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selves are scattered throughout the country and exist in a variety of industries.
The bill includes an authorization for the loan or grant of a total of $200 million for the construction of industrial plants and public facilities such as hospitals, sewers, etc. This is one of the most vital provisions in the entire bill. Loans would be made under this provision to build needed industrial facilities in a given area of labor surplus to help the locality attract new industries and to give employment within the area. Already many communities faced with a depressed economic situation have taken steps to provide a program of this type on their own initiative. Such steps are indicative of the desire of the local communities to fight for their own well-being, and such action should be encouraged in every way possible. The granting of loans by the Federal Government would be a long step in this direction, because, in spite of all their efforts, many of these communities have been unable given their already poor economic position—to raise sufficient funds on their own to meet the needs of the situation.
The provision for loans and grants for the construction of public facilities meets a different aspect of the situation. Entry of new industry into an area takes time, and time is precious to anyone already out of work, for they face the miserable prospect of having to buy food and clothing without a sufficient income to provide them with the means to do so. Construction of needed facilities such as hospitals and sewers not only would provide such people with an immediate income, but, at the same time, would tend to make the town as a whole more attractive to employers considering erection of a factory or other facility in the neighborhood.
Under this bill, the United States would also undertake to pay unemployment for an additional 13 weeks to workers in such an area beyond that provided for under the State unemployment compensation laws. The necessity for this provision surely must be obvious. When a community is faced with a sharp decline in its economic well-being, any action taken to alleviate or overcome the loss almost certainly will require a fairly long period to become effective. All too often, the situation, if it improves at all, does not improve in time to prevent numerous families from facing complete loss of income. Such families are then forced on the public relief rolls which, in turn, are only able to carry a limited portion of the burden. Already many communities are at the end of their financial resources. Extension of unemployed benefits is at best a stopgap measure designed to bring relief for a limited period of time, but it is, all the same, a very necessary lifeline to people very definitely in distress.
A similar provision in the bill also is designed to offer a certain amount of limited relief for the immediate situation. This is the portion of the bill which would allow the Commodity Credit Corporation to distribute processed food to both homes and institutions in areas declared to be depressed. The same arguments used in support of the extension of unemployment insurance apply with equal validity to this provision.
Finally, the bill includes several sections directly designed to provide increased industry in the affected areas. The bill directs the various departments of the Government to procure their supplies and services from local firms within depressed areas wherever such pro
curement is possible. The Administrator of the Federal program is directed to provide responsible local agencies with technical information and assistance to enable them to encourage new industry to enter the area. The Federal Government is in a much better position to provide local communities with up-to-date, accurate information on the nationwide industrial picture than any local community committee possibly could furnish. This would enable the individual localities to go about solving their problems in the most direct and expeditious manner possible.
One other provision in the bill remains to be considered. Under the terms of the bill, the Secretary of Labor is directed to establish retraining programs for unemployed workers and to cooperate with any existing programs of the States or localities. The merits of this particular program are undeniable. All too often it has been found that even when new industry does enter a depressed area, the new factory does not employ those who have lost their jobs, but rather brings in people from outside the area or hires its local employees from among the younger age group of the community. One of the major reasons for this is simply that many of the older workers have only one skill which is not transferable and may, indeed, hinder their acquiring a new one. Unless these workers can be retrained the problem of labor surplus itself cannot be solved. It's as simple as that.
