. 

1 Report of Ontario Commission on Unemployment, 1916, pp. 263-264. 


"Third The system is free: No charges of any kind are levied 
either on employer or workman. 

"Fourth The system is impartial: The Labour Exchanges assume 
a neutral position in all conflicts between employer and workman, 
either strikes or lock-outs. In all trade disputes, employers and 
workmen may make a signed statement of the fact which the Labour 
Exchange Officials must show to applicants for work, before sending 
them to fill the places of the men involved in the dispute. . . . 

"No responsibility is taken by Labour Exchange officials as to 
wages and conditions of employment beyond supplying employer or 
applicant with any information in their possession. Copies or sum- 
maries of any agreements mutually arranged between associations 
of employers and workmen or any rules made by public authorities 
for the regulation of wages or other conditions of labour in any trade 
may with the consent of all parties be filed at a Labour Exchange 
and shall be open to public inspection. Refusal to accept employ- 
ment on account of trade dispute, wages or conditions does not 
disqualify or prejudice the applicant. 

"And Fifth The system is unrestricted: All kinds of employ- 
ment, skilled, unskilled or clerical, are dealt with by the Labour Ex- 
changes, with the two exceptions of applicants for indoor domestic 
service and the mercantile marine. There are examples of positions 
having been obtained for unemployed curates." 


Canada, like the United States, realizes the need for a na- 
tional system of employment exchanges and has determined 
upon a plan which closely resembles the federal subsidy plan 
which has been proposed for the United States, and which may 
eventually be established here. 1 The Canadian government 2 
appropriated $50,000 for the fiscal year 1918-19; $100,000 
for 1919-20; and $150,000 for 1920-21 and each year 
thereafter, to be used by the Dominion government to operate 
a central office and clearing house and to subsidize such pro- 
visional employment office systems as conformed to the Domin- 

1 Legislation of a similar character was proposed for Austria. Cf. Monthly Labor 
Review, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, March, 1916. 

2 Cf. The Monthly Labor Renew, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
October, 1918, and February, igig, for detailed presentation of the Canadian plan. 


ion rules, which require that they handle all classes of employ- 
ment business and make such reports as the Dominion govern- 
ment may require. 

Each province must establish its own system of employment 
offices, which must conform to an agreement entered into by them 
with the Dominion Minister of Labor, and which must include 
a provincial clearing house, to cooperate with the clearing houses 
of the other provinces and of the Dominion in shifting labor 
from one province to another. 

The Canadian plan also includes national, provincial, and 
local advisory councils as an essential element of the organiza- 
tion. The central "Employment Service Council" includes in 
its membership a representative from each province, two repre- 
sentatives of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, two of 
the Canadian Trades and Labor Congress, one each from the 
Railway War Board, the Railway Brotherhoods, the returned 
soldiers, and the Soldiers' Civil Reestablishment Department, 
two from the Canadian Council of Agriculture, and three from 
the Department of Labor, two or whom must be women. 

The provincial advisory councils must include an equal 
number of representatives of the employers and the employees, 
and are appointed by the lieutenant governor in council ; while 
the local advisory boards must have the same equal representa- 
tion of the employers and the workers. 

The law conforms very closely to our federal system of 
vocational education and to the subsidy plan as outlined for 
the Association for Labor Legislation by Professor Seager. 1 

i See Chapter XI. 


THE present chapter is a brief description of the author's 
conception of the sort of federal employment service needed by 
the United States. It is submitted with a full realization that 
no plan can be advanced which will not have to be modified as 
experience reveals its shortcomings. The first step is to install 
some plan which seems adequate. We can then develop and 
modify it over a period of years into the type of organization 
which best meets the problems encountered. It is folly to 
make no effort, and would be equal folly to finally commit 
ourselves to any form of organization, policies, or personnel 
at the outset. 

The plan submitted embodies ideas which have been advanced 
by a number of American experts on employment and by Eng- 
lish writers, as well as those features of English and American 
employment organization and policy which have been proved 
satisfactory by experience. It is a composite of what seems to 
be the best thought on the subject. We will make no attempt 
to credit to individuals the origination of the various features 
of the plan, but simply pool our own ideas with those of other 
students of employment in an effort to suggest a practical 

Chapters VI to X have made it clear to the reader that an 
employment service must be organized on a national basis, 
that it must be provided with some sort of clearing houses, that 
it must have special departments to handle different types of 
workers, that it must have advisory committees to keep it in 
touch with the employers and the employees, and that it must 
be operated with constructive, social policies and purposes in 


mind. We accept these principles as a basis for our plan and 
build the detail of the organization around them. 

Two plans of federal employment organization were vigorously 
advocated in the United States, previous to the organization 
of the United States Employment Service, both of which differed 
from the service actually organized. The first plan called for the 
organization of a Federal Employment Service in the Depart- 
ment of Labor; the "coordination of the state and municipal 
public employment bureaus with the federal service, by means 
of the payment of federal subsidies to all bureaus which should 
conform to rules and regulations laid down by the federal 
director," and the "organization, as part of the federal serv- 
ice, of clearing houses to draw the bureaus of neighboring 
states together in efficient cooperation, and through a central 
clearing house in Washington to develop a truly national 
system." l 

The essence of this plan is federal-state-municipal coopera- 
tion, held together by federal subsidies. Theoretically, the 
United States Employment Service might be said to have been 
organized on some such principle. But practically, it was not. 
It absorbed the existing state and municipal offices. It estab- 
lished a situation where states and municipalities subsidized 
federal offices, rather than the reverse. Distinct irritation was 
created in many localities by the insistence of the federal serv- 
ice that its signs should dominate on the windows of state 
offices, in spite of the fact that a large percentage of the funds 
came out of local treasuries. 

1 (a) "Coordination of Federal, State, and Municipal Employment Bureaus." 
H. R. Seager, American Economic Review, Vol. VIII, No. i, Supplement, March, 
1918. This article explains this plan in detail, (b) "A National System of Em- 
ployment Offices," Wm. B. Wilson, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
Bulletin 220, p. 23 ; Department of Labor Conference on Employment, San 
Francisco, August 2--6, 1915, Labor Review, October, 1915. This is a discussion of 
the federal subsidy plan, with the address in full of Secretary of Labor Wm. B. 
Wilson, advocating it. "Federal-State-Municipal Employment Service in New 
Jersey," Joseph Spitz, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 220, p. 30; 
"A Federal Labor Reserve Board," Wm. M. Leiserson, United States Bureau of 
Labor Statistics, Bulletin 220, p. 33; "Cooperation among Federal, State, and 
City Employment Bureaus," Hilda Mlihlhauser, United States Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, Bulletin 220, p. 17. 


The other plan referred to repudiates the federal subsidy 
plan, and calls for a purely federal service. It may be described 
in the words of George E. Barnett : l 

"It is inevitable that the federal government must take a hand if 
we are to have a national system of employment offices. But is the 
function of mere coordination assigned to the federal government the 
proper limit of its part in a national system? My own conviction 
is that the system should not be merely coordinated by the federal 
government, but that the entire system should be centralized and 
entrusted to the federal government. I shall present briefly the 
advantages which a centralized federal system, in my opinion, would 
have over the dual system described by Professor Seager. 

"i. The first great advantage of a centralized system would be 
the enormous saving of expense. Under the dual system, a whole 
set of officials must be maintained whose only duty would be to 
bring about the coordination of the parts of the system. If the federal 
government had'exclusive control, this coordination would be achieved 
with only a fraction of the effort, since the local officials would be 
directly under the control of a single executive head. 

"2. The second advantage lies in the superior personnel of a 
purely federal service. In the first place, the service would be more 
attractive and a better class of officers could be secured. Secondly, 
the danger of purely political appointment is very much greater in the 
state managed systems than it would be in a federal system. . . . 
Professor Seager expresses his anxiety that the federal appointments 
may be made spoils for the spoilsman. ... It will be comparatively 
easy to put the clearing houses under civil service rules, but if the 
offices with which the laborers come into actual contact are manned 
by political incompetents, the system will be rotten at the bottom. 

"3. A centralized federal system would be run on uniform rules 
which would represent the national view of the attitude which 
employment offices should take in the struggle between capital and 
labor. It is possible, of course, for the federal government to lay 
down certain rules as to the conduct of the subsidized state employ- 
ment offices, but the spirit in which those rules will be carried out 
cannot be guaranteed. The various states differ widely in the char- 
acter of public opinion on the labor question. Can any one doubt 

1 "Employment and the War," discussion, American Economic Review, Supple- 
ment, Vol. VIII, No. i, March, 1918. 


that these differences will show themselves in the manner in which 
state officials conduct employment offices? . . . 

"4. There is no question that the workmen in most if not all of 
the states would give their confidence more quickly to a centralized 
system on account of the greater prestige of the national government. 
. . . The ultimate aim should be a centralized national system." 

The arguments presented by Mr. Barnett for a straight 
federal service are weighty. But they overlook an important 
practical consideration. The employment problem is and should 
be in the first instance a local problem. The first objective of an 
employment office must be the placement of local men in local 
establishments, and the shifting of those of the community 
who become idle into other local establishments. The stabili- 
zation of employment is the first duty of such a service. 1 It 
should seek to help employers hold their men and help workers 
hold their jobs. It should seek to keep as large a portion of 
the workers at home with their families as possible. It should 
discourage employers from going out of town for labor unless 
it is absolutely necessary. No employment system can win the 
confidence of employers nor attract to itself the best class of 
workers unless it follows this principle. Federal employees, 
especially when sent into the community from other cities, 
frequently lack a sense of responsibility to the local community, 
as well as that intimate knowledge of local conditions which is 
so necessary when determining whether or not an order for 
labor for some other locality should be filled or whether all 
workmen of the type requested can secure employment locally. 
State and municipal officials, on the other hand, in many cases 
take a provincial attitude and do not exert themselves to supply 
legitimate demands for labor for other states. The ideal 
system would seem to be one in which the control and direction 
of the service rests in the federal government, and federal funds 
bear much of the expense ; but in which, through a substantial 
contribution to the cost of the service, and participation in the 

1 Cf. "A Clearing House for Labor," D. D. Lescohier, Atlantic Monthly, June, 
1918; "The Employment Service as a Means of Public Education," D. D. Lesco- 
hier, Industrial Management, April, 1919. 


management of the service, the local viewpoint is emphasized 
and given proper weight. 

Proceeding from this point of view we will now sketch what 
seems a practical scheme for a federal-state centralized employ- 
ment service. 


The fundamental question to be determined, upon which the 
whole plan must rest, is the relative responsibility of the 
federal, state, and municipal governments in the support of the 
employment system and the relative degree of control and re- 
sponsibility which each should exercise in its management. We 
have seen that in England the central government maintains 
the employment system; in Canada and the United States 
both the central government and the local governments have 
contributed to its support; in Germany and other countries 
the maintenance has rested principally on the municipalities. 
Our decision on the point should be governed by two consid- 
erations : first, to what extent is the work of the employment 
service inter-state, intra-state, or municipal in scope? and 
second, What plan promises to give us at an early date a serv- 
ice adequate for the nation's needs? 

The federal government should certainly carry that part of 
the expense of operation which is chargeable to the movement 
of labor from one state to another ; the state government may 
fairly be held responsible for the movement of labor from one 
part of a state to another part ; while the municipality should 
bear much of the expense for local labor placements. To illus- 
trate. Upon examination of the records of one state's employ- 
ment office during 1917, we found that about 40 per cent of the 
placements made by the principal public exchange in that state 
were within the city limits of the municipality in which the 
exchange was located; that another 40 per cent of the place- 
ments were within the state ; and that 20 per cent of the work- 
ers were sent to other states. Upon examination, previous 
to the war, of the records of the public exchanges in one of the 
largest cities of the country, we found that the state exchanges 


located in that city did 95 per cent of their business within the 
city itself. During the war, as we have shown, several hundred 
thousand workers were moved from one state to another by 
the Federal Employment Service. It is very evident, therefore, 
that there are distinct municipal, state, and federal benefits 
and responsibilities which might properly be supported by the 
three governmental divisions. 1 It must not be forgotten, on 
the other hand, that the products of the local industries are in 
large part for inter-state and international trade, and there is 
a federal interest even in local placements. The farmer in 
North Dakota has an interest in the operation of the shoe fac- 
tories of Massachusetts, the cotton factories of New York City, 
and the locomotive works in Philadelphia. The merchant in 
New York City is affected by the activity or dullness of the iron 
mines of Minnesota, the furniture factories of Michigan, and 
the meat packing industry at Chicago. A mathematical 
computation of the proportion of inter-state, intra-state, and 
local placements does not fully cover the question involved. 
The gathering and diffusion of information with respect to condi- 
tions in the labor market is distinctly a federal function. The 
federal government may properly be charged with the expenses 
of collecting data daily in each industrial district showing the 
relative supply and demand for labor in each locality. This 
information would, of course, be available in each state for 
the guidance of the state system as well as for national guidance. 
There is no uniformity in the several states in the proportion 
of inter-state, intra-state, and local business done in the ex- 
changes. Radical differences obtain. In some states more 
than one half of the placements are of an inter-state character ; 
in other states, not 25 per cent. No general apportioning of 
the expense between the various governments on the basis of 
placements could conform to the actual facts in all the states. 
Some arbitrary plan must be adopted which will assess against 
the federal government a definite proportion of the total expense 

1 Cf. "Responsibility and Opportunity of the City in the Prevention of Un- 
employment," Morris L. Cooke, American Labor Legislation Review, 1915, p. 433; 
"Relation of the State to Unemployment," J. P. Jackson, ibid., p. 437. 


and the remainder upon the state, and leave each state free to 
make such arrangements with its municipalities as it deems 

A conference of representatives from the various states 
which met at Washington in April, 1919, to discuss plans for 
a permanent federal-state employment service, reached the 
conclusion that the federal government should (i) establish 
and maintain a system of public employment offices "in states 
where there is no state employment service," (2) in states where 
there is a state employment service which the states will oper- 
ate " in accordance with uniform rules and regulations and with 
the standards of efficiency prescribed by the Director General 
with the approval of the Secretary of Labor." The federal 
government shall pay to the treasurer of such state "for the 
benefit of the state employment system an amount not ex- 
ceeding the allotment for the state and equal to the amount 
which is appropriated by the state and its local subdivisions 
for the purpose," but not less "than twenty-five per cent of the 
allotment, 1 on the basis of population made to such state, nor 
less than the amount expended by such state for public employ- 
ment offices in the year 1918." 

In states where there is a state system of public employment 
offices, but which refuses or is unable to operate in accordance 
with the uniform rules, regulations, and standards of efficiency 
prescribed by the federal service, the Secretary of Labor is 
empowered to make arrangements with the governor of the 
state for cooperation between the state service and the federal 
offices established in the state. 

This plan, it will be observed, is the federal subsidy plan 
described at the beginning of this chapter, and widely advo- 

1 The "allotment" referred to is explained in another section of the memorandum. 
The Secretary of Labor is empowered to divide the appropriation provided by 
Congress for the support of the service into three portions ; ( i) A sum for the support 
of the central office at Washington, the clearing houses, and an inspection service ; 
(2) a sum to be allotted to the several states on the basis of their respective popu- 
lation, and (3) a balance "to be expended in the discretion of the Secretary of Labor 
as shall be required where necessary to supplement the service maintained in the 
several states." 


cated in this country before the war. It does not affect as com- 
plete centralization as does either the British or the Canadian 
plan. Its chief virtues are found in its attempted consolidation 
of the federal, state, and local offices into a uniform system, its 
stimulus to efficient operation, and its clearing houses. As we 
shall point out later in the chapter, it is deficient in leaving too 
much control in the hands of the Secretary of Labor, and giving 
the employers and the wage earners too little participation in 
the actual direction of the service. 

It is clear that the federal, state, and local governmental 
units ought to cooperate in providing the funds for the national 
employment service. It is equally clear that the relative pro- 
portions of inter-state and intra-state placements cannot be 
used as the basis for apportioning the expense between the 
federal and state governments, but that each must pay the 
expense of certain aspects of the service, rather than according 
to the benefit that its geographical unit receives. The federal 
government must bear enough of the total expense to maintain 
the central organization at Washington, clearing houses, and 
the labor market information service; provide franked envel- 
opes; bear the cost of inspection of offices to maintain their 
efficiency ; and carry the salaries of one or more federal employ- 
ment officials in each state. It should print a bulletin similar 
to the United States Employment Service Bulletin and provide 
all record cards and report forms. It should also contribute 
a considerable fraction of the cost of operation of the exchanges 
in each state. The state governments should bear a large part 
of the expense of the central office in the state. The balance 
of the cost should be borne by the federal government. Unless 
the central government provides the funds and sets the stand- 
ards for the state central offices, few states will provide an 
adequate central office. The state government should bear 
part of the expense of maintenance of each local employment 
exchange in the state. The municipalities should at least 
provide the space for the local exchange, janitor service, and 
heat, light, and water. It is not necessary to work out in minute 
detail the exact portion of each type of service expense, such 


as telephone, telegraph, clerical help, stationery, and so forth, 
which should be charged to each governmental unit. These 
are practical problems to be worked out by those in charge of 
the service. The essential thing is the fundamental principle 
that it is proper to charge to the municipality, the state, and the 
the federal governments part of the cost of the service, and that 
the federal government's contribution shall be made in a man- 
ner which will enable it to compel the local exchanges to main- 
tain definite standards of efficiency. 

The joint contributions will affect efficiency in another 
way. If each of these three units is paying part of the bills, 
each of them will be watching the work of the offices from its 
own particular point of view and insisting on results for its 
money. Efficiency will be kept at a higher level by the three- 
fold responsibility. Many a federal official, two thousand 
miles away from his central office, gradually slips into a per- 
functory performance of his duties which will be avoided when 
that official realizes that he is responsible to the community in 
which he resides for certain definite results as much as he is 
responsible to Washington. The official supported by the state 
or local government, on the other hand, will be stimulated 
to extend service over a wider geographical area and with more 
zeal when he knows that he is responsible to the federal govern- 
ment as well as to the local government which pays his salary. 

The question of actual administrative control is a delicate 
one under the plan of joint financing. No person and no or- 
ganization wants to contribute funds to carry on a service unless 
there is some means of exercising a certain control over the ex- 
penditure of the funds. On the other hand, some one must 
determine the policy of the employment service and must see 
that it is carried out. Part of the officials in an office cannot be 
responsible to one authority and another part to another author- 
ity without disorganization of the work. During the war the 
writer was in charge of a state employment organization. The 
United States Department of Agriculture offered its cooperation 
and the services of a farm labor specialist. It was necessary, 
in order to fit the farm labor specialist into the state organiza- 


tion, to insist that the farm labor specialist should work under 
the orders of the office manager just as if he had been paid 
out of the state funds, reserving to the Department of Agri- 
culture the right to send its representatives to the office from 
time to time and confer with their agent upon his work, but not 
allowing the Department of Agriculture to give orders with 
respect to the detail of the work except through the office man- 
ager. If the Department was dissatisfied with the work which 
their representative was able to do in the exchange, they could 
notify the state superintendent of that dissatisfaction and 
straighten the matter out with him or withdraw their repre- 
sentative ; but they could not give orders which might inter- 
fere with the general policies of the office in which their repre- 
sentative was working. It is clear that the federal government 
must exercise supervision and control of the general policies 
of the Service and furnish the central direction. But it cannot 
dominate within the states as it did during the war. Local 
interests and problems must be given due consideration. 

The best manner of achieving a proper balance between the 
national and the state considerations in the direction of the 
exchanges seems to be through an Advisory Board, attached to 
the central office in each state. This board, which should include 
a strong representation of persons not part of the personnel of the 
Service, would advise and largely guide the state superintendent 
or director and should have the right of direct communication 
with and appeal to the director general and to the Federal 
Employment Council, which we suggest be attached to the di- 
rector general's office. Each local exchange must likewise 
have its community board to help direct the work within the 
community. This board would present the community's 
viewpoints to the state board, when necessary. 

Another important question of control arises in the matter 
of the state superintendent or director. Shall he be a federal 
officer or a state officer? It is a vital question. The war-time 
service placed a federal-state director in each state, and insisted 
that the state and municipal employment officials work under 
his orders. They sought uniformity of practice through federal 


management of the Service. The federal subsidy plan which 
we have just been discussing proposes an opposite principle. 
It leaves the Service in each state within the control of the state, 
and assumes that a director chosen by the state will be in charge 
of the Service in the state, though that Service is jointly supported 
by federal and state funds. In other words, the war plan gave 
the federal government a measure of control over the expendi- 
ture of state funds; the proposed plan gives the state the re- 
sponsibility of expending federal funds. 

It is evident that one plan or the other must be adopted, 
and that the decision must be, to a certain extent, an arbitrary 
one. It is impossible to demonstrate by any citation of facts 
or arguments, that either plan is the correct one and the other 
the wrong one. On the whole, under American conditions, 
the reasons which favor state rather than federal officers as 
state directors seems stronger. It was evident during the war 
that many states and municipalities were tempted to fold their 
hands and let the federal government take up the employment 
burden. Federal management of a cooperative service will 
tempt many states to let the state funds lapse. It will at 
least cause some to neglect their responsibility in the direction 
of the work, and cause the service to lose some of its local con- 
tact and vitality. On the other hand, state expenditure of 
federal funds under a cooperative plan which permits the fed- 
eral government to set the standards of efficiency and withdraw 
its aid as soon as the state fails to maintain the standards, 
has been distinctly successful. The typical American likes 
local responsibility. He believes in keeping the management 
of public enterprises close to the people directly affected. The 
federal government has been able to promote agricultural de- 
velopment, vocational education, and highway construction 
by subsidies conditioned on the federal right of supervision and 
inspection. 1 We have already seen that Canada has adopted 

1 Agricultural Development: 

The United States Department of Agriculture, operating under the Smith-Lever 
law, contributes about one-third of the cost of maintaining county agricultural 
agents, the state and the county contributing the balance. The details of the 


the federal subsidy plan in her new employment service. The 
cooperative plan, with direct state responsibility and consider- 
able state independence in management, is the plan which has 
consistently obtained favor among the majority of those Amer- 
icans who have been interested in an organized labor market. 

The federal director at Washington, the several state direc- 
tors, and the managers of the local exchanges, should each have 
a council of advisers who would take an active part in the direction 
of the work. In other words, they should be more analogous 
to a corporation's board of directors than to a committee of 
advisers lacking power or influence to make their advice effective. 

The writer believes that the creation of a National Employ- 
ment Service Council, largely composed of persons from private 
life, with very definite powers and functions, is necessary if 
public confidence is to be won for the Service. 

We suggest that this Council include representatives of the 
Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and Commerce ; of the 
manufacturers, railways, and mining interests ; of the American 
Federation of Labor; of the railway brotherhoods and the 
mine workers' unions, and from three to five persons appointed 
by the President to represent the public and unorganized labor. 
At least two members of the Council should be women. This 
central Employment Council, it will be noted, is somewhat 
similar to the Employment Service Council of Canada. If 

system can be obtained by writing to the State Relations Service, United States 
Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. 
Vocational Education : 

1 Cf. Trade and Industrial Education, Bulletin, Federal Board for Vocational 
Education, October, 1918; Thu Educational Aspect of the National Labor 
Policy, C. A. Prosser, Bulletin No. 247, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
pp. 172-177; Laws of Wisconsin Relating to Vocational Education, Bulletin No. i, 
Wisconsin State Board of Vocational Education ; Report of Committee on Industrial 
Education, Proceedings Twenty-second Annual Convention, National Association of 
Manufacturers, May 14-16, igi?, p. 70. 
Highway Construction : 

The federal and state legislation under which cooperative highway construction 
is carried on are fully described in the Fourth Biennial Report, Wisconsin High- 
way Commission, 1918, p. 16. The federal, state, and county governments each 
contribute about one third of the expense, the state directs the work, and the 
federal government sets standards through its Bureau of Public Roads. 


such a council was provided and definite authority given to 
it, employers would not be hostile to the Employment Service 
merely because it was a division of the Department of Labor, 
as they have been in the past. It would give them real, rather 
than nominal, participation in the management of the Service. 

This council should meet regularly, should have a permanent 
secretary, and should be the agency through which complaints 
and suggestions for the improvement of the Service would be 
given consideration and attention. It should have power to 
suggest changes in the personnel of the executive staff or in the 
policies of the Service ; should be consulted in the selection of 
the director general ; should cooperate with the director general 
in preparing the budget of the Service and the distribution of 
its funds to the different parts of the work ; it should have the 
power to make recommendations to Congress for the develop- 
ment or improvement of the Service. It would be the advisory 
body to which the director general would turn for assistance in 
working out difficult executive problems. 

A sidelight on the importance of an adequate representation 
of the employers, the wage earners, and the farmers, on a national 
board with real power, is furnished by the nation's experience 
with the federal vocational education law. A committee 
reporting at the 1917 meeting of the National Manufacturers' 
Association said : 

"While money is an important consideration the character of the 
controUing authority is more important. Congress has decided, 
with the approval of the President, that vocational education should 
be directed cooperatively by those who represent the vocations to be 
taught ; who from life-long experience know what industry is, what 
are its opportunities and its deepest aspirations. Thus is the prin- 
ciple of representative government extended into the field of educa- 
tional administration. Thus is it recognized that the hope of voca- 
tion lies in the marshaling of every interest in its development. Those 
who own the places of employment, those who work in them, and 
those who teach, must unite upon terms of equality and each con- 
tribute freely according to its experience and opportunity. Here 
is the statute : 


" ' Sec. 6. That a Federal Board of Vocational Education is hereby 
created, to consist of the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of 
Commerce, the Secretary of Labor, the United States Commissioner 
of Education, and three citizens of the United States to be appointed 
by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. 
One of said three citizens shall be a representative of the manu- 
facturing and commercial interests, one a representative of the agri- 
cultural interests, and one a representative of labor. The board 
shall elect annually one of its members as chairman. 

'"The Commissioner of Education may make such recommen- 
dations to the board from time to time as he deems advisable. 

'"It shall be the duty of the chairman of the board to carry out the 
rules, regulations, and decisions which the board may adopt. The 
Federal Board for Vocational Education shall have power to employ 
such assistants as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this 
Act.' (Salary of appointed members, $5000.) 

"Never before has there been such unanimity of judgment among 
the great social-economic forces of the nation upon a matter of this 
kind. The principle of cooperative representative direction was 
earnestly supported as of essential consequence by : 

"The Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, with 
its 870 constituent organizations covering every state and including 
some 450,000 firms and corporations in its membership ; The Amer- 
ican Federation of Labor ; The National Association of Manufactur- 
ers; The Division of Superintendents, National Education Asso- 
ciation, at their Detroit meeting last year; The National Society for 
the Promotion of Industrial Education ; The American Home 
Economics Association ; and many others. 

"That organizations of such different interests, and especially that 
the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Fed- 
eration of Labor arrived at a common judgment in this matter, was 
much commented upon in both Houses of Congress and makes the 
Federation's report of interest." l 

The executive direction of the Service should be, as now, in 
the hands of a director general and an assistant director general. 
The director general should be named by the President ; or 
else by the Secretary of Labor from a list of persons approved 

1 Report of Committee on Industrial Education, National Association of Manu- 
facturers' Convention, 1917, p. 71. 


by the national Council. Within the Service itself the director 
general could organize a staff council to include the heads of 
the different divisions of the Service, which would meet fre- 
quently and work out administrative problems and effect 
coordination of the work of the different divisions. This lack 
of coordination was one of the vital defects of the war-time 
Service. The experience of large corporations has demonstrated 
that this can best be overcome by a staff council. 

The Service would necessarily carry on its work through a 
number of national divisions, with their chiefs. The five divi- 
sions which obtain in the United States Employment Service 
at the present time may be the satisfactory solution of the 
internal organization of the central office. The present divisions 
are : Control, Field, Organization, Personnel, and Information. 
This is a problem which belongs to the central employment 
service council for its final solution. 

Each state director, whether a federal or a state official, 
needs a state advisory board to help him select his staff and 
help him determine his policies. This board would also present 
to the Federal Council or to the director general, as the case 
might be, local views upon policies which had been announced 
or were under consideration at Washington. The state board 
would determine the localities in which exchanges should be 
established, and the policies which would be followed in the 
establishment and general management of the local exchanges. 

