My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Friday—On August 14th we shall have functioned 8 years under the Social Security Act. We have had an opportunity to study its provisions as they actually work out in relation to human beings and their lives. We know what improvements this law has brought about as it now stands, and it is possible to see where changes should be made.

One very important change is the establishment of a unified national unemployment insurance system to replace the present 51 separate systems. The reasons for doing this now are that we would eliminate the tax inequalities between competing employers in different states, would reduce the number of tax returns and wage reports required of employers and would remove existing inequalities as to payments, due to differences now present in 51 separate laws.

This is important for the postwar period of readjustment. The recommendations now made would extend coverage to some ten or fifteen million additional wage and salary earners, including employees of small firms now excluded by state laws and would be very valuable in preventing the downward spiral in buying power which starts any depression. It is also suggested that a provision be made for allowance to dependents of unemployed workers and that benefit payments be extended for longer periods and equalized throughout the entire country.

The cost of the extended changes which are suggested, would mean only a net increase of 3 percent over the present cost and would be borne entirely by employees. Leaders of organized labor have endorsed these proposed contribution rates which would provide additional social insurance protection.

If these proposed changes are effected, destitution could be eliminated in this country, workers and their families would be assured of cash payments whenever earnings are interrupted or stopped because of circumstances beyond their control, such as unemployment, disability, sickness, old age or death.

It is proposed, of course, to include agricultural workers who certainly need this protection. Between 1937 and 1940 average farm wages in the United States were about $36 a month without board. Farm wages have risen since 1940, but the average in October 1942, was only $59.25. Of course, this does not mean that in some states farm wages are not much higher, but it does mean that in many states they are very much lower than these averages.

Domestic workers should also be included. This group also needs the security which such coverage gives, and it will make a great difference to many women employed in domestic service. Both of these categories were excluded because of the administrative difficulties involved, but solutions to these problems have now been found.

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL