This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Daniel P. Moynihan addresses the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, meeting of the Advisory Committee of Group Work and Youth Services
Discussion of youth unemployment, with some focus directed towards Negro youth. Moynihan notes that economists have identified a trend of fewer entry level jobs. He cites statistics illustrating a declining teenage work force, starting with the Depression. In the next five years the number of Negro Americans going into the workforce will increase by 20%. Current unemployment in the US is 5.2%, adult males 3.9 %, teenage males 14.5%, for teenage Negro males it was 23% and teenage Negro females was 31%.
He goes on to discuss the decline of manufacturing jobs in New York City.
Moynihan talks about the poverty program being started in Washington which plots the relationship between employment, earnings, family structure, and social health. He also speaks about the correlation between amount of children and poverty level.
He discusses family structure and "traditional" versus substitute arrangements. Moynihan describes many social problems facing families and the lack of aid programs which adequately meet these needs.
Questions and answers follow.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 37309
Municipal archives id: T998
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Well we're very glad to welcome you to this session of the advisory committee of youth and. Group work and Youth Services. You will see by the program that we're going to hear today Something about the problems that are faced by our settlement houses in our community centers how we're going to meet our present needs and what's going to go on in the future how we're going to meet those needs and plan intelligently for the future and the future is tomorrow nowadays as you know you probably also so I saw in your program that you know Chamonix afternoon was Mrs John Leonhardt and if you were at the meeting you know that she's having a very nice time doing her research on this subject than in Peru and so you have a substitute for your chairman our speaker this afternoon is not quite a. And are known to the Federation you not exactly a member of the media it family but he's very closely associated and I see that I have and the evidence right here something I was going to say and that was that he was an old friend and he had a child that was even named for Mr Mark McCloskey and that of course makes him a very close friend of the Federation if not a distant cousin he has. Been very deeply interested in the problems of New York from very early days for some reason or other he happened to be born in Tulsa Oklahoma but he spent his school and college days here and came to know our town and be concerned with it after college he went on to the get his doctorate at the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy and then studied at the London School of Economics by then he was ready to start his public career and after three years on Governor Averil Harriman staff he joined the Department of Labor as a special assistant to off a go bird two years ago President Kennedy nominated him as the assistant secretary of labor for policy planning and research the the position that he now holds and he was also President Kennedy's staff director of the task force on employee management relations he served overseas on the delegation to the Alliance for Progress and then in January one hundred sixty four he was assigned to the White House task force headed by Sargent Shriver. The group that grew up President Johnson's program follow the war on poverty only this year he was awarded the authoress Flemming award as one of the ten outstanding young men in our government and then in spite of all of this busy life he found time to be the co-author with Nathan Glazer of the book that probably you are familiar with beyond the melting pot and for that they received the award of the Saturday Review. He's always been active in trade union affairs and public affairs but he's always had a special interest and concern for our problems here in New York so it's very nice to have him back with us today he's going to talk about the future and his subject is beginning today to work for tomorrow following his talk we're going to have a time for questions and Mr going here here is going to go through the audience if you can't be heard and relay your questions to the speaker so have those questions in mind as you are listening to him we are very delighted to have him and he's taken time out of a very busy life he has to we're so thankful for that shuttle but he has to take it unfortunately again this afternoon at four thirty so we are privileged to have a much great pleasure to introduce Dr Daniel Moynihan. Madam Chairman. Gentlemen I I don't know how you feel when you see a man standing up after a long introduction like that I always think of the time when Oscar Wilde The Irish poet was taken with great Victorian solemnity out of you Niagara Falls and he looked out of the for a moment and said it would be more impressive if it flowed the other way and and I must also hasten to sap with great thanks for your suggestion that I made at least a distant cousin to the Federation palace and welfare agencies I. I ran into Mer Wagner just after lunch downstairs and felt in call upon that hastened to assure him that I was a speaker not a Protestant and. I am going to talk briefly on some points I think would which would be of interest to you mostly to. The point of facts which may not be as familiar in the context of New York City as some