These state advisory boards should, in our judgment, have 
a more comprehensive representation than those which existed 
during the war emergency. The employers and employees, 
the state department of labor, the educational system, the 
women of the state, and possibly other groups should be repre- 

Each employment exchange, should, in turn,. have its com- 
munity labor boards on which the same interests might be repre- 
sented. I do not believe that it is good policy to make a list 
of interests to be represented on these several boards which 
would be exclusive. One state might find it desirable to include 
representatives of certain interests on its boards which would 


be of negligible importance in another state. There should 
be a minimum list with the right reposing in each board to add 
to its number a few additional persons whose service it considers 
of importance. 

An efficient system of clearing houses is of first importance. 
If it is not possible to secure work for an applicant in the dis- 
trict in which he applies for work, it is necessary for the exchange 
manager to be able to get in touch with opportunities in other 
localities. This can only be accomplished by a system of clear- 
ing houses which can transfer unfilled orders and applications 
from one office to another. Both in England and America 
clearance methods are still in a formative and experimental 
state, and it will take some years to develop them to their maxi- 
mum effectiveness. 

Our war-time experience apparently demonstrated that the 
most effective plan for the United States is to have a clearing 
house in each state, and a national clearing house at Washing- 
ton, without any intervening district clearing houses. Large 
cities like New York and Chicago need municipal clearing 
houses to transfer orders from one office to another within the 
city or county. But in a majority of the states only state 
clearance is needed. The functions and operations of employ- 
ment clearing houses can be best described by description of 
typical clearing houses operated in the United States Employ- 
ment Service. 

A city, divided into a number of districts with an employment 
exchange in each district, required each exchange to register its 
unfilled orders and applications at the clearing house when they 
had been on its files for one hour. This prompt clearance is 
necessary because, as Boyd Fisher once remarked, "When an 
employer wants a man, he wants him yesterday," while idle 
workmen want the quickest possible placement. The clearing 
house immediately checked the order for men with its listed 
applications for work, and if it found that office A i, for instance, 
had notified the clearing house that it had men seeking the kind 
of work offered, it immediately notified A i to get in touch with 
the office which had just registered its unfilled order. If the 


clearing house found that no applications had been listed with 
it from workmen of the type sought, it notified those local ex- 
changes which it had learned by experience were most liable 
to obtain such men so that they could get in touch with the 
office holding the order as soon as they found the men. 

The clearing house in this city classified the industries in 
eleven divisions, and had one clerk assigned to each. All calls 
came in at a central switchboard, with eleven extensions running 
to the eleven divisions, and were switched to the proper division. 
One division, to illustrate, had charge of Building and Construc- 
tion and Building Maintenance. The clerk in this division 
received calls for or from bricklayers, cable testers, carpenters, 
electricians, masons, lathers, painters, paper hangers, pipe and 
steam fitters, plumbers, riggers, roofers, structural iron workers, 
wiremen, and building laborers. These were all included under 
Building and Construction. He also received orders and appli- 
cations for elevator operators, engineers, firemen, janitors, oilers, 
porters, repairmen, switchboard operators, watchmen, and 
window cleaners. These came under Building Maintenance. 

Each night each local office notified the clearing house of 
all unfilled orders and applications on its books and the next 
morning a daily bulletin listing them all was sent to each of 
the local exchanges, with a code letter indicating the office where 
each application of employer or employee was on file, and the 
probable wage to be paid. The exchange managers could then 
call directly any other exchange which was able to fill its needs. 

Local clearance is simplified by the fact that workmen apply- 
ing at any one of the local exchanges are interested, as a rule, 
in opportunities in any part of the city. It is easy to transfer 
orders from one exchange to another. But the situation is 
much different when clearance is attempted on a state or a na- 
tional basis. A large percentage of the applicants who appear 
at any exchange do not desire to go out of the city. Many of 
those who are willing to leave the city are very particular where 
they go. Some will go only to certain towns or localities ; others 
have prejudices against particular places but will go anywhere 
else. The workman who goes out of town incurs expense of 


time and money in traveling; he has no opportunity to talk 
with the employer, or to see the workplace, or become ac- 
quainted with living and recreational conditions in the locality, 
before he makes his final decision. The duration of the work, 
the cost of board and lodging, the healthfulness of the work- 
place, the promptness of the employer in paying wages due, 
the severity of the work, and many other questions arise in the 
worker's mind when he is asked to leave town. Workmen 
who accept out of town opportunities without such detailed 
inquiry and such natural hesitation are the roving, migratory 
type who do not " stick" when they get to the job. "Easy 
come, easy go," is a description frequently applied to workmen 
who thus easily accept such opportunities. 

The theory that orders for men taken in one town and appli- 
cations for work taken in another can be brought together in 
a state or national clearing house and men and jobs fitted to- 
gether in the clearing house does not work in practice. Clear- 
ance on that plan was tried during the war emergency, but it was 
found that men cannot be "cleared" over large areas in a central 
clearing house as checks from country banks are "cleared" in 
a Chicago or New York clearing house. The state or national 
clearing house must accomplish its results in most cases by 
notifying a local exchange in one city what local exchange in 
another city is apparently able to fill its needs, and then allow- 
ing the local exchanges to make the transfer of men by direct 
communication between themselves, generally by telephone 
or telegraph. The local exchange which has an order for men 
can thus give the exchange which has the applicants the details 
of the job occupations, wages, hours, duration, cost of board, 
age limits, whether employer will pay transportation, and 
the applicants can then be intelligently interviewed on their 
fitness and desire for the work, and sent to the job with some 
assurance of satisfaction to them and to the employer. Clear- 
ance which tries to handle laborers by methods used in bank 
or commercial clearing exchanges will fail. 

A state clearing house must necessarily use the long-distance 
telephone and telegraph freely. Quick clearance cannot be 


obtained by mail, and slow clearance fails in a large percentage 
of cases. The mail can be used, however, to send daily bulletins 
to each local exchange in the area, listing all unfilled orders and 
applications in each exchange in the state, the several exchanges 
being designated by a code number. This enables each ex- 
change to call by telephone any other exchange which seems 
able to fill one or more of its unfilled applications for help or for 

The daily bulletin issued by one of the state clearing houses 
during the war listed orders for men and applications for work 
in the following manner : 

J. 457 AL 10 unskilled machine hands 

Wages 37 cents per hour to start 

50 hours per week 

Age limit 60 years 

Board $7 to $9 per week 
J. is code for job ; AL for the name of the exchange. 

An employee's application was listed thus : 

A 120 CL Poultry man 

Married ; 50 years of age 
Salary desired, $100 per month 
All around experience and very successful 
Knowledge of farming. Prefers community 

These bulletins were sent to every exchange in the state, and 
if exchange "M" should have an order for the poultryman just 
described it would immediately telephone to "CL" the details 
of its position and have "CL" interview the applicant. If an 
engagement was effected, the applicant would then be sent by 
"CL" to "M" or directly to the employer. 

The various exchanges notify the clearing house of the filling 
of positions listed in the bulletins and they are then listed as 
cancellations in the next bulletin. 

Sometimes orders came to a local exchange for a much larger 
number of workers than could be obtained in one town, and 


such orders were immediately telephoned in detail to the clear- 
ing house, which then split up the order among the various 
local exchanges, giving each a quota to ship. The quota of 
each exchange was determined by the capacity which the ex- 
change had revealed in the past to secure the particular type 
of workmen needed. 

The national clearing house will probably never play as 
intimate a part in placement in America as the state clearing 
house. Its principal function will probably consist in its inti- 
mate knowledge of employment conditions in every part of 
the country and its bulletins of information transmitting that 
knowledge to the several states. It will function in placement 
only when large enterprises in some particular locality are un- 
able to secure enough men within their own state, and the state 
clearing house requests the national to discover men for it in 
other localities ; or in periods of unemployment when it may be 
able to direct men who are idle to opportunities of employment 
in other states. Its method of functioning will necessarily 
be the same as that of the state office. It will direct the atten- 
tion of the clearing house of a state with unfilled labor needs, 
to the clearing house of the particular state or states which are 
able to fill those needs, and then allow the two state offices to 
arrange the detail of the hiring and transfer of the men between 


The preceding chapter has made it unnecessary to discuss 
at length the functions of a public employment service. The 
fundamental purpose of the Service should be the reduction 
of unemployment and irregular employment, the equipment of 
industry with an adequate labor force for all its needs, and 
the conservation of the working efficiency of the wage earners 
of the nation. These objectives can be attained only by a 
broad, constructive policy. The Service must have efficient 
machinery for listing all men in need of work, for examining 
carefully into their capacities and desires, for securing accurate 
knowledge of employers' needs, and for making a discriminating 


selection of men and women to fill the various positions which 
are open. 

It must seek to dovetail the labor needs of the industries 
in each locality so that the wage earners in each community 
will have the steadiest possible employment, and the employers 
a reliable labor force. It must make a constructive, definite 
attack on the problem of labor turnover in each locality, by 
studying the plants or enterprises in each line of business to 
discover what the actual turnover is, the seasons when it is 
highest, its causes, and the measures which promise its reduc- 
tion. This knowledge, carefully analyzed, must be made avail- 
able to the employers of the state and of the nation. The Em- 
ployment Service must attack the problem of labor turnover 
reduction just as the United States Bureau of Mines and other 
public services are attacking accident prevention and fire pre- 
vention. Compilation of accurate data on the number of idle 
workmen and upon the unfilled positions in each locality with 
the forecasts which can be made by managers of the various 
exchanges, will enable the government to disseminate accurate 
information continually upon the state of the labor market, 
which information will be of assistance to workers in need of 
employment, to employers in planning their business, and to 
legislative bodies. 

One of the important functions of an employment exchange, 
which should be clearly recognized and included within its 
policy, is the education of employers and employees in practices 
that will decrease labor turnover and reduce unemployment. 
But the employment man cannot teach what he does not know. 
He must watch closely and discriminatingly the ebb and flow 
of employment in the various industries and establishments of 
his community. He and his force must be constantly on the 
alert to discover -why workmen are quitting or being discharged 
in the several establishments. He must find out what indus- 
tries are thriving and offer opportunity to young workers, 
and what industries in the area served are decaying. He must 
learn what influences are sapping the industrial efficiency of 
wage earners. And having discovered remediable defects or 


policies which should be altered, he should utilize every oppor- 
tunity to impress the facts ascertained upon the individual 
employer and employee, upon assembled employers, employ- 
ment managers, or employees at their gatherings, and through 
the public press. But his criticisms must be constructive, 
not vague ; and they must be accomplished by definite sugges- 
tions of a better way. 1 

An important reform in industry which can be definitely 
encouraged by the public Service is the establishment of special- 
ized employment departments in all concerns employing any 
considerable number of wage workers. Where the plant is 
too small to have a salaried employment manager, one of the 
members of the firm should be encouraged to handle all hiring 
and discharging. The centralization of the employment func- 
tion in the hands of an official who makes that his entire busi- 
ness will tend to decrease the labor turnover and improve the 
average efficiency of the workers of each establishment, will 
decrease the temptation to maintain decentralized labor re- 
serves, and will cause each plant to study the labor conditions 
within its own plant. Moreover, it provides an avenue through 
which up-to-date information on employment practice can be 
brought into the practice of the individual concerns. The em- 
ployer is the strategic person through whom effective reforms 
in our employment situation must be attained. Without his 
intelligent cooperation we can make little headway. The plant 
employment manager is the most effective means of winning 
this cooperation. 

The Service must undertake the function of vocational 
guidance. 2 The employes in the several local exchanges should 

1 The author has treated this question in more detail in "The Employment Service 
as a Means of Public Education," Industrial Management, April, igig, p. 318. 

2 Cf. references on British Employment Exchange at end of Chapter X. Cf. 
also Vocational Guidance and Public Employment Offices, Hilda Mulhauser, 
Bulletin IQ2, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics; The Placing of Women by 
Public Employment Offices, Louis C. Odencrantz, ibid., p. 122; Symposium, Bul- 
letin 220, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics; The Educational Aspect of 
the National Labor Policy, Charles A. Prosser, ibid. 

An interesting experiment in the vocational guidance of minors is being con- 
ducted (during igig) at Pittsburgh in connection with the Junior Section of the 


be constantly directing workmen into positions in which they 
can earn a better or steadier livelihood, guiding young persons 
into industries in which there is an opportunity for them when 
they become adults, cooperating with the public school system 
in the vocational direction of those who are leaving the schools 
to enter employment. The Service should be able to provide 
very definite information to guide the federal, state, and local 
governments in the inauguration or carrying on of public build- 
ing or construction enterprises, so that these undertakings would 
be carried on at times when employment is slack in the general 
labor market. In this way, as well as by dovetailing of employ- 
ments, the Service can materially assist in reducing the total 
annual amount of unemployment. 

The vocational guidance of adults is an important part of 
this work, more important than we have realized. Con- 
siderable attention has been directed to the guidance of children, 
with a tacit assumption that adults do not need guidance. 
This is far from the truth. They need help in finding the kind 
of work they are fitted for, which is often not the kind they 
think they are fitted for. 


Our public employment experience has not developed far 
enough to produce solutions of many practical questions of 
employment exchange management, but some fundamental 
principles are clear. The employment exchange should be 
operated at as low an expense as is consistent with efficiency. 
The cheapest service is not necessarily the most economical, 
nor is the most expensive necessarily the most efficient. It is a 
type of business enterprise in which expenses can be increased 
very rapidly without commensurate results if great care is not 
exercised in the financial management. The financial leak may 
occur in a number of different ways, but is principally found in 
an excessive number of employees in the exchange. There is 

United States Employment Service, in which the public schools and the service 
are cooperating. Sound scientific and business principles for this sort of work are 
being developed. 


a marked fluctuation in the amount of work which such an 
exchange does in the different months in the year, and it ordi- 
narily has more men on its payroll in winter months than it 
really needs. It would be better to allow the entire force to 
work an hour a day longer in the busiest season and shorten 
their hours commensurately in the dull season, or to obtain 
help for two or three months in the busy season to supplement 
the regular force, and keep the regular force smaller, than to 
carry as large a force at all times as is needed at the time of 
greatest rush. In other words, the employment service itself 
is a seasonal industry and should plan to vary its force at some 
points with the seasonal fluctuation in business. The correct 
way to do this is to arrange for the transfer of federal or state 
employees from other departments to the employment service 
to meet its rush periods. 

We have already suggested that quality is the prime test of 
the efficiency of employment service. The financial problem 
faced by every office is essentially that of giving efficient service 
in large volume at a minimum of expense. The better the qual- 
ity of service the greater the cost of each placement. The test 
of efficiency which has been widely applied to public employ- 
ment exchanges in the United States, a low average cost 
per placement is fundamentally unsound. The test had 
its origin in a report presented to a state legislature by the super- 
intendents of one of our state employment systems, who showed 
that the average cost per capita of placements in their offices 
was far below a dollar. The idea was picked up by the state 
offices of other commonwealths because of its effectiveness as 
an argument in legislative bodies, and we have had to witness 
a competition between the state offices in reducing their per 
capita instead of in improving their service. Minnesota, for 
instance, proudly exhibited a per capita cost of but nineteen 
cents per placement, but those who know the facts behind the 
figures know that fully ninety per cent of the placements were 
casuals who worked but a few hours or a day, that the same 
man or woman was sent out several times each week, that the 
offices were almost entirely serving ne'er-do-wells whom the 


employment officials themselves held in contempt. The per 
capita cost test of efficiency emphasizes the number of place- 
ments, not the quality. Any one can see, on a moment's thought, 
that the placement of one honest, industrious workman in a 
steady job is more important than sending two hundred casuals 
out to work long enough to get a dollar or two to buy their 
liquor and something to ward off starvation. 

But the placement of casuals makes impressive statistics, while 
the placement of steady workers makes hard work and costs 
money. // takes time to fit a machine operator, a stenographer, 
a farm hand, a bookkeeper, or even good common laborers into 
steady jobs. The employer's needs have to be examined, the 
employee's questions have to be answered, selection must be 

An employment system is a service organization. It creates 
no commodity ; like the barber shop or a hotel, it simply serves 
certain human needs. Mere quantity of service is never satis- 
factory. When we get to a hotel or a barber shop we want 
quality in service. When an employer patronizes an employ- 
ment office he wants intelligent, discriminating personal service. 
He wants the employment office to get the kind of help that he 
wants and that will fit into his organization. When an employee 
goes to the exchange, he wants to be placed in a job for which 
he is adapted and which serves his interests. He is not satis- 
fied with just having any job. In the long run, it is the adver- 
tising of the satisfied customer -which determines the success 
of any service industry. This fact cannot be too deeply im- 
pressed upon the local examiners. 

These considerations lead us to state formally as one of the 
cardinal financial principles of a satisfactory employment serv- 
ice that quality, not quantity, should be the goal in placement 
work; and, economy, not parsimony, the financial motive, A 
good employment service should, under normal industrial condi- 
tions, have a decreasing number of placements, as it fits a larger 
and larger percentage of the wage earners into relatively steady 

Quality in an employment service means more than the faith- 


ful performance of the business which comes to the desk of the 
staff. If the personnel in a public employment exchange are 
"clock workers" and "duty workers," the exchange has a limited 
future. It is essential that they be actuated by a keen desire 
to attain the maximum in service, and be ready to do anything 
which improves employment conditions, whether the work done 
will improve their statistical report or not. Initiative is at a 
premium ; the spirit of self-forgetfulness indispensable. 

The widest personal contact with employers, civic and labor 
organizations, and with the general economic and civic life of 
the community is an important part of the manager's work. 
It enlarges his business and equips him with that expert knowl- 
edge of his community which is indispensable in an efficient 

Impartiality between employers and employees is essential. 
This does not imply that the employment officer must be with- 
out convictions or surrender his conscience. But it does imply 
that he must not be actuated by prejudices. A clear bias will 
neutralize his influence. 

Fairness and cooperation with the employers and employees 
does not require the employment official to curry favor with 
them. His influence will be greater if he is fearless and inde- 
pendent and insists on the courtesy and respect due a govern- 
ment service. State employment officials have demonstrated 
in a number of cases which have come under our observation 
involving large employers that a firm insistence that employers 
conform to the rules of the 'service and abide by the terms offered 
to the workers in the employer's application to the exchange for 
men, has resulted in compliance and an increased respect for 
the service. Employees, on the other hand, must be made to under- 
stand that they cannot disregard their obligations. It must be 
made clear to them that the service will expect them to live 
up to their contracts, stay on the job, and give honest work; 
and that those who do not do so will be discriminated against 
in the assignment of jobs. This is particularly important in 
dealing with those classes of labor which do irregular work. 

There is some difference of opinion about the degree of re- 


sponsibttity which should be assumed by the public employ- 
ment exchange when placing workers. We have shown that 
the English exchanges started out with the theory that the em- 
ployment exchange is a place where information is given out; 
that it is a means of directing employers to available men and 
directing workers to openings, and that it should not and can- 
not try to select workmen for employers. 1 In other words, it 
dispenses information rather than positions. Some American 
authorities have taken the same position, 2 Theoretically, 
they are probably correct. Practically, we do not believe 
that an employment office can avoid making definite selections. 
The employer expects the office to send him a man competent 
to fill the position. In a large number of cases, he does not 
desire to have to pass judgment on the man sent to him. Those 
large employers who have specialized employment departments 
and a percentage of other employers desire to reserve the power 
of selection or rejection to themselves. But most employers 
expect the employment office to be able to sift the workers for 
them. They rely on it for expert service. Their test of the 
efficiency of the exchange is its capacity to obtain and select 
good workmen for them. The exchange must, in any case, 
exercise some judgment on the men it sends to employers, and 
patrons of the exchange do not make nice discrimination as to 
the exact amount of responsibility which the exchange ought 
to assume. 

The workers, on the other hand, often resent being sent out 
to be picked over. Fruitless trips waste their time, strength, 
self-respect, carfare, and opportunities to get other positions. 
They believe that the exchange ought to know what sort of men 
the employer wants and be able to select the person who will 
fill the vacancy. 

Experience has demonstrated that the employment exchange 
manager has to assume responsibility for the quality of men 

1 Cf. "The British Labor Exchanges," B. Lasker, Bulletin No. 206, The United 
States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 15. 

2 Op. cit., pp. 17-18. Cf. "Public Employment Offices in Theory and Practice," 
Wm. M. Leiserson, in American Labor Legislation Review, May, 1914. 


sent to the employers. On the other hand, in the cases of 
failure of workers to get employment to which they are sent 
the office is held responsible, unless they have specifically in- 
formed the workers that the employers specifically reserved the 
function of selection to themselves. Ordinarily, the office 
should assume that the responsibility of selection of individuals 
rests upon it. Even in those cases where it does not bear the 
full responsibility, the office ought to avoid sending out any 
workman unless they believe he has a reasonable chance of 
being hired and kept. "After all," says Mr. Bruno Lasker, 
"the purpose of a national system of labor exchanges is not 
merely to effect as many placements as possible, but to make 
placements satisfactory both to employers and employees," and 
he finds that one of the defects of the English system during 
its early years was the failure of managers to be careful in 
their selections. Experience has made the exchanges realize 
more and more the degree to which they are held responsible. 
It is of course true that the final decision must in all cases rest 
with the employer and employee. If, when the man arrives, 
the employer finds that the exchange has not really sent the 
kind of man he is looking for, he must of necessity retain the 
right to refuse to hire him. Similarly, the workman must re- 
tain the right to refuse to go to work if he finds on arrival that 
the position is not one that he wants. 

Strikes have given employment exchanges a knotty problem, 
but the majority of experienced employment men seem to agree 
that the principle which obtains in England and in most of the 
state exchanges in the United States is the correct one. They 
accept orders for men from employers during a strike, but re- 
quire the employer to give the essential information about the 
strike from his point of view and give opportunity to the strikers 
to present the facts to the office from their point of view, and 
then give this information to the workmen who apply for jobs 
at that plant. Some exchanges, in order to avoid any misun- 
derstanding, stamp the words "Strike on" on the introduction 
cards which they give to workmen when they send them to the 


Secretary of Labor William B. Wilson does not agree with 
this policy. He said, in an address on the subject at Washing- 
ton on April 25, 1919: 1 "If there was an industrial dispute in 
existence, we would not be the agency through which labor 
could be furnished to that industrial dispute. We take this 
ground with respect to industrial disputes : 

"That there is a sufficient supply of labor there if a strike is going 
on. The labor is competent to perform the work that is required, as 
has been evidenced by the fact that it has been doing it, and to send 
workers from some other community, however near or far, into a 
community where there is already a sufficient supply of labor of the 
necessary skill, is simply to create a complication, a surplus of labor, 
one of the things that are to be avoided, and where a labor dispute is 
on, it is not a question for our Employment Service to deal with ; 
it is not a matter for it to handle. It is a question for our Conciliation 
Service to deal with, and when the Conciliation Service has success- 
fully handled the problem, then you have the workers there, ready 
to go on with the work. That has been our attitude with regard to 
industrial disputes." 


It is essential that the employees in each exchange shall have 
adequate training and preparation for their work. This can 
be obtained in many ways. There should be in the state serv- 
ice in each state one person or more who has a thorough 
training in economics and in the underlying causes of the em- 
ployment problem, who has taken training in employment man- 
agement in one of the technical schools or universities, and who 
has had opportunity to study at first hand the best managed 
employment offices, both public and corporation managed, 
in the United States. He should master the technique of 
employment work and then devise means of training and con- 
tinually improving every person in the force. 

The regular staff conference in which the entire force meets 

1 At a conference on employment legislation called by the United States Employ- 
ment Service. We quote from memorandum released to newspapers by the 
Department of Labor. 


every week or two for the discussion of the problems which 
come up in the daily work is important. The exchange manager 
should keep himself informed on general conditions through- 
out the country and upon the literature of employment and be 
able to give his staff some of this information at each of the 
staff meetings. Another useful device is to have experts on 
employment, under the general supervision of the state advisory 
board, select pamphlets, magazine articles, or other printed or 
typewritten material, and have it circulated from office to office 
over the state. The material would remain in each office for 
two or three days and then be sent on to the next office in the 
circuit. The state director would hold each exchange manager 
responsible for seeing that each member of the staff reads the 
article while it is in the office. 

One of the vital defects in American public employment 
exchanges up to the present time has been an inadequate knowl- 
edge of the problem they were attacking. The managers and 
their assistants have, in a large percentage of cases, lacked 
vision. They have occupied their thought with details in office 
management and neglected the formulation of policies. The 
details cannot be neglected, but neither can the policies. They 
have not tried to understand the causes of irregular employ- 
ment, the reason why some men will not work steadily, or the 
many other basic problems of their business. They have not 
realized the need for a comprehensive organization of the labor 
market or the part they should play in it. They have not seen 
how intimately their work is related to the civic, political, 
and moral, as well as the industrial, life of their communities. 


THE United States was at war. It had given a contract 
to a manufacturer for cannon. Rapid production of war sup- 
plies was essential to victory. A man hired as an all-round 
tool maker was told to bore a seventy-five millimeter gun. He 
said to the job boss, "Come and give me some pointers." Said 
the job boss, "Weren't you hired as an all-round tool maker?" 
"Yes." "Then bore that or get out." He got out, and later 
explained that he was an all-round tool maker, but had never 
seen a modern cannon before and did not propose to spoil the 
first one. 1 He could have been trained in a single day or less 
to continued high production. As it was, the company lost a 
good and conscientious worker, whom they had spent $50 in 
securing, production was delayed, and they had to go out and 
spend another $50 or more seeking a substitute. 

The employment policies which obtain within industry are 
as important as those which obtain in the public employment 
market. The nation can organize machinery for the mobili- 
zation, distribution, and placement of labor; but only the 
employer can organize the machinery which will fit each worker 
into the exact job for which he is best adapted, assist him to 
increase his productive capacity, and retain him in the estab- 
lishment. The nation can provide employment exchanges to 
bring the worker to the factory door ; but the employer has to 
introduce him to the inner life of the establishment, locate him 
in his specific tasks, and fit him into the plant's productive or- 
ganization. The most efficient public employment organiza- 
tion imaginable will fail to attain maximum results unless 

1 From an address of H. E. Miles, Annual Convention, Employment Managers' 
Association, Rochester, N. Y., May 10, 1918. 



equally efficient employment organization and policy obtains 
within industry itself. 

The last fifteen years have witnessed the establishment of 
employment departments in so many progressive concerns that 

"it is becoming the exceptional thing among conspicuously well- 
managed concerns to find those which have not established function- 
alized employment departments. There is not a city in the country 
hi which there is not a considerable number of companies of the first 
importance which have accepted the principles of employment work 
as of fundamental importance." r 

This rapid extension of specialized employment work within 
industry has been due to a number of facts. Thoughtful 
employers are realizing that the wise handling of men is one of 
the most important business problems that confront them. 

" On the one hand lie the possibilities of steady production, 
cooperation, contentment, and good will; on the other, the possi- 
bilities of strife, of organized social revolt, and even the wrecking of 
the present organization of industry." 2 

The specialization of the employment function relieves superin- 
tendents and foremen of the necessity of engaging men, and 
enables them to concentrate all their energy upon the produc- 
tion departments. Where foremen do the hiring, they often 
have to absent themselves from their departments or from the 
supervision of their men, for an hour or more, at the beginning 
of the day's work when they are most needed. When an em- 
ployment department selects the help the foreman is able to 
concentrate on production, he gets on the average a better run 
of men, and he is no longer able to sell jobs, protect pets, or 
cover up his own incompetence by discharging a man. The 
employment specialist soon becomes more expert than a fore- 
man can ever become in selecting workmen, and placing them in 
the department where they will give the best results. He dis- 
covers the reasons why workmen are quitting, and how to 

l " Advantages of Centralized Employment?" E. M. Hopkins, The Annals, 
May, 1917, p. i. 

1 "The Employment Manager," E. F, Nichols, The Annals, May, 1916, p. 2. 


eliminate them. He checks up absentees, and produces more 
regular attendance at work. He becomes a point of personal 
contact between the management and the labor force, thus 
bridging that gap which has caused so much misunderstanding 
and strife. 

