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With the Public Works Acceleration Act, the Seattle area, as well as other qualifying regions of our land, would receive 80 percent grantsin-aid to assist local public projects and provide jobs in the process. Local areas could construct long-needed facilities such as sewer plants and municipal buildings without overburdening the local tax rate, and at the same time take the pressure off the unemployment rolls.
Mr. Chairman, let me add another local note, and one which indicates the direction in which unemployment in the State of Washington is headed. Between September 1970, and June 30, 1971, the Governor has figured that about 1,000 State jobs will have to be eliminated because of the lack of money to sustain these positions. This, of course, places an additional burden on the unemployment picture in Washington State.
Our State legislature has gone to some lengths to protect these employees once they become unemployed by making them eligible for unemployment benefits, but this does not give them a new job.
New jobs must be created and done so quickly. And, this is one of the key features of the Accelerated Public Works Act. This proposal does not conflict with the recently vetoed manpower bill, but complements this approach to the problem by reaching the unemployed labor market in the pick-and-shovel category. Laborers, carpenters, bricklayers, and others in the building trades would receive immediate assistance.
What is important, Mr. Chairman, is that these workers do not need training. They are not looking for welfare, but for an opportunity to work at their trade. They want the chance to earn an honest wage to permit them to care adequately for their families.
The Accelerated Public Works Act is designed for limited duration. And, it is a proven formula. This antirecession measure proved highly successful in the early 1960's when the unemployment climate was much the same as we find it today.
Again, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate this opportunity to appear, especially in light of the tremendous need for legislation of this kind. I urgently seek your swift approval of H.R. 100.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. MOSS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Moss. Gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here today before the House Public Works Committee. I am here to voice my support for H.R. 4403, 92d Congress, which would amend the 1962 Accelerated Public Works Act.
It is unfortunately clear that Congress needs to help relieve the unemployment which is plaguing much of the Nation. The January 1971 Labor Department statistics show that 5.8 percent of the work force is unemployed. The most recent issue of Area Trends, published by the Department of Labor, shows that for many major labor market areas the unemployment rate is far above the national average. The city of Sacramento, which I have the honor to represent, had an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, according to Area Trends. Other major California cities were above even this rate. Anaheim, Santa Ana, Garden Grove, had a 7-percent figure, as did San Jose, and Stockton had a 9.8-percent rate of unemployment.
The men and women who have been hit by this current recession need jobs now. They are not in a position to wait until the economy improves.
I feel that H.R. 4403 is one way to help these unemployed Americans. The passage of H.R. 4403 would breathe new life into the Accelerated Public Works Act by changing the criterion for eligibility to meet present needs, and by authorizing $950 million to be spent for public works construction in areas of high unemployment. Such construction will create many needed jobs, and will also provide local communities with needed public facilities, such as schools, roads, and hospitals.
I, therefore, urge your support of H.R. 4403 to amend the Accelerated Public Works Act in order to help relieve the current high rates of unemployment.
STATEMENT OF HON. SILVIO O. CONTE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS ROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. CONTE. Mr. Chairman, I welcome the opportunity to present this statement before the Special Subcommittee on Economic Development Programs concerning the need for rapid enactment of amendments to the Public Works Acceleration Act which would make its benefits available to certain areas of extra-high unemployment. The jobless situation in this country is critical. In every section of the United States, people are experiencing the frustration and humiliation of being without a means of earning a livelihood.
My own district in Massachusetts has not been spared from the devastating effects of high employment. Latest estimates from the Massachusetts Division of Employment Security indicate a jobless rate of 5.9 percent for the Pittsfield labor area, 9.2 percent for the Greenfield labor area, 12.8 percent for the North Adams labor area, and 8.3 percent for the Springfield labor area. So I know from firsthand experience that action must be taken—and taken soon.
The original 1962 legislation was a great boon to communities throughout the Nation that were plagued by high-unemployment rates. It eased their financial burdens by providing needed public facilities that made these communities better places in which to live and work.
The measure I am cosponsoring with 150 of my colleagues would continue this lifeline assistance by authorizing the Federal Government to pay up to 80 percent of the cost of needed public works in areas where the average unemployment rate is 150 percent of the national average. Under the general 50 percent Federal grant formula, the task of raising the rest of the funds for a viable project through local resources, commercial financing, or Government loans is often insurmountable for many communities.
No one is saying that this legislation is a long-range answer to the long-range problems that affect our economy. But the millions of persons that have been thrown out of work and are struggling to survive and maintain their human dignity cannot afford to wait for long-range solutions. Congress must meet its responsibility now by implementing immediate relief while it searches for more complex solutions that will provide the long-range economic stability that this Nation so desperately needs.
For communities that are ready with a firm plan for a badly needed permanent publc facility, that are willing to begin almost immediate construction, and that are able to finance the local share of construction, this bill would provide the necessary impetus of Federal assistance. The construction of such facilities such as municipal buildings and sewer facilities would make local areas more attractive to industry without overburdening the local tax rates.
I sincerely hope that this committee will take swift, effective action in approving this vital legislation.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHARLES C. DIGGS, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. Diggs. Mr. Blatnik, we are all aware of the importance and widereaching effects contained in H.R. 4400, now being studied by this committee. Enactment of this vital legislation would have the dual effect of both helping ease the plight of the Nation's unemployed and also make Federal funds for public works available to communities burdened with high unemployment and lack of local funds to curtail it. Those of us also concerned with environmental needs welcome this legislative boon to environmentally related public works, such as financing new or refurbished water and sewer facilities.
The main thrust of this legislation is to throw back the tide of unemployment, and we cannot ignore or diminish the urgency of this national problem.
