Chicago. Mayor's Commission on Unemployment.

Report of the Mayor's Commission on Unemployment online

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Mayor's Commission










I. Report of the Commission . . . . . . . 5

II. Reports of Sub-Committees : . . . . . 14

1. Nature and Extent of Unemployment ... 14

2. Employment Agencies . . . . . 48

3. Immigration . . . . . . . 60

4. Relief and Unemployment ... - . 79


I. Bureaus of Employment (Labor Exchanges^in Europe . . 83
By the Secretary of the Commission

II. Unemployment Insurance ....... 8*7

By the Secretary

III. Unemployment and Public Employment Agencies . .95

By E. H. Sutherland






On January 22, 1912, Carter H Harrison, Mayor of Chicago, sent the following
communication to the City Council, and as a result of this communication the accom-
panying resolution was adopted by the Council:

Office of the Mayor, Chicago, January 22, 1912.

To the Honorable the City Council:

GENTLEMEN I am in receipt of a communication from the Chairman of the
Executive Committee of the United Charities which calls attention, among other
things, to "the utter hopelessness of relieving the sufferings and evils caused by
unemployment in all its forms, by private or public charity, working alone ."

This communication suggests the advisability of the appointment of a Com-
mittee to study and report on the whole subject of Unemployment, and to make
such recommendations as may suggest themselves for the amelioration of
existing conditions.

As this subject of unemployment is one of the most serious questions with which
a great community has to deal, the suggestion appeals to me with great force, and I
would suggest that your Honorable Body authorize me to appoint' a Committee, to
consist of five members of your Honorable Body and ten citizens of the community,
to make a thorough study of unemployment, and to present recommendations that
will tend to bring about the greatest possible relief.

Respectfully yours,



Unanimous consent was given for the consideration of the resolution submitted
with the foregoing communication.

Aid. Thomson moved to adopt the said resolution.

The motion prevailed.

The following is the said resolution as adopted :

WHEREAS, There has existed for some time past a great depression in many
mercantile, industrial and manufacturing establishments whereby thousands of
our wage-earners have been deprived of a livelihood for themselves and families,

WHEREAS, The conditions thereby caused have produced great suffering which
has now become exceedingly aggravated on account of the unusually severe weather
that prevails over a wide area of our country ; and,

WHEREAS, The present demands of the unemployed for food, clothing and
shelter are taxing to their utmost the efforts of all charitable agencies ; and,

WHEREAS, These pitiful conditions among the poor and unemployed, if not
relieved, are liable to endanger the health, safety and welfare of our citizens;
therefore, be it


RESOLVED, That the Mayor, be and he is hereby authorized and directed to ap-
point a committee, consisting of five (5) members of the City Council and ten
(10) citizens of the city, to inquire into and report at an early date concerning the
cause or causes for the nonemployment of so many wage earners, the extent and
effect of the prevailing conditions upon the community, and what can and should be
done more effectually to relieve the sufferings of the poor and unemployed and
provide employment, either in public or private undertakings, for the many men
now or who may hereafter be out of work in the City of Chicago.

The following communication was transmitted by His Honor, the Mayor, with
the said resolution :


His Honor, Mayor C. H. Harrison, Chicago :

SIR I must plead over thirty years' experience in city charity work for asking
a little of your time and attention for a vital public concern.

I am Chairman of the Executive Committee of the United Charities ; but this
letter is merely an individual suggestion for which no one else is responsible. I
was also American delegate to the International Commission on Unemployment in
1909 and 1911 at Paris and Ghent.

The utter hopelessness of relieving the sufferings and evils caused by unem-
ployment in all its forms by private or public charity, working alone, has been
forced upon my mind.

I wonder if you would be willing to authorize and name a Commission to study
and report to you on the whole subject?

The preliminary survey of the problem, with reference to Chicago needs, should
not cost over $1,000 for clerical services. The work would be done without cost to
the city.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,
(Signed) C. R. HENDERSON.

Outline of proposed investigation of Mayor's Committee on the subject of Un-
employment in Chicago :

I. What are facts about unemployment in Chicago : i. e., involuntary un-
employment not due to sickness, accident, old age, crime or strikes and lockouts.
The facts should be collected and arranged under the categories of: (1) race and
nativity; (2) seasons; (3) trades and skill; (4) periodical depressions over
20 years.

II. What is the burden on public and private charity and relief caused by
unemployment : from records and testimony of local experts and commission

III. What is the burden of unemployment on the wages of self-supporting
wage earners? Effect on their standard of living.

IV. What is the effect of unemployment on increase of vice and crime, and

Eublic expense for these? Danger to life, property, order, security, and public

V. Palliative measures in Chicago. Public and private relief : indiscriminate
doles. Investigate influence of these methods on increase of vagabondage, vice,
disease and industrial loss to community.

