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Remedial Measures

employment, labor, bureaus, relief, times and industry

REMEDIAL MEASURES To bring about some sort of adjustment at such times some immediate relief measures are neces sary. One of them is an expansion of the work of the ordinary relief agencies. Prompt and liberal relief in cases of actual distress is appropriate at all times, but especially in times when distress is augmented by unemployment. Carefully man aged loan funds—pawnshops, chattel loan socie ties, and even loans on personal character without any material security—are a valuable means of helping those who do not often or easily bring them selves to apply to charitable agencies. Special benefit features in trade unions, including loans to be repaid, with or without interest, are especially helpful in such emergencies. Employment at modest, but not too modest, wages in community workshops for the making of bandages, cobbling of shoes, and carpentry jobs, and the more thorough cleaning of streets under the direction of the regu lar municipal authorities, are illustrations of bene ficial emergency measures. They have their drawbacks and weak spots that need watching, but they do lighten the hardships of the unem ployed and interfere in the least imaginable degree with the resumption of that kind of industry which prosperity ushers in. Such emergency measures may meet the immediate need, but something more wide-reaching and permanent is needed also.

A series of efficient employment bureaus through out the country, organized to supply accurate in formation about conditions and to analyze em ployees and positions, with facilities for intercom munication and publicity, could do a great deal toward matching up the unemployed with oppor tunities for work, and should be established.

The problem is not entirely, however, a problem of matching up in this way. On the whole, it may be that we have about as much mobility of labor as is desirable. "Labor" seems to find a way to flow around very freely. Greater discrimination as to

the direction it should take would be a gain, and this the employment bureau can help to supply. Absolute fluidity of the labor force, however, though theoretically desirable from the point of view of the labor market considered an abstract and isolated phenomenon, is hardly a goal to pro pose for our efforts. There are social advantages— economic, too, in the long run—in a certain degree of stability of population. Theoretically, the Baltimore operators on men's clothing who are thrown out of work in their dull season in Sep tember might find work at their own trade in Chi cago, where this industry is at its height at that time; or some of the Washington lumbermen and loggers who are idle in January might be welcome just then in Maine. Probably individuals here and there do make such changes to decided ad vantage. But that several thousand, in each of many trades, should do so regularly every year, between all the important manufacturing centers of the country, whether they migrated back and forth as families or individuals, would hardly be feasible, and would be demoralizing if it were. The chief service of employment bureaus probably lies in making adjustments of workers to jobs in their own locality, between different plants in the same industry, and between industries needing workmen of similar qualifications.

Unemployment insurance, for which a demand has become articulate this winter, makes for stabil ity of labor, and it can probably best be organized, as it has been in England, in connection with a national or state system of employment bureaus, since through these bureaus there will always be reliable information as to whether there is or is not employment to be had and whether, therefore, the insured is or is not entitled to an out-of-work bene fit.