14 Buff. L. Rev. 22 (1964-1965)
Twenty Years of State Fair Employment Practice Commissions: A Critical Analysis with Recommendations

handle is hein.journals/buflr14 and id is 36 raw text is: TWENTY YEARS OF STATE FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICE
COMMISSIONS: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
WITH RECOMMENDATIONS
HERBERT HILL*
I. INTRODUCTION
B EGINNING with the 1940's, civil rights advocates in many states actively
campaigned for the creation of state fair employment practice commissions.
Stimulated by the dramatic successes of the federal FEPC created by President
Roosevelt's Executive Order 8802 in 1941, proponents of fair employment
practice laws hoped that rigorous application of the legal power of state civil
rights commissions would alleviate the very serious problem of job discrimi-
nation, and help open the path to Negro participation in many occupations and
industries. Perhaps some advocates of state fair employment practice laws were
aware that if employment reached the crisis proportions of a general depression
then even the most stringent laws would be ineffective. But it was hoped that
the increased hiring of Negroes during periods of full employment and their
entrance into stable skilled jobs with union membership would help create a
broader occupational distribution that would render the Negro worker less
vulnerable to large-scale unemployment.'
This concept appeared to be plausible when presented during the period
of wartime and postwar industrial expansion. But the analysis did not envision
the sharp decrease in Negro employment which was to occur after the wartime
demand for labor had subsided.. The very serious impact of automation and
other technological innovations in many industries was not anticipated. Nor
was the intransigence of employers and labor unions in refusing to significantly
alter the status of Negro workers realistically evaluated.
Now after almost two decades of experience with state fair employment
practice laws, it is possible and indeed necessary to make an assessment of
their efficacy. During the period of general affluence and overall prosperity
which led to the description of America in the 1950's as the affluent society,
Negro workers experienced the equivalent of a general economic depression.
The period of 1948-1952 was a time of full employment for the nation;
the national unemployment rate during this period was about 22 per cent.
In 1950-51 the aggregate demand for goods and services reached a high point
for the entire country, but the rate of unemployment among Negro wage-
earners was already rapidly increasing. Since 1951, the gap between the average
income of Negro and White wage-earners has been growing consistently greater.2
* National Labor Secretary, NAACP and member of the faculty of the New School
for Social Research, New York City.
1. Ruchames, Race, jobs, & Politics 194-95 (1953).
2. See U.S. Dep't of Labor, Manpower Report of the President and a Report on
Manpower Requirements, Resources, Utilization, and Training 106 (1964).

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