others and then to hope we can talk about what the facts mean what they imply both for the present situation but most particular what are what are we going to set out to do now about problems which have been with us long enough to make us realize they're going to be with us for a lot longer as well the one of the. Misfortune problems of life in the twentieth century is that you get altogether too many chances to see yourselves as others see you. And yes you are not to be spared that either I was going to read to you just quickly a description of who you are the true Mr Robert Webb sent me an order to explain the comments I will have to make he said speaking of this audience they are aware of the great changes taking place in New York and of the need for housing work opportunities and meaningful leisure time activities which are increasingly present they have some understanding that simply continuing with traditional ways of working is not enough but the same time they're faced with the double necessity of doing something now with the present generation of teenagers and planning for the different needs of the next generation they do not want to be living always on the edge of crisis. They in that case I certainly for DUI in the teenage years you follow the events of the University of California at Berkeley you can imagine that living on the edge of crisis is it's got its traction for young people. I I'm not going to hear it I think the word crisis is used to easily sometimes. It can lose some of its meaning and I'm not going to describe the situation of poor here in New York in anything like so apocalyptic a term what I do think there are a set of facts which are fundamental to anyone working in your world in the next decade. And they have they go directly to the problem of youth employment in this country. It's a problem which we haven't solved by any means it's a problem which is getting worse and it would have been getting worse and it's a problem with which I just think you cannot avoid the conclusion from the statistics is almost certainly because I'm going to become a much more difficult problem in the next decade that does not say it's going to become a going to worsen it's entirely within our capabilities to do to solve this but the effort to do self is going to take a great deal more in the next decade than it would have taken had we chose to do so in the last decade and there are. A couple of aspects of this which I think are important to get clear in terms of what kind of problem it is the first thing is that the crisis in use employment that we've been going through in recent years is really not hard or at least it emerges amusement last year or so as not having been part of a genuine employment right down in America this there has been an awful lot of very loose and inaccurate talk about cyber nation automation destroying jobs left right and center it's not so our employment. Grow very handsomely last year a million and a half jobs were added to the American workforce last year including some six hundred thousand in manufacturing and these are things which were where we were we were told only eighteen months or so ago would never happen again in America they've been happening very well indeed out same time. There are two aspects of this problem which have not been getting better and are not sharing in the general developments of the economy the first is the problem of negro employment the second is the problem of youth employment and when you get to the problem of the of the employment of Negro youth while you get a very serious problem indeed part of what's happening I think we just have a better crime I can and here now part of the problem is it seems we don't know exactly what's happening but it seems that there are fewer and fewer of what economists used to call entry jobs in America these days the early jobs that still hire. How do hour by talk louder that I'm talking while I talk lower if I got lower than. The Economist you'd call entry jobs jobs which a young man particularly not the CLI skilled young man but just a young man could do and would do and were available these are drying up. And it's been happening for a long time you can see it in a technique of Economic Analysis which is very very useful one if you compare the youth unemployment rate teenage unemployment rate persons eighteen fourteen and nineteen. With the unemployment rate of persons twenty five years and older persons twenty five years and older had the best on the lowest unemployment rate all it's been one hundred forty eight the UN of teenagers had an unemployment rate about three times larger less than three times the rate of this law this older group it has grown steadily until today it's four times and if type of analysis you go through in those terms you see you see this situation getting to be more and more a part in terms of teenage unemployment is more and more a part of bigger and bigger part of the employment problem generally the curious thing that has happened and about this in the one that is most important to the future is that this gradual worsening of this particular part of the unemployment problem has taken place during a period when the number of people coming into the workforce as teenagers. Has been very low and even for a long period declining from one thousand nine hundred eighty one nine hundred fifty four for example the number of teenagers in the workforce in America dropped each year this was the result of the depression just a plain question of birthright during the Depression and waltz and so that this effect that we're just beginning to see is a very serious one