View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.


ROYAL MEEKER, Commissioner




( W H O L E O A /?
( NUMBER £ U V )





/ y\

[• \ g g y

\ M







AH GO , . .



Object of labor exchanges........................................................................................
Initial difficulties......................................................................................................
Organization.............................................................................................................. 9-11
Methods of registering applications.........................................................................12-14
Methods of registering vacancies............................................................................. 14,15
Methods of filling vacancies..... ............................................................................... 15-19
Procedure in case of labor disputes.........................................................................19-21
General results.................................................................r....................................... 21-25
Effect of unemployment insurance on work of labor exchanges.......................... 25-30
Effect of labor exchanges on casual labor...............................................................30-36
Effect of labor exchanges on seasonal labor........................................................... 36, 37
Effect of labor exchanges on female labor..............................................................37-39
Effect of labor exchanges on juvenile labor........................................................... 39-43
Advantages to employers............... ......................................................................... 44-47
Advantages to workers............................................................................................. 47-52
Advantages to the State........................................................................................... 53-55
Conclusions................................................................................................................55, 56
Appendix A.—Labor Exchanges Act, 1909........................................................... 57, 58
Appendix B.—General regulations for labor exchanges........................................ 58-61
Appendix C.—Special rules for labor exchanges as to registration of juvenile
Appendix D.—Memorandum by Board of Trade and Board of Education as to
cooperation between labor exchanges and educational authorities.................63-66
Appendix E.—Schedule used in unofficial investigation of labor exchanges,
1913....................................................................................................................... 66, 67



U . S. B U R E A U O F L A B O R S T A T I S T I C S .
WHOLE NO. 206.


OCTOBER, 1916.



Under the Labor Exchanges Act of 1909, a complete national
system o f employment bureaus was established for the whole of the
United Kingdom. It was the first of the kind and resulted from an
intensive study of the problem of unemployment, both private and
official, during and after a number of exceptionally severe trade de­
pressions and more especially from a unanimous recommendation of
the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress,
1905 to 1909. It is administered by the national Board o f Trade
through a department created for that purpose, of which Mr. W. H.
Beveridge, one of the foremost authorities on the organization o f the
labor market, is the director.

The Labor Exchanges Act was passed primarily for the purpose
o f increasing and improving means of communication between em­
ployers seeking workpeople and workpeople seeking employment.1
The Board o f Trade was given powers to establish labor exchanges—
called so in distinction to existing labor 46bureaus” which, as we
shall see, had somewhat fallen into disrepute—and to take over any
already in existence; 2 to establish advisory committees in connection
with them; to make regulations concerning the advancement of State
loans in payment of fares to workers proceeding to employment pro­
cured for them at a distance; and to assist the board generally in
studies o f the labor market. The labor exchanges are not intended
to provide work other than the vacancies reported by employers,
private or public. Nor is there attached to them machinery for the
relief o f distress occasioned by unemployment. By a later enact­
ment, labor exchanges have become the principal administrative
agencies for carrying out the provisions of the national insurance
against unemployment regulations; but originally, and still in the first
1 Section 5 of the act defines as a labor exchange “ any office or place used for the pur­
pose of collecting and furnishing information, either by the keeping of registers or other­
wise, respecting employers who desire to engage workpeople and workpeople who seek
engagement or employment.”
2 The only important bureaus taken over were those of the “ London Central (Unem­
ployed) Body.”




instance, they are market places for labor and, as such, have only an
indirect influence on the quantity and quality of the labor supply or
the volume and nature of the demand for labor.
The need for new machinery to accomplish the simple purpose of
bringing together employers desiring workers and workers desiring
employment had been demonstrated by many isolated investigations
o f the problem of unemployment, which indicated that frequently
workers were standing idle around the gates of one work place when
there was plenty of work, fitting their capacity, to be had at others,
sometimes in the same city, sometimes at a distance. The wasteful­
ness of the delay in securing suitable workers or finding suitable jobs
was equaled only by the prodigious waste of physical and moral
strength from a planless and unnecessarily prolonged search for work
and the resulting discouragement.1
It is hoped that as the labor exchanges increase the mobility
of labor they will abolish the wasteful system by which a large
firm is apt to keep its own reserve o f labor in the shape o f halfemployed workpeople waiting at its gates instead of drawing from a
common reserve in which the variations of employment in one branch
can in some measure be compensated by the fluctuations in another.2
In addition to their immediate object of reducing these different
forms of waste the labor exchanges were further expected to con­
tribute to the knowledge o f the labor market and, by providing a trade
barometer indicating the general fluctuations of employment, to en­
able the National Government and the local authorities to shape their
labor policy in accordance with them and, if necessary, to take steps
in time to prevent by artificial means abnormal unemployment and
distress. It was hoped further that by providing records of employ­
ment in different trades over longer periods, the labor exchanges
would assist in the recognition with more precision of such general
movements of expansion and reduction in the volume of employment
offered in different industries as would justify or necessitate altera­
tions in the facilities for industrial training. Such records would
further indicate the trades especially liable to frequent or seasonal ces­
sations of work and therefore especially fit subjects for unemployment
insurance, and the “ blind alley ” employments which give occupation
for a few years only and then throw those engaged in them on the
labor market unequipped and sometimes unfitted for other work.
There was thus, from the beginning, a wide social policy behind
the comparatively simple machinery created for one definite prac­
tical purpose.
1 For a record of detailed inquiries into the effect of frequent periods of idleness on
health and character, see “ Unemployment— a Social Study/’ by Rowntree and Lasker.
Macmillan, London, 1911.
2 Board of Trade circular “ Labor exchanges, 1913.”




At first, it was not easy to make clear to the public the difference
between the new labor exchanges and their functions on the one
hand and the labor “ bureaus ” on the other. The latter, under the
stimulus of a previous act of Parliament,1 had been created in many
cities by municipal u distress committees ”—bodies consisting partly
of elected members of city councils and partly of co-opted philan­
thropists— at a time of exceptional trade depression. And although
many of them were intended as labor exchanges in the true signifi­
cance of the term, practically all were swamped sooner or later by the
unclassifiable type o f unskilled, shiftless, often .physically handi­
capped or old or intemperate or starving, “ semi-employable ” appli­
cants for whom wages, as a rule, could be secured only in part as
remuneration for services rendered and in part as charity. The
provision o f relief employment for this class had gradually grown
out of a genuine endeavdr to secure useful, though specially organized
work, for persons temporarily idle in large numbers through an indus­
trial crisis, who in all likelihood would return to their former occu­
pations with the revival of trade.
A number of municipal distress committees which carry on labor
bureaus are still in existence. They have, in fact, been revived in
some cases by the war with its new labor problems, but they are not in
competition with the Board of Trade labor exchanges because they
have become avowedly agencies for the organization of relief work
or for recruiting municipal employees of the unskilled grades.2
1 Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905.
2 The general development of the work of distress committees in England and Wales
from 1909 to 1914 will be seen in the following table, compiled from the Seventeenth
Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom, 1915.

Year Commit­ Applica­ Appli­
ending tees in tions for provided





Per cent
Persons Persons of appli­
assisted assisted
to emi­ to move.® under
30 years
of age.

Per cent
of appli­
or casual







a Including dependents.
b Including cost of relief work provided, expenditures in aid of emigration and removal, and
cost of administration.

