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each township supervisor; but there were 1,168 such supervisors; the results
appeared to be negligible and the expense very great; consequently, the law
was amended in 1897, omitting that section. In Massachusetts there have
been several attempts to secure this broader information in regard to the
labor market. In 1893 one of the objections raised to public employment
agencies was that they failed to secure information in regard to the labor mar-
ket of the entire state, and it was urged that a system of reports on the
condition of the labor market of the state would be preferable to such
agencies in the larger cities. By the first law in 1906, it was provided that
each office send a semi-weekly reoort to the superintendent, and that these
reports be combined and returned to the agencies and distributed in other
ways; for the first seventeen weeks such reports w.ere published in the "Free
Employment Gazette." In 1909 the statute was changed, requiring the
agencies to send weekly reports of the demand and supply, as determined
by applications for employment and for help, to the clerks of all towns
and cities of the state. But this law, also, was enforced for a short time only.

Sargent, loc. cit., p. 68.

The superintendent of the Boston agency has published a monthly "Labor
Market Letter," which gives in a descriptive form the general condition of
the labor market, on the basis of the information secured in the public office.
A similar bulletin has been published in Wisconsin on the basis of the reports
of the Milwaukee agency, and since May, 1912, including the other state
agencies; the plan is to enlarge this bulletin to include all possible sources of
information in regard to the labor market of the entire state.

Wisconsin, Bulletin of Industrial Commission, 1:220, Aug. 20, '12.
Connecticut, Missouri and Minnesota have monthly reports, and Indiana
a quarterly report. Such infrequent reports as these at monthly intervals
evidently do not give the continuous information in regard to the labor
market which is deemed desirable for the adjustment of supply and demand
over a large territory, but they indicate some ideal looking to that final
successful adjustment.

There are, in addition, a number of minor indications of this purpose
to cover a wider territory than one city. In some agencies the applicants
are asked if they are willing to work outside the city; some superintendents
have made demands for wider advertising so that their operations might
cover more territory; requests have been made that newspapers be kept in
the offices to enable applicants to secure information in regard to opportuni-


ties for employment not locally available. Some state agencies have made
arrangements with railways by which reduced fares have been granted to
those applicants who have offers of work in other cities.

California, 7th Biennial Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1895,
pp. 26-27; Colorado, 12th Biennial Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics,
1909-10, p. X98; Kansas, Annual Reports of Director of Free Employment
Bureau, 1st, 1901, p. 7; 5th, 1905, p. 4; Conference of State Immigration,
Land and Labor Officials, 1911, p. 16.

In Indiana the farmers and farm laborers are invited to meet in the agencies
on a special occasion known as Farmers' Day, to make their contracts for
the coming season.

Indiana, 14th Biennial Report of Department of Statistics, 1911-12,
p. 12. .

The laws of several states provide that the agencies be advertised in trade
journals without reference to whether those journals are published in the
state, provided they reach employers of large numbers of laborers.

Statutes of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Oklahoma.

There have been three attempts to organize associations of employment
agencies. In 1901 the superintendents of the free employment agencies of
Missouri, New York, Illinois and Connecticut formed the National Associa-
tion of Free Employment Bureaus, but in the next year it was merged with
the more general Convention of the Officials of the Bureaus of Labor Sta-

New York, General Reports of the Department of Labor, 1st, 1901,
pp. 92-94; 2nd, 1902, pp. 10-11.

and 'in the meetings of the latter organization some attention has been given
to the work of the public employment agencies, though no tangible co-opera-
tive plans have been developed. In 1904 the commissioners of labor of
Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Dakota
formed the Western Association of Free Employment Bureaus for the pur-
pose of co-operating to secure a better distribution of the farm labor during
harvest. The. Kansas City, Missouri, office was fixed as the central clearing
house, and each state was expected to report to it weekly in regard to the
number of men needed and available. But there has been no evidence of such
co-operation and it is presumed that the Association has been discontinued.
In December, 1913, a meeting of superintendents of public employment
agencies and secretaries of bureaus of labor statistics of Illinois, Indiana,
Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Alberta resulted in the forma-
tion of an organization, to be known as the American Association of Public
Employment Agencies of the United States and Canada. Its objects are to
improve the efficiency of the agencies, to extend such agencies to all the
states, to secure closer co-operation between such agencies, to secure a
uniform plan of records and business control, to devise and maintain a plan
of interchange of information regarding the whole labor market, and to
secure proper distribution of labor throughout the country.

Up to date the proceedings of this Convention have not been pub-
lished. See, W. M. Leiserson, Survey, 31:165, Nov. 8, '13.

In general, then, it may be concluded that the public employment agen-
cies recognize no formal limitation on their field of operations. When they
are interested primarily in assisting the employers, they secure laborers in
any locality in which they are available, though giving the preference to
citizens, since they have an interest in keeping the citizens employed. When
they are interested primarily in assisting the unemployed, they attempt to
secure positions for them in the locality, if possible, but do not restrict
their efforts entirely to the community. The superintendent of the Seattle
municipal agency has justified this inter-local work by the arguments, first,
that it takes from the city the rough and dangerous unemployed, and. sec-
ondly, that when employes finish their engagements they come to Seattle to


spend their money with the merchants of that community, since it is known
that Seattle has the best facilities for securing other engagements.

Washington, 2nd Biennial Report Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1897-98,

p. 158.

But though these agencies do not recognize any formal limitation of their
area of operations, the efforts at co-operation are limited almost entirely
to intra-state agencies, and there is very little actual co-operation between
the agencies of one state, or even between the agencies in one city where, as
in Chicago, there is more than one agency in a city.

Sargent, loc.'cit, pp. 50, 68.

It is reported, however, that the public agency in Duluth, Minnesota, co-
operates with the public agency in Superior, Wisconsin.

Sargent, loc. cit, p. 98.

and that the public agencies in New York, Connecticut, Illinois and Mis-
souri have co-operated with the Kansas Bureau in the distribution of farm

Kansas, 3rd Annual Report of Director of Free Employment Bureau,
1903, p. 9.

Though there is little evidence of active co-operation between public
employment agencies, either in the inter-communal or inter-state placements,
there is evidence that the agencies have some slight degree of success in
securing employment for applicants in localities other than the home com-
munity. A large number of the agencies report that they have received calls
from and made placements in many other places than their own localities,
these being sometimes in the same state, frequently in distant states. But
few of the agencies publish records of their inter-communal work; most of
the agencies that publish such reports have been municipal agencies, and
there is no basis for generalization from these statistics to the expected
records of the state agencies. The work of the Kansas state agency, of the
agencies maintained by the departments of agriculture in Wisconsin and
New York and the Bureau of Immigration, is almost entirely inter-communal,
since these agencies were organized for the purpose of the distribution of
labor either to the farmers or else out of the cities. The Boston agency
places more men as farm hands than in any other occupation,

Massachusetts, 38th Annual Report of Statistics of Labor, 1907, p. 445.
and the Pueblo agency claims that it furnishes 90 per cent of the farm help
of that vicinity.

Colorado, 12th Biennial Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1909-10,

p. 204.

In Chicago, however, very few applicants are sent outside of the city
by the state agencies,

Sargent, loc. cit., p. 50.

and in New York, in the year 1903-04, 28.4 per cent of the males and 5.9 per
cent of the females who were reported as securing positions were located
outside the city of New York. Some of the western municipal agencies show
a much greater amount of inter-communal work than these state agencies:
in Butte, in the year 1910, 67.7 per cent of the males and 32.9 per cent of
the females who were reported as securing positions were placed outside the
city of Butte, and in Great Falls, for the same year, the corresponding figures
were 56.8 per cent and 52.7 per cent. In Portland during the period from
October 1, 1909, to December 31, 1910, 12.9 per cent of all persons reported
placed were located outside the city; in 1905, of all persons reported placed
by the Duluth municipal agency, 19.4 per cent were placed outside the state
and 25.8 per cent in the state, but outside of the city of Duluth.

The efficiency of the public employment agencies in such inter-communal
work must be judged, however, not only by the proportion of such place-
ments to the entire number of placements, but also, by the success in accom-
plishing a controlled and adequate general distribution of the labor supply.


It is evident, from this point of view, that the public employment agencies
have no system or method by which they can furnish to the unemployed
continuous information in regard to opportunities for employment. If the
applicant is sent to a distant community, he is as helpless after the engage-
ment is finished, as though he had been sent by a private agency. The state
agencies have no extensive system of information that will re-direct him
to other employment. The worker must make his own way by his own
efforts or by other assistance which he can secure.

Conference of State Immigration, Land and Labor Officials, 1911, p. 17.

The reports of demands for harvest hands which are published in the
newspapers are of some value in this re-direction, but there is no system of
definite and continuous information.

Kansas, llth Annual Report of Free Employment Bureau, 1911,

pp. 5-6.

Consequently, the public employment agencies have generally failed in
the organization of the inter-communal labor market; there has been no
actual co-operation between the different state agencies, either intra-state
or inter-state, that has been significant in results. No agency has a system
of determining the demands for. labor in territory outside of its own locality;
the proportion of positions secured in other communities varies greatly in
the different agencies, but in no agency are there any means for keeping the
person who is sent into another locality informed in regard to further possi-
bilities for employment. From the standpoint of the ideal organization of
the labor market, as determined by the students of unemployment, the exist-
ing system of public agencies is of no more" value in the inter-communal
placements than the non-public agencies, for there is no organization which
will make wandering in search of work unprofitable, and no technique for
furnishing the unemployed with definite and continuous information in
regard to opportunities for employment over a wide area.