was hit was concealed for a long time because there were fewer entry jobs with fewer persons looking for them and it didn't show up that way now in the last few years it has begun to grow very steadily. And now we are we say for instance one thousand nine hundred sixty you had about six million teenagers in the workforce in one nine hundred seventy you're going to have nine million this problem is particularly. X. asked abated it with the question of Negro Americans is concerned again it's a question of the number of negro youths being born being much greater at least half again greater than the number of white youth and again it's just a question of more of them going into the workforce earlier in the next five years the number of Negro Americans in the work force in America will increase by twenty percent and that's twice the increase and for whites and in terms of the increase for the from the ground group you can say that in the law it took them ten years for the last twenty percent increase to occur it's going to take five years for the next twenty percent increase what you have on your hands is a making of a first class social problem I mean an undeniable one one we're not going to avoid if you'd like to have a measure of how great it is already today I give it to you that in one thousand nine hundred sixty four we've just calculator on one hundred sixty four employment rates for the whole year. The overall unemployment right for America was five point two percent. The rate for adult males was three point nine percent for teenage males it was fourteen and a half percent but for teenage Negro males it was twenty three plus percent and for teenage Negro females it was thirty one percent these are catastrophic rates nobody can sustain them very long without having a very considerable breakdown in the in the fabric of the society that Michelle's people are living at the same time where you can read off the rights and say there are horrendous as indeed they are. In terms of actual numbers I do not represent anything like the problem this country can't solve the unemployment rate for teenage negro male workers was as I say twenty three percent plus some but that only represented one hundred four thousand persons and the problem of creating one hundred four thousand jobs in a country which already has seventy two million jobs is not a problem we can't solve but it's a problem which if we don't solve we're going to fly a lot of other price a lot of other things in this country becoming insoluble as well now the. When I say that for the country this is going to be a a situation which with this is a situation is clearly within our resources. I don't mean to suggest that it's going to be that easy for New York City. I'm afraid that New York is is going into a period when it's getting the worst of the shifting nature of jobs and job opportunities in this country it's already happening. Oddly enough our population as you know is beginning to grow again we lost population in the one nine hundred fifty S. We're gaining it. We're gaining population a right not much different from the National just about exactly well one point below but about the national rate of cases our jobs are not increasing at anything like that right during the period from one nine hundred fifty eight to one nine hundred sixty three which is the only one we have good to stick for the city on employment in the nation grew by eleven point one percent in New York City it grew by only one point six percent. The nation was growing unemployment employment in the nation was going to write seven times that of the city. And during that period manufacturing employment which is typically the kind of jobs. Young people get I remember the first job I ever had I think New York City in a proper salary wasn't a national Can Company plant out in mass but Long Island where I nailed boxes together you know for eight hours a day for thirty seven cents an hour it wasn't much of a job it wasn't much of a salary but I mean it was a job and it was an hour and they don't mail boxes together anymore and masterclass them and that much doesn't mean no one works in that plant a lot of people work in that plant but not doing that kind of job a young fellow would do and and could do. In manufacturing in New York said during the nation in the nation these five years manufacturing employment grew by six point three percent it declined by six percent well five point two percent in New York City there's one general. Statistic I give you and nothing is a dollar after a long lunch and a rousing speech by Lester Granger than having someone rolls to just accept you but I've got them and I wouldn't want not to use them. I just got the since one nine hundred sixty which is a top up starting point of a new business cycle as you know we went down one hundred sixteen We've been coming up ever since and stop. In one thousand nine hundred since one thousand nine hundred sixty out of every hundred jobs added to the American workforce every hundred new jobs added the American workforce only one point six have been added in New York State at eighteen have been added in California. Florida got five point six one point six of a job as I don't know but them that's what they tell you in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Our zone of the tiny state of our zone I got exactly as many new jobs as the great state of New York and I think that I think that is about the measure of the problem. And it is a it's a very it's very clear. That this situation is not going to take care of itself something something has to be done about it otherwise we're going