It will be seen from these figures that the operations of the local distress committees
have rapidly decreased in number, clientele, and expenditure, and that both the average
age of applicants and the proportion of unskilled and casual laborers among them has
increased; that is, the “ unemployable ” element has become more predominant. Since,
however, this movement coincided with one of improved trade, it is not possible to
explain it altogether or even chiefly by the establishment of the national labor exchanges
and their increasing use by the more vigorous and respectable classes of labor.



It was only by persistent effort, sometimes in the face of a deter­
mined politically inspired opposition, that the new labor exchanges
were able to win for themselves the place in the industrial life of the
nation which the legislature had intended for them. The greatest
difficulty was experienced in persuading self-respecting and skilled
artisans that the exchanges w ere at their service as much as that of
unskilled and casual laborers.
The system is in d ustrial in the sense of having nothing to do with
the poor law or the relief of distress. No questions are asked at an
exchange except those which bear upon a workman’s industrial
capacity. No workman need be afraid that by going to an exchange
he will appear to be asking for relief or to be proclaiming himself
as “ distressed.” 1
Employers at first applied to the exchanges only when in need of
the lowest types of occasional help or when, owing to an unusual
pressure in the demand, they had failed to fill, by their usual means
of recruiting, vacancies for more qualified and experienced workers.
It was only natural that under such circumstances there was noth­
ing the officers of labor exchanges could do to dispel the impression
that only the worst paid types of workers had a chance of securing
work through putting themselves on the register. In some cases,
the very industry and keenness of these officers increased their handi­
cap ; for, when they did receive requests for a better type of labor,
they were apt to be too anxious to please and so sent the best availa­
ble applicants on their register instead of confessing that they had
no labor to offer of the qualifications required. As a result, em­
ployers frequently were disappointed, and, for long, justly regarded
the exchange as rather a useless institution so far ak the hiring of
skilled labor was concerned. It has taken years to persuade em­
ployers that they must use the exchanges all the year round and for
all classes of labor—not at times of exceptional pressure when good
men are scarce—in order to test fairly their power to procure suita­
ble men more quickly and at less expense and trouble than by any
other method. In some cities, this initial misunderstanding has not
yet been quite removed.
Another hindrance at the outset was that obviously there could
not be enough experienced persons to staff the new bureaus, of which
430 were opened during the first two years, with 1,066 subagencies.
The new organization had to build up its own force and, since the
necessary qualifications for success could not be foreseen with suffi­
cient precision to make advisable the usual civil-service examina­
tions, there had to be during the first few years ‘a good deal o f

1 “ Board of Trade Labor Exchanges,” leaflet, 1914.



replacement and gradual elimination of the unfit.1 On his first
round of visits to labor exchanges in the north and midlands, about
a year after their establishment, the writer not infrequently found in
adjoining towns as managers of exchanges of about equal importance
men who had been school-teachers and trade-union officials, lawyers
and charity workers, army officers, and clerks. A charge that these
men had been appointed on patronage principles was easily refuted,
an official inquiry showing that a majority o f the new offices created
were actually held by meit belonging to other parties than the one
controlling the Government. It should be added that from the
beginning the standard of efficiency and enthusiasm for their work
shown by this new service as compared with that of many of the
older departments was remarkable, and such success as there is to
show now, after six years, is almost entirely to be attributed to this.

So much for some of the initial troubles. In January, 1916, there
were 390 labor exchanges— some of those previously established hav­
ing been amalgamated during the last two years— and, together
with their branch offices and subagencies in industrial suburbs, small
towns, and rural districts, they may be said to cover the whole of
the United Kingdom.2 The exchanges are grouped in eight terri­
torial divisions, varying in area with the industrial importance of
the counties included in each, and controlled by divisional offices or
clearing houses. These in their turn are coordinated with a central
office or clearing house in London. The exchanges are connected by
telephone, not only each with its divisional office, but also with each
other, both within and without the division.
The Labor Exchanges Act, 1909, is a short one, consisting of
only six sections. The whole of the cost of administration is borne
by the national exchequer; but, as is usual in British social legisla­
tion, no financial provision is made in the act itself, but 4 any ex­
pense incurred by the Board of Trade in carrying this act into effect,
including the payment of traveling and other allowances to mem­
bers o f advisory committees and other expenses in connection there­
1 This is admitted by the Board of Trade, which, in one of its circulars, says : “ The
system of exchanges which now covers the United Kingdom had to be organized and
brought into working order by a staff inexperienced in a class of work in which experience
had never before been really obtainable ; while in many cases the exchanges have been
handicapped by temporary and unsuitable premises.”
2 The number of “ agencies ” varies from time to time; there are usually several hun­
dred of them in localities where some business in connection with unemployment insurance
must be conducted, but where the possible amount of placement work would not justify
the opening of a regular office. Often a single officer, by attending offices in different
small towns on one or two days each week—preferably on market days—and continually
traveling from one to another, is able in a somewhat perfunctory, but, for practical pur­
poses, sufficient, manner to cover a fairly wide territory.



with, to such amount as may be sanctioned by the treasury, shall be
defrayed out of moneys provided by Parliament.” No fees what­
ever are charged either to applicants for employment or to em­
ployers notifying vacancies.
In detail, the system is founded entirely upon the regulations
made under the act by the Board of Trade, which have the force
of laws, but must be laid before Parliament for confirmation, either
before or after their actual enforcement.1 For the better adminis­
tration o f the act a separate labor exchanges department was created
by the Board of Trade.
The staffing of labor exchanges, originally planned on a population
basis, has been complicated by the administration of the unemploy­
ment insurance regulations through the exchanges. For, whereas the
placement work may be expected to correspond roughly to the popula­
tion o f each district, the chief unemployment insurance provisions of
the act o f 1911 apply only to certain trades whose volume varies in
different localities and areas. Originally the exchanges were divided
into six classes, serving areas with populations of over 100,000, from
50,000 to 100,000, from 25,000 to 50,000, suburban districts, small
industrial towns near larger centers, and small towns and districts
with specialized trades. This plan has been modified by considera­
tion of the number o / insurable workmen in each locality, and the
staff in the exchanges of the larger centers has in some cases been
increased from 8 to over 20. In the civil-service estimates for 1913-14
provision was made for a central office staff of 287, including 216
clerks and lower grades; a divisional exchange staff of 749, including
589 clerks and lower grades; a labor exchange staff of 2,494, including
267 managers, 20 secretaries of juvenile advisory committees, and
2,207 clerks and lower grades; a total staff of 3,530. This number,
however, includes the staff needed for the administration of unem­
ployment insurance which, owing to the close association of the
two administrative functions, it is impossible to enumerate sepa­
The premises used at first were often unsatisfactory owing to the
short notice with which the system was started. In many o f the
1 “ Any general regulations made under this section shall have effect as if enacted in this
act, but shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are
made ; and if either House of Parliament, within the next 40 days during the session of
Parliament after any regulations have been so laid before that House, resolves that the
regulations or any of them ought to be annulled, the regulations or those to which the
resolution applies shall, after the date of such resolution, be of no effect, without preju­
dice to the validity of anything done in the meantime under the regulations, or to the
making of any new regulations.” (Labor Exchanges Act, 1909, sec. 2, subsec. (3).)
2 The director and general manager of the department receive a salary each of $5,000 to
$6,000; two principal officers each $3,500 to $4,500; seven chiefs of sections, $2,500 to
$3,750; nine assistant chiefs, according to seniority ; the principal woman officer, $2,000
to $2,250 ; three traveling inspectors and one “ labor adviser,” $1,650 to $2,500. The
total estimated outlay on labor exchanges for 1913-14 was less than $5,000,000 (£984,525).



