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The Evolution of Humphrey-Hawkins

The Evolution of Humphrey-Hawkins

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23ibid.,
p. 5.
r
a
discussion
of the
relationship
to the
xirban crisis
and
welfare,
see
Helen Ginsburg, Unemployment, Subamployment
and
P\jblic
Policy,
ch. 5, or
"Needed:
A
National Commitment
to
Full Employment,"Current History,
65
(August
1973),
pp. 74-75
and 88.
25u.S.
Congress, Joint Economic Committee, Achieving
the
Goalsof
the
Employment
Act of
1946—Thirtieth Anniversary Review, Vol.
1,
Paper 5, Estimating
the
Social Costs
of
National Economic Policy:Implications
for
Mental
and
Physical Health,
and
Criminal Aggression,by Harvey Brenner (Washington,
D.C:
U.S. Government Printing Office,
1976),
p. 5.
This excellent study also contains
a
review
of the
literature
and a
bibliography.26por
a
discussion
of the
politics
of
this coalition
and on the
development
of the
Humphrey-Hawkins Bill
in its
early versions,
see
Helen Ginsburg, "Jobs
for
All: Congressional Will-o'the-Wisp,"The Nation, February
5,
1977, pp. 138-143.
27p.L.
523, 95th Cong.,
2d
Sess.
THE EVOLUTION OF HUMPHREY-HAWKINS*Harvey L. Schantz, State University of New York—PlattsburghRichard H. Schmidt, United States Department of LaborABSTRACT
Humphrey-Hawkins, enacted into
law as the
Full Employment
and
Balanced Growth
Act of
1978,
is
the most important step
the
Federalgovernment
has
taken
for
overall economic coordination since passageof
the
Employment
Act of
1946.
The
centerpiece
of the new law is
specific goals
for
unemployment
and
inflation.
All
Federal programsand policies
are to
work toward achieving
a 3
percent adult
and
4 percent overall jobless rate within five years,
and
inflationrates
of 3
percent
by
1983
and 0
percent
by
1988.
The
presentarticle outlines the major changes made
in
Humphrey-Hawkins from
its
introduction
in
June 1974
to its
enactment
in
October 1978,
the con-
tents
of the
Full Employment
and
Balanced Growth
Act of
1978,
and
the politics surrounding
its
passage.
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND.
On June
26, 1974,
Augustus
F.
Hawkins,
a
black Democratic congressman representing the
Watts,
Los
Angeles congressionaldistrict,received
a
minute to address the U.S.House about the Equal Opportunity and Full Employment Bill
*This article
is
adapted from Planning
for
Employment,
a
full-
length study being jointly conducted
by the two
authors. Sources
in-
clude interviews with certain principals (many
not for
attribution),
the public record (media, scholarly,
and
congressional),
and
workingcongressional documents (including party, committee, group,
and
member
sources),
as
well
as
participant observation
(in the
U.S. House
and
Senate).
This article
was
co-authored
by
Richard
H.
Schmidt
in his
private capacity.
The
authors
are
solely responsible
for all
errorsof fact
and
interpretation.
368
 