In a word, the function of employment management is such 
an important part of the general function of management that 
it deserves the attention of a specialized executive, just as the 
selling or buying department does; and it is such a delicate, 
responsible task that it can be performed satisfactorily only 
by men especially adapted for it and who make it a vocation. 
The crude methods of the foreman cannot handle the employ- 
ment problem of a modern industrial concern, without causing 
large financial loss through excessive labor turnover and impaired 
plant morale. 

A business organization, like an army or an athletic team, 
must be unified and coordinated in order to achieve maximum 
results. That concern which is able to hold a large part of its 
labor force not only saves the expense of hiring and training 
a continuous succession of new employees, but reaps the benefits of 
coordinated effort. The athletic coach knows that he must 
have at least three essentials to produce a successful team : 
(i) trained players, (2) players who understand each other and 
"pull together," whose efforts coordinate to the common end, 
and (3) players who are absorbingly interested in the success 
of the team. Who has not seen a team of " stars" fail for lack of 
coordination, or lack of common interest? Who has not seen 
trained players in a well-groomed team fail for lack of " the spirit 
of victory"? The business concern can attain maximum pro- 
duction and pay maximum wages only by observance of the 
same principles. If it reduces turnover, it can hold its employees 
long enough to develop their individual capacities; and if it 
has intelligent, fair labor policies, it can weld those trained 
employees into an organization which has the spirit of produc- 
tion. But this result can never be attained unless the employer 
cultivates the good will of his employees as intelligently as he 
does that of his customers. 


The employment manager is one of the most effective means 
of cultivating employees' good will. He can interpret to the 
employer the wage earner's viewpoints and problems, interpret 
to the worker the employer's views and difficulties. He can 
eliminate his misunderstandings, give more or less neutral 
counsel, and discover the causes of unrest and dissatisfaction 
among the working force. But, in order to do this, he must 
be a man of real caliber. The employer who seeks a cheap em- 
ployment manager will fail to get the most valuable results 
he is after. 

He must be a man who can be looked upon, by the employer, 
the superintendents of production departments, and the wage 
earners, as a staff officer, an executive. His duties require a 
broad grasp of the business, care in fitting men to positions, 
and tact and good sense both in dealing with employees and with 
the foremen and superintendents. A good employment man- 
ager will yield an increase in the annual profits. The employ- 
ment department should be regarded as an operating depart- 
ment, equal in rank with the other departments, and put in 
charge of a man competent to rank with the other superinten- 
dents. Its functions make it as essential to the organization 
as the men who provide raw materials or maintain the ma- 

It is very necessary that the employment manager be able to 
see his place in the general organization and to think in terms 
of the larger policies and purposes of the company. His is a 
service department which can accomplish its results only in- 
directly. It exists to make the production departments more 
efficient. It should make every superintendent in the organi- 
zation grateful that the company has provided them with such 
useful assistance. 

The employment manager's personality is of strategic im- 
portance. He must have human sympathy. His kindliness 
must be such as will induce responsiveness in the workman, 
and his sincerity in that kindliness must win their confidence. 
He must know the working people, their lives, difficulties, vir- 
tues, and faults and be genuinely interested in helping people. 


At the same time he must be able to work consistently for the 
advancement of the business. He must be able to investigate 
quickly and thoroughly, judge impartially, and act with firm- 
ness. His human sympathy, in other words, should not savor 
of sentimentality, but be of that virile character that enables 
him to get proper reactions from the men without interfering 
with thoroughness in work. 

He should be a man of courage, of absolute fearlessness, 
who can steadfastly stand for his convictions when presenting 
them to superior officers. That manager is worth little to. a 
company who is but an echo of some superior, and lacks the 
courage to discover the past and present shortcomings of the 
company's labor policies and show constructive ways of over- 
coming them. 

Boyd Fisher has put this idea as follows: "Employment 
supervision represents a movement in the direction of the 
democratic shop, in which a voice is given to labor in determin- 
ing the working conditions. It is a means of applying that 
conception of service which has revolutionized selling, to the 
relation of employer and employee. As the customer is 'sold' 
the finished product, so a workman is ' sold his job. ' The latter 
has to be satisfied as to the task, the working conditions, the 
wages, and the general policies, before he becomes a genuine 

We will not enter into the technique of organizing and man- 
aging such a department. The references at the end of the 
chapter will give the reader a good entrance into those matters. 
Our concern centers more particularly in the functions of such 
departments in an organized labor market. In other words, 
we want to present their proper relation to the public employ- 
ment service which we have been discussing. 

We have already seen that a coordinated system of employ- 
ment exchanges, covering the country with a network of offices, 
is needed to put employers in need of specific classes of labor at 
specific points in touch with unemployed workers able to fill 
their needs, and to give idle wage earners a maximum oppor- 
tunity of securing employment. We have seen that such ex- 


changes are needed as a means of gathering, from day to day, 
accurate knowledge of conditions in the labor market and making 
it immediately available to employers, employees, and the govern- 
ment. We have seen that such exchanges are needed to provide 
vocational guidance to millions of workers, both minors and 
adults, who need . expert advice in choosing occupations or 
accepting positions, and to direct the attention of employers 
to changes which they can make in their business policies that 
will net them material gains. We have seen that specialized 
or " f unctionalized " employment departments in individual 
establishments can function to the great benefit of both employer 
and employees, by selecting and placing workers more discrimi- 
natingly and developing constructive policies to make the 
establishment a better place in which to work. What should 
be the relation of the public exchanges and these employment 
departments to each other? How should they divide the 
field of labor recruiting, selection, and placement between 
them ? Should they be competing organizations, or cooperating, 
or independent ? 

The question, in its essentials, is not difficult to answer. 
The public employment exchange cannot make a final selection, 
cannot "hire" an employee for an establishment which has 
an employment department. But it can sift out of the total 
number of applicants those which most nearly approximate 
the types ordered by the employment department of the estab- 
lishment. Such employment departments will, on the average, 
furnish the exchanges with more accurate descriptions of the 
types of workers desired than employers or operating super- 
intendents do, and a careful exchange would probably send 
but few workers to employment departments who would be 
refused, unless they were disqualified by physical examinations. 
If workers must tramp from establishment to establishment 
seeking work, we still have the disorganized labor market, the 
excessive labor reserve, and the failure of employers and men 
to get together with the least waste of time. The employment 
exchange, by obtaining from each establishment a list of its 
needs, and by attracting the wage earners to its offices, can 


centralize the demand for labor and the supply of labor at the 
employment exchange, and can then distribute the available 
workers to the employers with the least loss of time and effort. 
The employment department can then select, out of those sent, 
the ones competent to fill the positions vacant, can induct 
them properly into the establishment, can see that they are 
properly trained, can develop constructive policies of retaining 
and developing them. The public employment exchange can 
enable the employment department to function more efficiently. 
The employment department is one of the exchange's main 
hopes in the effort to reduce labor shifting and to stabilize 



EMPLOYMENT offices, both public and private, have found 
their principal clientele among unskilled and semi-skilled labor- 
ers. Teachers' agencies, vocational bureaus, and the " skilled 
labor" departments of public exchanges have placed many 
skilled workers each year, but the total of this business has 
been small compared with the millions of laborers placed by 
employment offices annually. The skilled mechanics of the 
country have ordinarily obtained work through their trade 
unions, direct application to employers, or watching newspaper 
advertisements, rather than through employment offices. Dur- 
ing the war, skilled mechanics were placed by employment ex- 
changes in much larger numbers than ever before. For the 
first time in our history they used employment offices to a 
considerable extent. But it is probable that large numbers of 
them, particularly those who are members of unions, will con- 
tinue for some time to depend primarily upon other agencies 
than employment exchanges as means of obtaining work. 

It is the relation of the employment service to the ordinary 
laborer which is of especial importance at the present time. 
The laborers lack the facilities which enable mechanics to secure 
work. Laborers, male and female, constitute a large propor- 
tion of that decentralized labor reserve which we discussed in 
our first chapter. They bear with especial severity the burden 
of unemployment which we discussed in our second and third 
chapters. Theirs are the hardships of the unemployed, the 
evils of the "blind alley" occupation, the deficiencies due to 
inadequate education and training. No class of wage earners 
would receive greater benefit if an adequate employment service 
improved labor distribution, stabilized employment, checked 



labor turnover, provided vocational guidance, and made ex- 
cessive labor reserve unnecessary to industry. 

The writer wishes in this chapter to discuss the laborer from 
two points of view: First, in connection with a classification 
based upon variations in skill and technical knowledge ; second, 
in connection with a classification based upon the degree of 
steadiness of different laborers in their employments. 


There are three principal types of laborers from the point of 
view of skill in work. There is a type of laborers whom we may 
justly call skilled laborers. They are to be distinguished from 
the mechanic who has learned a trade and from the stenographer 
or the bookkeeper who has learned a definite occupation, on 
the one hand, and from the crude, untrained laborer, on the 
other. These skilled laborers have a certain specialized skill, 
such as the ability to operate rip saws or some other special 
type of machinery, to stoke a gas house retort, or to operate a 
tramcar in a mine. 

From the point of view of technical skill the skilled laborers 
are in no sense mechanics. They operate the bulk of our simpler 
machinery, such as rip saws or cross-cut saws in our wood- work- 
ing factories, punches, stamping-presses, and emery wheels in 
our metal industries. They furnish us with street car men, 
chauffeurs, many types of packers and craters, meter readers, 
gas stove testers, and a thousand other kinds of more or less 
skilled help. They have never learned any trade, though some 
of them have acquired a considerable degree of skill at a task, 
and constitute a class of workmen who lie in between the cruder 
kinds of common labor and the skill of the mechanic. 

The second type of laborer, from the point of view of skill, 
is the semi-skilled laborer. He has acquired knowledge of 
some definite task or tasks, but his tasks are of a lower grade 
than those performed by the skilled laborer. His work takes 
less knowledge. He has been employed at many kinds of work 
without ever having acquired an adequate knowledge of any. 


The third type is the crude common laborer, who does work 
that requires little but physical exertion under constant direc- 
tion. The reader can observe it typically by spending a half 
hour watching a railway extra-gang. The foreman furnishes 
all the thinking. He tells his men to lift and they lift, to let 
down and they let down, to shovel and they shovel. They 
have no knowledge of what their next moment's work will be 
and they have no desire to know. Work of this general 
type is found in every manufacturing establishment, store, 
contracting job, or other industrial enterprise of any size. 
Many janitors, freight elevator operators, and foundry laborers 
may reasonably be included in the same group. 

The writer speaks of this type of laborer as a common laborer. 

The exact significance of the term "common laborer" has 
not become fixed in the United States. Many persons use 
the expression as descriptive of work that merely "takes a 
strong back and a weak mind." 1 Ditch digging, railroad 
section work, casual labor, carrying mortar, or pushing a wheel- 
barrow are typical of what the words mean to them. Others 
use the term to include any work which has not become a recog- 
nized part of a definite trade. There is a distinct, and probably 
increasing tendency to differentiate between the cruder forms 
of labor and those forms which require a degree of skill by the 
use of the terms "unskilled laborers," "semi-skilled laborers," 
and "skilled laborers" all three terms being used to describe 
laborers as contrasted with mechanics and those who have occu- 
pations (e.g., stenography, which must be learned through a 
definite course of instruction). And the writer thinks the dis- 
tinction is one which should be recognized. There are impor- 
tant differences between the unskilled laborers who do work 
that requires only muscle or dexterity, not training; semi- 
skilled laborers, typified by the machine-tending factory hand 
who can be trusted only with the simpler machines, the steadier 
class of building laborers, and many artisan's "helpers"; and 
the skilled laborers who include factory operatives of the higher 
grade but not possessing knowledge of a skilled trade, much 

1 George Lavell, in Atlantic Monthly, May, IQIQ, p. 646. 


clerical and mercantile help, and such mechanic's assistants 
as "mason tenders" or bricklayer's helpers. 1 

One of the most suggestive passages on this subject in eco- 
nomic literature is the analysis of Professor Alfred Marshall, 
of Oxford University. 2 

"... The solid qualities of the modern machine-tending artisan 
are rated more cheaply than the lighter virtues of the mediaeval 
handicraftsman. This is partly because we are apt to regard as 
commonplace those excellences which are common in our own time ; 
and to overlook the fact that the term 'unskilled labourer' is con- 
stantly changing its meaning. 

"Very backward races are unable to keep on at any kind of work 
for a long time; and even the simplest form of what we regard as 
unskilled work is skilled work relatively to them ; for they have not 
the requisite assiduity, and they can acquire it only by a long course 
of training. But where education is universal, an occupation may 
fairly be classed as unskilled, though it required a knowledge of 
reading and writing. Again, in districts in which manufactures have 
long been domiciled, a habit of responsibility, of carefulness and 
promptitude in handling expensive machinery and materials becomes 
the common property of all ; and then much of the work of tending 
machinery is said to be entirely mechanical and unskilled, and to call 
forth no human faculty that is worthy of esteem. But in fact it 
is probable that not one-tenth of the present populations of the world 
have the mental and moral faculties, the intelligence, and the self- 
control that are required for it ; perhaps not one-half could be made 
to do the work well by steady training for two generations. Even of 
a manufacturing population only a small part are capable of doing 
many of the tasks that appear at first sight to be entirely monotonous. 
Machine-weaving, for instance, simple as it seems, is divided into 
higher and lower grades ; and most of those who work in the lower 
grades have not 'the stuff in them' that is required for weaving with 
several colours. And the differences are even greater in industries 
that deal with hard materials, wood, metals, or ceramics. 

1 A very interesting picture of the gradations of skill among laborers will be 
found in "Labor Conditions in Slaughtering and Meat Packing," John R. Commons, 
Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. XIX, pp. 1-32 ; reprinted in "Trade Unionism 
and Labor Problems," John R. Commons. 

2 "Principles of Economics," sth Ed. Vol. I, pp. 206-207. 


"Some kinds of manual work require long-continued practice in 
one set of operations, but these cases are not very common, and they 
are becoming rarer : for machinery is constantly taking over work that 
requires manual skill of this kind. It is indeed true that a general 
command over the use of one's fingers is a very important element of 
industrial efficiency ; but this is the result chiefly of nervous strength 
and self-mastery." 

"Manual skill that is so specialized that it is quite incapable of 
being transferred from one occupation to another is becoming steadily 
a less and less important factor in production. Putting aside for the 
present the faculties of artistic perception and artistic creation, we 
may say that what makes one occupation higher than another, what 
makes the workers of one town or country more efficient than those of 
another, is chiefly a superiority in general sagacity and energy which 
is not specialized to any one trade. 

"To be able to bear in mind many things at a time, to have every- 
thing ready when wanted, to act promptly and show resource when 
anything goes wrong, to accommodate oneself quickly to changes in 
details of the work done, to be steady and trustworthy, to have always 
a reserve of force which will come out in emergency, these are the 
qualities which make a great industrial people. They are not peculiar 
to any occupation, but are wanted in all ; and if they cannot always 
be easily transferred from one trade to other kindred trades, the chief 
reason is that they require to be supplemented by some knowledge of 
materials and familiarity with special processes." 



When we consider the laborers of the United States from the 
point of view of steadiness in employment, we find that they 
fall quite naturally into five distinct classes, and th'at each of 
these classes includes within its membership skilled, semi- 
skilled and unskilled laborers. 

The highest type of laborer is the man who holds a steady job. 
He is part of an industry; he has an occupation. He is a 
citizen in a community ; generally the father of a family ; prob- 
ably a member of one or more lodges, and very frequently of a 


There are millions of such men in this country. They are 
the firm basis upon which rests the superstructure of skilled 
labor in our industries. They are the men upon whom the 
employers depend in a large degree for continuous, efficient 
production. They represent a wide range of occupation, a 
considerable variation in skill and training, and the highest 
paid members of the group earn at least a dollar and a half a 
day more than the lowest paid. Some of the skilled laborers 
are of this steady type, some are not. The same thing is true 
of the less skilled laborers. Steadiness of employment, in other 
words, is not entirely determined by the worker's skill. Other 
things being equal, the more skilled laborer will be retained by 
an employer in preference to the less skilled. But other things 
are not always equal. It therefore happens that in each type, 
classified by skill, we find the steady and the irregular worker ; 
that in each type, classified by regularity of employment, we 
find the skilled, the semi-skilled, and the unskilled laborer. 

The steadier, more responsible type of laborers hold a large 
percentage of the steady jobs in our economic system. They 
represent no social problem so long as they can maintain the 
status of regular employees in more or less continuous jobs. 
But any change in industrial processes, reorganization, or indus- 
trial depression, which displaces them from their steady jobs 
quickly reduces them to a difficult position. Their income is 
barely sufficient while steadily employed to provide the necessi- 
ties for their families, and they can never hope to save more 
than enough to pay for a small home and carry a thousand or 
two thousand dollars' worth of life insurance. Indeed, few of 
them can save at all during the years when their children are 
small, except possibly a couple of hundred dollars to protect 
them against temporary adversities. Their children ordinarily 
go to work as soon as the law permits, and the period of saving 
in this type of family ordinarily begins when the earnings of 
one, two, or three children are added. The idea is almost 
universal among the common laborers that it is the duty of a 
child to contribute his wages to his father's family for a period 
of years before he strikes out for himself. The girl's earnings 


are commonly believed to belong to the parents until she marries 
or definitely leaves home. 

The steady type of common laborer tends to settle in some 
community, and very frequently in some establishment, and 
remain there. Hundreds of thousands live in the same house or 
in the same section of a city for years, and I have personally 
known many who have been twenty-five or thirty years with the 
same employer. 

This type of laborer has been recruited in America largely 
from the successive waves of immigration. Each race, when 
it first comes to the United States, is compelled to start at the 
bottom of the economic ladder and cannot hope to obtain any 
considerable number of the more lucrative positions until it 
has adapted itself to American conditions and become an inte- 
gral part of American life. One reason for the contempt often 
manifested toward recent immigrants has been that Americans 
have unthinkingly assumed that since the majority of the people 
of a certain race in America are common laborers at that present 
moment, the intelligence, capacity, and prospects of that people 
are of common labor grade. Conversely, some of the aversion 
of the typical American to common labor is due to the fact 
that it is largely performed by recent immigrants whose igno- 
rance of our language, customs, and standards of living is ac- 
cepted by the unthinking as a mark of some mental, moral or 
spiritual inferiority. The English, Scotch, Irish, Germans, 
and Scandinavians, have had their turn at common labor in 
America, and that status is not peculiar as a characteristic of 
early years in America, to the Slavs, the Italians, the Portuguese, 
the Jews, the Greeks. Each race has taken its turn, and each 
race has in its succession gone through a sifting process in 
America which has left its less competent and less fortunate 
families to form a recruiting ground for future generations of 
laborers; while its more aggressive elements pushed upward 
into a happier economic state as skilled mechanics, farmers, or 
business men, or into the professions or politics. The first 
generation of immigrants can seldom escape from the common 
labor class unless they obtained technical training or education 


in the old country which naturally fits them for a higher status, 
but, thanks to the American public school, many of their chil- 
dren do. 

A second and very important source of recruitment of the 
common laborers is their children. The low wage of the father, 
which throws the child into industry at the completion of the 
grammar grades or even before, makes it very difficult for the 
common laborer's child to escape into a more lucrative occupa- 
tion. Many individuals of exceptional ability do escape. Some 
advance themselves in the establishments where they are em- 
ployed. Their industry and capacity cause their employers 
to give them an opportunity to learn a higher grade of work. 
They become skilled machine operators, mechanics, shippers, 
foremen. Others get on a farm or start a small business and 
succeed. Some attend night school or take correspondence 
courses. But the difficulties which surround them in their 
attempts to rise are hard to overcome, and a large percentage 
do not attain anything more, as a maximum, than a steady job 
at manual labor, and, as a common experience, a precarious 

Many young men and women drift into the ranks of the 
laborers each year in a misdirected effort to improve their lot. 
Thousands of boys and girls leave the farm to seek their for- 
tunes in the city, with no training or preparation which fits 
them for any city vocation. Some are fortunate in dropping 
into some employment which paves the way toward a successful 
life. Others become laborers of the steady type. Many drift 
here and there and degenerate into irregular, more or less mi- 
gratory, laborers ; while each year some see that they will be 
better off back on the farm and return to rural life. 

A fourth, and rather important, source of common laborers 
is the failures in other economic groups. Common labor is 
the last resource of those who fail in other occupations. Each 
year economic, moral, physical, and mental failures drop from 
other groups into this great residual group. Common labor 
includes those who have not yet begun the upward economic 
journey, and those who have lost the fight. The first type of 


common labor which we have described, the steady, reliable 
type, is of course largely composed of those whose limitations 
of training or of capacity have prevented them from attaining 
better occupations; while the failures are most frequently 
found among those types which we will describe. 

The American Bankers Association made a study of one 
hundred average men, healthy and vigorous in mind and body 
and dependent, at twenty-five years of age, upon their own exer- 
tions for a living. Ten of them were wealthy by the time 
they were thirty-five, but only four at forty-five, and but one 
at fifty-five years. Ten others were in good circumstances at 
thirty-five, while forty were in moderate circumstances, but 
at fifty-five years of age only three were in good circumstances ; 
forty-six were still working for their living, and thirty were 
more or less dependent upon their children or their relatives 
or charity for support. Twenty out of the original hundred 
died before they were fifty -five years of age; one was rich at 
fifty-five, three were in good circumstances, and seventy-six 
were either wage earners or dependent. At seventy-five years 
of age, sixty-three had died of whom sixty left no estate ; only 
two were wealthy, and the other thirty-five were dependent 
upon relatives or charity for their support. Throughout the 
life history of these one hundred men, all able-bodied and self- 
supporting at twenty-five years of age, runs the record of a con- 
siderable percentage of failures. At thirty-five years of age, 
thirty-five of them had no property ; at forty-five years, sixty- 
five were wage earners without property and fifteen were at 
least partly dependent because of sickness, accident, or other 
causes; at fifty-five years, forty-six were wage earners, and 
thirty more or less dependent; at sixty-five years, fifty-four 
had become dependent ; and out of the whole one hundred, 
but five left an estate. 

The second type of common laborer is also a permanent factor 
in the life of a community. He may leave town when work is 
slack locally, but he returns. The essential characteristic of 
his economic life is that he works for a succession of employers. 
The first type described work steadily for prolonged periods 


for certain employers; the second type works for contractor 
Jones, then for Smith, then for Brown. Now a temporary 
job is attained in a furniture factory, then in a brick yard, and 
again in the shipping room of a department store. In other 
words, the first type of laborer gets a position, the second works 
at jobs. There are many varieties of this second type. At 
his best, we find a man with a family, struggling bravely for 
existence. He eagerly seeks employment when idle and works 
faithfully when employed, but has no special skill and has not 
been fortunate enough to annex a steady job. Frequently he 
is not as strong, as quick or as intelligent as many of the men 
with whom he must compete. His wife commonly assists in 
the bitter struggle by keeping boarders or doing washing or 
sewing. In tens of thousands of cases she goes out washing 
or cleaning for a day or two a week. Their children are found 
at the work bench at the earliest possible age and high school 
education is not a thing that the family can think about. In a 
somewhat lower type of these irregular laborers we find the 
family intermittently on the rolls of the charities, whenever 
two or three weeks of continuous unemployment, sickness, or 
other temporary calamity assails them. 

In another variation, we find the man single and living in 
cheap boarding houses. Usually, but not always, he deteriorates 
steadily under the influence of drink, irregular work, and irregu- 
lar habits. He tends to approach closer and closer to the 
type of the true casual, though he often fails to develop 
entirely the casual's psychology. Mr. Charles K. Blatchy, 
after years of contact with this type in New York, thus 
described them, in his testimony before the Industrial Rela- 
tions Commission : 

"They are practically unemployable. They are unreliable. 
They are men who are drinkers to such an extent as to interfere with 
their ability to earn a living. Some of them are willing workers and 
able bodied, but they work a month, or until the first pay day, then 
they quit and spend the money." l 

1 Report of Commission on Industrial Relations, igi2. Vol. II, p. 1167. 


A little later in his testimony he says : l 

" In going over one case record as we call it, only two or three 
weeks ago, I found that one man had had thirty or forty jobs in the 
last seven or eight years." 

The struggle for existence of the married man of this class 
is harder, more bitter but he has more to fight for. 

Mrs. Alice Solenberger has given a clear picture of the types 
of people found in the cheap lodging house, the associates of 
this laborer who remains single. 

"Altogether, viewing the population of the cheap lodging houses from the stand- 
point of the social worker, it may be stated that it includes four distinct though con- 
stantly merging classes of men. 

"These classes may be summarized as follows: 

"(i) Self-supporting. All men of whatever trade or occupation who support 
themselves by their own exertions. Some are employed all the year; some are 
seasonal workers ; others casual laborers ; but all are independent. 

"(2) Temporarily dependent. Runaway boys; strangers who lack city refer- 
ences and are not yet employed ; men who have been robbed ; victims of accident 
or illness; convalescents; men displaced by industrial disturbances, or by the 
introduction of machinery; misfits; foreigners unacquainted with the language 
and not yet employed, and other men without means who could again become self- 
supporting if tided past temporary difficulties. 

" (3) Chronically dependent. Contains many of the aged, the crippled, de- 
formed, blind, deaf, tuberculous; the feeble-minded, insane, epileptic; the chroni- 
cally ill ; also certain men addicted to the continuous and excessive use of drink or 
drugs, and a few able-bodied but almost hopelessly inefficient men. 

"(4) Parasitic. Contains many confirmed wanderers or tramps; criminals; 
impostors; begging-letter writers; confidence men, etc., and a great majority of 
all chronic beggars, local vagrants, and wanderers. 

"The first group is composed of able-bodied men who work all or most of the 
year and who expect to support themselves by their own exertions. In the second 
group are men capable of self-support, but temporarily and in many cases quite 
accidentally dependent. In the third are men who formerly belonged to the first 
and second groups but who, on account of age or chronic physical or mental dis- 
ability, or for other reasons, such as the excessive use of drink or drugs, or extreme 
ignorance and inefficiency, have become continuously dependent upon the public 
for support. 

"Men of this class may sometimes again become at least partly self-supporting 
and are not parasitic in spirit. In the fourth group are the parasites, the men, 
whether able-bodied or defective, who make a business of living off the public and 
who apparently do so from choice rather than from necessity. Some are thieves 
and criminals, some clever impostors and beggars who live by their wits ; still others 
are only 'tramps,' not necessarily criminal, but nevertheless anti-social. 

"This classification takes the self-supporting, self-respecting, able-bodied lodging 

1 Report of Commission on Industrial Relations, 1912, Vol II, p. 1168. 


house resident of average morality as the type nearest approaching the normal 
citizen. Men of the second group fall temporarily below this normal standard, but 
may be brought back to it unless they are forced by circumstances still farther below 
normal and into the third group. All three of these groups are constantly contrib- 
uting to the fourth, the distinctly abnormal, with which society must deal along 
corrective and repressive lines." l 

The distinction between this general group of laborers and 
the one first described is found in the relative steadiness of 
the first group's employment, and the relative unsteadiness of 
the second's. One works for the same employer for consider- 
able periods of time ; the other changes employers frequently. 
Individuals of the first group frequently pass into the second 
group, when they lose their steady jobs and are unable to get 
others. Individuals of the second group sometimes pass into 
the first group by fortunately dropping into a steady job. 

The distinction between these two groups may seem to one 
not familiar with the home life of the common laborer to be a 
flimsy one. It may seem somewhat vague, especially since 
individuals of each group are passing each day into the other 
group. There is a middle ground, a twilight zone, in which 
many people are found whom it is difficult to classify as being 
of either one type or the other. But the distinction is an ex- 
tremely important one. The conditions of home life even 
of lodging house life which grow out of steady work are 
much different from those which grow out of unsteady work. 
The members of the group with steady employment are never 
far from destitution. They are poor, very poor. They have a- 
hard time to make ends meet. They commonly have to take 
their children out of school by the time that they are twelve 
to sixteen years of age. A period of unemployment, a bad sick- 
ness, or other misfortune, will quickly bring them to the point 
where they must have help. But ordinarily they are making 
ends meet. The wife or children may have to earn part of the 
living, but the family is self-supporting, and as it looks ahead 
they see a prospect of steady income and of continuing self- 
support. They have a certain sense of assurance, of confidence, 
of hope. 

1 "One Thousand Homeless Men," Solenberger, pp. 9-11. 