towns visited there were, during the first year or two, in use as labor
exchanges old warehouses and stores, sometimes in uninviting side
streets, sometimes dark and undignified in appearance, sometimes
too small and not lending themselves to effective subdivision. This
has gradually been improved and a more or less definite standard
has been applied not only to the premises themselves as regards
location, size, heating, lighting, ventilation, subdivision, and general
appearance, but also to the equipment. Only in a few cases has it
been necessary for the Government to build; this has rightly been
avoided as much as possible owing to the difficulty of foreseeing with
any precision the probable growth of the work in different localities.
The economy of this policy has shown itself especially since the enact­
ment o f the unemployment insurance law, and with the progress of
ideas, since the beginning of the system, as regards the most effective
arrangements. In every case separate registration offices— as far as
possible with separate access from the street—are provided for men,
women, boys, and girls. Often the men’s department is further sub­
divided into separate rooms for artisans and laborers or casuals,
spacious waiting rooms being provided for the last named. In the
larger exchanges separate provision is always made for registering
insurable and uninsurable workmen, but not always in separate
rooms. A separation of the skilled and more respectable from the
unskilled and more casual workers is, in the larger exchanges, also
made in the case of women workers. These different departments
are practically always under the same roof except where, under a
joint system of juvenile placement, the local education authority
assumes responsibility for accommodating that part of the work of
the exchange or where special exchanges have been established to
deal with specific trades or grades, such as longshoremen, cotton
porters, and the like. The specialization of exchanges on the lines
of occupational divisions has, so far, remained exceptional. In the
larger cities branches are sometimes established in the most densely
populated industrial districts, and these often take their tone from
the predominant local industry without being definitely created
for its exclusive benefit. Women’s departments are always staffed
by women officers; on the staffs of juvenile departments both men and
women are found. Minute attention was paid, in connection with
the draft of regulations, to the forms to be used for registration and
statistical purposes. A departmental committee, appointed to con­
sider this subject, reported in December, 1909, after a careful study
o f all available material, and practically all its recommendations
were adopted.



The actual working o f the system is not, perhaps, in essentials
very different from that of others the world over; but it derives
importance from the fact that it is the only one with a national
application and that, as one of the most recent, it has absorbed the
lessons o f every other system with similar ends in view.

Applicants for employment must register personally, except in the
case of minors yet at school and of others living over 3 miles from
the nearest exchange. These may send in written applications.
Usually a clerk takes down the necessary particulars on a ruled and
printed filing card, differing in color for men, women, boys, and
girls. The principal questions, in the case of adults, refer to name,
address, name of labor organization to which applicant belongs, if
any, nature of work desired, age, whether willing to work in another
district, when free to begin work, whether and where previously reg­
istered, possible alternative trades, name and address of previous
employers, nature and period of each previous employment. In the
case of boys and girls, the questions asked also refer to name o f last
day school attended, date of leaving it, standard reached before
leaving, intention of attending continuation classes— if so, whether
day or evening and in what subjects—whether employed part time
before leaving day school—if so, how long—whether willing to be
apprenticed and, if so, whether able to pay premium. The back of
the card, in each case, is reserved for a record of the vacancies to
which the applicant is recommended; that is, date when sent for,
name o f employer, when sent to same, nature of vacancy, date placed,
etc., and columns for office-recording numbers and symbols.
Clerks, artisans, and other educated and self-respecting applicants
prefer to fill in their own forms instead of being examined orally.
They are permitted to do so on a special form provided for that
purpose, containing similar questions to those named, only more
explicit. The information thus given must later be transferred by
a clerk to a filing card. Whether examined orally or filling in forms
of their own, applicants are not required necessarily to answer all
the questions. But probably they stand a better chance if they do
so and if they voluntarily add, in a space reserved for general re­
marks, further information throwing light on their experience in
and qualifications for the work desired.
Applicants are encouraged to register at the exchange nearest
their place o f residence; but there is nothing to prevent a man from
registering at several exchanges. This, however, is o f little benefit to
him since vacancies are always filled by local applicants and only
if no suitable applicant is available who is resident in the exchange
area are those from other registration districts considered. 'Owing



to the system of interlocal registration, the applicant in such cases
usually hears of these vacancies just as quickly at the exchange in
his own locality as he would hear of it by going to the exchange
which has the vacancy.
On registration, the applicant receives a registration post card
(brown), stating his name, address, and trade, and leaving space
for him to enter the name of an employer with whom he may find
work and the date of starting such work. This card must be posted
to the exchange immediately, whether the work has been found
through the exchange or independently of it.1 So long as he wishes
to remain on the register and have his name brought before em­
ployers, the applicant must present his card at the exchange at least
once a week. Though in theory there is no good reason for it and
though, as we shall see,2 it is against the principle underlying the
British labor exchange system that each vacancy should be filled
as far as possible by the best available man of those on the register
o f applicants, it seems that in practice a man’s chances are brighter
if he calls daily and, in the,case of unskilled laborers at least, bright­
est if he camps at the exchange all day long.3 This divergence of
practice from theory is probably the only serious fault to be found
with the administration of the British labor exchanges. Applicants
residing outside the 3-mile radius are of course permitted to renew
their registration by post.
The register o f those whose applications are valid, that is have
been made pr renewed within the last week, is called the “ live reg­
ister.” The cards of those who do not renew their applications form
the “ dead register.” When there is reason to believe that applica­
tions have not been renewed owing to applicants’ negligence rather
than owing to their having found work for themselves, the cards
often are placed on an “ intermediate register.” The old card is
used again if, after an interval o f a week or two, the applicant re­
news his application; but his registration is statistically treated as
a new one.
There is nothing in the act or the regulations made under it to
preclude a worker from registering while* already employed. In
theory, he would stand the- same chance o f securing work of the
desired character as the workless applicant, provided he be equally
suitable for a vacancy occurring in the trade. But in practice he is
1 The address side has this imprint: “ If you obtain work—either through the labor ex­
change or otherwise— you must fill in this card and post it at once to the exchange. No
stamp is needed. Until you obtain work, you must present this card at the labor exchange
every — — in order to remain on the register.”
3 Page 17.
8 In a report to the International Association on Unemployment (Bulletin, July-September, 1913, p. 773), the director and general manager of the Board of Trade labor exchanges
say: “ If he wishes to remain on the register, he has to bring this card to the exchange
each week, and, in addition, he is encouraged to call daily at the exchange to inquire as
to vacancies.”