to go on seeing an accumulation of the same effects which we have already begun to feel in the area welfare services and other services in New York State New York City as a New York state this would I like to bring just to touch on one other specific problem which I think is of the greatest single importance for the future of this country and in this city. We have been really an amazing really. Clumsy about how we have defined the problems we're facing within this country and how we have how we have connected all the different types of things which we are dealing with the fact is that we have been talking for example of unemployment for a long long time in this nation. As if it were fundamentally a problem of of the what economists call to utilize ation of resources you have so many people that are looking for work you measure them you know how many and you know how many working you know mommy are working and therefore how many are not utilized how many are available for other production purposes. And there's this is the this is reality to this is true. But it's it's not the root most important reality in our time for instance in our statistics. If you are a person. If you're a person who is not looking for work because you've given up I mean because they're in there are good jobs for you in your neighborhood or in your city or your state and then you know that just and my and have you have you said to you if you look to work for work in the last three weeks which is our measure and you say now no one likes working around this town then you're not listed as unemployed because you're not looking for work you're not in the workforce sector where it was up in Harlem a month ago and stopped young fellows standing on street corner and and you looking for jobs also why well that fellow is obviously out of work but not listed as unemployed because he's not a not a resource in the workforce I mean I mention this is that we have not. We have not connected the problems of unemployment problems of them of family way with the problems of maintaining a stable social system a stable social structure we have identified it in terms of economic production and we're going through a period in our lives. When the increase in our economic production is so extraordinary that most of the social problems we have are not most but a great many of them really come from having too much wealth not from having too little Last year we increased our gross national product by twenty six and a half billion dollars And that means in one year we increased our production by a total that we well if we did that for three years running we would have matched the total gross national product of Great Britain. And yet adding a twenty six billion dollars We did not cut the number of unemployed teenagers by one well you can complain about if you can worry about that or not according to what you think your problem is if you think your problem is more G.N.P. Well obviously the fact that we have five percent unemployment isn't a dust but problem of how much we've got anyway on the other hand if you identify that if you relight that fact so the proposition that in New York City during that last year the number of persons receiving welfare assistance went up by one eighth in the middle the most prosperous year in history you're obviously dealing with a problem that is different and a problem which I think most persons would agree we do have in this nation now this would and I just go to a few points which we are beginning to find out and we're just beginning to work out in Washington and which the poverty program I think is a very clear evidence of we are just doing something which should have started two decades ago we're beginning to plot through our statistics through our research the relationship between employment earnings. And family structure and social pathology and social social health. In in and trying to connect up in our own research and our own studies facts which are clearly connected up in the lives of the people we're talking about. Most of the things we are finding out are sayings which. Wouldn't surprise any of you wouldn't surprise anybody at all new who'd been alive twenty five years on this earth but to a considerable degree they are facts which nobody really takes much into account in planning the the social programs of this nation. One very clear fact does come through and to write curious fact about this country and I think it's one which is the is going to be right at the heart of the next great social movement in the nation and that is that it to a to a really sponsoring degree the arrangements we have in this country do not take into consideration the problems of family life and family structure we are we are almost unique in this we don't know much about the problem and we do very little about it in in terms of our direct social activities for example. We are with the only nation in the world the only industrial democracy in the world that I am aware of that does not for instance have a system of family allowances to provide extra income for families during those stages of family life when they have extra expenses. There are some things well in pocket Blee individualistic about America that that simply simply regards those things as on on desirable we are the only one of the very few countries in the world where young people make the same amount of money as old people forgiven for instance you job in France or Germany or England a teenager wouldn't receive the same amount of money as a grown man with a family even if he was doing the same work the proposition would be that he doesn't need as much