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Cooley, Social Organization, pp. 23 ff.

It is principally the sanction of one's personal relationships that holds him in line
with the type of conduct considered desirable by his group ; apart from the pres-
sure of these primary groups formal standards of law and morality seem to have
slight influence. Though the trend of modern civilization is very definitely in
the direction of the break-up of the static non-communicating groups, the possibil-
ities of a general substitution of a mobile, unattached, footloose existence for the
present system of small group control and group self-protection are involved in
the policy of the public employment agencies in so far as they succeed in their
ideal of promoting mobility.

There is some slight evidence from Scotland that family desertion has
been increased by this policy of the employment agencies to assist workers to
secure employment abroad. Survey, 30 :38S, June 21, '13.

Leiserson has emphasized the fact that the laborers are already more
casual than the jobs, and that few of the laborers wait for the end of the
season to throw them out of work. "How to stop the drifting, the incessant
changing of places, the moving from town to town, when there is plenty of
work at home that is the important phase of this problem which needs to be
studied. The spectacle of thousands of laborers roaming idle about the
country, or working at odd jobs while employers are fairly begging for men,
has been witnessed by employment agents throughout the country during the
last two summers. Could there be a greater menace to industrial stability and
prosperity? If labor retaliates as capital has done, and moves away or re-
fuses to invest his labor power, then what will become of our industrial
structure and the civilization built upon it?. .. .Perhaps there is no incentive
to labor under present conditions." The Laborer Who Refuses to Invest,
Survey, 31:165, Nov. 8, '13.

There are undoubtedly many narrow group standards which should be de-
stroyed, but at the same time it is desirable that there be some substitute better
than those for migratory workers at present, such as lodging-houses, labor-camps
and cheap saloons. A wider experience, also, is desirable and the increased mo-
bility may assist workers to secure this. But these general problems concerning
the policy of increasing mobility are yet unsolved.

Another aspect of this increased mobility is the possibility that it may mean
an increased mobility of the country workers toward the cities, a promotion of
the drift to the cities. While the public employment agencies would tend to
secure employment for the unemployed persons residing in the cities, they would



170 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT

also tend to have the reciprocal influence of securing employment in the cities
for those residing in small towns and open country.

The New York Commission on Unemployment stated that the public
agencies would assist farm laborers to secure work in the neighboring towns
during the winter. Report, 1911, pp. 13, 67.

In England, even with attempts to prevent it, the public agencies have had
some tendency to promote the rural exodus, so far as York is concerned.

Rowntree and Lasker, Bulletin de 1'association Internationale pour la
lutte centre le chomage, 2:407, Oct.-Dec., '11.

Whether, on the whole, the drift would be principally from the city to the
country or from the country to the city is as yet uncertain. But there seems to
be a very considerable antipathy on the part of the city workers to employment
in the country and a very considerable desire on the part of country workers to
get into the cities. The inference is that the drift to the cities would probably
be promoted. It is still uncertain whether this influence, if it should prove to be
so, would be desirable or undesirable. The German public agencies have met
this problem to a certain extent by administrative methods of hampering the coun-
try workers who express a desire for city employment and particularly by sub-
mitting information in regard to the opportunities for work in the cities, the cost
of living and the conditions of work.

Baab, op. cit, pp. 215-17, 270.

The public employment agency by increasing the facilities for employment
and promoting inter-local mobility would offer excellent opportunities to those
workers, already numerous in the United States, who refuse to work in one place
longer than a few days or a few weeks.

Leiserson, Survey, 31 :165-66, Nov. 8, '13.

Public employment agencies may result in the encouragement of temporary
engagements, frequent changes in the place of employment and consequently a
mobilization of labor which, from the standpoint of industry, is unnecessary, and,
from the standpoint of social control, is apparently undesirable. It is reported
that the German public employment agencies have had the effect of increasing
the short time engagements and frequent changes in engagements because of this
increased facility of securing employment.

W. Beauchamp, Insurance Against Unemployment, Westminster Re-
view, 175:163, '11.

One of the important effects of this increase in inter-local and inter-occu-
pational mobility would be to increase the potential competition. There has been
no adequate investigation of the effect of this increase of competition on the bar-
gains made by employers and employes.

A. L. Bowley has made a careful analysis, on the basis of theoretical
and mathematical data, of the relation of mobility to wages. Wages and
the Mobility of Labour, Economic Journal, 22:46-52, March, '12. He reaches
the conclusion that "increased mobility of labour always tends to produce
lower prices to the consumer, or higher average wages or higher profits, and
may produce all three." But there has been no investigation of the rela-
tion of public employment agencies or of increased mobility to wages and
conditions of work on the basis of actual experiences with these agencies.
The general assumption has been that employment agencies will improve con-
ditions of work merely by making them known to the workers,

Baab, op. cit, p. 162.

and that more advantageous bargains will be made since both parties to the
bargain would be acting on the basis of more complete information in regard to
the demand and supply.

Baab, op. cit., p. 257.