VI. The rudimentary beginnings of methods of preventing unemployment.

1. Private employment officers and State inspection of these.

2. State employment bureaus, and possible improvement of these.

_ VII. Rudimentary beginnings of insurance against loss from unemployment.
Chiefly the out-of-work and travelling benefits of trade unions.

VIII. Study of European experience and recent legislation in relation to

IX. Proposal of a policy of action in relation to prevention and insurance,
based on above study.

1. This proposal must exclude all distant and Utopian schemes outside the
range ef possible practical action at present : as single tax, socialism, etc.


2. The proposed policy would include a study of methods already successful
and probably practicable in this city, as for example :

a. Vocational training, guidance and supervising control of youth from the
fourteenth to the nineteenth year at least. This policy is already accepted in prin-
ciple by our Board of Education. Should it not be greatly extended?

b. A real Labor Exchange on modern lines.

c. A conference of officials of public and quasi-public bodies having large
contracts to give, with a view to spreading demand for labor more evenly over
ten-year periods.

d. Better care, protection, and training of immigrants to fit them more quickly
for their occupations. Better distribution.

e. Voluntary training shops for the "unemployable" who desire to learn to

f. Compulsory colonies, farms and shops, for the "unemployable" and "un-
helpable" who require rigorous discipline to save them from complete ship-

Respectfully submitted for consideration.

(Signed) " C. R. HENDERSON.

Bibliography :

S. and E. Webb, The Prevention of Destitution. (This gives the best recent

I. G. Gibbons, Unemployment Insurance.

Acting on this resolution Mayor Harrison appointed a Commission of twenty-
two citizens, including five members of the City Council, with Charles R. Crane,
Chairman, and Charles Richmond Henderson, Secretary. At its first meeting,
February 24, 1912, the Commission divided itself for the purpose of study into
seven sub-committees, as follows :


1. Nature and Extent of Unemployment Oscar G. Mayer, Chairman, Mal-
colm McDowell, James H. Bowman.

2. Employment Bureaus Frederic A. Delano (resigned), Rev. R. A. White
Chairman, Alderman J. B. Bowler.

3. Immigration Louis F. Post, Chairman, Alderman F. P. Danisch.

4. Vocational Guidance Graham Taylor, Chairman, H. G. Adair, Alder-
man J. H. Lawley.

5. Adjustments of Employment Edward Tilden, Chairman, John J. Sons-
teby. W. H. Cruden.

6. Relief Rev. Father M. J. Dorney, Chairman, O. G. Finkelstein, Alder-
man W. F. Schultz, John A. Cervenka.

7. Laws Repressing Vagabonds Judge Edward O. Brown, Chairman,
Alderman Twigg.

The sub-committee on Nature and Extent of Unemployment prepared and sent
to representative employers and trade unions a questionnaire, with the object of
securing as much detailed information as possible in regard to their subject. Inci-
dentally this committee included in its questions inquiries in regard to the attitudes
of trade unions and employers toward efficient public employment exchanges. These
questionnaires and a compilation of the results of the answers are given in the com-
plete report of this sub-committee.

The sub-committee on Immigration divided itself still further for purposes of
study, and called in other interested parties for assistance in the preparation of
a report. This sub-committee has prepared a report on the subjects of (1) mi-
gratory labor, (2) over-employment and under-employment, (3) unemployment
among immigrant women, (4) charities, (5) population and immigration sta-
tistics. The complete report of this sub-committee is given below.

The sub-committee on the adjustment of employment or the dove-tailing of
occupations submitted a report, the purport of which was expressed in the following
resolution :

"We recommend to the Governor and Legislature the creation of a De-
partment of Labor (or Industrial Commission) whose duty would be to
enforce the laws now enforced by the Factory Inspector, to collect labor
. statistics now in charge of a separate bureau, to administer the laws of arbi-


tration in labor difficulties; to supervise the private employment offices, and
to direct the state labor exchange in accordance with principles stated in our
previous resolution."

After a hearing on this subject the Commission decided to postpone con-
sideration of the question.

The sub-committee on Relief in Emergencies made a study of the ex-
tent to which unemployment is a cause of destitution and of applications for
assistance from charitable associations in Chicago; and of the assistance now
being given by such associations to the unemployed in Chicago. A part of
this report is given below.