money shouldn't get it. Our country is is a is almost singular and having no such arrangements and it's beginning to be is being the getting to show. I think we have we have got some statistics which may startle the world by demonstrating that the poor get children or or contrariwise of people who get children get poor. It is a fact in this country that as the size of family increases from one up to six when our statistic stop nobody in America has more than six children according to the census. Then the amount of income actually declines as it rises until you have three children and then it actually declines afterwards so that the median income of persons with six children is about eighty five percent that of persons with three children and it's about seventy percent of that of persons with one children are there any sense in that arrangement in terms of what the current economic needs of the individuals are but it's a fact and again the fact shows we are also beginning to be able to put together the statistics on family stability. And and and their relation to unemployment and it should surprise nobody that after X. number of months of unemployment an enormous number of men leave home. And leave home and leave the society with a tremendous problem but which the society then somehow does not associate with unemployment but only with the fact that there are no children and there are no fathers around to take care of these children and you have the incredible growth of the A.D.C. program in all cities of the nation a growth which is can be stylish NG Lee marched to the growth in the to the changes in the business cycle and employment among subspecialty groups with a lag of about one year one year after him unemployment peaks broken families peak one year out of the troughs broken families draw. In all of these matters however the. One very clear fact which emerges is that things are getting worse in most of the center cities of the country it's a hard fact for Americans to get very clear in their mind. But it is a true one in most of the in Dixie's indices against what you might call social pathology broken family. Illegitimacy. Pregnancy drug addiction crime most of these matters have clearly got worse of the last twenty years no question not better statistics not different forms of recording things it's simply plain fact that that life is getting harder and harder in the central cities of America for the working people of America who are stuck there. And one of the things that we have done and I think one of the very fundamental problems we've got to face up to is that we have erected an enormous system of social welfare in this country. But when you look at what this word welfare group does what these welfare services do it's fairly clear that what they simply simply provide on the greatest number of instance thickly I mean thickly where children are concerned in the greatest number of instances they simply provide surrogate family services they do for children what an ordinary circumstances parents do for children. In the normal course of events our Can these services have gone on gone beyond the thought of original provision of food and clothing and shelter until today we spend tremendous efforts to provide things like motivation and work habits reasonable expectations of success and things of that kind but I think everybody would agree that. This is not something which government does very well or welfare agencies do very well. I think of Mayor Burns of. Bring him to know who had eleven children and he was campaigning for lieutenant governor a couple years ago and I was standing by when someone came up to Mrs Burns who she just had her tense you know he now she and I was eleven and she said Oh Mrs Burns How did you ever manage to have a love of ten children and she said well in the same old way. And I think that if you asked. If you were to ask how how what is the most efficient arrangement for feeding children and teaching them to behave and teaching them to. Learn their lessons and back to go to work when they grow up the traditional arrangement of having a father and a mother and a house to live in is probably the most efficient one and we're probably not doing a very efficient job at substituting and yet whilst we begin to recognise this we are not making we're making very few arrangements in the country to to see to see that the preconditions of stable family life. Ah provided for the people we're concerned with I mean one of the preconditions are not again much of a mystery the men have to have work housings that has that has to be reasonable and the income has to be raised we are increasingly finding that we in a curious way we can provide we can find a social energy to provide the funds to pay for the A.D.C. children but we can't find the social energy to provide jobs for their parents for their fathers we can find the social energy to provide a welfare supplement. For the incomes of persons who are working and who do not have sufficient income for their families but we can't find the social energy to produce a wage system that does that in the first place. I think that this is beginning to be a self-defeating process I think we're beginning to see it if you had any Cajun to read I hope you didn't because it's not that interesting reading but the economic report of the president came out this year in terms of the there's a chapter on the poverty program in it and over the course of the past year we've been able to recalculate who are the poor what what is the size of this problem who we're talking about if you remember when we began it was with a rather straightforward