The group which works at a succession of jobs, on the con- 
trary, continually hears the wolf's claws scratching on the door. 
They live in constant uncertainty, constant fear. They have 
no assurance of continuing income, no solid basis for hope, no 
opportunity to get a few dollars in the bank, no justification in 
starting to buy a home. They are living from hand to mouth, 
and never know at what moment the hand may be empty. 
Their self-respect and honesty are always under the strain of 
fear; their working efficiency is deteriorated by a continual 
change of jobs that makes it impossible for them ever to attain 
efficiency at any. They are, by force of necessity, jacks of all 
trades and masters of none, and after they pass forty-five and 
their strength begins to wane, the effects of undernourishment 
and the declining courage that accompanies a life of fear, bring 
steadily declining efficiency. 

The "professional casual" l is a third distinct type of resident 
laborer. He is a distinctly lower type than either of the others, 
but recruited from their ranks. Every employment office is 
familiar with him. Any city with three hundred thousand 
people will have perhaps three or four hundred well-known indi- 
viduals and many others who border on the type. Some of 
them are steady patrons of the state or municipal offices, some 
of the Salvation Army, some of the charities. Others hang 
around saloons, hotels, settlement houses. Individuals of the 
type can be found in almost every country town and rural 
community. They are a distinct social group. 

At times, especially in the winter, the employment exchanges 
find among those accepting casual or semi-casual employment, 
laborers and mechanics who ordinarily work steadily but who 
are temporarily unable to get work and are taking odd jobs to 

1 The writer uses the word "casual" in a very definite, restricted meaning, to 
signify one who works very irregularly and intermittently. Beveridge and other 
English writers, and some American writers, also use the word "casual" to describe 
men who do irregular work those who lie in that fringe between such irregular 
occupations as that of the building laborer and the true casual. The writer believes 
that the word " casual " should be reserved to those who have no desire except for 
the odd job. This is the sense which the term has in law, and it conforms to a defi- 
nite psychological and human type. 


carry them along. For instance, the Minnesota Public Employ- 
ment office carried a machine operator with a wife and family 
for about four months at odd jobs, until he was able to get a 
steady job. He has now been working steadily for a year and 
a half in a machine shop, has paid off his debts, and is getting 
his family affairs in shape. But these are not casual workers. 
They do not belong to the type. They are doing casual work 
only temporarily, and they neither live the life, nor think the 
thoughts, nor have the point of view of the true casual. 

A man becomes a casual when he acquires the casual state 
of mind. 1 The extreme type of casual never seeks more than 
a day's work. He lives strictly to the rule, one day at a time. 
If you ask him why he does not take a steady job, he will tell 
you that he would like to, but that he hasn't money enough to 
enable him to live until pay-day, and no one will give him credit. 
If you offer to advance his board until pay-day, he will accept 
your offer and accept the job you offer him, but he will not show 
up on the job, or else will quit at the end of the first day. He has 
acquired a standard or scale of work and life that makes it 
almost impossible for him to restore himself to steady employ- 
ment. He lacks the desire, the will-power, self-control, ambi- 
tion, and habits of industry which are essential to it. Some 
of them have families which they make little or no effort to 
support, never working if they can get some one else to feed 
them. Others do not know in the morning where they will 
lay their head at night. They live permanently in the city, 
but have no residence. Some of them are moral failures, some 
defectives. The man who works irregularly, but who still 
accepts jobs which last for days or a few weeks, has not com- 
pletely developed a casual psychology and offers far greater 
hopes of rescue to steady employment. 2 

The causes which produce the casual are many. A striking 
number of them are young. 3 In general, these seem to be de- 

1 Cf. also "One Thousand Homeless Men," A. W. Solenberger, Chap. IX. 

2 Cf. Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1165-1177- 

3 Cf. "One Thousand Homeless Men," Solenberger, Chap. XIII ; "Unemploy- 
ment, A Social Study," Rowntrec and Lasker, Chap. Ill; "Unemployment, A 


fective in those mental traits which are the basis of industry 
and ambition, and in the sense of responsibility; defective in 
moral stamina or training, and addicted to drugs, drink, and 
vice; or defective physically and unable to do steady, hard 
work. Absence of the moral ideas and motives which cause 
most of us to work is probably more important in explaining 
these younger casuals than any other one explanation. A 
large number of them begin their casual career early in their 
industrial lives, acquiring a taste for change and developing 
an incapacity for sustained effort while mere boys. It is im- 
possible to say to what extent their unsteadiness is due to habits 
induced by unsatisfactory industrial experiences; and to what 
extent it is due to personal defects in the individuals, physical, 
mental, or moral, which have their origin in heredity or in their 
home conditions. It is probable that some of them, if properly 
guided in their early industrial career, would have developed 
into steady workmen. It is equally probable that many of 
them entered industry with a personal psychology that caused 
them naturally to slip down instead of climbing up. 

When we turn to the group of casuals who are older their 
explanation is even more complex. Many are moral failures, 
mental defectives, or physical unfits, as already described. 
Others are the residuum of our labor market. Starting out 
as common laborers, or even as skilled workmen, twenty years 
before, they worked steadily for a time, then became subject 
to irregular employment, either because of industrial conditions, 
or because of drink or vice or a taste for traveling. Gradually 
they became more and more irregular in their working and life 
habits, and crystallized into casuals living from day to day and 
hand to mouth without self-respect or ambition. They are to 
a large extent parasites in the body politic, never working if 
they can get drink and food and a place to sleep without work. 

Experienced employment men are unanimous in their con- 
demnation of the unconscious but serious contribution which 

Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chaps. V, VI, VII; "The Problem of 
Unemployment in the United Kingdom," Sidney Webb, The Annals, March, 1909, 
p. 196. 


well-meaning people who employ casuals make to the ruination 
of such men. For instance: A professional man is working 
about his home in the spring. He wants some ashes hauled 
out, some spading and raking done, the storm windows taken 
off. He telephones the employment office for a laborer. They 
send one at an agreed price of 35 cents an hour. The laborer 
works seven hours. He has earned $2.45. The employer 
gives him three dollars, and tell him to keep the change. He 
also gives him an old suit of clothes or a pair of shoes. The 
workman has been overpaid and extended charity. He has 
done a short day's work of a kind easier and pleasanter than 
that of the factory or building job, and has received in cash and 
goods two or three times what he earned. Perhaps this man was 
not a true casual. He took an odd job because he could not 
get a steady one. But he found, to his surprise, that he "got 
better money" for less work and with less restraint upon his 
goings and comings. Good pay and easy work is a lure that 
attracts. He begins to wonder whether he is not a fool to work 
hard every day when he can pick up as much in four days of 
casual work as he earns in six of steady work. The reader 
will immediately wonder whether the case described is typical. 
The facts are, that a majority of the casual employers will pay 
only what they are obligated to pay, but cases like the one cited 
occur with sufficient regularity to make the casual look for and 
expect them, and to occur in the experience of any regular 
worker who does casual work temporarily. Indeed, I have 
had casuals prove to me by the actual record of their earnings 
that they were earning more (in the spring and fall) by casual 
work than they could have earned by steady work, because 
they were overpaid on part of their jobs. As long as society makes 
it easy for a man to earn a living by casual work we must expect 
a continuing crop of casuals. 

The employment service, at least in American cities, should 
develop a policy: (i) of keeping the wages per hour for casual 
work as low as those for steady work; (2) of notifying each 
employer of casuals to pay the agreed wages, and no more. 
This may work a hardship to some individuals who cannot do 


regular work, but this is insignificant compared with the benefit 
attained in checking one of the causes of deterioration of work- 
men into casuals. 

The English writers have given particular attention to the 
problem of restoring casuals to steady employment and check- 
ing the forces which produce casuals. Mr. Beveridge showed 
in 1910 that the first step in the decasualization of labor must 
be the organization of the public employment exchanges to 
which all applicants and all orders for casual work would have 
to come, 

"and that this Exchange should so far as possible concentrate em- 
ployment upon the smallest number that will suffice for the work of 
the group as a whole ; that successive jobs under different employers 
should, so far as possible, be made to go in succession to the same 
individual, instead of being spread over several men each idle half or 
more than half of his time. In such a policy is to be found the remedy, 
and the only remedy, for the most urgent part of the unemployed 
problem the chronic poverty of the casual labourer." 1 

In other words, his suggestion is that all of the casual and short- 
time jobs be given to part of the present group of irregular 
workers, and the balance forced out of such employment. It 
proposes that the most capable of the casuals be inducted into 
steady work ; that a second group be kept busy by a succession 
of jobs ; and that those who are almost unemployable be either 
cared for by charity or restored to usefulness by medical treat- 
ment, proper feeding and training. 

The idea of decasualizing irregular workers has attracted 
the attention of many students of the problem. 2 It represents 
in the field of employment the same concept that "saving the 
sinner" does in religion and moral effort. The prevention of 
casualization the arresting and reducing of those forces which 
produce casuals corresponds, on the other hand, to measures 
by which we try to conserve the character of the young and 
prevent them from getting where they will need to be rescued. 

1 Op. cil., p. 201. The reader should keep in mind that the word "casual" here 
includes the very irregular worker as well as the pure casual. 

2 See references at end of chapter. 


Mr. W. H. Beveridge reached the conclusion that the only way 
to prevent the creation of casuals is to eliminate the casual job, 
and the only way to eliminate the casual job is to unify four or 
five demands for casuals to work a day or two into a solid week's 
work for one man. He says : 

"... Thrift, sobriety, adaptability, initiative are good things 
for many reasons. They are apt to be too good for the casual 
labourer. An individual here and there may rise superior to over- 
whelming odds. The mass is inevitably demoralised by a system of 
employment which panders to every bad instinct and makes every 
effort at good hard and useless ; which by turning livelihood into a 
gamble goes far to take from idleness, slovenliness, and irresponsibility 
their punishment and from assiduity its reward. The casual labourer 
is the rock upon which all hopes of thrift or self-help or trade union 
organization, no less than all schemes of public assistance, are 
shattered. When it is asked what is to be done for the casual class, 
the answer must be that the only thing to be done either for or with 
the casual class is to abolish it, and that the only way of abolishing 
it is to abolish the demand which it serves. 

"The chronic under-employment of the casual labourer is no in- 
explicable or exceptional phenomenon. It is the resultant of normal 
demand and supply of the need of employers for irregular men and 
the readiness of men to do irregular work. It cannot be cured by any 
assistance of individuals. It can be cured, theoretically, either by 
cutting off the supply or by cutting off the demand, that is to say, 
either by making all men unwilling to do irregular work or by making 
it impossible for them to get it to do. . . . The sources of supply 
to the casual labour market include every form of human weakness 
and misfortune and every point of industrial stress. Something may 
indeed be done to affect particular sources to divert boys from un- 
educative to educative employments, to mitigate the hardships of 
industrial transitions, to lessen the pressure of competition in the 
towns by making the country less repellant to the countryman. 
All this will leave abundant sources untouched. . . . Diminution of 
the supply of casual labour would be at best but an indirect way of 
forcing a modification of the employers' demand for casual labour. 
It is, therefore, to the modification of their demand, in other words, to 
its 'decasualization,' that attention must ultimately be directed. . . . 

"... The time is ripe to consider the obvious criticism upon de- 


casualization that, in making work more regular for some, it throws 
others out altogether. The fact is undeniable. The avowed object 
of de-casualization is to replace every thousand half-employed men 
by five hundred fully-employed men. What of the displaced five 
hundred? . . . 

"If the men do not and cannot, spite of all Labour Exchanges, 
find work elsewhere, this must be either because there is no work for 
them to do i.e., because the country is already more full of men 
than it can hold or because they are inefficient. On either of these 
last suppositions, de-casualization becomes even more necessary 
than before. If the country is already more full than it can hold, 
i.e., is over-populated, then it is a matter of crying urgency to replace 
every thousand half-employed men (all potential fathers of un- 
necessary families) by five hundred fully-employed men, and to leave 
for the others no choice but emigration. If the men are inefficient, 
i.e., capable of working only occasionally and not often enough for a 
living, then they cannot safely be left at large to bring up in semi- 
starvation fresh generations of inefficients. . . . 

"The practical answer to the supposed objection is to be found in 
the manner of applying de-casualization in practice. In the first 
place, the change could and should be made in a time of good trade 
rather than in one of bad trade, so as to give those displaced the 
chance of at once finding other situations. ... In the second place, 
the change could and should be made gradually. There need be no 
visions of a vast and unmanageable surplus thrown by de-casualization 
upon the hands of the community at a moment's notice. De- 
casualization, it may conveniently be noted at this point, implies 
something more than the mere provision of Labour Exchanges. It 
implies also a definite policy at those Exchanges in concentrating work 
on the smallest possible number instead of spreading it out over many 
men. The rate at which this concentration shall be carried out is very 
largely within the control of the Exchange. De-casualization, in other 
words, once the Exchanges were at work, might be made to proceed 
as slowly or, within limits, as quickly as was desired. A great part 
of it would be accomplished by squeezing out the very lowest class of 
men who now live really on sources other than their own labour 
upon their family or upon charity ; the day's work that they now get 
once a week or once a fortnight, and that does them no real good, 
might go to some other man now getting three or four days a week 
and make for him all the difference between sufficiency and slow 


starvation. A great part again could be accomplished by squeezing 
out the highest class the young and vigorous who, if forced to 
it, might find other openings. Another part would consist simply of 
preventing any entry of fresh men to replace those who died. In the 
third place, since a great many of those thrown out, especially at 
first, would be men of a very low class, unfitted by privation and bad 
habits for immediate undertaking of regular work, it would be 
necessary to have available some form of training or convalescent 
institution where they could be dieted and disciplined into other 
ways." x 

Sidney Webb speaks of this analysis of the situation by Mr. 
Beveridge as one of "the most momentous of this generation 
in the realm of economic sciences." 2 It is a suggestion that 
individual employment offices in America have carried out in 
a small way and found practical, but it cannot be utilized with 
sufficient effectiveness to decrease the underemployment and 
moral deterioration of the casual laborer except by a well-estab- 
lished, comprehensive employment system directed by men 
with training commensurate with the difficulties of their task. 

We have discussed thus far three main types found among 
the common laborers resident in any community: those hold- 
ing regular positions, those who hold two or more positions 
during the year but work whenever they can get work, and the 
casual who is idle whenever he can avoid work. The two other 
types of common laborers to which we referred in our classifica- 
tion are migrants rather than residents. The typical charac- 
teristic of their lives is that they have no permanent abiding 
place and no permanent employer. The distinction between 
the two types is practically the distinction between the irregular 
resident laborer and the casual one seeks employment and 
pursues chances to work, the other travels and works as little 
as possible. The superficial differences between the two may 
not be noticeable, but the moral differences are significant. 

Many farm hands, carpenters, painters, and other classes 
of mechanics, as well as laborers who are permanent residents 

1 "Unemployment: A Problem of Industry," Beveridge, pp. 201-206. 

2 "Prevention of Destitution," Webb, p. 130. 


of specific communities, at times find it advisable temporarily 
to seek employment in other communities, but either return 
to the communities from which they started, or take up a per- 
manent abode in the new locality. These temporary migrants 
are not the persons whom we are now discussing. They migrate 
from one place to another to work, but are not part of the mi- 
gratory labor group. They do not spend their lives in travel. 
They are steady workmen who have temporarily found it 
necessary or promising to try their fortunes in a new place. 

It is true that many of them are caught by the economic 
forces or the lures and temptations which surround the man 
who is on the road and degenerate into true migratory workers. 
As one of the witnesses before the New York Commission well 

"We talk a great deal about men becoming tramps and hoboes. 
In my experience over a great many years, and particularly in my 
connection with the Bowery Branch, with which I have been con- 
nected for ten years and as active secretary for seven, I will give it as 
my unqualified opinion that a great many of these men are becoming 
encouraged in becoming disciples of the road because of their earnest 
efforts to find employment, and continually seeking it from one town 
to another. I have very many cases which I could cite of men, 
intelligent, capable fellows, who have become virtually tramps be- 
cause of their continued search for work, and trying to readapt or 
readjust themselves to changed conditions. And I therefore think 
it is entirely wrong for the State to impose that burden on the man, 
when the State can more adequately and thoroughly and more 
successfully render the service by putting in his reach information 
facilities which will enable him quickly to adjust himself to the con- 
ditions in which he finds himself." l 

The attempt to transplant one's self, when it does not yield 
good results, leads easily to a second and third move, and not 
infrequently to an inability to stay anywhere. 

The true or confirmed migrants the Ishmaelites of modern 
times have no abodes. They live where they happen to be. 

1 Mr. Harry W. Hoot in Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability 
and Unemployment, April, 1911, Appendix n, p. 197. 


If one of them gives you a permanent address, it is the place he 
left years ago, never to return, or else it is fictitious. They 
generally either have no family, or several families. The ones 
they have, have usually been abandoned ; and ordinarily there 
is scant welcome if the wanderer makes an occasional visit. 

" They live in the camp or lodging-house. Their pleasure is found in 
the saloon and its accompaniments ; in the pool-room or the movies ; or 
in the rough jokes of the camp. When in town they are the prey of the 
saloon, the dive, the second-hand store, the employment agency, the 
municipal police court, the lodging-house thief, the pickpocket. In 
camp their lot is often little better. The writer has known cases 
where men have worked a month and have been in debt to their em- 
ployer at the end for employment fees, post-office fees, board, hospital 
fees, and transportation." 1 

As a result, 

"There has been a remarkable increase in the number of these men 
(tramps) in the United States during the last two decades. Previous 
to the Civil War, the word 'tramp' did not appear upon the statute 
books of any state of the Union. Today nearly all recognize his 
existence and endeavor to cope with the problem which he presents. 
Twenty years ago a few small cheap lodging houses, built for the 
accommodation of homeless working men, might have been found in 
some half dozen of our largest cities. Today there are a number of 
such lodging houses in every large city in the country ; they house not 
only hundreds and thousands of 'homeless' workingmen, but also 
large numbers of tramps, beggars, and petty criminals." 2 

"With the exception of Greater New York, the city of Chicago has 
a greater number of such lodging houses and a larger floating tran- 
sient population than any other city in the United States. The reasons 
for this are many. Situated in the heart of the Mississippi Valley at 
the foot of Lake Michigan it attracts to itself during a part of the year 
thousands of harvest hands from the northwest, deck hands from the 
lake boats, railway construction laborers, men from the lumber camps 
of the North, and men from all over the Central West who are em- 
ployed in seasonal trades of many sorts." 

1 Cf. "A Clearing House for Labor," Lescohier, Atlantic Monthly, June, igi8. 
* "One Thousand Homeless Men," Solenberger, p. 2, p. 6. Cf. also Final Report 
Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1165-1177; 1341-1358, 1359-1362. 


Mr. A. H. Larson, formerly manager of a branch office of 
the National Employment Exchange, 1 gave a description of the 
process of degeneration through which many workers pass 
which coincides with the writer's observations : 


Mr. Larson. . . . The conditions leading up to the homeless un- 
employed rest largely on the environment to which he is introduced 
in the commissary camp. This is not original, but I want it on the 
record, because I think it is important. Take, for instance, a young 
American who is brought up on a farm ; he comes to the city. He has 
only a few dollars, and he may go to a cheap lodging house, and pay 
15 or 20 cents for two or three nights, until he gets a job, and goes out 
on contract work. He lives in a commissary, that, originally, the 
contractor may have intended to be sanitary, but when you get an 
aggregation of men in a commissary it is quite difficult to keep it 
in a sanitary condition unless it is strictly supervised. 

Mr. Leiserson. Do you state from actual experience with people 
in camps? 

Mr. Larson. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Leiserson. State how you got your experience. 

Mr. Larson. I got my experience from taking them to jobs from 
New York City from 1909 off and on until 1912. When a man lives 
in an insanitary camp, usually he works there four to six months, 
and he lives in filthy conditions. At one end of the bar he gets his 
sardines and his loaf of bread and comes back to the middle of the bar 
and gets his bottle of beer, and that is his dinner. Then he comes 
back to New York, and the cheap lodging house on the Bowery is 
not nearly as repulsive to him as it was the first time he came to the 
city. He will stay around a lodging house for a few days, each morn- 
ing going out and looking for work. When he has been there a week 
probably, it suddenly dawns on him that he is about the only man 
in the lodging house looking for work, and he wants to know the 
reason, and then he is instructed by acquaintances he has made, how 
to live in New York City without working. You heard something 
last winter about men being sent out on snow from the municipal 
lodging house, and that they would not work. I refuse to believe 

1 This was a private employment agency of the better type which operated within 
the city of New York. 



that those men would not work because they were underfed. Eighty 
per cent of the men going to the municipal lodging house are physically 
capable of doing ordinary manual labor. 

Mr. Leiserson. Will you state just what experience you had in the 
municipal lodging house that caused you to speak of this particular 
point ? 

Mr. Larson. I was social secretary there for two years. 

Mr. Leiserson. And that 

Mr. Larson (interrupting). As such I tried to get work for the 
men and help runaway boys to get back home, and so on. Sixty- 
five per cent of the best men applying at the municipal lodging 
house I say the best men, because I did not have time to interview 
any but the men that I felt I had the biggest chance of doing some- 
thing for consequently I picked out the best men I saw in line ; I 
asked them to come to my desk. Sixty-five per cent of the best men 
applying at the municipal lodging house were there through in- 
temperance. Don't get that confused with the statement that 80 
per cent of the men are capable of doing physical labor. The fact that 
a man is down and out through drink does not necessarily mean that 
he has been able to earn enough money to drink enough whiskey to 
break his physical constitution. But it does mean that through his 
environment at one point or another he has reached a point or he has 
reached a stage of disregard of moral respect 

Mr. Leiserson. Would you put the responsibility for that lapse 
on the part of that that lack of self-respect on the part of the man 
on the conditions in the camps the commissary conditions, and 
so on? 

Mr. Larson. Starting with the labor camp and graduating in the 
cheap lodging houses. 

Mr. Leiserson. You think that those conditions manufacture these 
men who are unwilling to work? 

Mr. Larson. I certainly do. 1 

The employment service should develop very definite policies 
for dealing with the various types of laborers. They should, 
in the first place, keep a very careful record of their experience 
with each individual. Too frequently, employment officials 
have said, "He is just a common laborer," and have (uncon- 
sciously) assumed that any common laborer could be sent to 

1 Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1268-1269. 


any employer, just as any sack of wheat might be sent to any 
miller. Nothing is farther from the truth. Each laborer has 
special capacities and peculiarities, and the employment official, 
as he places him from time to time, should be seeking to determine 
the kind of job for which each man is best fitted and to get him 
into that kind of a job. But it is impossible to keep each man 
in mind, and the official's memory must necessarily consist of 
an office record. Every placement should be followed up and 
its results noted, not for the purpose simply of discovering which 
men are unreliable, but for the purpose of enabling the place- 
ment officers to sift the laborers and constructively assist them 
into steadier work. Many a man has been lifted out of casual 
work into steadier employment by such help; and even more 
men have been changed from irregular to regular employees. 
The employment officer must continually remember that a man's 
value to society is in large measure determined by the regularity 
of his work and life. It is the men and women who work 
steadily, have continuing responsibilities, and who are permanent 
members of some community who are the foundation upon 
which American democracy rests. Every man who does his 
little to stabilize work and lives does a little for the strengthen- 
ing and improvement of our national life. The employment 
service cannot, of course, start out to solve all of the problems 
connected with the unemployables and semi-employables who 
will come under its observation. It is not a rescue mission. 
But its business is one which so intimately affects the life of 
its customers, that it must at least assume responsibility for 
intelligent, careful direction of those who apply to it for work. 
It owes this duty to them, to the employers for whom they will 
work, and to the nation. 


A GOOD deal has been said and written in recent years about 
"the farm labor problem." One can as accurately speak of 
"the manufacturing labor problem." For farming, like manu- 
facturing, presents a wide variety of labor problems. There is 
as much difference between the farm labor problem in a dairy 
district and the farm labor problem in a small grain area or an 
irrigated apple district, as there is between the labor problem 
in a machine shop and that in a beet sugar factory or an oyster 
cannery. Failure to recognize the complexity of "the farm 
labor problem" can only lead to attempted solutions that 
will prove inadequate. A second important fact should also 
be noted: Those who speak of "the farm labor problem" 
have in mind the farmer's labor problem. They are thinking 
of the shortage of skilled farm hands wtu'ch so often embarrasses 
the farmer. They have often overlooked the fact that the farm 
hand may possibly have a "farm labor problem" that also needs 
solution. We believe that this chapter will demonstrate that 
the farmer's problem cannot be solved unless the "farm hand's" 
problem is solved too. We hope that the discussion may help 
stimulate that careful study of the situation in each state which 
is the first requisite to an adequate farm labor policy. It will 
not be possible to relieve the farm labor shortage which obtains 
in many sections of the country unless we meet each local situa- 
tion with a policy which fits that particular situation. 


The shortage of competent, responsible farm hands is no fig- 
ment of the farmer's imagination. It is a serious reality. It 
has resulted in thousands of skilled farmers selling their farms 
and retiring from the business. It has resulted in other thou- 



sands leasing their farms to tenants. It has reduced the output 
of American agriculture and retarded the development of farm- 
ing. If the shortage consisted of a scarcity of harvest hands 
or other but slightly skilled help, it would not be difficult to 
deal with. But it is a shortage of men competent to handle 
modern farm machinery and valuable horses; of men able to 
cultivate corn, care for orchards, or manage stock. 

Many reasons for the scarcity have been suggested. The 
Country Life Commission showed that our democratic civiliza- 
tion spurs the ambitious, competent farm hand to become a 
tenant and eventually a farm owner; that shorter hours of 
labor, easier access to diversion, and often higher wages in the 
cities, draw the young people from the farms to city industries, 
and that the indifference of many farmers to the comfort of 
their men deters laborers from accepting farm work. Unfor- 
tunately for the farmer, it is generally the best of the young 
people who seek a richer life away from the farm, and the loss 
to the rural community when the young people go to the cities 
is greater than mere numbers indicate. By a natural process 
of sifting, most of the more competent young farm hands either 
become farm operators or leave farming, while intermittent work 
and irregular living impair the efficiency of a large percentage 
of those who remain farm laborers. 

There is another cause of farm labor shortage of much impor- 
tance. The scarcity is partly due to the violent fluctuations 
in the demand for such labor. Irregularities of demand have 
played an important part in creating deficiencies of supply. 
The reliable type of farm worker is driven away from agriculture 
by inability to secure steady employment. No plan to produce 
an adequate supply of farm labor will succeed unless the workers 
can support a family by farm work. 

Our writers have been looking at the farm labor question 
from the point of view of the farmer, and it may throw some 
light on the problem to now approach it from the angle of the em- 
ployment market. There is no reason to believe that the farmer 
and agriculture can stand in any different relation to wage 
workers than other industries. 


The fact that even large farms employ but a small number 
of men, as compared with the number employed in what the 
cities call a small manufacturing or constructing business, 
has caused farmers to overlook the necessity of studying the 
labor aspects of their farm labor problem. They have not 
realized that the farm labor situation is but a part of the general 
labor situation. They have not recognized the fact that agri- 
culture is competing with urban industries for its labor. It is 
now important to emphasize that the farmer and the housewife 
have reached the time in our national development when they 
must adapt themselves to the conditions in the labor market, 
and employ their help on a modern business basis. 

The employment exchange manager, when he looks at the 
farm labor problem, sees it from an entirely different point of 
view than the agriculturist or the educator. To him, the farmer 
is simply an employer looking for labor. Agriculture is one of 
the industries seeking men to do its work. Different farms, 
and different kinds of farming, represent different types of agri- 
cultural establishments, requiring men of different kinds of 
skill and various degrees of strength, for varying periods of 
time. The employment man knows from his experience, that 
the success of agriculture in finding the men it needs depends 
fundamentally upon the ability of the agricultural industry to 
offer attractive labor opportunities to the men it seeks. He 
immediately asks himself: "What does agriculture offer the 
farm laborer in the way of a vocation, an adequate livelihood, 
a satisfactory life? " His answer to this question makes clear 
some of the reasons for the scarcity of good farm help. 