not encouraged to> leave his employment for the sake o f a change;
and the fact o f his lesser ability to reregister frequently, and to call
upon employers whose names are given him, makes him less eligible.
Complaints were frequently made by employers during the first year
or two o f the exchanges’ existence that the facilities offered to em­
ployed workers to secure new positions had the tendency of making
them continually dissatisfied, insubordinate, and shiftless. I f this
were true on an appreciable scale it would mean that previous to the
establishment o f the labor exchanges wage earners had insufficient
opportunities for improving their position without giving up the
jobs they held and thereby endangering their livelihood. But so
far as it has been possible to ascertain the truth, it seems that the
complaint of employers has been much exaggerated; that many of
the persons engaged through the labor exchanges in the earlier stages
of their history were apt to be o f the less stable type, who would not
have stayed for long in the same place anyhow, by whatever method
hired. This criticism also overlooks the fact that if employees have
been helped to secure new positions while still employed, employers
also have been helped by the labor exchanges to replace them at the
shortest notice, if necessary, from a distance. The astonishing fact,
to an impartial observer, is that in spite of the greater mobility given
to labor through the interlocal method of notification of vacancies
and aids to traveling, further discussed on page 51, wages and con­
ditions of labor have remained so dissimilar in near-by and even
adjoining localities. The only possible explanation is that the Brit­
ish worker values home ties and connections more highly than a slight
rise in wages or mildly improved living conditions, and that the
actual loyalty even o f low-paid workers to their employers and their
interest in the concerns in which they are employed are apt to be
seriously underestimated by theoretic economists.
Kegistration at a labor exchange, in case of unemployment, is
practically compulsory in the case of workmen entitled to benefit
under the obligatory unemployment insurance section of the Na­
tional Insurance Act, 1911, since in his case a public test of his will­
ingness to accept employment, if suitable work can be found for him,
is the principal condition under which such benefit becomes payable.
His insurance stamp book, while he is out of work, has to be deposited
at the local office of the Unemployment Fund; that is, the local labor
exchange, and is returned to him as soon as he has secured work.
In all other trades registration of unemployment is purely voluntary.

Notifications of vacancies may be made by personal call, by letter,
telephone, or telegram. Employers also are supplied, if they desire,
with post cards for free transmission on which to send in their re­



quests for workpeople. These cards state name and address of the
firm, description and number of the workpeople required, wages
offered, and time and place for interviews of applicants. On the
address side this note is printed:
While full particulars as to requirements and wages offered will
assist the exchange in selecting suitable applicants, the extent of the
information given is within the discretion of the employer.
An increasing number of employers, among them many of the
largest concerns, have decided to engage all their labor—or some­
times all but a few specially qualified skilled artisans whom they
can better secure by other means—through the exchanges. T o them
thousands of blue enameled plates have been distributed for ex­
hibition at their works’ entrances to inform applicants for employ­
ment that employees are hired only through the local labor exchange.
Sometimes the-employment officer of a large firm, especially if the
latter be situated at some distance from the labor exchange for the
district, is given the privilege of using a room set aside for him at
the labor exchange at stated times of the week, where he can inter­
view applicants for employment previously roughly selected by
officers o f the exchange for his further choice.

The filling of vacancies proceeds on the principle that the labor
exchange is merely a mart. It assists employers by making a rough
selection for them of applicants answering the description given in
the request; but it merely submits applicants for the employer’s con­
sideration ; it does not assume any responsibility as to the ability or
character o f the person submitted. Similarly, the exchange does not
undertake any responsibility to the worker concerning the nature
or the wages and other conditions of the work offered. It simply
hands on information as received and leaves it to employers and
workpeople to decide for themselves whether they can come to
terms. I f a worker refuses a job on the ground that the wages
offered are not high enough this does not disqualify him as regards
his chance of future employment. I f an employer refuses to employ
a man submitted to him because he belongs to a trade-union, then
the exchange will endeavor to supply him from the list of applicants
with the desired qualifications one who does not suffer from this
fatal flaw. I f the workman by insisting on too high a wage should
lose good opportunities he will have only himself to blame. I f the
employer by putting a taboo on trade-unionists can secure only in­
ferior labor it is his lookout. The exchange remains perfectly im­



When a vacancy has been reported, an officer of the exchange im­
mediately goes through the card index of registered applicants
waiting for a job—the “ live register”—to see whether any of them
answer the description given. For the principal trades in his dis­
trict he will have separate files so that no time will be lost by search
in a large, miscellaneous card index. He may have only one suitable
person on the register; or of several applicants belonging to the trade
one may be so superior to the others in what is known of his quali­
fications that he is singled out for submission to the employer. A
green identification card is given or sent him, and he is asked to
present himself at the place aiid time mentioned by the employer in
his request. This card is contained in a sealed envelope addressed
to the employer and reads as follows :
In reply to your request for --------- I am sending --------- , the bearer, who
should present this card in a sealed green envelope addressed to you. If you
engage bearer, please sign and return this card to me as soon as possible, even
if the engagement is only temporary. If you do not engage bearer, please give
this card back to him unsigned.

N. B.— Until this card is returned the situation is considered open.

In a corner of the envelope this “ notice to applicants for employ­
ment ” is printed:
If not engaged, you must bring this card back to the exchange in order to have
an opportunity of being sent to another job which is open.

The card is addressed to the manager of the exchange and may be
mailed to him unstamped.
In the majority of cases several applicants are sent, to give the
employer a final choice, each supplied with a green identification
_card. Sometimes, labor critics complain, the number of persons sent
is unnecessarily large. But it appears that the more efficient mana­
gers try to reduce as far as possible the number of errands upon
which men are sent. Investigation of this matter showed that there
was a noticeable difference in this respect in the. practice not only of
different exchanges but also in that of one and the same exchange
with regard to different classes of labor. An intelligent and ob­
servant manager of an exchange usually knows those of his larger
clients who prefer to have sent to them a more or less unselected group
o f workers to choose from for themselves and those who prefer the
officers of the exchange to make a more careful selection for them.
Also, in some trades the variation of skill and character, so far as suit­
ability for employment in that trade is concerned, is not nearly so im­
portant as in others, and it is less important for employers to make a
careful personal choice, A hotel manager, for instance, will want to



know all about the experience and character of a new cook before he
engages him; a builder, on the other hand, may not need to be so
particular in putting on a new mason, so long as he is duly qualified
by trade-union membership, though both men are skilled workers.
When it is remembered that the vacancies reported vary from
positions for responsible employees, appointed sometimes for life, to
jobs of an hour’s duration for casual laborers, it will easily be
seen how impossible it is to provide in rules and regulations for the
exact procedure to be followed in the selection of applicants. In
theory this is purely with respect to their suitability for the work
offered on the motto “ the best man for each job,” and no regard is
had to the length of time during which an applicant has been on the
register, to questions of local residence, conjugal condition, financial
stress, or any other extraneous consideration of that nature. After all,
the purpose of a national system of labor exchanges is not merely to
effect as many placements as possible, but to make placements satis­
factory both to employers and employees. One of the chief arguments
for a uniform system of placement on a large scale, such as the Brit­
ish, is that it helps cut out the waste from industrial misfits arising
when the labor market is too restricted to allow of an adequate choice
and resulting in inefficiency and unemployment.
But, as Prof. Pigou points out in a recent book,1 the unification in
a single system of the hiring of labor for a number of concerns in
itself does not necessarily bring about increased placement of the
fittest or gradual elimination of the unfit.2 There never was any
doubt that the Board of Trade scheme of labor exchanges was meant
to be administered with strict adherence to the principle of preced­
ence by fitness only.3 But it appears that in practice a close inquiry
into the respective merits and qualifications is not always made.
Although this has been criticized elsewhere, it must of course be ad­
mitted that such scrutiny is not always possible. This is especially
true of unskilled workers and in cases where the number of applicants
in any one trad^ is exceptionally large, as for instance in the build­
ing trade during the slack months. In such cases, the general prac­
tice seems to be for the manager either to send men of whom he
happens to know that they have given satisfaction in other employ­
ments to which they have previously been recommended, without
taking the trouble of inquiring closely into the suitability of the
1 “ W e a lth an d W e lfa r e ,” M a cm illa n , L on d on , 1912, p. 318.
2 In som e o f th e E u rop ea n labor-b u rea u system s a ru le has been p ro v id e d e x p licitly s ta t­
in g t h a t v a ca n c ie s m u st be filled in ord er o f p r io r it y o f a p p lica tio n .
3 “ E m p loy ers h ave rea lized th a t th eir freed om o f s electio n is in n o w a y in te rfe re d w i t h ;
th a t th e sole q u a lifica tion tak en in to a cco u n t in su b m ittin g m en f o r v a ca n cie s notified by
them is th e a p p lica n t’ s in d u s tria l efficiency
— C. F . R ey, gen era l m an ager
B o a r d o f T ra d e la b or exch a n g es, in p a p er rea d a t N a tio n a l C o n fe re n ce o n P re v e n tio n o f
D es titu tion , June, 1911.

