The Challenge of Full Employment

The Challenge of Full Employment

The Challenge of Full Employment

The Challenge of Full Employment

Excerpt

The Great Depression is gone. But it has taken a devastating war and the jittery aftermath of life with the H-bomb to ease its painful memory in the minds of those who lived through it. Though today it haunts what might be called a selective few instead of a great multitude, unemployment is still an ugly specter rightfully arousing the concern--and the remedial energies--of more and more people.

Since the end of World War II, the U.S. economy has undergone four recessions--periods during which employment, income, and production first lagged, then slumped. In some respects, each of these recessions left a more permanent scar than the one before. In 1962, we were still making a sluggish effort to climb out of the economic valley into which we descended in 1960- 1961. The unemployment rate in August 1962 climbed back toward 6 per cent of the labor force, meaning that almost 4 million jobless Americans were seeking work, but unable to find it.

Some action to relieve this mounting problem has already been taken. In 1961, Congress passed the Area Redevelopment Act designed to cope with the pockets of unemployment scattered in depressed areas around the nation. In 1962, it passed the Manpower Development and Training Act designed, hopefully, to retrain the unskilled for productive life in the age of automation. These measures have been brought forward to grapple with specialized problems as they arise. Regrettably, we live today in an era of such rapid economic and technological change that new challenges clamor for attention as fast as old ones an overcome. The 26 million youngsters, almost half of them without complete high school educations, who will pour into the labor force in this decade constitute a staggering challenge in themselves.

Achieving full employment in the 1960's, in fact, involves a series of challenges which will press the ingenuity and resourcefulness of American society in the years ahead. They are thorny challenges, too, fraught with controversial proposal-- such as laboes recent demand for a reduction in the standard work week--and opposing views.

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