The farm ojjers, to a large part of the skilled men it needs, 
irregular work, no definite hours of labor, isolation, and in 
many districts, wages lower than those in other employment. The 
responsible, self-respecting workingman, whether urban or 
agricultural, wants steady work, definite hours of labor, definite 
duties, satisfactory living conditions, companionship, and wages 
adequate to afford him a good livelihood. "The country," 
says the Country Life Commission (and the employment man), 
"must meet the essential conditions offered by the town, or 


change the kind of farming." . . . "The shortage of labor 
seems to be the least marked where the laborer is best cared for" 
(pp. 94, 97). Unless farming can offer labor opportunities as 
good as those offered by other industries it will continue to 
suffer from its present scarcity of good workmen. Every farmer 
who offers steady employment at fair wages, with reasonable 
hours of labor and proper living conditions, is using one of the 
most dependable methods to assist the nation to solve the 
farm labor problem. 

The unsteadiness of farm work not only deters men from tak- 
ing up farm labor as an occupation, but encourages farmers 
to try to get all they can out of the men they employ tempo- 
rarily. Since the farmer is not trying to make the man like his 
place and remain there, he is apt to demand longer hours of 
labor and more work than he would from a man whom he planned 
to hold permanently. On the average, he does not provide 
as good sleeping accommodations as he would for steady help, 
and often fails to provide as good board. The inferior class 
of transient laborers who go to the farms under existing condi- 
tions are an excuse in the farmer's mind for the perpetuation 
of such conditions. The situation works in a circle: The 
farm gets a poor class of help because of its unsteady demand 
for men and deficient working conditions, and it continues the 
unsteady demand and those labor conditions because it gets a 
poor class of help. 

Agriculture's demand for labor, like that of the urban indus- 
tries, is of three main types : A demand for steady or year- 
round help ; a demand for busy season help ; and a demand for 
short-time or casual help. The first of these types is found 
typically on dairy farms, and where diversified crops combined 
with stock raising make continuity of employment possible. 
The second, or crop season, demand consists of offers of farm 
employment during the crop growing season. In almost every 
section of the country there is a vigorous call each spring for 
farm hands to work until the crop has been gathered and either 
marketed or stored. The third, or casual, demand is found 
at the rush seasons, when farmers want extra help for days ot 


weeks. The year-round and crop season demands are for "all- 
round" farm hands, for skilled and responsible men. Much 
of the short period demand, such as the small grain harvest 
and fruit picking, can be satisfied by inexperienced help. Only 
a minority of skilled workers is required. 

The demand for year-round help is the ideal type of labor 
demand. It offers continuous employment to the workman, 
gives him a definite annual wage and permits him to have a per- 
manent residence ; while it keeps the farmer continuously supplied 
with help, enables him to calculate his approximate annual labor 
costs in advance, and keeps his capital investment on his farm 
profitably employed throughout the year. But the demand 
for year-round men is, unfortunately, a minor element in the 
demand for farm labor. The larger farms in all parts of the 
country keep a small number of steady employees ; dairy and 
stock farms in most cases do not vary their labor force through 
the year, and some farmers who could dispense with help 
during the winter months keep their men through the dull 
season if they will accept reduced wages. Farmers can do 
more to relieve the farm labor shortage by reorganizing their 
crop and stock system so as to spread their work more uniformly 
through the year, and thus create a steady demand for skilled 
farm hands, than by any other single measure. It is of course 
true that the best of the farm hands will, on the average, marry 
and either become tenants or farm owners. It will probably 
be difficult, at least in the immediate future, to develop any 
considerable number of married men who will live in tenant 
houses on the farm and work as farm laborers. The farm laborer 
who "is worth his salt" tends, under American conditions, 
to acquire control of a farm and go into business for himself 
when he marries. There is an essential difference at this point 
between the farm wage earner and the city wage earner. The 
one goes into business for himself when he marries ; the other's 
occupation is not disturbed by his marriage. 

The crop season demand corresponds to the contractor's 
spring demand for carpenters and other building mechanics; 
or to the manufacturer's call for skilled workers for his busy 


season. The farmer, like these other employers, is seeking 
skilled, experienced workers for a period of months, with the 
full expectation of discharging them as soon as his busy season 
ends. And, like these others, he has been experiencing increas- 
ing difficulty in recent years in finding this skilled help when 
it is needed. They are all complaining about a shortage of 
"good men." The contractor laments the fact that so few of 
the mechanics he can obtain have really "learned their trade." 
The manufacturer, after long dependence upon immigration, 
is now seeking to provide himself with skilled men by promoting 
industrial education. The farmer complains incessantly at the 
scarcity of men who are competent in farm work. All three 
are embarrassed by their inability to get men who will "stick." 

The demand for crop season labor, as already suggested, is 
the most difficult demand to fill. It calls for men of as good 
quality as year-round hands, but does not offer advantages to 
workmen sufficient to keep an adequate supply of such men in 
the market. The man who fills the crop season demand must 
find other work during the winter months. This is the dull 
period in a majority of our industries, and especially in the rural 
counties. The supply of winter work for such farm hands is 
not adequate, and if obtained at all generally requires migra- 
tion to another locality. Some go to the woods or the mines, 
others to factories or casual work. But a large part of them 
face probable unemployment for a large part of the winter. 
Except in localities where the crop season demand is so limited 
that local laborers who find other local work during the winter 
months can meet the need, the situation almost inevitably 
drives the steady, reliable man who wants a dependable liveli- 
hood to seek some employment in which he can at least live in 
a community where there is a prospect of winter employment. 

Many farmers want skilled men for even shorter periods. 
Each spring there is a strong call for skilled men to work but 
a few weeks during seeding. Later in the season the farm 
develops short-time demands for help for haying, harvesting, 
threshing, corn husking, potato picking, fruit picking, and pack- 
ing, and other rush season needs, but these require but a small 


percentage of skilled workers. Much of the work can be done 
by able-bodied persons after brief instruction. 

This demand resembles the contractor's offer of employment 
on specific jobs to terminate with the completion of the job, and 
the manufacturer's or merchant's employment of extra skilled 
help for short rush periods. The demand for skilled help 
thus appears under three forms : for steady help to work the 
year round, for season help, and for short-time or peak-load 

Large farms often hire all three classes of help, year-round, 
crop season, and rush period just as the large factory or con- 
tractor does ; while the smaller farms depend upon a steady 
man with extra short-time help in the harvest, or hire help 
only during the rush periods. A farm of about 1000 acres in 
central Minnesota, which produced milk and beef cattle, hogs, 
corn, wheat, oats, rye, and barley, epitomizes the labor policies 
which American farmers have adopted to make their outlay 
for labor fluctuate with the volume of their work. Four or 
five men were hired the year round. Season help was hired in 
March or April to work until December. They were the main 
dependence for corn cultivating and for summer fallowing. 
Extra hands were hired for three or four weeks in April and 
May for seeding, and then discharged. Early in July haying 
hands were employed by the day, most of whom could remain 
through the harvest if they cared to. In August and September 
a considerable number of harvest hands were added for harvest 
and threshing. Little thought was given by this operator to 
the practicability of spreading his work more uniformly through 
the year by different cropping and stock feeding policy. 

Many communities haven't a single farm on which all three 
types of farm help will be found. But every prosperous farm- 
ing community contains farms which utilize one or more of 
the types on different farms. Farmers whose choice of crops 
and methods of management spread their work rather evenly 
through the year keep steady hands ; those who diversify 
their field crops and put in a considerable acreage of corn, 
potatoes, sugar beet, truck, or other crops requiring cultivation, 



need season hands; while those who grow hay, small grains, 
and fruits are apt to need short-time help. 

But crop diversification and careful planning can materially 
reduce the demand for seasonal help and increase the demand 


Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May June July AUQ. Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec. CROPS 









182 164 169 247 481 424 190 130 1560 1560 702 182 


for steady help. We realize, of course, that absolute uniformity 
of labor needs throughout the year cannot be attained. Cotton 
and fruit picking, the small grain harvest, and similar agri- 
cultural concentrations of work are certain to produce rush- 
periods in various sections of the country which will compel the 
employment of extra help. 



A Texas farmer working 123 acres of land put 115 acres into 
cotton, four into corn, and four into sorghum. (See Chart VII.) 
During January, February, and March his farm required him to 
work about seven hours a day. In April, he worked nine hours. 


416 416 416 416 572 572 520 520 624 624 468 416 

In May and June he hired one man but did not give him steady 
work. In July and August he let his man go and only worked 
half time himself. In September and October he hired five extra 
hands and three during the early part of November and sent 
his family into the fields. In December he was alone again. 
During seven months of the year he did not have enough work 


to keep himself busy. For two months he hired one man but 
could not give him full time \\ork. For two and a half months he 
needed several extra men to help pick his crop. On another farm, 
with 150 acres, the farmer raised thirty acres of cotton, forty- 
five acres of corn, twenty-five acres of oats, twenty-four acres 
of wheat, twenty-five acres of sorghum, and i^ acres of millet 
and garden. (See Chart VIII.) He hired one man by the year, 
and his boys helped when not in school. He did not hire any 
short-time help. The first farmer kept two cows, two hogs, and 
four mules ; the second, twenty cows, eight hogs, and five horses. 
The first farmer's earnings for the year were $1950 ; the second, 
$3250. The observer comments on the two cases as follows: 
The first 

" kept his children out of school to pick cotton and sent his wife into 
the cotton field. An undesirable class of itinerant labor was brought 
into the neighborhood which became a burden to the rest of the com- 
munity when the picking season was over . . . He is gradually rob- 
bing the soil." The second "brought desirable labor into the 
neighborhood, needed no additional labor, kept his men and equip- 
ment busy, and improved his soil." 1 

The value of this demonstration, which is but one of a num- 
ber in the same bulletin, is not confined to the cotton states. 
We can substitute wheat, flax, rye, fruit, and other acreages 
for the cotton acreage and find the illustration descriptive of 
conditions in many other states or parts of states. Concen- 
tration of demands within short seasons discourage workmen 
from remaining permanently in the business and training them- 
selves for it. 2 

Charts VII to IX illustrate the stabilization of labor de- 
mand which can be effected by carefully planned crop diversi- 
fication. Charts VII and IX show the highly seasonal demand 
for labor of a cotton farmer ; Chart VIII, the almost uniform labor 

lU Man Power in Agriculture," Bulletin of the Agriculture and Mechanical 
College of Texas, College Station, Texas, October, igi8. 

2 A number of striking contrasts in the farm labor demands of different types 
of farms will be found on pages g-i2 of "A Graphic Summary of Seasonal Work 
on Farm Crops," Separate from Year Book of Department of Agriculture, 1917, 
No 758. 



demand on a well-diversified farm. Chart IX presents a small 
farm, where hired labor is used but little. Its interest is in 
its demonstration that single crop agriculture on a small scale 
prevents the farmer from utilizing his own labor power effectively, 













Acres Cul'd 





ii ii ii in n 



52 169 145 39 

13 234 i 260 130 39 


just as single crop agriculture on a larger scale causes periods 
of rush alternated by periods of stagnation in the labor market. 


There are three basic influences in agriculture which have 
an important effect upon the farm labor demand. The first 
is found in differences in temperature and rainfall in the different 


sections of the country. These control to a large extent the time 
of the year when each crop operation is performed in the several 
localities, and also influence the kind of crops grown. Spring 
oats, for instance, are planted in northern Florida about Janu- 
ary 10, and the planting area then moves gradually northward. 
The end of March finds the oats in the ground in Kentucky 
and Tennessee, and in another month the seeding is under way 
as far north as Duluth. The United States Department of 
Agriculture says that the movement "of spring operations and 
events" northward proceeds at a rate of "approximately one 
degree of latitude or 400 feet of altitude in four days"; and 
that in the fall the progress of operations southward as the 
northern states freeze up proceeds at about the same rate. 1 
This does not mean that the demand for labor in the southern 
states disappears as this wave of labor demand moves northward 
each spring. Instead, the opening up of the spring farm labor 
demand in the south and its gradual spread northward means 
a steady widening and enlarging of the demand for farm labor 
from January to May. 

The second of these factors is the topography of the country. 
This determines to a considerable extent, in conjunction with 
temperature and rainfall, the size of the farm and the type of 
agriculture characteristic of each district. A rugged country, 
in which relatively small valleys offer the only opportunity for 
the plow and the hills must be turned over to cattle or sheep, 
will generally develop small farms where most of the farm work 
is done by the family, and little help is hired. The broad prairies 
of the Dakotas just as naturally invite the tractor, the gang 
plow, and the extensive cultivation of small grains. 

The third modifying factor is the type of crops raised. This 
is of course a result of climate, soils, topography, market facili- 
ties, customs (which may have grown up more or less acci- 
dentally), and other causes. But it makes a great deal of dif- 
ference, when one attempts to develop practical policies for 
meeting the farm labor needs of any state or locality, whether 
tobacco, beet sugar, apples, wheat, milk, or cotton is the most 

1 Bulletin Number 758, page 4. 


important crop in that district. The type of crop raised largely 
determines the type and quality of labor needed. The extent 
to which farmers practice single crop as contrasted with diversi- 
fied agriculture combined with the kind of crops raised, deter- 
mines the time and the intensity of the seasonal demands for 

The United States, with its variety of climate, altitude, soil, 
rainfall, and population, naturally contains agricultural dis- 
tricts of many radically different types. The broad acres of 
Texas, where cotton and wheat are raised on large farms with 
much employment of negro labor, the cotton districts of the 
lower Mississippi valley, the mixed farming of the upper At- 
lantic coast and the northeastern states as far west as Michigan 
and Indiana, the rich corn fields of Illinois and Iowa, the 
small grain states in the upper Mississippi Valley, the wheat, 
rye, and grazing areas between the Dakotasand the mountains, 
the ranches of the southwest, and the fruit, vegetable, and grain 
farms of New York, Florida, or the Pacific coast, produce radi- 
cally different farm labor needs in the different sections of the 

Even a cursory survey of our agriculture will make one realize 
that no farm labor policy will be successful that attempts to 
fit one method to the whole United States. The same policy 
may be adapted to the needs of a part of New York state, 
a part of California, and a part of West Virginia. But that 
policy may not fit the needs of any entire state. A third of 
the whole agricultural area of the country may present very 
similar problems, but that third is probably scattered through 
a majority of the states. This fact is so important in the de- 
velopment of our farm labor policies that we will present, as 
briefly as possible, a summary of the agricultural peculiarities 
of a number of typical states and the resultant variety of farm 
labor demands in those states. 

The essential labor difficulty in the northeastern or manu- 
facturing section of the country is the holding of farm labor. 
Here the lure of the city is particularly strong. Pennsylvania 
exhibits the situation in a nutshell. 


The western and northern sections of the state are a hilly 
country in which small farms are worked by family units with 
but little hired help, although there are some large dairy farms 
producing milk for New York and Philadelphia which hire 
help by the year. In the central or mountain section, where 
only the valleys are of agricultural value, the farmers not only 
depend almost entirely upon their own families for farm labor 
but supplement their farm income by other occupations. In 
the southeastern section, a better agriculture obtains. Here 
potatoes, tobacco, oats, hay, beef, and milk are produced for 
market. The farms average about eighty acres and depend 
upon the farmer's family as the chief source of labor. In and 
around Lancaster county many farms hire one or two men 
throughout the year, many of whom are married men, for whom 
tenant houses are provided. The tobacco farmers in this 
county avoid dependence upon seasonal labor by feeding steers 
during the winter months, which fits very nicely into the work 
of stripping tobacco, and enables them to get along with such 
seasonal labor as the small towns can provide. 

The Lake Erie truck and fruit region, with its cultivating, 
picking, packing, and shipping, is the only part of the state 
where farms require much crop-season help, and this is ordi- 
narily obtained in the neighboring cities. In Pennsylvania 
family labor is the main dependence and the use of seasonal 
labor is very restricted. 

The warmer and more level state of Indiana requires more 
hired help than Pennsylvania. But marked differences in 
the farm labor situation are found in different sections of the 

Southern Indiana is rolling, with spots of rich bottom land, 
but is principally useful for grazing and fruit growing. Its 
wheat, rye, and other crops give but small yields and " there is 
a surplus of farm labor in the greater part of this section. Many 
men leave every spring for the farms of the north and west." 
The principal exception is found in the extreme southwestern 
corner, where large acreages of wheat, rye, and corn call for 
considerable harvest labor. 


A belt extending east and west through the central part of 
the state is the important agricultural area of the state. The 
western third of this consists of a prairie region where corn and 
oats are raised on large farms, and there is a strong demand for 
year-round and crop season labor, with a slight extra demand 
for harvest hands. The eastern two thirds of the area has 
smaller farms and raises a larger variety of crops, and its work 
is spread more uniformly through the year, with the demand 
almost entirely for steady help. Each locality produces its 
own day labor and but little unskilled labor is needed. In the 
northwestern corner of the state, north of the Kankakee River, 
is a truck and dairy section, where the highest farm wages in 
the state are paid to good dairymen and experienced truck 

The demand for farm labor in Tennessee is predominantly 
for year-round and crop season help. In eastern Tennessee 
with its diversified farming and a limited amount of dairying 
near the larger towns and cities, the demand is principally for 
season help to work from March i through August, but with 
some demand for hay and harvest hands. But this short-time 
help is largely furnished by the neighbor's boy or the laborer 
living in the neighboring town rather than by the transient. 
Just to the west, on the Cumberland plateau and Highland 
Run, where the soil is light and sandy, there is practically no 
demand for outside labor. The farmer's family and the neigh- 
bor's boy are able to do the farm work during the summer, and 
many of the farmers and farm hands work in the coal mines 
or lumbering camps during the winter. 

The central basin, rich in phosphate, fertile, and a natural 
blue grass section, presents an entirely different situation. It 
is a prosperous farming area. Most of the farms range from 
one hundred sixty to four hundred acres. Corn is grown on a 
large scale, and beef cattle, hogs, mules, and sheep are raised 
in large numbers. Milk production for creameries is common. 
Here there is a steady demand for year-round, reliable farm 
help, combined with a heavy spring demand for extra help 
for planting and cultivating, and a still heavier demand for 


haying and harvest hands in June and July. A considerable 
number of transients are hired during this harvest season. 
Wages average a little higher than in the poorer district to the 
east. The same situation obtains in the blue grass region of 
Kentucky, and in the counties southwest of it, but more labor 
is required there for tobacco cutting. 

West of the Tennessee River, the character of the agriculture 
again changes. Cotton is the leading crop, with corn second 
in importance. Negro men and women furnish most of the 
field hands, and negro share croppers cultivate a good deal of 
the land. The extra help needed in cotton-picking time is 
furnished by the negroes from the towns. 

In northwestern Tennessee, and the Mississippi delta, which 
is very rich land, is found a cotton-growing district of a more pro- 
gressive and prosperous type. Corn rather than cotton pre- 
dominates. Hogs are produced in large numbers. Corn, 
cotton, and wheat raising are carried on along with the live-stock 
business. Many farmers need help the year round respons- 
ible, skilled help and offer wages better than those in the 
cotton and corn district just to the east, while a considerable 
amount of short-time help is employed for planting and har- 

The essential contrast between the farming of Tennessee and 
Kentucky is found in the importance of cotton in Tennessee 
and of tobacco in Kentucky. Cotton is the crop which tempts 
Tennessee farmers toward single crop agriculture; tobacco 
the crop which tempts Kentuckians. But the tobacco farmers 
on the whole have been more inclined to raise corn and live- 
stock, and thus develop a less acute seasonal demand for labor. 

The grain states of the northern Mississippi Valley have been 
particularly dependent upon seasonal labor. Their impor- 
tance as producers of staple food products makes their farm 
labor situation particularly important. 

The agriculture centers around two crops, corn and wheat. 
In Illinois and Iowa we find typical corn agriculture ; in western 
Minnesota and the Dakotas, typical wheat agriculture. The 
writer does not mean to imply that these are the only crops 


raised. But they are the crops which stand first in the farmer's 
mind. They determine his selection of other crops and have a 
controlling effect on his farming policy. 

Kansas furnishes a good illustration of both types. In 
eastern Kansas, where corn is the leading crop, and the 
typical farm is from eighty to one hundred and sixty acres, 
we have a typical diversified farming district such as is common 
in the central west. There is a steady demand for year-round 
help, and many farmers provide a house for the family in order 
to get steady help. There is likewise the strong demand for 
crop season help which is typical of such farming districts in 
Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, and similar 

West of this corn belt is the Kansas wheat area. Here the 
farms are larger, running from one hundred sixty to six hundred 
forty acres; the farming is not so diversified, and dairying 
exists to but a very limited extent. 

"The demand for farm labor in this district is almost entirely for 
harvesting and threshing, but a light demand for plowing, sowing 
wheat, and putting the sorghums in the silo exists. The demand here 
is nearly altogether for single men. Not needing help the year round, 
the farmers do not provide houses for their families." 

In western Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana, the spring 
demand is quite active but followed by a lull in June and then an 
increasingly vigorous demand in July, August, and September. 

Still farther west, and extending to the Colorado line, is 
the grazing section of Kansas. In the northern part of this 
area some wheat and sorghums are raised, but much larger 
quantities in the southern part. 

" Crops are rather uncertain in this district, consequently the farm 
labor demand is not at all regular. Some years there is a heavy 
demand for harvest and threshing help for about sixty days ; in other 
years, when wheat does not develop, there is no demand to be reckoned 
with during the entire year." 

South Dakota is a typical small-grain state. Like Kansas, 
it contains agricultural areas which are very dissimilar. It is 


divided into two nearly equal sections by the Missouri River, 
which runs from the north down across the center of the state. 
The district east of the river has a much better rainfall than the 
western part of the state. The northern part of the eastern 
half of the state is largely devoted to small-grain farming, 
although there is considerable dairying and some grazing of 
unfarmed land. The central third of this east section is not 
so well settled. It has more pasture and less corn than the 
northern section. All of the farmers keep live-stock and there 
is considerable dairying. The southeastern part of this area 
raises more potatoes than any other part of the state. The 
farms in the southern third of the east half average about two 
hundred forty acres each and corn is the principal crop. Some 
small grain is raised on each farm, and there is considerable 
feeding of cattle and hogs. 

The farm labor demands of these three areas are consid- 
erably different. In the southern third of the east half of 
the state, the majority of the farmers want one or two hired men 
for the crop season and from one to four extra hands for the 
small-grain harvest and in corn husking. Relatively few keep 
a man steadily through the year. The central third hires 
more crop season hands and also more harvesters than the 
southern. Both potato pickers and corn huskers are needed 
in this area in the fall. The northern third needs the largest 
number of grain harvesters. In normal seasons this east half 
of the state uses seven or eight thousand harvest and threshing 
hands, and some four thousand for corn husking. 

The other half of the state, west of the Missouri River, is 
dryer and more devoted to stock and alfalfa, except in the 
extreme southeastern corner of the area, which does not differ 
from the east side of the river, except that it is less developed. 
North and east of the Black Hills are some irrigated districts 
where intensive farming is practiced. Alfalfa is steadily 
increasing in favor in the western part of the state, and several 
hundred extra men are hired each year for alfalfa haying. 
This need will probably increase in future years. There is 
little demand in this half of the state for grain harvest hands, 


and but a limited demand for crop season help. Many of the 
stock raisers keep steady help throughout the year. 

Minnesota is an interesting state, both from an agricultural 
and from a farm labor point of view. It is a sort of border state 
for several different types of agriculture. Along its southern 
and eastern boundary lines the moderate-sized farms and dairy 
interests of western Wisconsin are duplicated in a diversified 
farming district, largely peopled by Germans and Scandina- 
vians, in which some of the finest Holstein and Jersey cattle 
in the middle west form the basis of an important dairy industry. 
The two tiers of counties running across the southern end of 
the state might be mistaken for Iowa. 

The southwestern and west central section, largely Scandi- 
navian in population, with its relatively large farms, many of 
which have over 400 acres of rich rolling land, resembles the 
best parts of South Dakota. Here small grains are raised on 
a large scale, beef cattle and hogs are fattened in considerable 
numbers, and dairying is less important. As one travels north 
along that western border of Minnesota he reaches the Red 
River Valley, one of the famous small-grain areas, and finds 
farming that is almost identical in type with the wheat, rye, 
barley, and flax raising of North Dakota. 

Northeastern Minnesota, on the other hand, is still but a 
partially developed, cut-over country. The farmers are still 
grubbing out stumps, and many of them have to "piece out" 
their farm earnings with wages earned in the harvest fields to 
the west, or in the lumber woods. 

Minnesota's farm labor problems are of course as varied and 
complex as her agricultural activities. In the southeastern 
part of the state the strong demand is for crop season help. 
Some of the dairy farms keep a man the year round. There 
is also a call for short- time help in the haying and harvest sea- 
sons. But the important demand is for crop season help. 
The same situation is quite typical of the counties stretching 
across the southern part of the state. In the southwestern 
and central sections there is a steady demand for year round 
help and an intense demand for crop season help, especially 


during corn cultivation. There is also a very heavy demand 
for short season help during spring and fall plowing and during 
the small grain harvest. The Red River Valley, like all wheat 
areas, requires large numbers of transient harvest hands, with 
a considerable number of crop season workers, but offers very 
little employment during the winter months. 

Montana's labor demand is predominantly for seasonal help. 
In the irrigated areas in southern Montana are many farms 
which raise hay, grain, milk and beef cattle, hogs and sheep. 
This diversified farming calls for year-round help, and each year 
Montana farmers are found seeking such help in the Minneapolis 
and other middle west employment offices, although much of 
it is, of course, obtained locally. 

Sugar beets, which are another important crop in this section, 
of course call for summer season help. This labor is furnished 
by families of foreigners sent in by the beet sugar companies 
as in most of the other northern states. 

In the intermountain valleys, grain and hay are the chief 
crops in the lower levels, and hay and range cattle on the higher 
lands. There is a steady demand for year help, but the main 
feature of the labor requirement is found in the very large num- 
ber of men that are needed early in July and from then on for 
a period of about six weeks to take care of the hay harvest. 

But Montana's most important farm labor demand is found 
in the non-irrigated areas of eastern Montana. The rainfall 
of this section is from eleven to sixteen inches. It is a dry farm- 
ing grain area. Wheat is the principal crop and rye, flax, oats, 
and barley important supplementary crops. Corn is being 
grown with increasing success in the southern part of this area, 
while large cattle ranches are scattered through it wherever 
range land is available. The cattle ranches employ their help 
by the year, but the grain farm demand consists, as in other 
grain states, of two seasonal demands. A considerable number 
of men are needed in the spring to get in the crops and for sum- 
mer fallowing ; but the big demand comes late in July when 
harvesting begins, and continues until threshing is completed 
in early October. This demand is met by the large numbers 


of transient harvest hands "who drift into the state both from 
the east and from the west at about the time they are needed." 

The similarities and differences between the wheat and the 
cotton states are both interesting. In the wheat states of 
the northwest tens of thousands of white, transient laborers 
are employed during the harvest. In the typical cotton states 
the dependence is upon masses of negro laborers living in neigh- 
boring counties or states. In Texas we find both the wheat 
farming of the northwest and the cotton farming of the south, 
with the negro the chief source of transient, seasonal labor. 
He comes from the cities and from southern Texas for cotton 
picking, from September 15 to August i. A large part of 
the farms in the cotton and wheat districts put most of their 
acreage into the single crop with resultant congestion of the 
labor demand into a few weeks of the year. 

The prairie section of eastern Mississippi is worked by renters, 
rather than hired help, except on some of the larger stock farms. 
The truck and fruit farms are principally worked by their own- 
ers and get what extra, short-time help they need locally. It 
is only in the delta section, with its demand for a large number of 
cotton pickers in September, October, and November, that 
there is any sharp seasonal demand for labor. 

The farm labor problem of Mississippi, like other lower 
Mississippi River states, has really been one of labor surplus 
rather than of labor shortage. Dependence upon a plentiful 
supply of negroes has caused a large number of the whites to 
live in idleness, and has produced slack farming. A correspond- 
ent in Mississippi wrote us during the war: "Millions of acres 
of farm lands are lying out in this state for lack of labor, and are 
better off lying out than to be cultivated like they have been." 

Our survey would be unsatisfactory without a glance at 
conditions on the Pacific coast. 

