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For example, one of the commonly held misconceptions about our people is that because they have not been reared in an industrial environment, they are not adaptable to industrial employment. Our few experiences with introducing Indians and native people to industrial employment during and since the war have proved beyond a doubt that they are extremely adaptable, both temperamentally and occupationally, to such employment, particularly when it involves the need for a high degree of manual dexterity. Moreover, the large influx of people from the Middle West and East seeking a more salubrious climate and less crowded living conditions have provided much of the State-and it has trickeled even into the northern counties—with a large number of people with technical and managerial skills who at present are either underemployed or are employed in occupations which do not utilize their most valuable skills.
Our experience with those employers who for one reason or another have been forced to locate in New Mexico-manufacturing, which received nationwide publicity a few years ago, is a good example is that they have been delighted with the labor force available to them in New Mexico. We feel that if through the inducements offered by this bill, we could get more employers to try establishing in New Mexico, they would be equally happy. Moreover, because of the strong tendency for the one industry to attract another, we feel that such a movement once started would be self-generating.
In summary, gentlemen, we see in this proposed legislation a very effective assist to our efforts to expand employment opportunities in the distressed areas of New Mexico-an aid which could well tip the balance for success or failure of those efforts. We want to add our voices to those asking that you give it favorable consideration.
Selected data supporting Mr. Huffman's testimony for 10 distressed counties in New Mexico consisting of Colfax, Guadalupe, Harding, Mora, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Socorro, and Taos
STATEMENT OF HON. DeWITT S. HYDE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Mr. HYDE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for giving me an opportunity to speak in behalf of my bill, H. R. 8472, which would assist areas to develop and maintain stable and diversified economics by a program of financial and technical assistance. Certain areas in the United States, including an area in my own congressional district, have been classified as distress areas for various reasons. At one time, in my trict, Allegany and Garrett Counties produced a sufficient amount of coal to maintain a balanced economy, and some of this could be restored by new markets and new uses for coal. Then, too, we must replace industries which have moved to new locations by providing some technical and financial assistance to new industries who will locate in these areas. To some degree we have been able to do this in my district, and I want to point out how important it is for communities to develop programs to attract industry suitable to the local labor supply. Communities themselves must endeavor to sell to industry their natural advantages, that is, the opportunities they have to offer, such as labor supply, housing, transportation, schools, water supply, and other things conducive to interesting industries in their locale. Once such a program as this is inaugurated by a community, financial and technical assistance will be of great benefit to the community in settling an industry in the area. The extent of technical and financial assistance needed has not yet been determined, and it would be my view that we should approve a limited bill such as H. R. 8472, for I feel that, with the help of the local communities, this assistance would be adequate. Frankly, I am proud of the efforts that have been made by the local officials in my district to sell their communities and I believe a bill to give them the proper assistance would be of great benefit to us.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. A. M. FERNANDEZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
Mr. FERNANDEZ. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am deeply grateful to be afforded the opportunity of appearing before you in support of the depressed-areas legislation now before the committee.
I am particularly grateful to be here as a representative of the people of New Mexico because of the particularly pressing need for legislation of this type in many areas of the Nation, of which New Mexico is one of the more hard pressed, due in part to the fact that much of the lands in our State belongs to the Federal Government.
The disparity in the national income and general standard of living to the appallingly low economic conditions in certain locales of the Nation is difficult to reconcile.
As a nation we are justifiably proud of our high standard of living and of the many luxuries over and above what are considered the vital necessities of life which our citizens as a whole are privileged to enjoy.
It is paradoxical, however, that although the per captia income for the Nation as a whole in 1955 was $1,770, there are large areas of the
Nation whose inhabitants earned yearly incomes ranging from an average of $570, as evidenced in 10 counties of my State, to State per capita incomes elsewhere in the Nation of $873 and $970.
It would be easy to understand such a low per capita income level were the areas so affected so poor in resources as to make them virtually impossible to sustain a large population. However, that is not the case in many so-called depressed areas and certainly not true in my own State of New Mexico.
In our New Mexico counties which qualify as being depressed areas the employment of the people has depended, to a large extent, on agricultural prosperity which, for the past few years, has been on the decline. This fact, coupled with the fact that the State of New Mexico has been suffering from an unusually long and disastrous period of drought conditions, has resulted in a situation whereby their normal manner of obtaining a living is no longer available to them.
There is now an existing labor force of 45,000 which is unemployed a large part of each year, and when employed many of these are underemployed. Even when they can find work, it is not enough to maintain decent subsistence. There are 153,000 of our citizens living on incomes averaging less than half of the national average.
Prosperity spread its benefits over the American people as never before in 1955. Industrial production was greater, employment was better, income rose higher than in any previous year, and wages were raised in many places.
Yet, this national prosperity not withstanding, there are many areas of the Nation where conditions approach those of the depression years. The 153,000 people in the depressed 10-county area of New Mexico constitute nearly one-fifth of our people. Here you have a unique situation where the per capita income is a way below the national average, yet where 75 percent of the people own their own homes. These people do not easily leave their homes, homes which in many cases have roots going back over 3 centuries of living.
You will find that the subsistence-level farming in these rural areas which was sufficient for their needs 50, 60, or 100 years ago can no longer support the families of today. These people desperately want work, and are highly skilled workers, but there is none to be had.