That is the bill, Mr. Chairman. It attempts to tackle a very, very big problem. It cannot work, of course, without considerable cooperation from both the States and the local communities involved. But neither can the States and localities solve it without the aid of the Federal Government. It is a national problem. Such areas of chronic labor surplus exist and have existed for a number of years in 67 major and smaller areas located in 25 States and Puerto Rico. The existence of such sores on the economic body are the drain on the entire economy. In my own State, New Jersey, Atlantic City, Long Branch, and Salem have all been listed as being in such economic difficulties. But, even in those areas of New Jersey not directly affected by this condition, the effect is felt. A staff member of the Senate Labor and Public Welfare Committee found, as a result of his investigation of unemployment in the Pennsylvania coalfields-one of the most hard-hit areas that many of the unemployed who were in a position to do so were moving into industrial New Jersey in search of jobs. So long as the industrial areas of New Jersey are expanding, this is no great burden for the State. However, industrial expansion is not likely to continue at its present rate very much longer, or at least this seems to be the considered opinion of people who are experts in such matters. Now, if that be true what sort of burden will this place on the economic capacity of the State? Will it not tend to create unnecessarily great burdens both on other workers who must compete for a limited number of jobs, and on the citizens of the State in general who will be forced to support an ever greater burden in the form of increased relief and unemployment compensation payments? If this situation exists in New Jersey, isn't it reasonable to suppose it exists in other areas as well?
Nor can we afford these pockets to exist because of the generally deadening effect any unemployment has on the whole economy. One of the principal reasons given for requesting urban support for farın
legislation is on just this ground. It applies equally well in reverse. Whenever and wherever unemployment exists, it hurts each and every one of us in a very direct fashion. It is a national problem and must be dealt with on a national basis.
The CHAIRMAN. Call the next witness.
The CLERK. The next witness is Hon. Ivor D. Fenton, Representative from the State of Pennsylvania.
The CHAIRMAN. We are glad to have you. You may proceed as you please.
STATEMENT OF HON. IVOR D. FENTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE 12TH DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. FENTON. I have a very short statement, Mr. Chairman, which I think outlines pretty thoroughly how we feel about the depressed areas. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am Congressman Ivor D. Fenton, representing the 12th District of Pennsylvania. I want to thank you very much for the opportunity of appearing before you in relation to H. R. 8555, introduced by Mr. Spence, and similar bills introduced by several other Members in the House, including myself.
I appreciate this opportunity to add my support to these proposals, all of which have been introduced for the general purpose of helping areas of substantial and persistent unemployment.
The President in his latest state of the Union message and in his economic report announced the principle that there is a responsibility in the Federal Government to help areas of substantial and persistent labor surplus in their efforts to solve their problems. This is clear despite the fact that the Nation as a whole enjoys a period of general prosperity.
I know that you have had before you witnesses that have spoken at length in behalf of this legislation. The Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Hon. Frederick Mueller, went into great detail in explanation of the bill.
Under Secretary of Labor, Hon. Arthur Larson, likewise spoke in favor of this legislation, as did Mr. Follin, a representative of the Housing and Home Finance Administration.
Representatives of labor also testified before your committee, including Hon. Thomas Kennedy, vice president of the United Mine Workers of America. Mr. Kennedy resides in Luzerne County, in the anthracite coal region of Pennsylvania.
I represent the 12th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, comprising Schuylkill and Northumberland Counties, adjacent to Luzerne County, in the anthracite area, and in which the major reserves of hard coal are located.
It would be repetitious for me to dwell on statistics already given by previous witnesses, and I will, therefore, try to give you some idea of our economic condition and the time and efforts given by the people of my area in trying to help themselves.
We have witnessed the population of my district shrink over 40,000 from 1940 to 1950.
We have seen our major basic anthracite coal industry have its annual tonnage reduced from almost 100 million tons in 1919, in World War I, to around 30 million tons at the present time.
We have also seen the number of mine workers diminish from a peak of 179,679 in 1917 to less than 40,000 today.
Now, the causes of all these decreases are well known to those of us from the hard coal fields. In fact, the Federal Government itself knows full well the condition in which our area finds itself, because, over the years, since I have been a member of Congress, I have brought to the attention of our various administrations the economic plight of the anthracite industry and the people dependent upon it for a livelihood.
