Regional Economic Development: the Federal Role

Regional Economic Development: the Federal Role

Regional Economic Development: the Federal Role

Regional Economic Development: the Federal Role

Excerpt

It is all too common a practice nowadays to christen as an "economic miracle" every phase of rapid national expansion, but whether this is an appropriate evaluation of the performance of the U.S. economy in the sixties or not, there can be no dispute over the staggering growth in the nation's productive capacity. Between 1960 and 1966 the increase in real gross national product was larger than the total annual production of goods and services in every other country except the U.S.S.R. Over the same period, real disposable income, per capita, rose by 20 percent. Furthermore, in most of these years, growth was achieved under conditions which have come to be regarded as the attainable ideal for mature economies, that is, modest price inflation, limited underutilization of plant capacity, moderate labor-force unemployment, and a higher proportion of GNP allocated to fixed investment in the terminal as compared to the initial year. Thus, all the evidence indicates a highly satisfactory national rate of growth, with a high proportion of capacity being utilized, as efficient adjustments were made to the characteristics and spatial distribution of factor supplies in response to radical changes in demand. Only a persistent disequilibrium in the balance of payments would seem to prevent the administration from being awarded a straight "A" on its performance.

And yet, when the focus of analysis is shifted from the macro to the micro scale, it becomes obvious that national growth and full employment have diminished, but not eradicated, the obstacles to the full employment of distinguishable sectors of the work force. This is most immediately apparent for certain types of worker and particularly for the nonwhite populations, for whom a combination of low educational attainment and discrimination have created a high incidence of unemployment and persistently low median incomes. The factors which cause a high rate of unemployment among teenagers and older employees are more subtle, but probably associated with imperfect knowledge of available opportunities by the unemployed, and perhaps discrimination of a different kind. Thus . . .

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