47784°—16------ 2



applicants whom he does not happen to know personally; or to send
a considerable number of applicants for the employer to make his
own choice; or to send men who are in the waiting room or easily
reached; or to send persons who have been put on the register most
recently and who, by virtue of having maintained their jobs longer
than other applicants, may be supposed to have superior qualifica­
tions. Sometimes, however, it seems that the opposite of the lastnamed custom is applied, contrary to instructions and the funda­
mental aim of the exchanges, namely, that managers send applicants
who have been longest on the live register. This may, in rare cases,
be owing to pressure on the part of trade-union secretaries, who, of
course, like to see preference given to those of their members who are
most difficult to place; or, more frequently, to the natural desire on
the part of the officer to get rid of applicants who have been haunting
the* office for a long time. Often employers themselves hinder a
thorough selection of suitable persons from the live register of appli­
cants by an unreasonable urgency in their demand which forces the
manager to send the first “ best person for the job ” vaguely answering
the requirements mentioned whom he can get hold of in the time stated.
Moreover, since the exchange has no means of testing the statements
made either by applicants for work or by employers and merely hands
on the information given it, it follows that in practice, even with the
best intention, the idea of “ the best man for each job ” can be applied
only very roughly and intermittently. It is well that this idea
should not be lost sight of as a guiding principle; but the real selec­
tion must of necessity rest with the employer.
When the local current or live register does' not contain anyone
answering the requirements of an employer it is the duty of the man­
ager to do two things: First, to advertise the vacancy on a bulletin
board, usually placed in the window of the exchange premises; and
second, to communicate it to the divisional office for the area in which
the exchange is situated both by telephone and by written forms
filled up and forwarded at least once each day. The divisional office,
unless able to fill the vacancy immediately from its list of applicants
on the live registers of the different exchanges in the division,1 cir­
culates its notification, along with that of other unfilled vacancies
in the division notified from the various exchanges in it, either
among the exchanges which are likely to have on their live regis­
ters applicants of the class required or among all the exchanges of
the division. After a given time, should it fail to fill the vacancy
within the division, the divisional office takes further action. It either
* A ra re o ccu rren ce. N orm a lly , a p p lica tio n s fo r w ork w ill o n ly be re p o rte d to th e d iv i­
s ion a l office i f there is rea son to b elieve th a t a dem an d fo r a p erson o f a p p lic a n t’s q u a li­
fica tion s is n o t lik ely soon to a rise lo c a lly w h ile su ita b le v a ca n c ie s a re lik e ly t o be open in
o th e r ex ch a n g e a reas in th e d ivision .



circulates its notification among other divisional clearing houses
which are likely to have applicants of the class required or reports
it to the central office in London, which in turn circulates the noti­
fication among all the divisions. In this way the circle within which
a request of- an employer for workers is made known is a gradually
widening one. The same, with limitations, is true of requests for
employment. Unless they can be satisfied locally—that is, unless
there is a reasonable likelihood of finding a suitable local opening in
the near future—they assume the character of a search over an area of
about one-eighth of the United Kingdom, and after that of a country­
wide inquiry. It must not be imagined, however, that as a result of
this system every British workingman regards the whole country as
a possible field for his wage-earning activity. While undoubtedly, as
will be seen on page 51, the creation o f a national pooling of possible
openings has been of great benefit to him, his natural conservatism
and love of home have prevented anything in the nature o f a gen­
eral game o f “ pussy wants a corner.”

The action of the labor exchanges is governed by different rules
in cases where a strike or lockout is actually in progress and in cases
where a trade dispute is said by one side or the other, or by both, to
be in existence which, however, has not led to a cessation o f work.
Their duty is laid down in subsection (2) of section 2 of the act:
The regulations shall provide that no person shall suffer any dis­
qualification or be otherwise prejudiced on account o f refusing to
accept employment found for him through a labor exchange where
the ground of refusal is that a trade dispute which affects his trade
exists, or that the wages offered are lower than those current in the
trade in the district where the employment is found.
With regard to strikes and lockouts, the general regulations issued
by the Board of Trade in 1910 interpret this clause as follows:
III. (1) Any association of employers or workmen may file at a
labor exchange a statement with regard to the existence of a strike or
lockout affecting their trade in the district. Any such statement
shall * * * be signed by a person authorized by the association
for the purpose. Such statement shall be confidential except as here­
under provided and shall only be in force for seven days from the
date o f filing but may be renewed within that period for a like period,
and so on from time to time.
(2) I f any employer who appears to be affected by a statement so
filed notifies to a labor exchange a vacancy or vacancies for workmen
of the class affected, the officer in charge shall inform him of the state­
ment that has been filed and give him an opportunity of making a
written statement thereon. The officer in charge in notifying any
such vacancies to any applicant for employment shall also inform
him of the statements that have been received.



In the application of this ruling no serious difficulties have arisen.
Usually there is no question as to the accuracy of a statement filed
either by a trade-union or an employers’ association that a strike or
lockout exists. If, however, an employer, on being informed by the
exchange o f the report by a trade-union of a strike affecting his plant,
denies the existence of such a strike and insists on having his request
for workers put on the bulletin board of the exchange, the manager
has to comply with his request. But on receiving applications for
such vacancies he must inform the applicant that such and such a
trade-union has reported the existence o f a strike affecting that firm,
and that the firm itself denies it. He will also produce the respective
documents themselves if requested to show them. He is expressly
forbidden either to discourage or encourage an applicant to take such
a job; and there have been very few complaints that this rule has
been violated.1
Another regulation provides that the special privileges as to ad­
vance of traveling fares, which is further referred to on page 51,
shall not be given where the firm concerned is affected by a strike
which has been reported to the exchange by a trade-union.
O f trade disputes which have not actually led to a strike or lock­
out the labor exchange obviously has no precise knowledge. Sijch
disputes may be said to exist by a trade-union secretary but be denied
by the majority of workers in the plant concerned, and all varieties
between a mild disagreement and a serious threat to quit work are
possible. Yet, in order to prevent the acceptance of positions by
persons ignorant of existing trade agreements and the penalizing of
persons refusing to accept a position offered them because of an
alleged trade dispute, two rules have been framed which amply safe­
guard the workers without in any way embarrassing employers will­
ing to keep faith with their employees. One of them provides for
the filing at the labor exchange for public inspection of trade agree­
ments or rules of public authorities as employers bearing upon wages
and conditions of work.2 By this means an applicant can make sure
before applying for a vacancy posted up at the labor exchange or
communicated to him by it that the wages and conditions offered are
in accordance with existing trade-union agreements, or, in the case
of a public contract, with the rules adopted by the authority. The
second regulation provides that no applicant who refuses to apply
for a vacancy communicated to him by the exchange for the reason
i T h e a ctu a l a ttitu d e o f la b o r exch a n g es on the o cc a s io n o f strik es is fu r th e r d iscu sse d
o n p. 48.
G en eral R e g u la tio n s, 1910, I V (2 ) : “ C op ies o r su m m a ries o f a n y a greem en ts m u tu a lly
a rra n g ed betw een a ss o cia tio n s o f em p loy ers and w ork m en f o r th e re g u la tio n o f w a g es o r
o th e r c o n d itio n s o f la b or In a n y tra d e m ay, w ith th e con se n t o f th e v a rio u s p a rtie s to such
agreem ents, be filed a t a la b or exch a n ge, and a n y p u b lish ed ru les m ade b y p u b lic a u th o ri­
ties w ith reg a rd to like m a tters m ay a lso be filed. D ocu m en ts so filed sh a ll be op en to
in s p e ctio n on a p p lic a t io n .”