The state of Washington presents five distinct farm labor 
situations. East and south of the Columbia River is a small- 
grain area. The rainfall ranges from fifteen to twenty-five 
inches per annum in the eastern portion of this wheat belt to 
fifteen inches in the central and northwestern part, and five 


or six inches in the southwestern part. This variation in mois- 
ture is a determining factor that profoundly influences the labor 
demand. In the eastern portion of the grain belt, where mois- 
ture is most plentiful, wheat and rye are the most important 
crops, but more oats, barley, corn, alfalfa, clover, and peas are 
being grown, and this diversification "is resulting in better 
distribution of labor, more family sized farms and less necessity 
for the introduction of transient labor during harvest." 1 Very 
little transient labor is employed except for the threshing crews 
which thresh on contract from the shock. In the western half 
of the small-grain area, where the rainfall ranges from five 
to fifteen inches, "wheat and rye are grown almost exclusively 
in the cultivated parts of the area." The demand for labor 
is therefore subject to sharp seasonal fluctuations characteristic 
of small-grain areas. A limited number of men are needed in 
the autumn and early spring for plowing, dragging, and seeding, 
and a large number in the harvest threshing season. The same 
conditions obtain in the wheat areas in Benton and Klickitat 

North of the Columbia River and east of the Cascade Moun- 
tains is a rough area in which the tillable land is scattered and 
the farms relatively small. General farming and stock raising 
is practiced, and there is that more equable distribution of labor 
needs throughout the year which is characteristic of this type 
of farming. Hired labor in this district consists largely of " the 
neighbor's boy" who is working by the month or day until he 
saves enough to get a start for himself. The same relative local 
balance of labor demand and supply is found in many parts 
of the Yakima and Wenatchee valleys, especially the Yakima, 
in which alfalfa, corn, potatoes, and dairying are the developing 
agricultural industries. In the dairy district in western Wash- 
ington, where farming is limited almost entirely to the produc- 
tion of forage for the herds, there is very little seasonal demand 
for labor. The dairy farms need specialists to milk the cows 
and care for the milk and dairy work, and field hands to do the 

1 Quotations are from letter of November 21, igiS, from George Severance, Vice 
Dean College of Agriculture, State College of Washington. 


regular farm work. But in both cases the work is steady and 
produces a demand for steady rather than short-time help. 
Some extra hands are needed during the crop season, but very 
few harvest hands. 

The fruit and beet sugar districts, however, produce labor 
demands that are more similar to those of the wheat area east 
of the Columbia. The irrigated fruit farms in the Yakima 
and Wenatchee valleys often experience another shortage 
of labor during apple-picking time, which was relieved some- 
what during the war period by certain high schools beginning 
early and then closing during apple picking. The demand in 
this case, as in the small-grain harvest, is a short- time demand 
for large numbers of extra workers who do not have to 
have any special farming skill. In other words, it is a large, 
short-time demand for common labor. In the case of apple 
picking, the work permits the employment of youths and women, 
as well as men. 

The beet sugar fields, whose area in the Yakima valley is 
rapidly increasing, call for a large amount of extra labor for a 
longer period. From the time that the beets come up, a great 
deal of hand labor is needed for weeding, thinning, and harvest- 
ing. The work can be performed by women and children and 
in many beet sugar districts is done by families of foreigners 
moved to the beet fields by the sugar companies and housed 
in shacks, tents, or barns. In the young beet sugar industry 
of Washington, the Japanese have been the principal source 
for this special type of seasonal farm work. When the beet 
harvest is over, the beet workers return to the cities or enter 
other industries. 

The farm labor situation in California in 1918 receives illu- 
minating discussion in a bulletin of the California College 
of Agriculture: l 

" California agriculture is highly specialized, each farmer usually 
confining himself to some one crop or product, as dairying, fruit, 
sugar beets, poultry, grain, or hay, and he, therefore, requires a type 

1 Circular No. 193, "A Study of Farm Labor in California," by R. L. Adams 
and T. R. Kelley, pp. 5-6. 


of labor able to do the particular kind of work necessary to successful 
production in his particular industry. 

"A dairyman wants men all the year who are able and willing to be 
on hand twice a day at twelve hour intervals, milk twenty to thirty 
cows, and possibly clean out the milking sheds, and feed in the barns. 
An alfalfa hay producer wants husky men from about April 15 to 
November i who can handle teams in mowing and raking, lend a hand 
at cocking, hauling, and stacking, and irrigate between cuttings. A 
grain grower requires men for a more or less definite period during the 
fall and rainy season to care for and drive eight or ten head of mules 
in plowing and harrowing. He then has an interval with no work 
until the hay or grain harvest starts the last of May or the first 
of June. If harvesting is done by contract the grower's interest in 
labor ceases with the hauling off of the crop and its safe delivery to 
car or warehouse. The fruit grower needs additional help for any 
work he cannot do himself. On small acreages this means extra 
help only at harvest to gather the fruit and prepare it for sale or 
for drying. The man operating extensive acreage of fruit does little 
more than supervise the work, and in addition to harvest hands needs 
men to prune, spray, cultivate, and irrigate. Even among the fruit 
men a difference exists in the kinds of labor which can be used. For 
picking up prunes or walnuts any labor can be utilized and so school 
children, Indians, and whole families of unskilled and inexperienced 
people are found to be satisfactory. For picking .pears, or apples, 
or peaches, to be prepared for shipment, only experienced, skilled 
help is profitable. Spraying can be done with any good worker, but 
pruning demands men who understand the principles involved. 
Irrigating demands men who know how to apply water properly ; it 
cannot be done to advantage by inexperienced hands. The poultry 
man wants help that understands poultry feeding, sanitation, breed- 
ing, and preparation of poultry products for marketing. This work 
consists of much detail and requires a man who not only can do the 
work but is quiet and gentle with the fowls. The sugar beet growers 
require men able to do the hard, monotonous, back-breaking work of 
thinning the growing plants, and pulling and topping the mature 
crop to prepare it for shipment. 

"All this shows what a great variety of men is needed upon o>ur 
ranches. California agriculture as it stands to-day represents the 
cosmopolitan effort of representatives of many nations, so many in 
fact that to list them would include almost all that have experienced 


much emigration China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, 
Mexico, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, and on around the globe." 

The authors distinguished three distinct types of labor 
needed: 1 

"First Experienced unskilled men needed for the hard, tedious 
back-breaking work which Americans cannot generally be obtained 
to do under prevailing wages and other conditions ; e.g., asparagus 
cutting, onion work, sugar beet thinning and topping, hoeing beans, 
digging potatoes, and cotton and cantaloupe picking. Japanese, 
Mexicans, Filipinos, Porto Ricans, Chinese, and Hindus are mostly 
used with varying degrees of success for these operations. 

"Second Experienced skilled men able to do ranch work without 
special direction, such as milking, handling teams, running machinery 
(i.e., mowers, binders, harvesters, tractors, engines) range riding, 
heavy work like bucking sacks and stacking hay, and special work as 
pruning and spraying trees, building fences, and picking certain fruits 
requiring judgment. 

"Third Unskilled inexperienced people suited to some of the 
more simple operations such as picking up prunes and walnuts, hoeing 
weeds, cultivating growing crops, and picking certain fruits requiring 
little or no judgment." 

The California farm labor demand is characterized by an 
unusual variety of short seasonal needs. The grain fields of 
central California need men for the planting in December and 
January and the harvest between June 15 and August 15. 
The sugar beets of southern California have to be thinned in 
February and March and then harvested in August and Septem- 
ber. During the intervening months the sugar beet workers 
must find other employment. The beet seasons of northern 
California are about a month later. Asparagus cutting needs 
hands from May 15 to July i, the cantaloupe harvest in May 
and June, and the deciduous fruit crops in August and Septem- 
ber. Each one hundred acres of hops offers work for from two 
hundred to three hundred men for three or four weeks. The 
same area of asparagus or sugar beets calls for twenty or thirty 
men for six or eight weeks ; of pear trees calls for thirty to one 

1 Circular No. IQ3, " A Study of Farm Labor in California," by R. L. Adams 
and T. R. Kelley, p. 6. 


hundred men for about three weeks ; of cotton picking for ten 
or fifteen men for three months ; of potatoes, for ten to thirty- 
five men for a month or two. The alfalfa harvest of the San 
Joaquin and Sacramento valleys is one of the longest seasonal 
demands. It offers work from April through September. 

This brief survey of the farm labor demands of a number of 
typical states reveals two facts: (i) That the employment 
agencies and agricultural organizations interested in the farm- 
er's supply of labor must study the agriculture of each part of 
each state and adapt their policies to the particular demands 
of each locality. (2) Diversified agriculture is the only kind 
which offers a steady demand for skilled workers, and therefore 
the only kind of agriculture which offers an economic induce- 
ment to competent farm hands. 

The principal economic opportunity offered by American 
agriculture to farm laborers up to this time and can we over- 
estimate its importance ? has been the opportunity to acquire 
a farm. Hundreds of thousands of men have worked as farm 
hands until they have saved a little money and have then become 
farm operators. This opportunity still exists, though it now 
requires a larger initial investment. It is probably true that 
as our country develops a larger number of persons will remain 
farm laborers and never become owners. If we want that 
group to consist of reliable, self-respecting men, we must offer 
steady employment, wages that will support a family, houses 
for married men's families, and opportunities of welfare equal 
to those in our city employments. But as we have suggested 
at an earlier point in this chapter, there is little likelihood that 
any such permanent class of reliable farm laborers will develop 
in the immediate future. It will be a slow development, keep- 
ing pace with the improvement in labor's opportunities in 


Special difficulties confront the employment office when it 
seeks to fill orders for farm hands. The distance of the farm 
from the employment office makes it difficult to get complete 


information about the farm the kind of work to be done, the 
amount of chores, the hours, the housing, the food, the duration 
of the work, the probabilities of getting other work in the neigh- 
borhood when this terminates, the man's washing, whether the 
farmer pays his men promptly, sometimes whether the man can 
find others of his nationality or religion in that neighborhood. 
And yet the men want answers to these questions if they are the 
kind of men the farmer wants. One of the questions most fre- 
quently asked of the employment office by men seeking farm 
work is "Do you know this farmer?" The man who works 
on a farm must live in the farmer's home. He must "marry 
the farmer" as well as work for him. Dissatisfaction with the 
farm home causes as much quitting among farm hands as dis- 
satisfaction with the work or wages. Personal dislike for the 
man or for his habits probably causes farmers to let men go as 
often as their incompetence at the work. 

Minnesota's experience in her war-time farm labor office 
demonstrated that intelligent farm labor placement can be done 
by an employment office and suggests some essential principles 
in the management of such work. 1 The Minnesota office was 
established in Minneapolis in June, 1917, and operated as a 
state office until absorbed by the United States Employment 
Service in the fall of 1918. The United States Department of 
Agriculture put a farm labor specialist in the state office to assist 
in the direction of the work, and a county labor director was ap- 
pointed in each of the eighty-six counties of the state, to act as 
county representative of the state office. In many counties these 

1 The Minnesota plan was not much different from that used in a number of 
other states. Ohio's plan, for example, was very similar. The two plans were 
worked out independently and announced almost simultaneously, but did not differ 
in their essentials. The principal difference was that Ohio centered their farm labor 
demands and farm labor recruiting in twenty-two offices in as many different parts 
of the state, while Minnesota centralized the work in one office, maintaining local 
contact through county correspondents. A number of other states had somewhat 
similar plans. The details differed, but there seemed to be a general agreement on 
fundamentals. The Ohio plan is described in the Monthly Labor Review, April, 
1918, p. 53, in an article on "Mobilizing and Distributing Farm Labor in Ohio," 
Wm. M. Leiserson. Cf. also "Developing a Farm Hand Business," H. J. Beckerle, 
Bulletin 192, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, p. 114. 


consisted of the county agricultural agents. Each of these 
county labor agents appointed his own corps of local representa- 
tives. He chose as many or as few as he deemed advisable in 
his own particular county. In counties which were still in a 
"backwoods" state of development or where the large number 
of lakes made the agricultural area so small that there was no 
farm labor shortage even during the war, these county organiza- 
tions did very little. By August, 1917, a network of farm labor 
agents had been spread over the state. Four hundred and 
eighty-six carefully selected men were representing the Minne- 
apolis office in the various counties and townships. 

These men received no salaries. They were selected partly 
because of their patriotism and partly because self-interest 
could be made to take the place of wages in their particular 
cases. Self-interest, coupled with an interest in public affairs, 
would have to be the basis of their selection in times of peace. 
There were among them bankers, merchants, implement dealers, 
farmers, school principals, a harness maker, a chief of police, 
lawyers, and men of other vocations. In one county a bank 
cashier was the mainstay of the organization ; in another, an 
implement dealer ; in a third, a lawyer ; in a fourth, a chief 
of police. Farmers were seldom satisfactory representatives. 
The work was to them a burden without commensurate benefit. 
But to the others it brought business, friends, valuable good will. 

These local agents were supplied with blanks by the state 
office and given authority to telephone or telegraph collect 
when sending in orders or notifications for cancellations of orders. 
Each week during the busy season they received letters of in- 
formation with respect to the condition of the labor market, 
current rates of wages, methods of recruiting men locally, 
and other matters connected with the work, and they were 
circularized from time to time for information about the pros- 
pective demands for farm labor in their localities during the 
succeeding week or two. 

Farmers were required to place their orders with these local 
agents. If they sent their orders for men directly to the state 
office, the orders were returned with instructions to place them 


with the local agent. There were two reasons for this rule: 
it enabled the local agent to fill as many as possible of the jobs 
with local men, and it gave the Minneapolis office a responsible 
agent in the locality to whom it could send its men. The 
importance of using all local labor before importing transients 
has not been fully appreciated in the United States. It benefits 
the local community by giving its local residents the maximum 
amount of employment, by paying the wages to people who 
will spend or invest their earnings in the community, and by 
binding the people of a community into closer economic rela- 
tions. A local resident is ordinarily more efficient than an 
outsider. He is more responsible. He is on hand next time 
as well as now. It benefits the nation by decreasing the demand 
for transient labor. We have hundreds of thousands of mi- 
gratory, homeless, more or less irresponsible and undependable 
men in this country because there is a demand for them in our 
industries. To just the extent that we decrease the demand 
for them we decrease the forces which produce such men. One 
of the essential labor problems that confront the United States 
is the checking and reduction of the migrating of labor. Local 
self-sufficiency in labor supply is a goal to be striven for by every 
community. And farming is one industry which can do a 
great deal, as far as its own labor demand is concerned, to develop 
a balance between local labor demand and local labor supply. 
During the war the maximum utilization of local labor supply 
was a national necessity because it left the transient labor 
available for localities or industries which could not possibly 
get along without bringing in outsiders. The Minnesota office, 
as soon as it became fully conversant with the farming and the 
labor situations in each county, was able to entirely eliminate 
two thirds of the state from the Minneapolis market. In other 
words, it was able to show those counties that they could care 
for their own crops if they tried hard enough, and made self- 
sufficiency a matter of local pride. Its assistance to these locali- 
ties consisted almost entirely of suggestions to aid them in re- 
cruiting and mobilizing their local labor. As largely as possible 
the community was left to carry its burden alone. Ordinarily, 


the more fully a community realized that it had to walk on its 
own legs, the better were the results. No two counties met 
their problems in identically the same way but they all 
met them. 1 

The importance of having a responsible local agent through 
whom to do business when sending men to farms will hardly 
be appreciated by one who has never actually attempted the 
task. There are many farmers who do not seem to realize 
the impropriety of placing an order for a man with an employ- 
ment office in a distant city, then hiring some one who comes 
along, and failing to cancel the order at the employment office. 
They seem to forget the order as soon as their own need has 
been met. When the workman sent out by the office appears 
they tell him the job is filled and do not feel any further responsi- 
bility in the matter. A city employer who did the same thing 
would ordinarily recognize a duty to reimburse the workman, 
at least for his railroad fare. The farmer indignantly denies 
any such responsibility. He rarely pays for the loss caused 
by his carelessness. This is not due to dishonesty on his part. 
It is due simply to lack of realization of his relations to labor. 
His consciousness on the subject is undeveloped. If the farmer 
places his order with a local agent, who can keep in touch with 
the situation in the locality, cancellations of filled places are 
far more apt to be sent in. Furthermore, if men are sent to 
the locality on a farmer's order, and the work has evaporated, 
the local agent is responsible to them and for them. He has 
a duty to find other places for them in the locality or else to 
telephone the central office and have other positions assigned 

1 One of the serious errors in most state and government policies is that they try 
to do too much for local communities. Their programs and plans are too well 
worked out, too stereotyped, too "cut and dried." There is nothing left for local 
brains to do but carry out other men's ideas. The constructive, interesting part of 
the task has been finished. Unfortunately, the stereotyped plan is also deficient 
because so often poorly adapted to the particular local situation. If it is used, it 
must be revised. It is better to present the problem to the locality for solution. 
Let it face the problem as its own task. Give it suggestions, acquaint it with the 
experiences of other localities, encourage it to follow the main outlines of a general 
plan. But let it bear the toil of the day and claim the credit at eventide. 



The American farm labor supply is made up of a number of 
distinct elements. The farmer's boy is one of the most impor- 
tant. He absorbs farm technique as a part of his boyhood 
experiences. As a young man he often varies his training by 
working as a farm laborer in his neighborhood or in other lo- 
calities. Thousands of farm boys from states farther east 
apply for work at the employment offices which send men to 
the farms of the Mississippi valley each year. There is a steady 
migration of farm boys to new localities. A considerable per- 
centage of the farm boys either eventually become owners or 
else go to the cities and take up other occupations. Relatively 
few of them remain permanently as farm laborers. The second 
source of supply is found in the population of the cities and towns 
contiguous to each farming district. These furnish much of 
the crop season and day labor for summer season demands. 
They entirely take care of the seasonal needs of the farms in 
many localities. In the south the negro renters work as day 
laborers on neighboring farms, while the "backwoods" farms 
of new and hilly regions send thousands of their owners and their 
children out to work as seasonal farm laborers in better farming 
districts. The mountaineers of West Virginia, Kentucky, or 
Tennessee find a counterpart in this in the new settlers in the 
northern part of Wisconsin and Minnesota, who go to the har- 
vest fields to the west in large numbers. Transient laborers 
who work at other times in the lumber woods, on railroad work, 
for contractors and in other employments, go to the Mississippi 
valley grain fields by the thousands during the harvest, while 
Mexicans come across the line to meet similar demands in the 
south, and Japanese in the far west. 


THE measures which we have suggested for the mitigation 
of unemployment, and the organization of the labor market 
which we have advocated in this work, will not do away with 
unemployment. At best, they can but minimize it. No one 
has yet been able to advance a plan which even includes the 
slightest hope of entirely eliminating unemployment. Under 
these circumstances society must face the duty of devising some 
just and adequate way of taking care of those persons upon 
whom unemployment is inevitably forced by the operation of 
our industrial organization. 

There are three general methods which might be urged. 
The worker, theoretically, might save enough while he is at 
work to provide for the inevitable period of unemployment; 
or he might turn to charity ; or we may provide a system of 
unemployment insurance which will give the idle workman a 
steady though diminished income in periods of unemployment. 
The first solution has been demonstrated unsound by our entire 
experience to date. The workers upon whom unemployment 
falls most frequently and most seriously are precisely those 
whose relative inefficiency keeps down their earnings while 
they are at work and who are the least efficient at spending and 
saving. Furthermore, the irregularity of unemployment, and 
the impossibility of the worker's forecasting the date when it 
will arrive, the period which it will last, or the possibility of 
securing other employment, all undermine any tendency that 
might exist to try to provide for the idle day during the period 
of work. Moreover, the periods of idleness nearly always mean 
the accumulation of debts, and the employed period becomes 
a period of liquidating obligations rather than preparing for 



the future. Most fundamental of all, however, is the fact that 
the actual earnings of the great mass of our laborers when at 
work are at best no more than adequate for current needs. 
No study of wages has yet been able to discover any addition 
to the wage during the periods of employment for the purpose 
of providing the worker with savings for his coming period of 
unemployment. On the contrary, our industries have operated 
on the theory that the employer should pay for the support of 
the worker while in his employ and has no responsibility for 
the life or welfare of the worker when the employment is ter- 

The second plan, dependence upon charity, has been the 
all too common practice in the past. It is unsound in prin- 
ciple, demoralizing in practice, and repugnant to every sound 
conception of a democratic civilization. It throws upon chari- 
tably disposed individuals in the community the obligation of 
subsidizing the industry which has employed the workmen by 
forcing them to provide the income for the period of idleness 
which should in one way or another have been provided by 
the workman's employment. 

Both dependence upon saving from wages and dependence 
upon charity are unsound and undependable methods of deal- 
ing with the fact of irregular employment. The third method, 
insurance against unemployment, is the one method which is 
based upon sound economic principles and is in harmony with 
a democratic civilization. Unemployment insurance would 
require the worker and industry to jointly maintain funds for 
the payment to necessarily unemployed workers of a fraction 
of their regular earnings during periods of idleness. Unem- 
ployment insurance is unquestionably the most difficult and 
delicate type of insurance to operate in practice. Sooner or 
later such insurance seems inevitable, but it will require the 
most careful study to work out a practical system. It must 
be a system that takes into account human psychology as well 
as economic facts. It will have to avoid subsidizing idleness. 
It will have to be worked out on a plan which makes it certain 
that those who draw the insurance are idle because of industrial 


conditions, not because of their own inclinations or shiftless- 
ness. There are a considerable number of people among the 
group most frequently unemployed who would rather be idle 
on a very small income than to work for a much better income. 
The greatest care will have to be exercised to avoid supporting 
such persons on the insurance funds. 

We do not propose to enter into a discussion of unemploy- 
ment insurance. The subject is one which does not come 
within the scope of this work. We mention it only because 
it forms an integral part of the general problem of employment 
and unemployment. Prevention, placement, and insurance 
are the three related and interwoven parts of the general unem- 
ployment problem. Every student of employment should 
thoroughly familiarize himself with the problem of social insur- 
ance which has already received considerable discussion in 
European and American literature and which has become a 
fact in England and in other countries. Indeed, it has become 
a fact in America as a feature of trade union organization and 
as a policy in a considerable number of individual industrial 
plants. In Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Switzer- 
land, and Norway, considerable advances have been made in 
trade union and municipal unemployment insurance. Eng- 
land alone has attempted the establishment of such insurance 
in connection with her national employment exchange system. 



There are a number of publications which are of especial 
value as current sources of information on employment. The 
New York Journal of Commerce and The Annalist are partic- 
ularly good on current business conditions; The Survey and 
the American Labor Legislation Review on employment problems 
from the workers' point of view; and Industrial Management, 
The Annals, and System on employment from the employer's 
point of view. Articles on farm labor questions will be found 
scattered through the various agricultural papers. The Monthly 
Labor Review of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics 
and the Employment and Unemployment Series of the Bulletin 
published by the same bureau are indispensable to one who 
wishes to keep up to date on employment questions. The 
monthly bulletin of the New York Industrial Commission on 
the Labor Market, and the monthly statistics of the Ohio Public 
Employment Offices, which are published by the Ohio Indus- 
trial Commission, furnish valuable statistics. 

No effort is made in this bibliography to list every book 
and article available on the subject of employment. The 
author has, instead, prepared a selected bibliography which 
will enable any person to acquire a thorough introduction to 
the various phases of the problem of employment. 


Adams, T. S., and Sumner, H. L., Labor Problems, 1918 edition. 
Addams, Jane, The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets. 
Barnes, Chas. B., The Longshoremen. 
Beveridge, W. H., Unemployment, a Problem of Industry. 
Bloomfield, Meyer, Vocational Guidance of Youth. 


Book, W. F., Psychology of Skill, Missoula, Mont., 1918, University 

of Montana. 

Booth, Gen. Bramwell, The Vagrant and Unemployable, London, 1909. 
Brassy, T. S., and Chapman, S. J., Work and Wages. 
Brewer, J. M., The Vocational Guidance Movement. 
Brissenden, Paul F., The I. W. W., a Study of American Syndicalism. 

Columbia University Studies in History, Economics and Public 

Law, Vol. LXXXIII, 1919. 

Brown, Edwin A., Broke, the Man without a Dime, 1914. 
Butler, Elizabeth, Women and the Trades. 
Carlton, F. A., The Industrial Situation. 
Chapin, Robert C., The Standard of Living in New York City. 
Chapman, S. J., and Hallsworth, H. M., Unemployment in Lancashire, 


Commons, John R., Labor and Administration, 1913. 
Industrial Good Will, 1919. 
Trade Unionism and Labor Problems. 
Races and Immigrants in America, 1908. 

Commons, John R., and Andrews, J. B., Principles of Labor Legislation. 
Davis, Jessie B., Vocational and Moral Guidance. 
Dearie, Norman B., Problems of Unemployment in the London Building 


Devine, E. T., Misery and its Causes. 
Douglas, A. W., Fitting Employees for New Jobs. 
Drage, Geoffrey, The Unemployed. 
Eaves, Lucille, A History of California Labor Legislation, University 

of California Publications in Economics, Vol. II, Aug. 23, 1910. 
Ely, Richard T., Outlines of Economics, 1916. 

Property and Contract. 

Ely, Richard T., R. H. Hess, C. K. Leith, T. N. Carver, The Founda- 
tions of National Prosperity, Part IV, 1917. 
Faries, John C., The Economic Consequences of Physical Disability, 

A Case Study of Civilian Cripples in New York City, 1918, Red 

Cross Institute. 

Fitch, John, The Steel Workers. 

Friedman, Elisha M., editor, American Problems of Reconstruction. 
Gibbons, J. G., Unemployment Insurance. 
Gillette, John M., Constructive Rural Sociology. 
Gray, John H., Vocational Education. Three lectures, Published 

by the City Council of the City of Santa Monica, California. 


Hartness, James, The Human Factor in Works Management, 1912. 

Hayes, E. C., Introduction to the Study of Sociology, 1915. 

Hende/schott, F. C., and Weakley, F. E., The Employment Depart- 
ment and Employee Relations. La Salle University. 

Hobson, J. A., Work and Wealth; a Human Valuation, 1914. 

Hollander, Jacob H., The Abolition of Poverty, 1914. 

Hourwich, Isaac, Immigration and Labor. 

Hoxie, R. F., Scientific Management and Labor. 

Kellor, Frances A., Out of Work. 

Kelly, R. W., Hiring the Worker. 

MacLean, Annie M., Wage Earning Women. 

Marshall, Alfred, Principles of Economics, 5th edition. 

Mess, H. A., Casual Labour at the Docks. 

Mill, F. C., Contemporary Theories of Unemployment and Unemploy- 
ment Relief, Columbia University Studies, 1917. 

Mitchell, John, The Wage Earner and His Problem. 

More, Louise B., Wage Earners' Budgets. 

Odencrantz, Louise C., Italian Women in Industry. 

Parmalee, M., Poverty and Social Progress. 

Puffer, J. Adams, Vocational Guidance. 

Rauschenbusch, Walter F., Christianizing the Social Order. 

Robinson, Emily, Vocational Education. 

Ross, E. A., The Old World in the New. 

Rowntree, B. Seebohm, How the Laborer Lives. 

Rowntree, S., and Lasker, B., Unemployment, A Social Study. 

Rubinow, J. M., Social Insurance. 

Schloss, D. F., Insurance against Unemployment. 

Schneider, Herman, Education for Industrial Workers. 

Seager, H. R., Social Insurance, A Program of Social Reform. 
Principles of Economics , 1913 edition. 

Slichter, S., The Turnover of Factory Labor, 1918. 

Solenberger, Alice A., One Thousand Homeless Men, 1911. 

Stoddard, W. L., The Shop Committee, A Handbook for Employers 
and Employees. 

Streightoff, F. H., The Standard of Living. 

Tarbell, Ida M., New Ideals in Business, pp. 258-289. 

Towne, E. T., Social Problems, 1917. 

Van Kleeck, Mary, Artificial Flower Makers, A Seasonal Industry, 1913. 
Women in the Book Binding Trade. 

Veblen, Thorstein, The Instinct of Workmanship. 


Ward, Lester F., Applied Sociology. 

Warne, Frank Julian, The Immigrant Invasion. 

Webb, Sidney, Problems of Modern Industry. 

The Works Manager To-day. 

The Prevention of Destitution. 

(editor) Seasonal Trades, 1912. 

and Beatrice, The Public Organization of the Labour Market. 
Weeks, A. D., The Psychology of Citizenship, Chicago, 1917. 
Wooley, Clarence M., The Labor Aspect of Reconstruction. 
Wyckoff, Walter A., The Workers, East. 

