APRIL 15, 1946
HYDE PARK, Sunday—John W. Snyder's recent report on reconversion to the President, Senate and House of Representatives is interesting reading. The papers have been so full of stories about strikes that it is very difficult for us to realize the simple facts which Mr. Snyder sets forth—namely, that more Americans are now working and producing more goods than ever before in peacetime history.
In the first quarter of 1946, civilian production was 154 billion dollars. On V-J Day, production was 128 billion dollars; and in 1939, with the figures adjusted to show the purchasing power of the dollar in 1945, civilian production was 118 billion dollars.
In the first quarter of 1946, non-agricultural employment was 44.8 million. The spendable income after taxes for the first quarter of 1946 was 140 billion dollars. On V-J Day it was 141 billion; and in 1939, with figures adjusted again to show the purchasing power of the dollar in 1945, the spendable income after taxes was only 91 billion dollars.
That is a pretty rosy picture, but in spots it does not seem to be as happy as this report would indicate. For instance, not long ago I saw in the paper that in New York State there are now 250,000 veterans who are jobless, and that the U. S. Employment Service feels this number will rise to 600,000 by midsummer. I feel quite sure that one of the difficulties is that we are not enforcing the Fair Employment Practices Act. Therefore a good deal of our unemployment is among our colored veterans. I heard, for example, of one young colored man here in my neighborhood—a mechanic and coming from a good family—who has been looking unsuccessfully for a job ever since he came out of the Army.
The U. S. Employment Service estimates that about one-third of the jobs offered carry salaries of from $30 to $40 a week. Another third pay from $40 to $60 a week, with about 10 percent below $30 and the remainder above $60. So they are going to make a drive to reach the employers and urge them to employ more veterans. Under the law, on his return a man must be offered a job by his employer comparable to the one he gave up upon going into the service.
A great many men, however, seem to have an urge to go into business for themselves. I heard of another young man today who said the only thing he wanted to do was to come home and run his family's farm. But he didn't want them to give him any orders, for, he said, he had received all of the orders he wanted to take from anyone during the rest of his life.