This study of the success of the public employment agencies leads to
the following conclusions: (1) There has been a steady increase in the
number of such agencies since 1890; (2) the success or efficiency of these
agencies cannot be determined from their reports because of the very inad-
equate methods of keeping and presenting their records, but all indications
are that the reports very greatly magnify what has been accomplished; (3) in
Kansas City and Milwaukee, which had state agencies fairly representative
of the general type, new agencies which were established have far outstripped
the old, thus showing the failure of the old to accomplish the full possibilities;
(4) moreover, for all of these agencies it may be said that they are merely
additional distinct and non-co-operating centers in the labor market, limited
in actual practice almost entirely to the unskilled workers and to temporary
engagements, limited either to placements within a city or to placements
outside the city on the basis of almost insignificant knowledge of the de-
mand for labor, and in all cases failing to co-operate with other public or
non-public agencies in any organized way; (5) because of the specialization
on unskilled labor and casual employments, it is possible that the public
agencies, like the non-public, may have aggravated the situation by making
it easy to get into casual employment and difficult to leave it; thus that they
may have tended to promote the process of casualization. Consequently,
it may be concluded that the public agencies have been no more successful
than the private or philanthropic employment agencies in organizing the
labor market.

In consideration of this general failure on the part of the public employ-
ment agencies to organize the labor market either within a given locality or
within a larger area, it is irppoTtant to attempt to determine the reasons for
this failure.

The fundamental explanation of the failure of the public employment
agencies to organize the labor market is found in the fact that these
agencies have not been established or maintained for that purpose, and, with
a few exceptions in the -last half-decade, have not had any ideal of such


organization. They have been primarily an attempt to protect the unem-
ployed from the private employment agencies, and based on the following
scheme of thought: Very many of the private employment agencies are
dishonest, fraudulent and unscrupulous; the unemployed are not in a posi-
tion to make advantageous bargains with these agencies, or to protect them-
selves from impositions; the employment agencies are trafficking in the very
important commodity of human labor, and especially when they are deal-
ing with ignorant foreigners and the unprotected unemployed, are perform-
ing a function which is of such vital importance to the state that it should
not be related to the desire for financial gain; even if the private employment'
agencies are honest and their fees reasonable, the unemployed are kept from
working because of inability to pay the fees, or if they ate able to pay fees,
do so only with great hardship, and thus a few private employment agents
are enriched at the expense of the portion of the population least able to
contribute to the support of others; moreover, there is no reason why any
one should be compelled to pay a fee in order to secure an opportunity to
work. Therefore, according to this argument, it would be cheaper for the
people of the state, it would protect the unemployed and it would be a well-
merited service to the unemployed, if the state maintained free employment
agencies; this would decrease the necessary expenditures for charities, since
people become objects of charity because of their inability to pay fees to
secure positions which would enable them to be self-supporting, and because
of the frauds practiced upon them by these private agencies; in either case,
individual degeneracy and crime result from such unemployment, and the
establishment of public employment agencies would thus be a means of
preventing degeneracy and crime. The public agencies were expected to
eliminate the private employment agencies, and this was justified, partly,
on the ground that they were all fraudulent, partly on the ground that if
some were honest and reasonable, it was impossible to differentiate them from
the fraudulent agencies; the competition of the public agencies was expected
to eliminate the private agencies because, it was argued, applicants for em-
ployment would not go to the agencies to which they were required to pay
fees if they could secure free services in the state agencies.

There is very little indication, especially previous to 1906, that there was
any definite consideration given to the possible superiority of these public
agencies in regulating the distribution of labor, few arguments that these
public agencies would reduce unemployment except by reason of the free
service, and little hope that they would prevent wandering in search of
work. The attention was centered on the police protection and charity as-
pects of the problem, and it was this direction of the attention, the result
of the problem of the times, that determined the methods and efficiency of
the agencies. '' The following material is presented as evidence in support of
this interpretation of the failure of the public agencies:

The evils of private employment agencies had been receiving consider-
able attention before any efforts other than regulations were made to con-
trol them; municipal ordinances had been passed in several of the large
cities, and in 1885 Minnesota passed a statute. But the evils continued in
spite of these regulations, as was made evident in an investigation in New
York in 1886,

New York, 4th Annual Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1886,

pp. 23-61.
and in Ohio in 1888.

Ohio, 12th Annual Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1888, pp.