The Workers, West. 


Adams, R. L., and Kelley, T. R., A Study of Farm Labor in Cali- 
fornia. Circular No. 193, March, 1918, College of Agriculture, 
University of California. 

Allen, Andrew J., Policies and Methods of Employment Agencies 
Maintained by Employers' Associations. Bulletin 192, U. S. 
Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

American Association of Public Employment Offices, Proceedings for 
1916. Bulletin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Annual or Biennial Reports, California Public Employment Bureau. 
New York Public Employment Offices. 
Ohio Public Employment Offices. 
Minnesota Public Employment Offices. 
Illinois Public Employment Offices. 

Annual Reports of California Commission on Immigration and 

Ashton, W. G., Plan for Gathering and Distributing Harvest Hands 
in the Grain States. Bulletin 192, U. S. Bureau of Labor Sta- 

Barker, O. E., Brooks, C. F., and Hainsworth, R. G., A Graphic 
Summary of Seasonal Work on Farm Crops, Separate from Year 
Book of U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1917. 

Barnes, Charles B., Report on Conditions and Management of Public 
Employment Offices in the Bulletin 192, U. S. Bureau of Labor 
Annual Report of New York Industrial Commission, 1917. 

Beckerle, H. J., Developing a Farm Hand Business. Bulletin 192, 
U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


The Beet Sugar Industry of the United States. Report of the 

Federal Trade Commission, 1917. 
Bliss, W. D. P., What is Done for the Unemployed in European 

Countries. Bulletin 76, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May, 

Bloomfield, Meyer, Problems of Industrial Management. Bulletin 

247, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Bureau of Industries and Immigration of New York, State Depart- 
ment of Labor, Report of 1911. 
Clayton, C. T., Destructive Labor Recruiting. Bulletin 247, U. S. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment in the State 

of New York, 1911. Third Report. 
Conditions of Employment in the Iron and Steel Industry, Report on, 

Vol. Ill, U. S. Congress, Senate Document, No. no, Sixty- 
second Congress, ist session, 1913. 
Conditions of Women and Child Wage Earners in the United States, 

Summary of Report on; Bulletin 175, U. S. Bureau of Labor 

Connecticut Commission on Wage Earning Women and Minors, 

Report of Feb. 4, 1913. 
Country Life Commission, Report of 1911. 
Course of Employment in New York State from 1904 to 1916. Special 

Bulletin No. 85, New York State Department of Labor. 
Devine, E. T., Report on Employment Bureau in New York City, 

1909. Russell Sage Foundation. 
Eliot, H. M., B. F. Brown, Man Power in Agriculture, Bulletin of 

Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, Oct. 1918. 
Employment Managers Conferences, Proceedings of. Bulletins 196, 

221, 227, 247. U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Employment of Women in Milwaukee Power Laundries, United 

States Bureau of Labor Statistics Bulletin No. 122. 
Hart, Hornell, Fluctuations in Unemployment in Cities of the United 

States, 1902 to 1917. Helen S. Trounstine Foundation. Cin- 
cinnati, Ohio, Vol. I, No. 2. 
Hennessy,W. F., Experience in Extending and Improving the Work 

of a Public Employment Office. Bulletin 192, U. S. Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 
Herndon, Public Employment Offices in the United States. Bulletin 

241, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 


Industrial Education. Report of Committee of National Association 

of Manufacturers, Proceedings of Convention, 1917. 
Industrial Relations Commission. Report of 1912. 
Industrial Welfare Commission of the State of Washington, Report of 

Labor Laws of the United States. Published by U. S. Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 
Lasker, Bruno, The British System of Labour Exchanges. Bulletin 

206, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Leiserson, Wm. M., A Federal Labor Reserve Board. Bulletin 220, 

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Lightner, Jacob, Is a National Bureau of Employment Desirable? 

Bulletin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
The Lumber Industry of California. Sixteenth Biennial Report, 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, State of California, 1914. 
McCaffree, Chas., National Farm Labor Exchange. Bulletin 192, 

U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
McCoy, L. D., What Must be Done to Make Public Employment 

Offices More Effective? Bulletin 192, U. S. Bureau of Labor 


McLaughlin, Hugh, Labour Exchanges in the United Kingdom. Re- 
port, Ontario Commission on Unemployment, 1916, Appendix A. 
Man Power in Agriculture, Bulletin of the Agriculture and Mechanical 

College of Texas, College Station, Texas, Oct., 1918. 
Massachusetts Board to Investigate the Subject of Unemployment, 

Report of 1895. House Doc. No. 50. 
Massachusetts Commission on Minimum Wage Boards. House 

Document No. 1697, 1912. 
Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission. Bulletin No. 9, Wages 

of Women in Women's Clothing Factories in Massachusetts, 

Sept., 1915. 

Bulletin No. 6, Wages of Women in Retail Stores. 
Bulletin No. 8, Wages of Women in Paper Box Factories. 
Bulletin No. 4, Wages of Women in Candy Factories in 

Metcalf, H. C., Report of Committee on Vocational Guidance, 

N. Y., 1916. 

Report of National Association of Corporation Schools. 
Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries. Biennial Reports, 

Part on Employment Offices. 


Mulhauser, Hilda, Cooperation among Federal, State and City Em- 
ployment Bureaus. Bulletin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Vocational Guidance and Public Employment Offices. Bulletin 
192, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

National Employment System. Hearings before the Joint Committee 
on Labor, 66th Congress, first session, on S. 688, S. 1442 and 

N. R. 435> ^iQ- 
National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, 

Washington, D. C., Publications. 

New Jersey, Report of Commission of Immigration of, 1914- 
New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Unemployment, 


New York Factory Investigating Commission, Fourth Report, Vol. II. 
New York Industrial Commission, Annual Reports of. 
Odencrantz, Louise C., The Placing of Women by Public Employment 

Offices. Bulletin 192, U. S. Bufeau of Labor Statistics. 
O'Leary, Wesley A., Report on Wage Value of Vocational Training, 

Fourth Report, New York Factory Investigating Commission, 

Albany, 1915. 

Ontario Commission on Unemployment, Report of, 1916. 
Prosser, Chas. A., The Educational Aspect of the National Labor 

Policy. Bulletin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Public Employment Offices in the United States. Bulletin 241, U. S. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Rates of Wages, Hours of Labor, and Fluctuations of Employment 

in Ohio in 1914. Bulletin of the Industrial Commission of Ohio, 

Sept. 15, 1915. Idem., Dec. 15, 1916. 
Seasonal Work on Farm Crops, A Graphic Summary of. Separate 

from Year Book of Department of Agriculture, 1917, No. 758. 
Selecting Workmen (Symposium). Bulletin 247, U. S. Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 
Smith, M., Baker, O. E., Hainsworth, R. G., A Graphic Summary of 

American Agriculture. Separate from Year Book of the U. S. 

Department of Agriculture, 1915. 
Social Problems of the Group. Bulletin 247, U. S. Bureau of Labor 

Spitz, Joseph, Federal-State-Municipal Employment Service in 

New Jersey. Bulletin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, Mass., Report on, 1912. 

Document No. 870, Sixty-second Congress, second session. 


Trades and Labour Branch of the Department of Public Works, 
Province of Ontario, Report of, 1917. 

Training Labor Executives (Symposium). Bulletin 247, U. S. Bureau 
of Labor Statistics. 

Unemployment in the United States. Bulletin 195, U. S. Bureau of 
Labor Statistics. 

United States Census, 1910, Vol. V, VIII. 

United States Employment Service, Annual Report of Director 
General, 1918. 

United States Immigration Commission, Abstract of Report of, 1911, 
2 vols. 

Vagrancy Committee, Report of the, 1906, London. 

Vocational Education, Federal Board for, Washington, D. C. Bul- 
letins i, 17. 

Wages and Hours of Labor in the Iron and Steel Industry, 1907 to 
1915. Bulletin 218, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Willitts, J. H., The Regularization of Employment by Employers, in 
Report of Ontario Commission on Unemployment, 1916. 

Wilson, Wm. B., A National System of Employment Offices. Bul- 
letin 220, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Wisconsin State Board of Vocational Education. Bulletin i. 

Women and Child Wage Earners, Report on. Senate Document 

No. 645, Sixty-first Congress, second session, 1913. 
Vol. 16, Family Budgets of Typical Cotton Mill Workers. 
Vol. 18, Employment of Women and Children in Selected Industries. 


Abbott, Grace, The Chicago Employment Agency and the Immigrant 
Worker. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. XIV, No. 3, 1908. 

Alden, Percy, Dilution of Labor. Contemporary Review, Sept. 1916. 

Alexander, Magnus W., Hiring and Firing: Its Economic Waste and 

How to Avoid it. The Annals, May, 1916. 

Cost of Hiring and Firing Men. Industrial Management, Feb- 
ruary, 1915. 

Andrews, Irene Osgood, Relation of Irregular Employment to Living 
Wage for Women. American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 
Personnel and Employment Problems (Symposium). The Annals, 
May, 1916. 


Stabilizing Industrial Employment (Symposium). The Annals, 

May, 1917. 
A Reconstruction Labor Policy (Symposium). The Annals, 

Jan. 1919. 

Industries in Readjustment (Symposium). The Annals, March, 1919. 
Bailie, G. H., Dilution of Skilled Labor and Women in Industries. 

American Machinist, Nov. 29, 1917. 
Barnes, Chas B., Public Bureaus of Employment. The Annals, 

Jan. 1917. 
Barnes, Chas. B., Employment and the Labor Market. American 

Economic Review, Supplement, March, 1918. 
Barnett, Geo. E., Employment and the War. American Economic 

Review, Supplement, March, 1918. 
Bloomfield, Meyer, The Employment Manager. American Federa- 

tionist, September, 1918. 

Relations of Foremen to the Working Force. Industrial Manage- 
ment, June, 1917. 
Bogart, E. L., Public Employment Offices in the United States and 

Germany. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 19, p. 341 (1900). 
Bowie, G. W., Foremen Such as America Needs. Industrial Manage- 
ment, August, 1917. 

Boy Soldiers of the Soil, W. P. McGuire. The Forum, July, 1918. 
Boys' Working Reserve. U. S. Monthly Labor Renew, June, 1917. 
Boys' Working Reserve, Organization and Purpose. School Review, 

Feb. 1918. 

Boys' Working Reserve. Manual Training, April, 1918. 
Boys' Working Reserve, The Boy, the War, and the Harrow, 

H. D. Fisher. The Survey, Mar. 30, 1918. 
Clayton, Chas. T., Training that Promotes Production. Industrial 

Management, April, 1919. 
Training Labor : A Necessary Reconstruction Policy. The Annals, 

Jan. 1919. 
Clothier, R. C., Relations between the Employment Manager and 

Other Department Heads. Industrial Management, Jan. 1917. 
Commons, John R., Labor Conditions in Slaughtering and Meat 

Packing. Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 19, pp. 1-32. 
Cooke, Morris L., Responsibility and Opportunity of the City in 

the Prevention of Unemployment. American Labor Legislation 

Review, Nov. 1915. 
Casual and Chronic Unemployment. The Annals, May, 1915. 


Coulter, John Lee, Agricultural Laborers in the United States. The 

Annals, Mar. 1912. 
Densmore, J. B., Lessons of the War in Shifting Labor. The Annals, 

Jan. 1919. 
Department of Employment and Labor Maintenance. Industrial 

Management, Sept., 1918. 
Devine, Edward T., Employment Bureau for the People of New York 

City. Ttie Annals, March, 1909. 
The U. S. Employment Service, an Analysis and a Forecast. 

The Survey, April, 1919. 
Douglas, Paul H., The Problem of Labor Turnover. The American 

Economic Review, June, 1918. 
Eaton, J. M., Vestibule Schools of Nichols Motor Co. Industrial 

Management, Dec., 1918. 
Eberle, George J., Labor Turnover. American Economic Review, 

Mar. 1919. 
Emmett, Boris, Labor Turnover and Employment Policies of a Large 

Motor Manufacturing Establishment. Monthly Labor Review, 

Oct. 1918. 
Employing the Employment Manager. Industrial Management, 

August, 1918. 
Fairchild, H. F., Immigration and Crises. American Economic 

Review, Vol. i, No. 4, Dec. 1911. 
Field, Jas. A., Problems of Population after the War. American 

Economic Review, March, 1917. 
Fish, E. H., Principles of Employing Labor. Industrial Management, 

April, 1919. 

Fisher, Boyd, How to Reduce Labor Turnover. Industrial Manage- 
ment, March, 1917. 
Fisher, H. D., The Boy, the War, and the Harrow. The Survey, 

Mar. 30, 1918. 

Fisher, Irving, Humanizing Industry. The Annals, March, 1919. 
Frankel, Emil, Labor Turnover of Seamen on the Great Lakes. 

Monthly Labor Review, June, 1918. 

Franklin, Benj. A., Training Men for Steady Jobs. Industrial Man- 
agement, Dec. 1916. 
Gehris, M. D., Employment Problems and How the John B. Stetson 

Co. Meets Them. The Annals, May, 1916. 
Halsey, Olga L., Compulsory Unemployment Insurance in Great 

Britain. American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 


Hambrecht, Geo. P., Industrial Experience of Handicapped Work- 
men in Wisconsin. American Labor Legislation Review, Mar. 

Hammond, M. B., Regulation and Control of Private Employment 

Agencies. Bulletin 192, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
Lessons from the English War Experience in the Employment of 
Labor. American Economic Review, Supplement, Mar. 1918. 

Henderson, C. R., The Struggle against Unemployment. American 
Labor Legislation Review, May, 1914. 

Hobart, M. C., The Problem of Labor Turnover. American Ma- 
chinist, May 16, 1918. 

Hodges, Henry G., Progress of the Public Employment Bureaus. 

The Annals, Jan. 1917. 

Statutory Provisions for and Achievement of Public Employment 
Bureaus. The Annals, May, 1915. 

Hopkins, E. M., Advantages of Centralized Employment. The 
Annals, May, 1917. 

Howe, H. C., Getting the Workman to Remember to Work. Boston 
Evening Transcript, Oct. 23, 1918. 

Hurchman, W. F., Labor Feasts and Famines. Metal Industry, 
Dec. 1918. 

International Association of Unemployment. Monthly Labor Review, 
April, 1917. 

Irwin, Will, The Floating Laborer. Saturday Evening Post, May 9, 
1914, Vol. 186, No. 45, pp. 3-5, 41-50. 

Jackson, J. P., Relation of the State to Unemployment. American 
Labor Legislation Review, 1915. 

Jones, Mark E., What I would Do if I were a Foreman. Industrial 
Management, July, 1918. 

Kelly, R. W., Employment Manager and Foreman. Industrial 
Management, Jan. 1918. 

Kimball, D. S., Labor Maintenance Service as a Factor in Manage- 
ment. Industrial Management, Oct. 1917. 

Labor Turnover in the Cloak Industry of Cleveland. Monthly Labor 
Review, August, 1918. 

Lavell, Cecil F., The Man Who Lost Himself. Atlantic Monthly, 

Nov. 1917. 
From the Diary of a Laborer. Atlantic Monthly, May, 1919. 

Leiserson, Wm. M., Public Employment Offices in Theory and Prac- 
tice, American Labor Legislation Review, May, 1914. 


A Federal Labor Reserve Board for the Unemployed. The Annals, 

Jan. 1917. 
The Movement for Public Labor Exchanges. Journal of Political 

Economy, July, 1915. 
Mobilizing and Distributing Farm Labor in Ohio. Monthly Labor 

Review, April, 1918. 
The Shortage of Labor and the Waste of Labor. The Survey, 

Mar. 30, 1918. 

The Labor Shortage and the Organization of the Labor Market. 
The Survey, April 20, 1918. 

Lescohier, D. D., A Clearing House for Labor. Atlantic Monthly, 

June, 1918. 

The Employment Service as a Means of Public Education. Indus- 
trial Management, April, 1919. 

Immigration and the Supply of Labor after the War. Atlantic 
Monthly, April, 1919. 

Letters of a Down-and-Out. The Atlantic Monthly, February, 1913. 

Levying Tribute on Those Seeking Work. The Survey, Vol. 36, p. 457. 

Litchfield, I. W., The U. S. Employment Service and Demobilization, 
The Annals, Jan. 1919. 

MacDonald, Nettie W., Extreme Methods in Employing. Industrial 
Management, April, 1919. 

McGuire, W. P., Boy Soldiers of the Soil. The Forum, July, 1918. 

Mackey, Harry A., Employment Opportunities for Rehabilitating 
Men in Pennsylvania. Industrial Management, April, 1919. 

Mallery, Otto F., A National Policy: Public Works to Stabilize 
Employment. The Annals, Jan. 1919. 

Mayor's Committee on Unemployment of New York City, Report of. 
Monthly Labor Review, May, igi6. 

Miles, H. E., Vestibule Schools for the Unskilled. Industrial Man- 
agement, July, 1918. 

Mitchell, John, Vocational Rehabilitation of Crippled Industrial 
Workers. Fifteenth Biennial Conferences of Catholic Charities, 
Catholic University, Washington, D.C., Sept. 15, 1918. 

Morrison, C. J., Short Sighted Methods in Dealing with Labor. 
Industrial Management, Jan. 1914. 

Mulhauser, A., Principle's of Labor Turnover. Industrial Manage- 
ment, Jan. 1919. 

Mulhauser, Hilda, Public Employment Bureaus and their Relation to 
Managers of Employment in Industry. The Annals, May, 1916. 


Neland, Elsa, Juvenile' Employment Exchanges. American Labor 
Legislation Review, June, 1915. 

New Art of Labor Management. The Survey, July 13, 1918. 

New York Journal of Commerce. 

Nichols, E. F., The Employment Manager. The Annals, May, 1916. 

O'Hara, Frank, Redistribution of Public Work in Oregon. American 
Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 

Otis, Robinson V., Rehabilitation of Industrial Cripples in Massa- 
chusetts. Industrial Management, April, 1919. 

Papers on Tenancy. American Economic Review, Supplement, 
March, 1919. 

Parker, Carleton H., Motives in Economic Life. American Economic 

Review, Supplement, March, 1918. 
The I. W. W., Atlantic Monthly, Nov., 1917. 

Portenar, A. J., Reconstruction, A Survey and a Forecast. The 
Annals, Mar. 1919. 

Post, Louis F., Government Intervention in Idleness. The Survey, 

Vol. 34, p. 270, June 19, 1915. 

How the U. S. Department of Labor is Helping to Win the War. 
Industrial Management, Mar. 1918. 

A Practical Program for the Prevention of Unemployment in America. 
American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 

Price, C. O., How an Industry Trains its Men. Industrial Manage- 
ment, Oct. 1916. 

Reactionary Decision Regarding Private Employment Agencies. 
New Republic, June 30, 1917. 

Richter, F. E., Seasonal Fluctuations in Public Works. American 
Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 

Rindge, Fred D., Jr., From Boss to Foreman. Industrial Manage- 
ment, July, 1917. 

Roder, Oscar, Employment Plans and Methods. Industrial Manage- 
ment, July, 1917. 

Seager, H. R., Coordination of Federal, State, and Municipal Employ- 
ment Bureaus. American Economic Review, Supplement, March, 

The English Method of Dealing with the Unemployed. American 
Labor Legislation Review, May, 1914. 

Speek, Peter A., The Psychology of Floating Workers. The Annals, 
Jan. 1917. 

Stanbrough, D. G., Packard Training Schools for Employees. In- 
dustrial Management, Nov. 1918. 


Tead, Ordway, The U. S. Employment Service and the Prevention of 

Unemployment. American Labor Legislation Review, Mar. 1919. 
Terms of Employment of Farm Labor. Monthly Labor Re-view, June, 

Tobin, John F., The Workers and Unemployment. American Labor 

Legislation Review, June, 1915. 
Unemployment, A Problem of Industry, Entire numbers of American 

Labor Legislation Review, of May, 1914, and June, 1915, and 

parts of issue of March, 1919. 
Unemployment Insurance, Present Status of. American Labor 

Legislation Review, May, 1914. 
United States Employment Service : Conserving Farm Labor. 

Monthly Labor Review, May, 1918. Farm Labor Specialists to 

aid Farmers in Securing help. Ibid., Feb., 1918. 
The United States Employment Service and Demobilization. 

Monthly Labor Review, Jan. Feb. 1919. 
Valentine, Robert G., What the Awakened Employer is Thinking on 

Unemployment. American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 
Van Harlinger, J. M., and Dwyer, T. J., Methods of Arriving at Labor 

Turnover. Industrial Management, April, 1918. 
Verity, G. M., Why We have no Trouble with Our Men. System, 

Vol. 33, May, 1916. 
Wardrop, G. W., "O Hell," or "Hello." Industrial Management, 

Feb., 1918. 

Webb, Sidney, The Problem of Unemployment in the United King- 
dom. The Annals, Mar. 1909. 
Weinstock, Harris, Immigration and American Labor. The Annals, 

Jan. 1917. 

What it Costs to Hire and Fire. Literary Digest, April 27, 1918, p. 25. 
Why Men Leave their Jobs. Industrial Management, Aug. 1918. 
Wilcox, E. V., Plan of the Department of Agriculture for Handling 

the Farm Labor Problem. American Economic Review, Supple- 
ment, Mar. 1918. 
Willits, J. H., The Labor Turnover and the Humanizing of Industry. 

The Annals, Sept. 1915. 
The Wisconsin Apprentice, Published by Industrial Commission of 

Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. 
Worman, H. A., Recruiting the Working Force. Factory, Dec. 

1 90 7- Jan. 1909. 
Worker's View of Labor Turnover. Industrial Management, April, 




"Immigration and Labor," Isaac A. Hourwich, Chapter IV. 

"The Immigrant Invasion," Frank Julian Warne. 

"The Industrial Situation," Frank T. Carlton, Chapter VII. 

"The Longshoremen," Charles B. Barnes. 

"The Old World in the New," E. A. Ross. Especially Chapter EX. 

"Poverty and Social Progress," Maurice Parmalee, Chapters I, X, XII- 


"Problems of Poverty," John A. Hobson, Chapter VIII. 
"Races and Immigrants in America," John R. Commons. 
"Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chapters I, 

II, V. 

"Unemployment, A Social Study," S. Rowntree and B. Lasker. 
"The Wage Earner," John Mitchell, Chapter II. 


"The Economic Aspects of Immigration," I. A. Hourwich, Political Science 

Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, No. 4- 
"Immigration and American Labor," Harris Weinstock, The Annals, Jan. 

"Immigration and the Supply of Labor after the War," Don D. Lescohier, 

The Atlantic Monthly, April, 1919. 
"Immigration Standards after the War," Henry P. Fairchild, The Annals 

of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Jan. 1919. 
"Problems of Population after the War," James A. Field, American Economic 

Review, March, 1917. 


" Artificial Flower Makers," Mary Van Kleeck. 
"A Seasonal Industry " (Millinery), Mary Van Kleeck. 
"Italian Women in Industry," Louise C. Odencrantz. 
"The Longshoremen," Charles B. Barnes. 

"Problems of Unemployment in the London Building Trades," Norman B. 



"Report on Conditions of Employment in the Iron and Steel Industry 
in the United States." Document no, 62nd Congress, ist Session, 
1909, Chapter VIII, on Irregularity of Employment. 

"Report of Ontario Commission on Unemployment," 1916. Part II, 
Chapters I-III; Part III. 

"Report on Strike of Textile Workers in Lawrence, Mass.," 1912. Docu- 
ment 870, 62nd Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 75-78. 

"The Seasonal Labor in Agriculture," Final Report, Industrial Relations 
Commission, Vol. V, pp. 4911-5027. 

"Seasonal Trades," Sidney Webb (ed.). 

"The Unemployed," Geoffrey Drage (1894). 

"Unemployment, a Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chapters 

"Unemployment in California," Final Report, Industrial Relations Com- 
mission, Vol. V, pp. 5029-5085. 

"Unemployment in Lancashire," S. J. Chapman and H. M. Hallsworth. 

"Wage Earning Women," Annie M. MacLean. 

"Women and the Trades," Elizabeth Butler. 

"Women in the Book Binding Trade," Mary Van Kleeck. 

"Work and Wages," T. S. Brassey and S. J. Chapman, Chapter V. 


"Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chapters 

"Misery and its Causes," Edward T. Devine, Chapters III, V. 
"Unemployment in New York City," Bulletin 172, United States Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 
"Unemployment in the United States, Bulletin 195, United States Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 
"Family Budgets of Typical Cotton Mill Workers," Report on Woman and 

Child Wage Earners in the United States. Senate Document No. 645, 

6ist Congress, 2nd session, 1911, Vol. 16. 
"Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb, pp. 130-137. 
"Poverty and Social Progress," Maurice Parmalee, Chapters III, IX, and X. 
"Conditions of Employment in the Iron and Steel Industry in the United 

States." Senate Document, No. no, 62nd Congress, ist Session, Vol. 


"The Spirit of Youth and the City Streets," Jame Addams, Chapter V. 
"Idleness as a Source of Waste," Thomas N. Carver, in The Foundations of 

National Prosperity, R. T. Ely ; R. H. Hess ; C. K. Leith ; and T. N. 

Carver. Part IV, Chapter III. 
"How the Labourer Lives," B. Seebohm Rowntree. 
"One Thousand Homeless Men," Alice Solenberger, Chapters IV-VI, 



"The Abolition of Poverty," Jacob H. Hollander, Chapter VII. 
Third Report, New York Commission on Employers' Liability and Un- 
employment, 1911, on "Unemployment and Lack of Farm Labor," 

Appendix I. 
"Irregularity of Employment," Monthly Labor Review, March, 1916, pp. 

220, 232; April, 1916, pp. 354, 403; May, 1916, p. 446. 
The Annals, September, 1915; May, 1916; Supplement. 
'"Relation of Irregular Employment to Living Wage for Women," Irene 

Osgood Andrews, American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 
"Citizens in Industry," Chas. R. Henderson, Chapter V. 
"Unemployment, A Problem of Industry," American Labor Legislation 

Review, May, 1914. 
"Unemployment," ibid., June, 1915. 
"Labor and Reconstruction," ibid., March, 1919. 

"Unemployment in Lancashire," S. J. Chapman and H. M. Hallsworth. 
"Dependents, Defectives, and Delinquents," Chas. R. Henderson, 2nd ed. 

Chapter VI. 

"Social Organization," C. H. Cooley, Chapter XXVI. 
"Contemporary Theories of Unemployment and of Unemployment Relief," 

Columbia University Studies in Political Science, Vol. LXXTX, No. i 

(entire book). Frederick C. Mills. 


"The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter. 

"Industrial Good Will," John R. Commons. 

"A Reconstruction Labor Policy," The Annals, Jan. 1919. 

"Stabilizing Industrial Employment," The Annals, May, 1917. 

"Humanizing Industry," Irving Fisher, The Annals, March, 1919. 

"The Labor Aspect of Reconstruction," Clarence M. Wooley, The Annals, 

March, 1919. 
"Reconstruction, a Survey and a Forecast," A. J. Portenar, The Annals, 

March, 1919. 
"Selecting Workmen," (a symposium) Bulletin 247, United States Bureau of 

Labor Statistics. 

"Social Problems of the Group," ibid. 
Bulletin 227, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, pp. 13-73, 82-91, 


Bulletins 196, 212, 227, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
"Lessons for English War Experience in the Employment of Labor," M. B. 

Hammond, American Economic Review, Supplement, March, 1918. 
"Labor Turnover and Employment Policies of a Large Motor Manu- 
facturing Establishment," Boris Emmet, Monthly Labor Review, 

October, 1918. 


"Labor Turnover in the Cloak Industry of Cleveland," Monthly Labor 

Review, August, 1910. 
"Principles of Labor Turnover," A. Mulhauser, Industrial Management, 

January, 1919. 
"Labor Feasts and Famines," W. F. Hurchman, Metal Industry, December, 

"Labor Maintenance Service as a Factor in Management," D. S. Kimball, 

Industrial Management, October, 1917. 
"How to Reduce Labor Turnover," Boyd Fisher, Industrial Management, 

March, 1917, p. 882. 
"Labor Turnover of Seamen in the Great Lakes," Emil Frankel, Monthly 

Labor Review, June, 1918, pp. 46-53. 
"The Labor Turnover and the Humanizing of Industry," Joseph H. Willits, 

The Annals, September, 1915. 
"Getting the Workman to Remember to Work," H. O. Howe, Boston 

Evening Transcript, October 23, 1918. 
"Hiring and Firing; its Economic Waste and How to Avoid it," Magnus 

W. Alexander, The Annals, May, 1916, p. 128. 
"Cost of Hiring and Firing Men," Magnus W. Alexander, Industrial 

Management, February, 1915. 
"Methods of Arriving at Labor Turnover," J. M. Van Harlinger and T. J. 