In June 1970 a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated a decline in the Nation's unemployment by three-tenths of 1 percent. But upon more careful examination, less encouraging trends emerge in the report: (1) that the overall unemployment decline is attributed almost entirely to the increase in the number of women taking jobs during June 1970; (2) that there has been a continued decrease in total employment; and (3) that there has been further shrinkage in the labor force.
Additionally, the report reveals a large increase in the jobless rate for minority workers and an increase in the number of areas classified as "areas of substantial and persistent” unemployment.
This brings me to the area of my chief concern, Detroit.
As Mayor Roman Gribbs, of Detroit, testified before a Senate hearing in February, Detroit's unemployment rate in 1970 was nearly twice that of 1969 and has been increasing steadily since. Over 125,000 Detroiters, one in eight, were out of work in late February 1971.
Detroit's innercity unemployment rate is up to 24 percent, nearly one in four persons. The picture is grim-cutbacks in production in Detroit's major industries and the resulting layoffs indicate no immediate relief. Last month, one of the major automobile companies was forced to lay off 300 Detroiters who had been employed under a federally funded NAB-JOBS—National Alliance of Business-Job Opportunities in the Business Sector-contract. Add to this the unemployment needs of 45,000 Michigan veterans returning home each year, only to find jobs diminishing and unemployment increasing.
Mayor Gribbs informs me that local government is facing a decreasing ability to provide necessary public services because of a lack of funds. In the last year Detroit has not had the revenue to fill nearly 2,000 vacant positions in city government, and another 600 city employes were forced to sheer economics to be dismissed from their jobs.
Statistics are enlightening, but they do not tell of the basic requirements—food, shelter, clothing, education of the 5.5 million unemployed in the Nation's labor market who cannot wait for new programs or new economic concepts.
H.R. 4400 would answer needs of both the unemployed and fundless local government lacking adequate public services. Similar legislation proved successful in the late 1960's.
This proposal calls for 80 percent Federal grants-in-aid to assist communities or areas with persistent unemployment reaching the level of 8.75 percent or more. The average rate of unemployment in all areas which would qualify is 11.07 percent, over 230 percent above the national unemployment average. It would assist the hardest hit areas through construction of public facilities, which in turn would attract and stimulate local industrial development and fuller employment.
As you may know, for a community to qualify for this assistance, it must show that it has a firm plan for badly needed permanent public facilities, is able to finance the local share of construction, is ready to begin almost immediate construction, and importantly, can guarantee that a high percentage of construction costs will be labor.
Statistics are clear. The needs of the unemployed, our economy, and communities hit hardest by unemployment are urgent. H.R. 4400 is the kind of legislation with a national purpose,
which will concentrate national energies toward economic recovery, which was proven effective in the early 1960's, and which can prove itself effective again in the 1970's.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN D. DINGELL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, for the record, my name is John D. Dingell and I am a Member of Congress from the 16th District of Michigan. I wish to thank the chair and the subcommittee for the privilege of presenting testimony in support of the proposed legislation to amend the Public Works Acceleration Act to make its benefits available to certain areas of extra-high unemployment.
I have joined with my friend and colleague, Congressman John McFall, in sponsoring H.R. 4405, and I am pleased to note the prompt action of the chairman in holding hearings on this legislation.
The need for this legislation is great, and it is my hope that this committee and the Congress will act quickly to insure its early passage and implementation. Unemployment, which began rising immediately after the Nixon administration took office, remain at a near 6-percent level nationwide, with heavy concentrations of jobless in 45 major work areas in the country where the rate sometimes exceeds 11 percent. Meanwhile, city and State governments have cut down on vital public projects and services because of reduced revenue. Unemployed people and nonproductive businesses do not pay taxes. By channeling Federal funds into areas that are most deeply affected by economic recession, we can stimulate construction, revitalize local communities, and bring unemployed people back into the work force.
The Randolph-McFall bill will not solve the unemployment problem, but it will have considerable and immediate impact on the top 30 percent of the long-term and persistent unemployed. It is a program that is easy to administer and one that can be put into motion quickly, through existing channels and agencies.
I urge the committee's favorable consideration of this proposal.
STATEMENT OF HON. W. R. HULL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MISSOURI
Mr. HULL. Mr. Chairman, I join with my friend and colleague, John McFall, in sponsoring the Randolph-McFall bill to provide federal funds for an accelerated public works program in areas of major and acute unemployment. The importance of this bill has been recognized by the House leadership and the chairman of this committee, who have given it high priority, and by my many colleagues of both parties who have joined in sponsoring it.
Time is of the essence. The unemployment rate, which began a steady climb in March 1969, has leveled off at about 6 percent, with no appreciable reduction in the past 2 months. More than 512 million Americans are now unemployed. Many of them have been unemployed for months, with all the devastating effects of loss of hope and loss of confidence. Local governments have lost needed revenues in the form of income tax, and have paid out unprecedented and unanticipated amounts in welfare checks and unemployment compensation. Many communities are hard pressed to meet operating expenses, much less to undertake public works that are needed.
With the Federal assistance provided under this bill, immediate starts could be made on public construction projects that would generate jobs in the construction and allied trades and help restore a climate of confidence in these economically depressed areas.
I urge the committee to act promptly and favorably on this proposal.
STATEMENT OF HON. B. F. SISK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Sisk. Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to make my views known on H.R. 102, the Public Works Acceleration Act, which I have cosponsored, because of the high level of unemployment in the country and the seeming disinterest of the administration in taking anv effective means of combating it.
The most recent statistics show that unemployment has remained at a high level this year. Although semanticists in the administration point to a reduction from 6 percent unemployment in January to 5.8 percent unemployment in February, this is a misleading statistic.
It serves to bolster the falsely optimistic view that things are not really as bad as they are. This ostrichlike attitude serves no good purpose, in that it tends to obscure the real picture; it can be actually detrimental.