definition any family with less than three thousand dollars income was poor Anyone with more was not born when we calculated how many people that was well even we in Washington could see that that was a little a little rough at the edges I mean you might be living in a farmhouse in New Hampshire with your couple retired people making twenty seven hundred dollars a year and living very nicely indeed and you might have eleven kids would be making five thousand dollars a year in Manhattan and be very bad off and A So we recalculated it in terms of what does a family need in terms of family size and a very interesting thing came up we found that the number of families that we would call poor decline there aren't that many poor families but the number of children living in poverty increased by a third from where we had calculated ten million in those families under three thousand dollars we ended up with fifteen million living in poverty a quarter of the nation's children living in poverty and by and I mean poverty the budgets we calculated were very thin budgets indeed and the most interesting thing about them. Not the most but an interesting thing a third of those children had fathers who worked all year round last year and wrong those families but something wrong with a wage system that can't provide a man enough to feed his children and a wage system in a country which is which has gross national product increased by twenty six billion dollars last year but I think this is a this is a problem and it's a problem which I think the wealth they're interested groups in this country want to help define what start insisting on the absolutely essential fact of family life as the source of social stability in this country and the clear relation of things matters like employment and housing to the stability of families. As I said before this this is a problem which is almost curiously unique to the United States. We are such an individualistic people. I have sometimes blamed it on the Protestant tradition I don't know why except me because it's clearly nothing to do. With my group because I was taught in the earliest possible age that the Irish Catholics invented the family therefore we are absolved and it must be you. I mean but as a nation we stand for for God and country and even for ya'll but but to stand for family is a matter for newly migrated Italians or middle class Irish Catholics whom the dictates of conscience have burdened with nine children and last therefore with no alternative I think that I think that there's a more sane arrangement which we can make and in the course of the next decade I think it's time we turn to to it we have a a poverty program underway which is of of immense importance. But it is it hardly comprehend the range of the social problems in this country we have a we are our social problems are simply the matter of the great middle deal of unfinished business we have a social insurance system which is incomplete we have a wage system which is unbalanced and incomplete we have an employment Nexus issues which frighteningly inadequate and are our problem is not simply to to provide for the poor in this nation is provide for a stable family life for all of the working people of the nation this is something that's clearly within our resources both to achieve but also and I think this will probably just as importantly it's clearly within our capacity as we have demonstrated over the past quarter century in matters such as our Aid to Dependent Children program which for a quarter century the principal welfare program of the federal government required a father to leave his family in order to receive assistance and I say it is important that we have demonstrated that not only is clear we can only do something about this problem also clear that we're quite capable of not doing things about it also clear we're quite capable of pursuing large serious efforts on which we congratulate ourselves very considerably and which in fact has the principal effect of making the problem worse I don't know who would better have better closer contact with this reality and I don't know who's. Farty the public can be more accurately and effectively discussed than the persons involved with welfare work in the nation and I would hope you get a little fire in your belly about it and I thank you. Thank you very much Dr mind I had. When Dr Martin had arrived he said that he had a speech that would take an hour and ten minutes and he would contract it into. Fifteen or twenty I wish we had time to listen to the rest but now Mr Kinnear I think you're going to go around and find out what question there are from the audience that before Mr Miner has to Russia request to the public workers Yeah. Well the end unhappily know the numbers there are no simple answers let me put it this way at the time when the answer to the problem of poverty or of a recession was to give an Irishman a spade I'm afraid as long past we had some very we know something about this public works are increasingly a complicated involved job building the Verrazano Narrows Bridge is a public works it's not a job for unskilled labor and we had as you recall the celebrated Public Works Act of one thousand nine hundred sixty two President Kennedy got through a time when the economy began to shake a bit and which helped us into what is now the longest unbroken economic expansion in history this nation but we analyze who got the jobs that we created that way well they were poor people. Well paid workers competent workers let you know fifty thousand dollars of machinery under them or one hundred fifty thousand dollars on t