Dwyer, Industrial Management, April, 1918. 
"Short Sighted Methods in Dealing with Labor," C. J. Morrison, Industrial 

Management, January, 1914. 
"What it Costs to Hire and Fire," Literary Digest, Vol. 57, p. 25, April 

27, 1918. 
"The Problem of Labor Turnover," Paul H. Douglas, American Economic 

Review, June, 1918. 

"Why Men Leave their Jobs," Industrial Management, August, 1918, p. 147. 
"A Worker's View of Labor Turnover," Industrial Management, April, 1919. 
"Labor Turnover," George J. Eberle, American Economic Review, March, 



"Unemployment, a Problem of Industry," W. H. Beveridge, Chapters 


"Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb, Chapter VI. 
"Principles of Labor Legislation," J. R. Commons and J. B. Andrews, 

Chapter VI. 
"A Practical Program for the Prevention of Unemployment," American 

Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 
"Contemporary Theories of Unemployment and Unemployment Relief," 

F. C. Mill, Columbia University Studies, 1917. 
"Unemployment, a Social Study," B. S. Rowntree and B. Lasker. 


"Unemployment in Lancashire," S. J. Chapman and H. M. Hallsworth. 
"What is done for the Unemployed in European Countries," W. D. P. 

Bliss, Bulletin 76, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May, 1908. 
"The English Method of Dealing with the Unemployed," H. R. Seager, 

American Labor Legislation Review, May, igi4) P- 281. 
"Work and Wages," T. S. Brassey, S. J. Chapman, pp. 304-400. 
"Scientific Management and Labor," Robert F. Hoxie, pp. 34~39- 
"Applied Sociology," Lester F. Ward, Chapter X. 

"Introduction to the Study of Sociology," E. C. Hayes, Chapter XXXV. 
"Christianizing the Social Order," Walter F. Rauschenbusch, Part V, 

Chapter III. 
"The Public Organization of the Labour Market," Sidney and Beatrice 

"Seasonal Trades," Preface and Introduction, edited by Sidney Webb 

and Arnold Freeman. 
"The Problem of Unemployment in the United Kingdom," Sidney Webb, 

The Annals, March, 1909, pp. 196-216. 
"Casual and Chronic Unemployment," Morris L. Cooke, The Annals, 

May, 1915, p. 184. 
Report of Mayor's Committee on Unemployment of New York City, 

Monthly Labor Review, May, 1916. 
Report of the Massachusetts Board to Investigate the Subject of the 

Unemployed, 1895. House Document No. 50. (Contains comparison 

of unemployment relief measures in the United States, England and 

Germany during the depression of 1892-1898.) 
Third Report of New York Commission on Employers' Liability and 


Report of Ontario Commission on Unemployment. An unusually con- 
structive report, Part I; Part II, Chapters IV-VI and Appendix C, 

deal with. measures for preventing or relieving unemployment. 
"The Vocational Guidance Movement," J. M. Brewer. 
"Training that Promotes Production," Chas. T. Clayton, Industrial Manage- 
ment, April, 1919. 
"Industrial Experience of Handicapped Workmen in Wisconsin," George 

P. Hambrecht, American Labor Legislation Review, March, 1919. 
"Principles of Employing Labor," E. H. Fish, Industrial Management, 

April, 1919. 
"Rehabilitation of Industrial Cripples in Massachusetts," V. Otis Robinson, 

ibid., p. 126. 
"Employment Opportunities for Rehabilitating Men in Pennsylvania," 

Harry A. Mackey, ibid., p. 130. 
"Vocational Rehabilitation of Crippled Industrial Workers," John Mitchell, 

Fifteenth Biennial Conference of Catholic Charities, Catholic University, 

Washington, D. C., Sept. 15-18, 1918. 


"Dilution and Special Training," Symposium, Bulletin 247, United States 
Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

"Social Problems of the Individual," Symposium, Bulletin 247, ibid. 

"Educational Aspect of the National Labor Policy," Chas. A. Prosser, ibid. 

"Industrial Education and Apprenticeship," Final Report, Industrial 
Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1901-1903; Vol. Ill, pp. 2929-2982. 

"Packard Training Schools for Employees," D. G. Stanbrough, Industrial 
Management, November, 1918, p. 378. 

"Vestibule Schools for the Unskilled," H. E. Miles, Industrial Management, 
July, 1918. 

"Vestibule Schools of Nichols Motor Co.," J. M. Eaton, Industrial Manage- 
ment, December, 1918, p. 452. 

"Training Men for Steady Jobs," Benj. A. Franklin, Industrial Management, 
December, 1916. 

"How an Industry Trains its Men," Clarence O. Price, Industrial Manage- 
ment, October, 1916. 

Publications of National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Educa- 
tion, Washington, D. C. 

" Contemporary Theories of Unemployment and of Unemployment Relief," 
Columbia University Studies in Political Science, Vol. LXXIX, No. I 
(entire book). Frederick C. Mills. 


Final Report of Industrial Relations Commission, pp. 1165-1212; 1223- 

1231; 1301-1308; 1323-1328; 1337-1342; I375-I379- 
"A History of California Labor Legislation," Lucile Eaves, University of 

California Publications in Economics, Vol. II, Aug. 28, 1910, pp. 341-350. 
"Statutory Regulation of Private Employment Agencies," Monthly Labor 

Review, August, 1917, p. 352. 
"Reactionary Decision Regarding Private Employment Agencies," Ncv< 

Republic, June 30, 1917, pp. 234-235. 


"Report on Employment Bureau in New York City," Edward T. Devine, 

1909 (Russell Sage Foundation). 
"Public Employment Offices in the United States," Bulletin 241, United 

States Bureau of Labor Statistics, July, 1918. 
Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. II, pp. 1275-1301. 

(Particularly good with respect to Massachusetts offices up to 191 1) 
"Statutory Provisions for and Achieve -nents of Public Employment 

Bureaus," Henry B. Hodges, The Annals, May, 1915. 
"Progress of the Public Employment Bureaus," Henry B. Hodges, The 

Annals, January, 1917. 


"Public Bureaus of Employment," Chas. B. Barnes, ibid. 

"International Association of Unemployment," Monthly Labor Review, 

April, 1916, pp. 85-91. 
"Public Employment Offices in the United States and Germany," Ernest 

L. Bogart, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. XIX, pp. 341-377 (1900). 
Monthly Labor Review, U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, contains data each 

month. The work of public employment offices can be followed back 

through the Review for a number of years. 


The U. S. Employment Service Bulletin, issued each week by the 

U. S. Employment Service, January 21, 1918, to February 28, 1919. 
"The United States Employment Service; an Analysis and a Forecast," 

Edward T. Devine, The Survey, April 5, 1919. 
"Lessons of the War in Shifting Labor," John B. Densmore, The Annals, 

January, 1919, p. 28. 
"The United States Employment Service and Demobilization," I. W. Litch- 

field, The Annals, January, 1919, p. 19. 
"The United States Employment Service and Demobilization," Monthly 

Labor Review, January, 1919, pp. 119-125; February, 1919, pp. 117- 


"The United States Employment Service and the Prevention of Unemploy- 
ment," Ordway Teed, American Labor Legislation Review, March, 1919, 

Vol. IX, No. i, p. 93. 
Annual Report, Director General, United States Employment Service, 

to the Secretary of Labor, 1918. 
"How the United States Department of Labor is Helping to Win the War," 

Louis F. Post, Industrial Management, January, 1918. 


"Hiring the Worker," R. W. Kelly. 

"The Works Manager To-day," Sidney Webb. 

"Scientific Management and Labor," R. F. Hoxie. 

"The Shop Committee, a Handbook for Employers and Employees," Wm. 

L. Stoddard. 
Monthly Labor Renew, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. See 

issues of June, 1918, October, 1918, and January, 1919, and consult 

index for articles in more recent numbers. 
Proceedings of the Employment Managers Conferences, reported in Bulletin, 

Nos. 196, 221, 227, 247, United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
"The Turnover of Factory Labor," Sumner Slichter. 
"Problems of Industrial Management," Meyer Bloomfield, Bulletin 247, 

United States Bureau o r Labor Statistics. 
"Training Labor Executives" (Symposium), ibid. 


"Selecting Workmen," ibid., pp. 112-147. 

"Extreme Methods in Employing," Nettie W. MacDonald, Industrial 
Management, April, 1919. 

"Employment Problems and How the John B. Stetson Company Meets 
Them," Milton D. Gehris, The Annals, May, 1916. 

"Department of Employment and Labor Maintenance," Industrial Manage- 
ment, September, 1918. 

"Why we Have no Trouble with our Men," G. M. Verity, System, Vol. 33, 
p. 707, May, 1916. 

"Employing the Employment Manager," Industrial Management, Vol. 56, 
p. 145, August, 1918. 

"First Epoch of a New Profession," Meyer Bloomfield, Industrial Manage- 
ment, July, 1918. 

"New Art of Labor Management," The Survey, Vol. 40, p. 433, July 13, 

"The Employment Manager," Meyer Bloomfield, American Federationist, 
September, 1918. 

"Employment Plans and Methods," Oscar Roder, Industrial Management, 
July, 1917, p. 559. 

"Relations Between the Employment Manager and Other Department 
Heads, R. C. Clothier, Industrial Management, January, 1917. 

"From Boss to Foreman," Fred D. Rindge, Jr., Industrial Management, 
July, 1917. 

" Foremen such as America Needs," George W. Bowie, Industrial Manage- 
ment, August, 1917. 

"Employment Manager and Foreman," R. W. Kelly, Industrial Manage- 
ment, January, 1918. 

"O Hell," or "Hello " ? George W. Wardrop, Industrial Management, 
February, 1918. 

"Relations of Foremen to the Working Force," Meyer Bloomfield, Industrial 
Management, June, 1917. 

"What I would do if I were a Foreman," Mark E. Jones, Industrial Manage- 
ment, July, 1918. 

Selection of Employees. 

Articles presenting various methods of testing fitness of employees will 
be found in The Annals, May, 1916; Industrial Management, May, 
June, November, and December, 1916; January, April, June, August, 
December, 1917; January, June, September, October, 1918. 


Abstracts of Reports of Immigration Commission, 1911, Vol. I, pp. 593- 

561. (Discusses itinerant, immigrant agricultural labor.) 
Final Report, Industrial Relations Commission," pp. 1165-1177. 
"The Workers, East," Walter A. Wyckoff. 


"The Workers, West," Walter A. Wyckoff. 

"The Dock Workers of New York City," Find Report, Industrial Relations 
Commission, Vol. Ill, pp. 2051-2212. 

"Sweating System in the Clothing Trade," John R. Commons, Report 
U. S. Industrial Commission, in 1901, Vol. XV, pp. 319-352 ; reprinted 
hi "Trade Unionism and Labor Problems," Commons 

"Out of Work," Frances A. Kellor. 

"Labor Conditions in Construction Camps," Final Report, Industrial Rela- 
tions Commission, Vol. VI, pp. 5087-5168. 

"The Steel Workers," John Fitch, Chapter II. 

"The I. W. W.," Carleton H. Parker, Atlantic Monthly, November, 1917. 

"The Man Who Lost Himself," Cecil F. La veil, Atlantic Monthly, November, 

"From the Diary of a Laborer," Cecil F. Lavell, Atlantic Monthly, May, 

"The Seasonal Labor in Agriculture," Final Report, Industrial Relations 
Commission, Vol. V, pp. 4911-5027. 

"Unemployment in California," ibid., pp. 5020-5085. 

"The Psychology of Migratory Labor," P. A. Speek, The Annals, January, 

"Casual Labour at the Docks," H. A. Mess. 

"The Public Employment Office as a Means of Public Education," D. D. 
Lescohier, Industrial Management, April, 1919. 

"One Thousand Homeless Men," Alice Solenberger. 

"Problems of Poverty," J. A. Hobson, 1913, Chapter VIII. 

"The I. W. W., a Study of American Syndicalism," Paul F. Brissenden, 
Vol. LXXXIII, 1919, Columbia University, Studies in History, Econom- 
ics and Public Law. 

"Vocational Education," Three Lectures, John H. Gray, Published by the 
City Council of the City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica, California. 

"Report on the Ontario Commission on Unemployment," 1916, pp. 77 79; 
101-112; 201-202; 228; 234-236. 

"Report of the Vagrancy Committee," London, 1906. 

"The Vagrant and Unemployable," Gen. Bramwell Booth, London, 1909. 

"Reports of the California Commission on Immigration and Housing. 


"Man Power in Agriculture," H. M. Eliot and B. F. Brown, Bulletin of 
Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, October, 19 1 8. (Graphic 
demonstration of value of spreading work on farm as evenly as possible 
throughout the year.) 

"A Graphic Summary of Seasonal Work on Farm Crops," O. E. Baker, 
C. F. Brooks, and R. G. Hainsworth. Separate from Year Book of 
the U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1917. 


"A Graphic Summary of American Agriculture," M. Smith, O. E. Baker, 
R. G. Hainsworth, Year Book of Department of Agriculture, 1915. 

"A Study of Farm Labor in California," R. L. Adams and T. R. Kelley, 
Circular No. 193, March, 1918, College of Agriculture, University of 

"Constructive Sociology," John M. Gillette, 1915, Chapters IV, VI, and X. 

"Agricultural Laborers in the United States," John Lee Coulter, The Annals, 
March, 1912, p. 40. 

Report of the Country Life Commission, 1911, pp. 91-100; 103-106. 

Abstracts of Reports of the Immigration Commission, 1911, Vol. I, pp. 

Final Report of Industrial Relations Commission, Vol. V, pp. 4911-5085. 

"Terms of Employment of Farm Labor," Monthly Labor Review, June, 1918. 

"United States Employment Service Conserving Farm Labor," Monthly 
Labor Review, May, 1918. 

"Mobilizing and Distributing Farm Labor in Ohio," W. M. Leiserson, 
Monthly Labor Review, April, 1918. 

"Farm Labor Specialists to Aid Farmers in Securing Help," Monthly Labor 
Review, February, 1918. 

"Paper on Tenancy," American Economic Review, Supplement, March, 
1919. (Reprinted as Bulletin No. 2, American Association for Agri- 
cultural Legislation, Secretary's Office, Madison, Wis.) 

"Effects of the Great War upon Agriculture in the United States and Great 
Britain," Benjamin Hibbard. Carnegie Endowment for International 
Peace, Oxford University Press, New York. 


"Social Insurance, a Program of Social Reform," Henry R. Seager. 

"Social Insurance," I. M. Rubinow. 

"Unemployment Insurance," J. G. Gibbon. 

"Insurance against Unemployment," D. F. Schloss. 

"The Prevention of Destitution," Sidney Webb. 

"Unemployment in Lancashire," S. J. Chapman and H. M. Hallsworth. 

"Present Status of Unemployment Insurance," American Labor Legislation 

Review, May, 1914. 
"Compulsory Unemployment Insurance in Great Britain," Olga S. Halsey, 

American Labor Legislation Review, June, 1915. 


Accidents, industrial, 92-03. 

"Acts of God" as cause of idleness, 97. 

Advisory boards, 172, 194-96, 200-02, 
210-11, 221-27; Canadian, 210-11; 
community, 195, 221, 223, 226; 
English, 200-02; National, 200, 223; 
State, 194, 221, 223, 226. 

Agricultural Labor, see Farm Labor, 
Harvest Labor. 

Agriculture, U. S. Department of, 
190-91, 302-03. 

American Association for Labor Legis- 
lation, 170-71. 

American Association of Public Employ- 
ment Offices, 167-68. 

American Bankers Association, 259. 

Annals of the American Academy, 171. 

Apprenticeship, 74-75, 85-87, 132-33, 

Attitude of Labor to Employment 
Offices, 165, 168, 194, 207. 

Barnes, Charles B., 183. 

Barnett, George E., 214-15. 

Bates, Lyndon, 109. 

Beet Sugar Industry, 36. 

Beveridge, W. H., 267, 268-70. 

Blatchy, Charles K., 260-61. 

Blind Alley Occupation, 76-79, 118, 

134-35, 251. 

Boys' Working Reserve, 189, 191. 
Building Industry, 29, 58. 
Business Conditions, Effects of Varying, 

22-24, 29-32, 64-66. 

California College of Agriculture, 298- 
300; farm labor in, 298-301. 

Can Manufactures, 46. 

Canadian Employment Service, 219-11. 

Casual Employments, 51-52, 58-64. 

Casual Laborers, 58-64, 75, 263-70; defi- 
nition of, 263, 264 ; causes of, 264 ; 
types, 264 ; responsibility of em- 
ployers, 265-66 ; decasualization, 267 ; 
relation of public employment offices 
to, 269-70. 

Cities, Employment Needs of, 204-06. 

Clayton, Charles T., 182. 

Clearance, Division of, 188-89. 

Clearance, English System of, 203-04. 

Clearance, U. S. Employment Service, 

Clearance, 227; need for, 227; munici- 
pal, 227-29; difficulties, 229; speed, 
229-30; state, 229-31; national, 231. 

Climate, effect on farm labor demand, 

Confectionery Manufacturers, 47. 

Continuation School, see Vocational 

Control, Division of, 188-89. 

Cost of Turnover, 114-18. 

Cost of Unemployment, 102-10, 122- 
23 ; effect on earnings, 102-07 ; on 
efficiency, 107-10; social loss, 122-23. 

Cotton Manufactures, 17, 52-54. 

Country Life Commission, 277-79. 

Crop diversification, 282-86. 

Cyclical fluctuations of employment, 

Decasualization, 267-70. 

Decentralization of labor supply, 13-18; 
of labor demand, 21-22. 

Demand for labor, 21-67. 

Depressions, business, 22-24, 29-32, 

Democracy, industrial, 124-26. 

Densmore, J. B., 183, 187. 

Department stores, 61. 

Direct application for work, 143. 

Dissatisfaction with work, cause of idle- 
ness, 89-92. 

Distribution of labor, 19-20. 

Dock labor, 60. 

Douglas, Paul, 117. 

Dovetailing of labor demands, 130-32, 

143-44, _232. 

Dressmaking, 37-39. 

Efficiency in employment service, 234- 
36; conservation of labor, 7 iff; 




07-100, 132-35, 135-38; Continua- 
tion School, 132-33; Mothers' 
Pensions, 133-34; blind alley oc- 
cupations, 134-35; education of 
adults, 135-38. 

Ely, Richard T., 141. 

Employers, attitude toward U. S. 
Employment Service, 164-65, 193, 
200-02, 224-25; attitude toward 
British Service, 202, 206-07, an d 
demand for labor, 21-67; 265-67; 
and unemployment, 124-30; and 
labor reserve, 14-19, 52 ; and labor 
turnover, 18-19. 

Employers Associations' Employment 
Offices, 158-59. 

Employment agencies profit seeking, 
business methods, 153-57 ; 182-83 ; 
evils of, 146, 149-50, 153-54, 155-58, 
162, 182-83; regulation, 146-47, 150- 
53; Ontario Law, 150-52; prohibition 
of, 147 ; Washington decision on, 147 ; 
railroad agencies, 147-54; interstate 
character of business, 149-50 ; teachers, 
145-46; collegiate bureaus, 145-46; 
clerical and professional, 145-46. 

Employment, methods of securing, 

Employment Exchanges, public, see 
also, "U. S. Employment Service," 
"Federal Employment Service"; 
lack of adequate, 19-20. 

Employment Manager, 245-46. 

Employment Management, 124-29, 242- 
50; importance of, 24245; relation 
to public employment service, 242, 
246-48; value to industry, 243-45. 

Employment Problem, 214-16; national 
interests in, 214-16; local interests, 

England, employment exchanges of, 
201-10; form of organization, 200, 
203 ; growth, 202-03 ; statistics, 203 ; 
clearance, 203-04 ; policies, 207-08 ; 
business principles, 208-10; manage- 
ment, 208-10. 

England, seasonal variations of employ- 
ment, 17-18, 50-51. 

Failures, percentage of people who are, 


Farm labor, problem stated, 276-77 ; 
year round demand, 279-80; crop 
season demand, 280-81 ; short time 
demands, 281; skill required, 280- 

82 ; crop diversification, effect of, 282- 
88; local variations in farm labor 
demand, 286; shortage of, 276-86, 
306; opportunities of advancement, 
277, 301 ; irregularity of farm work, 
277, 279; employment office, relation 
to, 278-81 ; marriage, effect of, 280- 
8 1 ; supply, 306 ; conditions in various 
states, 288-301. 

Federal Director of Employment, 186- 
87, 225. 

Federal Employment Council, 201-02, 

211, 223-24, 225-26. 

Federal Employment Service, need for, 
19-20, 160-61 ; under Bureau of 
Immigration, 174-76; basic principles 
of, in England and Canada, 208-11; 
in U. S., 212-23; United States 
Employment Service, 186-99 ; Advisory 
board, 200-02, 221 ; number of offices, 
204-06 ; tentative plan for such a serv- 
ice, 212-41 ; functions of, 130-32, 135- 
38, 207-08, 231-34, 267-75, 301-05; 
local interests in, 215; finances of, 
216-20; state and local cooperation, 
216-20; management of, 220-23; 
attitude of labor, 164; of employers, 
164-65, 193, 200-02, 224-25 ; training 
of unemployed, 135-38. 

Field Organization, Division of, 188-89. 

Fires as cause of unemployment, 97. 

Fluctuations in demand for labor, 21-67. 

Gompers, Samuel, 177. 

Harvest labor, see also Farm labor. 

organization of, 173. 
Health and Employment, 92-94. 
Hiring of labor, 129. 
Hobson, John A., 107. 
Hoot, Harry W., 271. 

Idleness, defined, 68; causes of, 70-76, 

04; training during, 135-38- 
Immigration, 3-9, 16, 81 82, 147-48. 
Immigration, Bureau of, 174-76, 186. 
Incidence of Unemployment, 97-100. 
Indiana, farm labor in, 289-90. 
Industrial Education, 85-88, 110-21, 

132-33, 135-38- 
Industries, employment conditions in 

various, 22-24, 29-32, 32-51. 
Inefficiency, labor, 71 ff; 135-38, 




Information on labor market conditions, 

i8g, 198, 234 ; division of, 189. 
Irregular employment, 51-64. 68, 102-07, 

259-75 > laborers, types of, 259-75 ; 

relation of public employment office 

to, 267-75. 

Johnson, Alba B., 178. 

Kansas farm labor, 292. 
Kelley, Mrs. Florence, 78-79. 
Kentucky farm labor, 291. 

Labor Demand, see Demand for Labor. 

Laborer, The, 74-82, 251-75, see also 
Casual, Decasualization. 

Labor Legislation, effect on unem- 
ployment, 87-88. 

Labor market, disorganization of, 71, 
141-63, 164-81, 182-85, 192; denned, 

Labor Reserve, see Reserve of Labor. 

Labor Shortage, 179-84, 192. 

Labor Supply, see Supply of Labor. 

Labor Turnover, see Turnover of Labor. 

Land Reclamation, 175-76. 

Larson, A. H., 273-74. 

Lasker, Bruno, 239. 

Laundries, 45-46. 

Leiserson, William M., 274. 

Lescohier, D. D., 272. 

Local interests in employment, 215- 

Lodging house population, 260-61, 272, 

Loyalty of employes, 80-92. 

Lumbering, 35-36. 

McLaughlin, Hugh, 209. 

Management of employment exchanges, 

167-68, 231-40. 
Market, defined, 141-42. 
Massachusetts employment service, 172- 

Migratory habits of workers, 18, 114-15. 

Minnesota, farm labor, 294-95, 302-05 ; 

commissioner of labor, 168-70. 
Mississippi, 296. 
Mitchell, John, 109. 
Montana farm labor, 295-96. 
Mothers' Pensions, 132-34. 

National Employment Exchange, 273. 
National Farm Labor Exchange, 173. 

Neutrality, of public exchanges, 237. 
Night Schools, see Vocational Schools. 

Ohio, employment service of, 172; war 

labor demands of, 181-82. 
Ontario, Law to regulate agencies, 

Overtime, effect on employment, 46, 

48, 54-55, 129. 

Panics, 64-66. 

Paper box manufactures, 30-40. 

Part-time work, 56-58, see also "Under 

Peddling labor, 143-44. 

Pennsylvania farm labor, 288-89. 

Per Capita test of employment efficiency, 

Personnel in public employment ex- 
changes, 165, 168-70, 174-75, J87, 189, 
196-97, 240-41. 

Philanthropic employment exchanges, 

Post, Louis F., 175-76. 
Post Office, as employment agency, 175. 
Poverty, as bar to efficiency, 132-34. 
Prejudices, against public employment 

service, 193-94, 200-02, 206-07. 
Private Employment Agencies, see 

Employment Agencies. 
Productivity of Labor, 72-73 see also 

Public Employment Agencies, see 

"Federal Employment Service." 

Quality in employment service, 168-70, 
207, 235-36. 

Railway labor agencies, 147-54. 
Relief work, 138. 
Reserve of Labor, 9-20, 52-58. 
Runners for employment agencies, 

Scrimshaw, Stewart, 83, 86. 

Seager, Henry R., 141. 

Seasonal unemployment, effect on wages, 

Seasons, effect on employment, 32-51; 
differences in industries, 33-48 ; causes 
of seasonal fluctuations of employ- 
ment, 41-47 ; winter vs. summer in 
employment, 48-5 1 ; iluctuation 
within seasons, 51-66. 



Selling policies, effect on employment, 

Skilled labor, dependence on unskilled, 

8; independence of employment 

exchanges, 251. 
Slichter, Sumner, 113, 116. 
Social customs, effect on employment, 25. 
Social progress, effect on employment, 


Solenberger, Alice, 261-62, 272. 
South Dakota, farm labor, 202-93. 
Stabilization of employment, 122-30. 
Standards of living, 94-96. 
State employment offices, 164-73, 


Steel industry, 54-55, 72-73. 
Strikes, 239-40. 
Supply of Labor, 3-20. 

Tennessee farm labor, 290-91. 

Texas farm labor, 296. 

Topography, effect on farm labor de- 
mand, 287. 

Trade Unions, 159. 

Training of labor, by employers, 81-84 ; 
Vestibule Schools, 82-84; appren- 
ticeship, see Apprenticeship; Voca- 
tional Schools, 82, 87-88; by state, 
84-85, 135-38 ; child labor, 76-79, see \ 
also Blind Alley; effect of turn- 
over, 74-75, 77, 80-81, 115-16; effect 
of immigration, 81-82. 

Turnover of labor, 18-19, 77, 79, 89-96 
in -21, 154, 167, 242-48. 

Under employment, denned, 53-64, 
68-69, 92-93, 102-03. 

Unemployable, 10, 49-50, 74-75, 94-96, 
88-89, 100-02. 

Unemployed, definition, 10, 49-50, 68-69. 

Unemployment, effect on public employ- 
ment offices, 1 66-7 1 ; reduction of, 
122-38; training during, 135-38; 
during war, 177-78; statistics, 31-32, 
30-44 ; incidence of, 97-100. 

Unemployment insurance, 307-09. 

U. S. Employment Service, 20, 186-98, 
204-05, 213. 

Unorganized Labor Market, see Labor 

Vacations, 176. 
Vestibule Schools, 82-84. 
Vocational Guidance, 233-34. 
Vocational Schools, 82, 87, 132-33. 

Wages, effect of labor reserves, 53- 
58; effect of unemployment, 102 05. 

War, effects on employment, 11-13, 
23-24, 177-82. 

Warne, Frank J., 105, 166. 

Washington farm labor, 296-98. 

Weather, 35-37, 38-39, 48-52, 56. 

Webb, Sidney, 107-08, 270. 

Wilson, William B., 240. 

Wisconsin employment service, 171-72. 

Zone System, 174, 203-04. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

Lescohier, Don Divance 
5724 The labor market