Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 27 >> Twelfth Night to United States And Macedo >> Unemployment_P1


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UNEMPLOYMENT. In the sciences of economics and sociology the term unemploy ment refers to an industrial condition in which large numbers of workers are without gainful occupation. No doubt in feudal times the work ing classes found during trade depression, war periods and other cataclysms periods of inac tivity leading to poverty and even hunger. But in those days it was not a cry issuing from hungering masses closely congregated as at present. In the early days of the artisan man ufacturing units consisted of small individual "shops" where work was performed by appren tices and journeymen artisans mostly. And when the master craftsman had filled all orders and had no longer work for all, the journeyman went on his way to the next village or city seeking another job. The condition was gen eral and provided for. The workman had his lodging-house in every town or village where, at small cost or free, he obtained board and lodging till he had canvassed the trade and ob tamed his job or left for the next settlement. His <

Problem.— In a statement of the features of the subject of unemployment must not be omitted notice of the fact that large numbers of healthy and willing workers unable to find em ployment carries with it the direct consequence of indignation and "unrest' among the populace generally of wage-earners, a disease of the body politic that at any time is a breeder of anarchists and revolution. Again another degrading influ

ence of unemployment is its demoralization of the suffering working classes who lapse easily into beggary and morally and physically deterio rate so as to become unemployable, as inefficient and unreliable. Like most diseases unemploy ment in an industry is infectious. The enforced idleness of these thousands affects other thou sands in other trades as the penniless state of numerous members of a community forbids de mand and consumption of goods produced by its other members, and the sales of other commodi ties being reduced causes other factories to be closed clown. And thus the entire chain of in dustry from factory to consumer, capi talist, banker, etc., is drawn, link .by link, into the commercial vortex of panic.

Causes.—The direct and primary cause of the of factories which produce un employment on a large scale is one of supply and demand, generally, depression of trade, overproduction (usually meaning enforced re duction of consumption, an outcome of trade depression). Factors also leading to reduced demand are: changing fashions, overspeculation, hoarding of capital caused by commercial fears, etc. \Var and panic often bring about unem ployment in its worst degree. In a less degree new inventions, changes in national policy (pro hibition will close up breweries and distilleries, besides saloons, etc.) excessive immigration, bad labor laws, labor disputes. Other more or less potent factors are: lack of material, weather, etc. Causes within the industry itself are numerous such as: "seasonal° employment with its fluctuations in consumption, child labor, additions to the forces by female operation. casual employment as that of longshoremen and stevedores, coal passers, all dependent on the arrival of ships in the port. The causes of un employment are legion and many are insidi ously invisible. Experts on the subject declare casual employment works with demoralizing ef fect on the wage-earners, creating discontent and inefficiency from the periods of idleness. On a smaller but more chronic scale we have numerous unemployed among the aged, debili tated, defectives, vagrants, etc.

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