(HR 15476) which he and Congressman Henry S. Reuss (D., WI)had introduced the week before. "Assuring full employment," beganCongressman Hawkins, "is the single most important step in thenational interest at this time." Furthermore, according to Hawkins,"an authentic full employment policy rejects the narrow, statisticalidea of full employment measured in terms of some tolerable level ofunemployment—the percentage game—and adopts the more human andsocially meaningful concept of personal rights to an opportunity foruseful employment at fair rates of compensation."
^
The failure of the economy to provide adequate employmentopportunity for its almost 92 million civilian labor force was the impe-tus for Hawkins' action. After holding at an average annual rate of4.7 percent for the years from 1962 through
1973,
^the rate of unem-ployment began to grow precipitously in 1974. From a 5.2 percent unem-ployment rate in June 1974, the jobless rate rose to 5.8 percent in Sep-tember, 6.6 percent in November, and 8.2 percent in January 1975.During 1974, unemployment (seasonally adjusted) increased from 4.66million to 7.53 million workers—the largest single yearly increase inunemployment during the post-world war period.Although unemployment increased in every sector of the workforce during 1974, blacks, youth, and womengroups having, evenin the best of circumstances, a relatively high unemployment rate—absorbed a disproportionate share of this increase in joblessness.Minority unemployment, for example, increased from 9.2 percent to13.4 percent; the rate of unemployment among black youth rose from28.7 percent to 41.1 percent during 1974.^ Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.,executive director of the National Urban League, commented that thissituation "amounts to a major depression for black workers."*^The bill introduced by Hawkins and Reuss, and its Senate coun-terpart introduced August 22, 1974 by Senator Hubert H. Humphrey
(D.,
MN) ,5 sought to establish in law a personal right for all Ameri-cans willing and able to work an opportunity for employment thatwould be enforceable in court; require the President to submit anannual economic report to Congress with recommendations that wouldassure full employment; expand the Local Planning Councils underCETA to assess community needs and create a reservoir of publicservice projects as a potential for job references; provide for thedelivery of an actual job by a Job Guarantee Office, an organiza-tional unit in the proposed U.S. Full Employment Service; create aStandby Jobs Corps for jobs of last resort if the private sector couldnot supply adequate employment; and require a full employmentsociety within five years of enactment.The central idea behind Hawkins' bill—planning and coordi-nating the Federal economic mechanisms to assure a full employmenteconomy—was not novel. Planning for full employment had informedthe efforts of Senators James E. Murray (D., MT) and Robert A.Wagner (D., NY) during the mid 1940s. The resulting EmploymentAct of 1946 is generally looked upon as a milestone in the economichistory of the United States.^ The Act declared that it is the policyof the Federal Government to "coordinate and utilize all its plans,functions, and resources for the purpose of creating and maintaining,in a manner calculated to foster and promote free competitive enter-prise and the general welfare, conditions under which there will be369
 
afforded useful employment for those able, willing, and seeking towork, and to promote maximum employment, production, and pur-chasing power." Subsequent sections of the 1946 Employment Actprovide the statutory basis for the annual economic report of thePresident, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Joint EconomicCommittee of Congress.Many liberal and labor groups were disappointed in the Employ-ment Act of 1946. Not only had the opposition succeeded in deletingthe term "full employment" from the title of the Act, they haddeflected its purpose by requiring the President to equally considerother economic goals. It was partly "to reverse this calamitous out-come and return to the original intent of the Murray-Wagner fullemployment bill as introduced in
1945,"
that Hawkins launched hiscampaign for full employment legislation.
'^
PLANNING FOR EMPLOYMENT.
On May 21, 1975, Senators HubertH. Humphrey and Jacob Javits (R., NY) introduced S 1795, TheBalanced Growth and Economic Planning Act of 1975. The thrust ofthis comprehensive national economic planning measure was muchwider than the then current version of Humphrey-Hawkins. A keyprovision of S 1795 sought to create an Economic Planning Board inthe Executive Office of the President to appraise the nation's totalfiscal needs and establish an outline of economic goals. These goalswere to be submitted by the President to the Congress' Joint EconomicCommittee for review and for eventual approval by a concurrentresolution of the House and Senate.On June 11 and 12, the Joint Economic Committee, with ChairmanHubert H. Humphrey presiding, held hearings on "National EconomicPlanning, Balanced Growth, and Full Employment." One of the high-lights of these hearings was the forceful argument of Leonard Wood-cock, President of the United Auto Workers, as to the need for im-proved national economic planning mechanisms. Woodcock argued thatthe Humphrey-Javits bill and Humphrey-Hawkins "are complimentarypieces of legislation.. .The Humphrey-Javits bill deals with the entireissue of long rangje national planning. The Humphrey-Hawkins billmakes it clear that the primary goal of any such national planning mustbe the achievement of full employment."
^
Future versions of theHumphrey-Hawkins legislation provided an amalgam of these two bills:a national economic planning bill which called for full employment asthe primary goal.
PRESIDENTIAL
POLITICS.
The 1976 Campaign and Election. As the 1976 presidential campaigngot underway, many Democratic party leaders sought to exploit theunemployment problem—and Humphrey-Hawkins was looked to as theappropriate legislative vehicle. Hubert Humphrey and his
staff,
aswell as organized labor, however, were very concerned with the costof some of the specific provisions of Humphrey-Hawkins. Humphreyand other Democratic leaders feared that the bill had the potential ofbecoming an "albatross" around the neck of any Democratic partypresidential candidate, as the guaranteed annual income had to GeorgeMcGovern in his 1972 presidential bid. Already, the Republican admin-istration had publicly attacked the cost of the bill, estimated at$30-60 billion annually.
370

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