The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of Colorado, who made
the first suggestion of public employment agencies which has received pub-
licity, urged in 1887 that either the private agencies should be strictly regu-
lated by law, or else public employment agencies should be established; he
favored the latter method, and was instrumental in pushing into the legisla-
ture a bill to establish public agencies in all the larger cities of the state
and to outlaw the private employment agencies. The bill failed because the


legislature was considering what was referred to in the Journals as a "similar
bill," namely, a bill to regulate private agencies.

Colorado, House Journal, 1889, p. 388; Colorado, 1st Biennial Report
of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1887-88, pp. 363-69; ibid. 3rd Biennial Re-
port, 1891-92, p. 162.

Thus the regulation of private agencies and the establishment of public
agencies were considered as alternative methods of securing the same results.
The private-employment-agency animus is especially apparent in the estab-
lishment of the Ohio public agencies. This is evident from the fact that
the suggestion for the establishment of such agencies was preceded by a
study of the evils of private agencies, which presented the problem to the
people of the state; from the numerous opprobrious epithets applied to the
private agencies, such, for example, as "leeches engaged in sucking the life
blood from the poor;"

Ohio, 14th Annual Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1890, pp.

from the report that in the first six months of operation the public agencies
cost the state only $5,000, while the workers placed through their assistance
would otherwise have been compelled to pay fees to private agencies, amount-
ing to $20,132;

Ibid., p. 19.

from the statements that the private agencies had been driven entirely out
of three cities in which public agencies had been located, and the methods
of the agencies in the other two cities had been greatly improved, in so far
as the agencies had not been entirely eliminated;

Ohio, 16th Annual Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1892, p. 17.
and by such explanations as that of the representative of Ohio in the Na-
tional Convention of the Officials of the Bureaus of Labor Statistics in 1891,
who, when asked the function of these public employment agencies, replied:
"The particular function is * * * to prevent poor people being robbed of
their money by having to go to employment agencies that charge from one
dollar to five dollars as a deposit. * * * By our law we do away with
these offices."

Eighth Annual Convention of Officials of Bureaus of Labor Statistics,

1891, p. 92.

Ohio, having started the movement with this purpose, was largely influ-
ential in determining the aims and purposes of the public employment agen-
cies in the other states. This is not merely a case of imitation; the other
states had the same problem of unemployment and of exploitation of the un-
employed by the private agencies; in other states, as in Ohio, the problem of
unemployment itself was considered too large for solution, but it was possi-
ble to prevent the exploitation of the unemployed; and the reputed success
of the Ohio public agencies in abolishing these evils quickly spread to the
other states, resulting in demands for the solution of their own problems.
The method by which these reports spread was largely through the meet-
ings of the officials of the bureaus of labor statistics and the interchange of
reports. The reports on the success of the Ohio public agencies in the
National Convention of the Officials of the Bureaus of Labor Statistics in
1891 had led the commissioners of labor in several of the states to make
studies of their private employment agencies and to recommend legislation
similar to that in Ohio. At the next convention of the officials in 1892 a
resolution was nresented, recommending to the legislatures of the different
states the consideration of the advisability of establishing state agencies.

Ninth Annual Convention of Officials of Bureaus of Labor Statistics,

1892, p. 97.

The adoption of this resolution was moved on the ground that the estab-
lishment of state employment agencies "means the abolishment of a great
stumbling-block now in the path of every unemployed workingman."
Ibid., p. 96.


The merits of the resolution were argued entirely, aside from some
technicalities of enforcement of laws, in terms of the evils of the private

The representative from Michigan moved as an amendment to this
resolution that "in case said public employment offices do not find private
employment for all those who need it, that it shall be the duty of the
State to supply such employment." Ibid., pp. 97-98. This amendment
failed to carry. While this amendment indicates some attention to un-
employment, as contrasted with the exploitation of the unemployed, it
seems to have elicited no support.

This resolution was of immense importance in the direction of the move-
ment for the establishment of public agencies. It was used as the basis, and,
in some cases, as the principal argument for recommendation of laws in
several of the states, and was referred to with commendation in several
other states. In addition, knowledge of the Ohio public agencies was spread
by visits made to Ohio by representatives from other states which were
interested in the establishment of similar institutions, particularly from
Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri and Connecticut. Letters of inquiry were
sent to the Commissioner of Labor of Ohio from all parts of the United

Ohio, 17th Annual Report of Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1893, p. 874.
The reply he made to the inquiries from Iowa is indicative of the general
direction of thought at that time. He wrote: "The employment offices in
Ohio are giving great satisfaction and have been the means of wiping out
almost entirely the 'pay employment offices' which formerly existed in this
state to an alarming extent."

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