just mentioned, or because he considers the wages offered lower than
those current in the trade and district, shall on that account be dis­
qualified for being considered in connection with other openings.1
It is only natural that, in spite of these various provisions, the charge
should occasionally be made that labor exchanges are used for the
importation of “ scabs,” but an endeavor to locate actual instances
o f such practice, made by the writer two years ago, yielded only one
case, in which the guilty officer had been promptly removed.

In consequence of the war, which has deprived the department of
many o f its most important officers and burdened others with new
duties, only a summary of statistical information is available for
the work o f the exchanges in the years 1914 and 1915.2 These figures
must be used with caution, and particular care should be taken not to
infer from them more than they are capable o f proving. They do
not, for instance, register the total amount o f unemployment j nor
is it known whether they correctly reflect movements of employment
generally. Since the use made of labor exchanges by workers of
the same trade in different localities and by workers of different
trades in the same locality varies considerably, it is not possible with­
out using also other available material to judge from labor-exchange
statistics as to the, relative amount of unemployment in different
trades, among skilled and unskilled, in different areas, and at differ­
ent times. These criticisms, however, apply with less force probably
to the branch exchanges than to any labor exchanges not so thor­
oughly organized into a national system. So far, however valuable
in themselves for various purposes, they are only contributory to a
knowledge o f the labor market generally. If, for instance, we learn
that the labor exchanges in 1915 received 3,186,137 applications for
work, representing 2,345,816 individuals,3 we must remember that in
these totals are included men hired for a few hours to shovel snow
as well as men with a high and rare degree of skill for whom perma­
nent appointments have been found.4
1 G en era l R e g u la tio n s, 1910, IV (3 ) : “ N o p erson sh a ll suffer a n y d isq u a lifica tio n o r be
o th e rw is e p re ju d ice d on a cco u n t o f r e fu sin g to a cce p t em p loy m en t fo u n d f o r him th ro u g h
a la b o r ex ch a n g e w h ere th e g rou n d o f re fu sa l is th a t a tra d e d isp u te w h ich a ffects his
tra d e e x is ts o r th a t the w a ges offered a re lo w e r th a n th o se cu rre n t in th e tra d e in th e
d is t r ic t w h ere th e em p loy m en t is fo u n d .”
2 See B o a r d o f T ra d e L a b o r G a zette fo r F e b ru a ry , 1915, and F e b ru a ry , 1916.
3 O f th is nu m ber, 19,013 w ere on th e ca su a l reg ister o n ly ; b ut w e d o n o t k n ow th e p r o ­
p o rtio n o f th ose on th e gen era l reg ister w h ose p la cem en t w a s k n ow n t o be te m p ora ry on ly .
4 T h ere cam e t o th e n o tice o f th e w r it e r th e case o f an ov e rze a lo u s e xch a n g e officia l
w h o , h a y in g em p loy ed a w om a n in th e e x ch a n g e ’ s w a itin g ro o m f o r h a lf an h o u r m en d in g
h is c o a t, con sid ered it h is d u ty ca re fu lly to re co rd t h e tra n s a c tio n a m on g v a ca n cie s re ­
p o rte d an d filled. I t is n o t to be in fe rr e d , h ow ev er, th a t a n y a p p re cia b le p a rt o f th e
p u b lish ed s ta tis tics h a ve been a rriv e d a t in sim ila r w a ys.



The number o f vacancies reported in 1915, namely, 1,797,646, was
only three-fifths o f the number of applications registered; so that
apparently two-fifths of the number of applications for work booked
represent a surplus o f labor offer. But here again rash deductions
should be avoided. O f the vacancies reported one-quarter re­
mained unfilled. Besides, we do not know how large a proportion o f
the registered applications lapsed because the individual found
work elsewhere or because the employer who had reported a vacancy
omitted to send the green post card informing the exchange o f his
acceptance o f the applicant sent. W e are told that the number o f
registrations given includes reregistrations of the same individuals;
but we do not know how large a proportion is thus accounted for.
However this may be, the proportion of applications registered
or even o f the number of individual applicants of the number of
vacancies reported or filled would not in any case provide us with
a criterion of the efficiency of the system. For that proportion de­
pends primarily on the state of trade. For a test of the practical
results, two things are worth noting: First, the continued increase
from the start in the number of applicants registered and o f
vacancies reported during a period of exceptionally good trade;
second, the continued improvement in the proportion o f applicants
for whom work was found. The following table will show the
remarkable progress in both these directions since the starting of
the system:1
T a b l e 1 . — O P E R A T IO N S

O F L A B O R E X C H A N G E S . 1911 TO 1915.

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom and Board of Trade Labor
Gazette for February, 1916.]



E x­
open at
end of

Applica­ Individual




uals given


Per cent
of appli­





Per cent
of va­


Compared with the figures for 1913, the number of vacancies re­
ported had increased by 21 per cent in 1914 and by 47 per cent in
1915; the number of registrations, by 16.1 per cent in 1914 and by 7.4
per cent in 1915; the number of individual applicants registered, by
15.6 per cent in 1914 and by 24.3 per cent in 1915; the number of
*F o r tables giving the trades of men, women, boys, and girls registered as applicants
for work and who found work during 1911, 1912, and 1913, see Seventeenth Abstract of
Labor Statistics, Board of Trade, Cd. 7733, 1915. The respective figures for 1914 and
1915 are not yet published.



vacancies filled, by 21.2 per cent in 1914 and by 41.9 per cent in 1915;
and the number of individuals given work, by 24.8 per cent in 1914
and by 62.2 per cent in 1915.
Table 2 shows separately for men, women, boys, and girls that the
tendency for the proportion of individual applicants registered who
were given work has been one of steady improvement.
T a b l e 2 .—P E R

1911 TO 1915.

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom and Board of Trade Labor
Gazette for February, 1916.]






W om en..................
B o y s ......................