As a matter of fact, and the record will disclose, I have been successful in having a number of my proposals enacted into law to assist the anthracite industry and our people. For example, (1) Public Law 812, 77th Congress, which established the Anthracite Experiment Station; (2) Public Law 738, 83d Congress, which authorizes the appropriation of Federal funds to the Bureau of Mines to fight mine fires, and which eliminates the necessity of asking for special funds each year. The appropriations on this type of work over the last several years has saved over 200 million tons of coal from destruction at a cost of less than 1 cent a ton; (3) Public Law 162, 84th Congress, which authorizes the Federal Government to appropriate $8,500,000 to match a similar amount from the State of Pennsylvania to dewater mines, for health and safety purposes, and to conserve one of the Nation's greatest natural resources-Pennsylvania's anthracite mines.
While we have been trying to stay the continued onslaught of unemployment by helping to stabilize our anthracite mining industry, our people and our communities have been doing a splendid job in organizing in various ways, and indeed have succeeded in securing new plants in some communities and also expanding plants already there.
Our people want to work, as is evidenced by the fact that thousands of them travel over 100 miles each day in commuting back and forth to work. Others are compelled to leave their families for the week and return home on the weekends.
Our people cannot understand why a helping hand has not been extended them long ago as has been done by our Government to other segments of our economy. Neither can they understand why the Government itself permits, as Mr. Kennedy pointed out, the terrific influx of residual oil on the eastern seaboard, which displaced about 36 million tons of coal last year.
We have recommended that this excessive importation of residual or waste oil be curtailed or be placed on a proper quota basis. If this were done, it would help in keeping down our unemployment.
In addition to the influx of foreign waste oil, we have been hurt by the "Big and Little Inch" pipelines built by the Government. We had no complaint to make when these pipelines were built because of their necessity to aid in winning the war.
We did object to their being sold to the oil and gas industries after the war because we knew it would hurt our anthracite market. It did hurt us very severely, and the Government did assist the oil and gas industry in selling the pipelines to them.
I cite these several instances about the plight of our basic industry, because our pleas fell on deaf ears, not only now, but for many, many
We have, in our various communities in my district, attempted to help ourselves, and have succeeded, as I said before, in securing some new plants, but we have reached the limit and we now look forward to the State and Federal Government to assist us.
It is gratifying to me to see that this committee of the House and the Labor Committee of the Senate-before which I appeared on January 9 of this year-and our administration, has recognized the seriousness of excessive unemployment in certain areas and are trying to do something about it.
President Eisenhower very correctly said in a recent speech that in his opinion, "America does not prosper unless all Americans prosper.
The President is concerned about areas of chronic unemployment and is trying to do something about it.
I therefore plead with you gentlemen to act favorably on H. R. 8555. Working together, we cannot fail in the interests of our people and our Nation.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you for your excellent statement.
Mr. FENTON. I just want to say, Mr. Chairman, that we are not only an 8-percent unemployment area but we are almost 18 percent, and it has been chronic for years and years, and we certainly qualify as far as this bill is concerned.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions?
Mr. MUMMA. Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Mumma.
Mr. MUMMA. I would like, before Dr. Fenton gets off of the witness stand, to say that he had a good statement, and we all know that Pottsville, which is your principal city-and the rest of your district, are trying to help themselves and are doing a good job. I believe if the Government would be able or in position to assist any time they need some outside help, it would be welcome and desirable. They have done a good job, Doctor. I mentioned it here yesterday. Mr. FENTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Mumma. You are a neighbor of ours.
Mr. MUMMA. I am on the fringe of the anthracite distressed area. Mr. FENTON. You have a small area in the anthracite area contiguous with my district.
Mr. MUMMA. There are over 700 people in the Williamstown_district working at Middletown Air Depot alone. They have to drive 40 miles a day to work, each way. This is surely a help to this area. Mr. FENTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have your views. Thank you for coming. We need all the help we can get to solve this problem. I want to say that some of the Members have said they couldn't be present this morning, and if they desire to insert their written statements in the record, without objection, it will be done.
Mr. Clerk, sall the next witness.
The CLERK. Mr. Chairman, the next witness is the Honorable Brooks Hays, Representative from the State of Arkansas.
The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have you, Mr. Hays.
Mr. Brooks Hays has returned to the committee, where he was once a very distinguished and very useful member. We listened to his views then and we will listen to them now, I know.