The result is that a large segment of the population is forced to become migratory during a large part of the year, and follows the seasonal employment in remote areas which often takes them completely out of the State.
You have, in effect, a situation whereby a large segment of our citizens are forced, in order to survive, to become displaced persons.
Our State welfare agencies cope with the situation as best they can, but it is impossible to give the amount of help that is actually needed and, ultimately, it is a form of charity. Our people in these depressed areas do not want charity. We don't want Federal handouts, and we aren't asking for pork-barrel legislation.
What we do want is an opportunity for our laboring people to: obtain labor that will enable them to live under a stable economic condition. The depressed-areas legislation will provide that opportunity.
I recall a radio address made by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in April 1938, in which he said:
Not only our future economic soundness but the very soundness of our democratic institutions depends on the determination of our Government to give employment to idle men.
The implementation of this legislation would provide such employment to those areas of our Nation which now lag far below the national average in per capita income.
I would like to insert in the record part of a letter I received from the Mountainair Chamber of Commerce in March of this
year: We feel sure you are somewhat familiar with conditions here. However, no one, not living here, can possibly understand the problems we have faced and will continue to face until farming conditions improve. We also believe that no town or community can be as prosperous as they should be without industry to help support it. In our case, we have to procure industry here to survive, More than 50 percent of our population has been forced to leave their homes and seek employment. Some of the business firms have made arrangements for the wife to look after their place of business and the husband seek employment. As stated above, this condition has lasted for 8 years and looks very much the same again this year.
Whenever you have economic ills, others rapidly multiply to the detriment of the Nation as a whole. Education suffers, health problems multiply, and vast quantities of relief items necessitate the expenditure of the public funds to avoid disaster in the affected areas. Much legislation has been passed to conserve our vital national resources, but this depressed areas legislation is, I believe, the first to acknowledge the fact that the American wage earner is our most valuable resource. This legislation would enable large numbers of our citizens to enjoy an economic health which is their birthright, not by offering them charity, but by affording them the means whereby they can profitably enjoy the fruits of their labor and build with the rest of the Nation toward a stronger and healthier America.
I am grateful for the privilege of having been able to appear before your committee on behalf of my people and in support of this very worthwhile legislation.
STATEMENT OF HON. WINFIELD K. DENTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE EIGHTH DISTRICT OF INDIANA
Mr. DENTON. I am Winfield K. Denton, Representative from the Eighth District of Indiana. I want to thank this committee for the opportunity of appearing here today. I have introduced a bill, H. R. 8114, providing for relief of economically depressed areas, but because of a tax-amortization provision of the bill I introduced, it has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
However, I wish to urge that your committee take favorable action on other proposals contained in similar bills pending here. I feel that legislation of this nature is extremely important and that Congress should not adjourn until it has passed legislation for the benefit of depressed areas. We all know the present depression in the farm areas, and unless it is corrected it will inevitably spread and add many more cities to the number now suffering economic distress.
The city of Evansville in Vanderburgh County, Ind., is the largest community in my district. It has a population of approximately
130,000 people. The report of the Indiana Employment Security Division shows that, for the month of February 1956, 9,200 people were unemployed in that area out of a labor force of 77,800. Thus, approximately 12 percent were unemployed during February. Unemployment in that area was about 28 percent higher than it was a year ago, and it increased about one-third over the figure for January of this year.
I do not have official unemployment figures for the month of March, but apparently the economic situation has worsened because there were 8,733 people receiving surplus food in the 4 townships within the city during February, and that number increased to 9,760 for the month of March. However, many people employed in Evansville live in adjoining Indiana counties and in nearby Kentucky and Illinois. So the economic problem is much greater and extends over a wider surrounding area than is indicated in the unemployment figures I have given or is reflected by the number of persons receiving surplus food within Evansville proper.
I am sure these people who are unemployed do not want charity; they do not want relief. They want merely an opportunity to work, and it seems to me that the Government should assist in carrying out plans that would give them work-both for the good of this community and others like it and for the good of the country in general.
My bill, H. R. 8114, provides for Government loans to finance the development of industry in depressed areas, the channeling of defense work to these areas, and for loans or grants for needed public works.
A provision of my bill that is most greatly needed is the rapid taxamortization feature which was the reason for its being referred to the Ways and Means Committee. This provision is that capital investments by industries in the depressed areas may be written off for tax purposes in 5 years. This, of course, would be a great incentive to bring new industries to these areas.
The situation in Evansville is all the more distressing because many of the industries there have obtained defense-production work in the past and some of them have large quantities of Government-owned tools. There is a large body of skilled workmen there who are trained and experienced in such work. Certainly a strong effort should be made to channel defense work to an area such as Evansville, which has performed a great deal of defense work during World War II and during the Korean hostilities, and where both employers and employees are capable and qualified to do this work efficiently and economically.
Some of the bills which have been proposed, including my own, define a depressed area as one where 9 percent unemployment existed for 18 months, or where 6 percent unemployment has prevailed for 3 years. Possibly those time-and-percentage requirements may be too great and may not adequately provide for conditions such as some areas have experienced.
Several sharp drops in employment may occur within a year or a period and be followed by employment gains which may be only temporary, but yet may be enough to keep the average unemployment below the minimum percentages required in these bills to place the community in the depressed-area category. Possibly the definition ought to be so drawn as to include a factor for sharp fluctuation of employ