It will be seen that progress was not regular all along the line.
The decreased proportion of the women and girls for whom work
was found in 1914 as compared with 1913 is explained by the Board
of Trade as due to the large number of registrations during the last
half of the year, principally in the clothing and textile trades and
in domestic service, caused undoubtedly by the war. But in spite of
this depression there was an absolute increase in the number for
whom *work was found, namely, 221,465 women and girls in 1914 as
compared with 187,630 in 1913. The increase in the proportion of
girls for whom work was found in 1915 was due, firstly, to the de­
mand for women on shell making and filling, making of small-arm
ammunition, and on other Government work, and, secondly, the de­
mand for women to replace enlisted men in the textile industry, con­
veyance of goods, etc., agriculture, and commercial, clerical, Govern­
ment, and professional occupations.
A more striking picture of the effect of the war on the work of
the labor exchanges is given by the following table in which the num­
ber of adult applicants for work remaining on the register at the
end of each month and the daily average of vacancies filled is com­
pared for the last three years.


T a b le

OF V A C A N C IE S F IL L E D — 1915 COM PARED W IT H 1914 AN D 1913.

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom, and Board of Trade Labor
Gazette for February, 1916.}
On register at end of period.

e n d in g -


W omen.

Per cent of in­
crease ( + ) or de­
crease ( —) com­
pared with 1914.


A v e r­

W omen.





-5 1 .9
-5 3 .8
-5 0 .0
-5 4 .9
-5 4 .0
-5 2 .4
-7 3 .3
-7 6 .2
-6 2 .9
-5 7 .6
-4 9 .8

+ 79.3
+ 69.7
+ 95.5
+ 55.2
+ 20.6
+ 48.7
+ 94.3

A pr.
N ov.



-4 1 .2


Jan. 15






+ 3.3
+ 12.2
+ 43.0
+ 18.8
+ 21.5
+ 98.5
+107. 7





+ 88.5



+ 12.3

+ 60.5



Jan. 14


W omen.

N ov.


Per cent of increase
( + ) or decrease
( —)
with 1913.



-5 8 .8

+ 89.2

A v e r­

Daily average of vacancies filled during period.

e n d in g -


W omen.

Per cent of in­
crease ( + ) or de­
crease ( —) com­
pared with 1914.



A v e r­

W omen.


W omen.



+ 5 0 .7
+ 3 7 .5
+ 3 1 .2
+ 1 8 .9
+ 2 8 .4
+ 2 9 .9
-1 0 .0
- 1 4 .1
-1 5 .2
- 1 3 .5
- 2 2 .2

+ 2 2 .6
+ 3 6 .7
+ 3 5 .8
+ 3 9 .4
+ 4 6 .5
+ 4 0 .9
+ 8 3 .0
+ 9 9 .0
+ 5 5 .7
+ 7 6 .4
+ 8 3 .0

A pr.
N ov.

U ,8 8 7

1 1,385

- 1 6 .8

+ 8 0 .3
+ 5 7 .3


Jan. 15
A v e r­




+ 1 8 .3
+ 6.9
+ 5.6
+ 1 7 .3
- 7.0
- 2.9
+ 3 8 .3
+ 6 1 .5
+ 6 0 .0
+ 5 5 .1
+ 4 7 .9

+ 2 1 .5
+ 7.8
+ 1 4 .4
+ 2 4 .3
+ 6.9
+ 1 7 .8
+ 1.8

. i 2,269


+ 5 1 .5

+ 2 9 .9

i 2,196

i 759

+ 2 8 .1



+ 1.1
+ 2 4 .3
+ 17.8
+ 2 7 .7


Jan. 14


W omen.

N ov.

e n d in g -

Per cent of increase
( + ) or decrease
( —)
with 1913.


i 1,194

+ 4.9

i N ot including post office temporary Christmas work.

In, explanation of these figures, the Board of Trade remarks:
During a normal year the numbers on the register would show the
seasonal fluctuations of trade, with a high unemployment figure
at the beginning of the year, a decline to mid-July, and an increasing
figure to the end of the year. -The seasonal fluctuation is, however,



masked by the unemployment following the outbreak of war and
the increased industrial activity in the later months of the year.1
The decrease in the number of men on the register at the end of
the monthly period, compared with the number on the register a
year before, starts with October, 1914, and goes right through 1915.
It is due, of course, to enlistment and to a demand for labor, growing
throughout this period, in armament work and on every kind of
naval and military contract work. To judge from the daily averages
of vacancies filled, this movement of men ceased about July, 1915,
when, apparently, the shortage of labor as judged by .the number of
vacancies filled became serious.
On the other hand, there was a continuous steady increase in the
number of women registering. By the end of the year this increase
had amounted to 131.4 per cent, compared with the figure at the
commencement. This corresponds to the growth in the demand for
the services of women in munitions work and to replace men enlisted
from other occupations. Many of the women who registered were
volunteers offering themselves from patriotic reasons for employment
for which they frequently could not be regarded as suitable.2
It is quite impossible, of course, in the absence of statistics of
placements effected without the aid of public labor exchanges, to reach
a conclusion on the relation of the exchanges’ operations to the total
labor turnover. The period covered by their history so far, with
the exception of two or three months after the outbreak of the war,
has been one o f relatively good trade, and it remains to be seen
whether employers have sufficiently got into the habit of calling
up the exchange when in need o f workers to continue this practice
when other methods of securing labor by reason of slackening trade
activity become again more fruitful. There can be no doubt that in
future during a trade depression the number of applications regis­
tered by the exchanges will enormously increase.

It is not improbable that the provision against unemployment
made by so many British trade-unions acted against rather than
in favor of a rapid increase in the use of the State labor exchanges
by organized workers.3 For it must be assumed that the unions
paying benefits to their members when out of work have always
1 Board of Trade Labor Gazette for February, 1915, p. 43.
2 Idem, p. 48.
3 “ The latest complete figures relate to 1908, when returns were received from unions
with a total membership of 2,359,867, or more than 99 per cent of the total membership
of all unions at the end of that year. Out of this number, 1,473,593 were insured against
unemployment, and an additional 1,524,091 were entitled, in cases of unemployment, to
traveling benefit, or to total or partial remission of contributions, or to occasional allow­
ances.” — Labor Yearbook, London, 1916.



been active in using every possible means o f placing them. Indeed,
personal inquiry among the officers of such unions showed that while
generally they appreciated the advantages of a national system of
registration, they did not usually find that this system had much
to offer in practice to their own members or helped to reduce their
payments in unemployment benefits, because they already had
created for themselves fairly successful methods of rapidly obtaining
and distributing to their members information on all vacancies in
their trade as they arose.
On the other hand, it will be expected, and in fact there can be no
doubt, that State insurance against unemployment, which uses the
labor-exchange system to test the fact of unemployment before pay­
ment o f benefit, must increase the volume of transactions of the
exchange. The unemployed insured workmen are obliged to reg­
ister, and the fact of their registering there induces employers to
report their vacancies. As we have seen, there has been a constant
increase in the number of applications registered since the exchanges
were opened, and although there was no noticeable jump in this in­
crease in 1912-13, when such benefits became first payable,1 it is
probable that the effect of the use o f the exchanges in connection
with the national insurance scheme was gradual but considerable.
It not only compelled large numbers of workers to register at the
labor exchanges their desire to secure work, but since many of these
belonged to the superior classes of organized labor their example in
using the exchanges stimulated a larger use of them also on the part
of noninsured workers.
It is not intended here to enter a full discussion of the national
provision against unemployment in the United Kingdom made by
the National Insurance Act of 1911. But a few particulars are neces­
sary to show the importance of its effect on the use o f the labor
exchanges. Part I I of that act contained two separate measures:
First, to encourage more trade-unions to give out-of-work pay to
unemployed members, a subvention not exceeding one-sixth of the
amount so paid is contributed by the State to unions o f workmen
not in the compulsorily insured trades mentioned below, subject to
approval by the Board of Trade, which also has wide powers in
making regulations. This State grant, a method more commonly
employed in Great Britain and in other European countries than
it is in the United States for the purpose of achieving national
objects by means of financial encouragement, immediately enabled
a number o f important unions to establish unemployment benefits,
though previously they had not seen fit to do so; it also gave to
other unions which already paid such benefits a powerful incentive
to make them more adequate than they had been before.

