Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
UNEMPLOYMENT

I The Causes of Unemployment

As far back as 1901 Prof. John R. Commons, in his report on immigration prepared for the Industrial Commission, reached the conclusion that immigrants come to this country "in the to the opportunities for employment."1 Still the force of statistics must apparently yield to the living proof, furnished by the ever­present "army of the unemployed," that there are already more men than jobs in the United States. There seems to be no escape from the conclusion that every new immigrant, in order to live, must take away the job some one else who has been here before.2 A study of the sources of unemployment shows the fallacy of the premises upon which the popular argument is based.

Unemployment in its present form is a problem peculiar to our industrial system, but alternations of work and involuntary idleness were incidents of the life on the old New England farm as well. The disappearance of slavery in New England was no small degree due to the long winters during which the time of the negro slave could not be fully

____________________
1
Report of the Industrial Commission, vol. xv., p. 309.
2
"The popular conception is of industry as rigidly limited--a sphere of cast iron in which men struggle for living room; in which the greater the room taken by any one man the less must there be for others; in which the greater the number of men the worst must be the case of all."-- W. H. Beveridge: Unemployment, a Problem of Industry, p. 11.

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