It appears, however, that the establishments in which the conditions of work
and pay are most satisfactory to the workers would secure greater permanency
of engagements, and that these establishments would make fewer demands on
the agencies than the establishments in which the conditions are less satisfactory.
Consequently the public agencies would be of greatest assistance to the parasitic



REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 171

industries and to the industries in which the conditions were least satisfactory.
Whether these industries would be able to secure workers through the public
agencies is uncertain, for the workers might prefer to wait for better opportuni-
ties of employment and thus force the employers to improve these conditions. In
general it is still largely a matter of speculation as to whether the public agen-
cies would so reduce unemployment as to increase the competition between em-
ployers and thus result in the improvement in the work conditions, or whether
the competition between the employes would become so keen as to impose on
them conditions which are even less desirable than unemployment. There is a
further constitutional question in the United States, whether the public employ-
ment agencies could constitutionally discriminate between employers on the basis
of conditions of work. The United States Bureau of Immigration maintains em-
ployment agencies which make careful inquiries in regard to the wages and the
conditions of work, and on the basis of this information advises the applicants
for employment to apply for the positions or not to apply.

United States, Annual Report of Commissioner of Immigration, 1909,
pp. 232-34.

There is no indication that the other public agencies in the United States make
such investigations, except in regard to the wages, or that they have attempted to
control the conditions of employment.

This difficulty of discriminating between employers was one of the rea-
sons for making the National Employment Exchange a philanthropic
rather than a public agency. Devine, op. cit., pp. 16-17.

These questions are fundamental to the conception of the function of pub-
lic employment agencies. They have not been adequately investigated and pos-
sibly can not be investigated except on the basis of the actual operations of such
agencies.

Summarizing, it may be said that unemployment is one of the most important
social problems of modern times ; the extent and effects of unemployment are of
such a nature that some solution of the problem is urgently demanded. Stu-
dents of unemployment have suggested a program for the solution of the prob-
lem ; in this program the leading place is given to the public employment agency,
the function of which is to organize the labor market. Up to this time the pub-
lic and non-public employment agencies in the United States have developed a
very inadequate organization of the labor market ; they have resulted in the es-
tablishment and maintenance of a long series of distinct, non-cooperating and
frequently competing centers in the labor market, and there has been no develop-
ment of central agencies, communicating with similar agencies in the rest of the
country, in which demands for and supplies of labor in all occupations and all
localities are represented. The operation of such agencies, however, is rendered
extremely difficult because of the opposition on the part of many workers to an
increased' mobility and on the part of the trade unions and the employers' asso-
ciations to the loss of their own agencies, which are valuable weapons in the in-
dustrial conflict; also, there is no adequate basis for a determination of the ex-
tent to which such agencies, operating on the policy of increasing inter-occupa-
tional and inter-local mobility, would succeed in reducing unemployment.

In the presentation of this program the students of unemployment have
not used a valid logic, for they have based their solutions on the facts of unem-
ployment alone, have abstracted those facts from the general social order, and
for. the purpose of the solution of the problem have dehumanized the unemployed ;
and 'they have assumed the industrial fluctuations, from which unemployment re-
sults, as the fixed and given. Consequently they have not investigated thoroughly
the important effects that such institutions may be expected to have on other social
conditions than unemployment. The decrease in the regularity of industrial oper-
ations, the reduction of emigration in times of depression, the destruction of the
present trade union principle of trade exclusiveness, the partial dissipation of
small group control, the promotion of the drift to the city, the increase in the
class of shiftless workers, the fostering of parasitic industries are possible effects
of such agencies. There is no certainty that any or all of these effects will re-
sult, but there is no certainty that they will not result, and the question of whether
such effects will result has not been adequately investigated. These agencies are
expected to give more complete information in regard to the labor market, and



172 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT

abstractly there can be no objection to the most complete information. But that
increase in information may be expected to produce great changes in the social
organization and provision may, by some forethought, be made to prevent in-
juries that result from sudden changes.

It is not intended to deny that employment agencies of some kind are and
probably always will be a necessity, and that at the present time the state seems
to be the best equipped to manage those agencies efficiently, at least for some
classes of workers. But there is doubt in regard to whether those agencies
should set out to reduce unemployment as far as possible by shifting workers
from one locality to another or from one occupation to another, when some of
the necessity for shifting might be removed by modifications in the industrial
methods, in the habits of consumers and in the social organization in general.
If it is true that unemployment is inherent in the modern industrial organization,
the broader problem of the modification of that organization is presented, and it
would appear that the problem to which the entire society gives rise can not be
satisfactorily solved by manipulation of a part of the society.

This means that the public employment agency is in an experimental stage.
Its complete effects have not been determined. Consequently its proper function
can be determined only after the various possible and actual effects of such agen-
cies have been thoroughly investigated, and such an investigation is possible only
on the basis of agencies actually existent. It means, also, that such institutions
can not be maintained in the present social, organization without reacting on the
social organization ; therefore, in establishing public employment agencies it is
necessary to do much more than to establish such agencies : it is necessary, for
instance, to make provisions for the increased mobility which will be more satis-
factory than the present lodging-houses. This does not mean that the public em-
ployment agency is a harmful institution, but that the desirability of this insti-
tution is dependent partly on the extent to which harmful reactions on the so-
ciety can be prevented by a plan which is more inclusive than the program for
dealing with unemployment, and the extent to which its function is determined
by adequate investigation of these reactions.

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REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT 173

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after 1910. Reports of state agencies begin in 23rd, 1906.



174 REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT

fjg.

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REPORT OF THE MAYOR'S COMMISSION ON UNEMPLOYMENT ^ 175

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