The sub-committee on employment bureaus made an investigation of the
private and philanthropic employment agencies of Chicago, and of the other
means of securing employment. The results of this investigation are repro-
duced below. On the basis of this study and of recommendations of other
sub-committees, the sub-committee on Employment Bureaus submitted a reso-
lution, which was adopted by the Commission on May 25, 1912. This- resolution
is as follows :

"1. We recommend the establishment of a Labor Exchange, so
organized as to assure (a) adequate funds to make it efficient in the
highest possible degree; (>b) with a mode of appointment of the salaried di-
rectors which will protect it against becoming the spoils of political
factions and parties; (c) with a Board or Council of responsible
citizens, representing employers, employes and the general public, to
direct the general policy and watch over the efficiency of the adminis-
tration, this Board or Council having the power to employ and dis-
charge all employes, subject to proper regulation of the Civil Service

"2. We recommend that the Governor and Legislature be re-
quested at the next session of the Legislature to amend the present
law relating to free State Employment bureaus so as to secure a cen-
tral Labor Exchange, based on the principles first stated."
Professor E. Freund, well known as an authority on the Police Power and
Social Legislation, kindly gave his valuable services in drafting a bill in ac-
cordance with the conclusion of the Commission. This bill, as drafted, is as
follows :


To Relieve Unemployment in the State of Illinois, and to Establish a State

Labor Exchange.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois repre-
sented in the General Assembly, That there shall be, as part of the Civil
Service of the State of Illinois, a bureau to deal with the problem of diminish-
ing the evils arising from lack of employment or casual or irregular employ-
ment of labor, to be known as the Illinois Labor Exchange Bureau.

SECTION 2. Said Labor Exchange shall be under the general supervision
and control of a Board of Managers, to consist of five members to be ap-
pointed by the Governor by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,
and to be selected, as far as- practicable, from persons familiar with prob-
lems of labor and employment. Said members shall hold their office for a
term of five years except that of the members first appointed: one shall
hold office for the term of one year, one for the term of two years, one for the
term of three years, one for the term of four years, one for the term of five
years, and all appointments thereafter shall be made for terms of five years.
Said members shall not receive any salary but shall be paid the sum of $10.00
each for each day necessarily spent in the performance of their official
duties, and shall also be paid their traveling expenses. Said Board of Mana-
gers may adopt a seal for said Exchange and may also adopt rules for the
transaction of its business. A majority of their number shall constitute a
quorum for the transaction of official business. They shall keep a record of
their proceedings. The official seat of said Exchange shall be in the City of
Chicago, but they shall have authority to meet elsewhere in the State.


SECTION 3. Said Board of Managers shall appoint a general superin-
tendent who shall be selected and hold office in accordance with the Civil
Service Law of this State, and who shall receive an annual salary of $ .
Said Superintendent shall, subject to said Board of Managers, have the
general executive direction of the said labor exchange. He shall reside in the
City of Chicago.

SECTION 4. Said Board of Managers shall establish a central labor ex-
change in the City of Chicago and such number of branches in the City of
Chicago and in other cities or localities of the State as they may from time
to time determine to be advisable and as the Governor may approve. Sub-
ject to like approval, they shall have power to reduce the number of said
branch or local offices, or to consolidate several offices into one, and for that
purpose to make the necessary official changes. Each branch office shall
be in charge of a business manager who shall be responsible and subject
to the direction of the general superintendent. He shall be appointed by
said Board of Managers and selected and hold office in accordance with the

Civil Service Law of the State, and receive a salary not to exceed $ .

The clerical organization and office equipment of said central exchange and
branch offices shall be determined by said Board of Managers in co-operation
with said general superintendent within the limits of the amounts appro-
priated for said service by the General Assembly. As far as practicable,
separate rooms shall be provided in each office for male and for female or
juvenile applicants for employment, and where there are several clerical em-
ployes in any office it shall be the policy of the Bureau that at least one of
said employes shall be a woman.

SECTION 5. Subject to said Board of Managers the general superintend-
ent may organize, in connection with each branch exchange, an advisory board
of not more than five members, who shall ^>e persons interested in labor prob-
lems, and who shall serve without compensation. The functions of "said ad-
visory board to be determined by rules of said Board of Managers.

SECTION 6. It shall be the duty of the Illinois Labor Exchange to in-
vestigate the extent and causes of unemployment and the remedies therefor
and to devise and adopt the most effectual means within its power to provide
employment and to prevent distress and involuntary idleness, and for that
purpose it shall have power to co-operate with the similar bureaus and com-
missions of other States.

SECTION 7. The labor exchange, through its central and branch of-
fices, shall receive applications of persons seeking employment and applica-
tions of persons seeking to employ labor, and collect information and data
regarding conditions of labor and employment in the State. Full records
shall be kept of all applications received and positions secured, and as far as
possible, of the length of time during which each position secured shall be
held and the cause whereby such position shall be lost. Provision may be
made for handling separately the securing of employment for young per-
sons, for persons unable to support themselves permanently in an adequate
manner, for ex-convicts and paroled prisoners, for unorganized migratory
labor, and for such other cla'sses of labor as may require special treatment.
In connection with any of such classes of labor provision may be made for
the keeping of special registers showing particulars regarding the age, na-
tivity, trade or occupation of each applicant, cause and duration of non-
employment, whether married or single, the number of dependent children
or relatives, together with such other facts as may be required by said
Board of Managers. Such special registers shall not be open to public in-
spection, but shall be held in confidence and the data shall be so published as
not to reveal the identity of any person, and any applicant who shall decline
to furnish answers as to questions contained in special registers shall not
thereby forfeit any rights to any employment that may thereby be secured
for them.

SECTION 8. All local or branch offices shall be in constant communica-
tion with said central exchange and shall co-operate with each other as
directed by said central exchange. Reports shall be ,made to such central
exchange as directed by the general superintendent. It shall be the duty of


the general superintendent to place himself in communication with manu-
facturers, merchants and other employers of labor and to use all diligence in
securing the co-operation of said employers of labor with the purposes and
objects of said labor exchange. To this end it shall be competent for such
superintendent to advertise in the columns of newspapers or other medium, for
such situations as he has applicants to fill, and he may advertise in a general
way for the co-operation of large contractors and employers in such trade
journals or special publications as reach such employers, whether such trade
or special journals are published within the State of Illinois or outside of the
State. The like duties may be performed by the manager of each branch
office subject to the direction of the general superintendent. For the pur-
pose of securing employment it shall be lawful for the labor exchange to
make provision for advancing to applicants for employment the cost of trans-
portation to the place of employment subject to rules and regulations to ,be
established by the Board of Managers. The services of said exchange in se-
curing employment shall not be withheld by reason of any strike or lockout,
but full information shall be given to applicants regarding the existence of
any such labor disturbance.

SECTION 9. It shall be the duty of the general superintendent to make
report to the Board of Managers not later than December 10th, in each year,
concerning the work of the exchange for the year, until October 1st of the
same year. Such report shall be transmitted by said Board of Managers to the
Governor, who shall submit it to the General Assembly.

SECTION 10. No fee or compensation shall 'be charged or received di-
rectly or indirectly from persons applying for employment or help through
such labor exchange, and any manager or clerk or other employe of any of
said offices who shall accept directly or indirectly any fee or compensation
from any applicant or from his or her representative shall be deemed guilty
of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than $25.00 or
more than $50.00, or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than thirty
days, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid.

SECTION 11. All printing, blanks, blank books, stationery and such other
supplies as may be necessary for the proper conduct of the business of the
offices herein created or authorized to be created, shall be furnished by the
Secretary of State upon request for the same, signed by the general super-

SECTION 12. An Act relating to employment offices and agencies, ap-
proved and enforced May 11, 1903, is hereby repealed.

In the autumn and winter of 1912-13 several meetings of the Commission
were held, and as a result another bill was drawn up, referred to the Mayor
and by him to the City Council. With their approval the bill was presented
by Hon. Mr. Farrell, April 10, 1913, as House Bill 495.

HOUSE BILL No. 495, 48th G. A., 1913.

Introduced by Mr. Farrell, April 10, 1913.

Read by title, ordered printed and referred to Committee on Judiciary.


For an Act to amend sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of an Act entitled, "An Act
relating to employment offices and agencies," approved and in force May
11, 1903, as amended by Act approved June 5, 1909, in force July 1, 1909.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented
in the General Assembly: That Sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of an Act en-
titled, "An Act relating to employment offices and agencies," approved and
in force May 11, 1903, as amended by Act approved June 5, 1909, in force July
1, 1909, be and the same are hereby amended to read as follows:

SKCTION 1. That free employment offices are hereby created as follows: One
in each city of not less than twenty-five thousand (25,000) population for the
purpose of receiving applications of persons seeking to employ help. The
term "application for employment," as used in this Act, shall be construed to
mean any person seeking work of any lawful character. And "application for


help" shall mean any person or persons seeking help in any legitimate enter-
rise. And nothing in this Act shall be construed to limit the meaning of the
term "work" to manual occupation. But it shall include professional services
and all other legitimate services. Such offices shall be designated and known
as "The Illinois Free Employment Offices."

SECTION 2. The State Board of Commissioners of Labor is hereby entrusted
with the enforcement of this Act and they may appoint a local advisory
committee in each city, consisting of an equal number of representatives of
employers and labor, who shall serve without compensation and perform
such duties as said State Board of Labor Commissioners shall indicate. And
the Governor, with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint one general su-
perintendent of free employment offices, whose special duties shall be pre-
scribed by the said State Board of Commissioners of Labor, but whose gen-
eral duties shall be to superintend, promote and make mutually helpful, the
free employment agencies of the State.

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