1 T h e a ct cam e in to fo r c e in J u ly , 1912.



Soon after the outbreak of the present war, as a result of a deputa­
tion to the Prime Minister from the joint board of the Trade Union
Congress, the General Federation of Trade Unions, and the Labor
Party on August 27,1914, which painted a dark picture of the heavy
drains on the unemployment funds of the unions at that time and
the rapid exhaustion which was then feared, the Government grants
were substantially increased for the purpose of safeguarding the
solvency of the funds. Provided the union complied with certain
demands and that it could prove from its books the existence of
abnormal unemployment among its members, an emergency grant
(in addition to the one-sixth already named) of either one-sixth or
one-third of the expenditure of the union on unemployment, benefit
was allowed.1
The second and more important form of unemployment insurance
under the act of 1911 is the compulsory part, which is applied to all
manual workers in building, works of construction, shipbuilding,
engineering, iron founding, construction o f vehicles, and sawmilling.
The insured workers, numbering about 2,500,000, including some
10,000 women, or about one-sixth of all wage earners in the United
Kingdom, contribute 2^ pence (5 cents) weekly, deducted from their
wages by the employer, who pays an equal amount and is respon­
sible to the Government for the whole payment by means of a stamp
affixed to a card held by the employee. The State contributes a
sum e^fual to one-third the amount contributed by both employees
and workers and all the cost of administration. Out o f these contri­
butions the worker is entitled to a benefit of Is. 2d. (28.4 cents) per
day, or 7s. ($1.70) per week during the period of his inability to
secure work. Unions of workmen in insured trades are encouraged
to pay unemployment benefits of 7s ($1.70) per week by payments to
them of subventions not exceeding one-sixth of such excess from
State funds.
It is by the payment of benefits through the labor exchange that
this institution is made the corner stone of the whole edifice of this
part of the unemployment-insurance scheme, for no benefit is pay­
able unless proof exists that the claimant is desirous of working if
work of a suitable character can be found for him. Obviously, this
means an obligatory use of the labor exchange, for it is the only pos­
sible test of willingness to work that can be sanctioned by the State.
The problem involved is not an easy one. A workman is entitled to
1 T h is schem e cam e in to op e ra tio n in O ctober, 1914. A t th e end o f M a rch , 1915, a p p li­
ca tion s fo r em ergen cy gran ts, a m ou n tin g to $ 373,533, ha d been m ade to 182 la bor a ss o cia ­
tion s w ith a m em bership o f 2 8 3 ,77 8 . O ut o f th is sum , $31 5 ,2 1 4 w e n t to th e co tto n in d u s­
try alone, th e on ly sta p le in d u s try w h ich , th rou g h th e d is lo ca tio n o f im p orts, h a d been
s u b sta n tia lly in ju red by th e w a r. O f cou rse, these sum s a re v e ry sm a ll com p a red w ith th e
a ctu a l loss o f w a g es— es p e cia lly w h en th a t re s u ltin g fro m w o r k in g s h o rt tim e is a lso
cou n ted — and th e u n ion s com p la in o f th e Go^vternment’ s p a rsim on y .



benefit if he is willing to accept a 6 suitable ” situation offered under
“ reasonable ” conditions. But the w
rords “ suitable ” and “ reason­
able ” are open to many interpretations. As a rule, the situation
must be in the applicant’s own trade and must be at wages and under
conditions at least equally as advantageous as those usually prevailing
in the trade and locality where the work is done. The worker would
be entitled to refuse work offered in a locality where wages are much
lower than in his own, or if its acceptance were to necessitate his re­
moval and that of his family, without offering any guaranty of
employment over a sufficient period to make it worth while. It is
regarded as a reasonable refusal if the applicant declines an offer of
work elsewhere at a wage which would be insufficient to maintain
him in that locality and his family apart from him where it is then
Since the number of applicants registered, vacancies notified, and
vacancies filled obviously depends much more on the state of trade
in different industries and in different years than on the efficiency
of the la-bor exchanges or the respective popularity of their services
with different classes of labor, no detailed figures are here given to
show how* the insured trades compare in these respects with the
uninsured ones. There is, however, one point in the published sta­
tistics which is especially worth noting, namely, that the proportion
of vacancies filled is rather higher in the insured than in the unin­
sured groups o f trades. Table 4 gives the results of the operations
of labor exchanges, compared for insured and uninsured workers of
both sexes and all ages:
1 I t is o b v io u s ly v e r y d ifficu lt fo r th e in d iv id u a l w ork m a n , u n d er a ll circu m sta n ce s, to
k n ow w h e th e r h e is e n title d t o benefit o r n o t ; w h eth e r a re fu sa l to a cce p t a p o sitio n
offered him w o u ld be v a lid o r n ot. A lth o u g h fa ir ly e x p licit re g u la tio n s h ave been d ra w n
up fo r th e g u id a n ce o f lo ca l officers o f exch a n g es, th e cla im a n t has a r ig h t o f ap p eal, fre e
o f cost, to a lo ca l co u rt o f referees, co n sistin g o f one re p re se n ta tiv e ea ch o f em p loy ers
an d o f w a g e ea rn ers a n d a ch a irm a n a p p oin ted b y th e B o a r d o f T ra d e . T h is co u r t is in
th e n a tu re o f an in fo rm a l com m ittee, a n d m eets a t h ou rs co n v e n ie n t f o r w o rk p e o p le to
a tten d . Its d e cis io n s a re p r a c t ic a lly a lw a y s a c c e p t e d ; b u t a fu r th e r appeal, w h ere, fo r
in sta n ce, a tra d e-u n ion d esires a ru lin g on a m a tte r o f p rin c ip le , is p erm issible to a p er­
m a n en tly a p p o in te d um pire, w h o is a m an o f h igh s ta n d in g in th e lega l p ro fe s sio n .
M a n y o f th e d o u b tfu l ca ses tu rn on q u estion s in cid e n ta l to la b o r d isp utes. F o r in sta n ce ,
in co n n e ctio n w ith strik es, con sid era b le nu m bers o f w a g e ea rn ers are o fte n th ro w n o u t o f
w ork w h o are in n o w a y in v o lv e d in th e d isp u te. A g a in , th ere a re m an y ca ses w h ere a
d isp u te a rises as to w h eth er a person , th ou g h un ab le to secu re w o r k a t h is ow n trade,
sh ou ld , i f g a in fu lly em p loy ed a t a n oth er, y et be elig ib le fo r benefit. A n am en d in g a ct o f
3914, a m on g o th e r th in g s, la y s d ow n th e ru le th a t a w o rk m a n is n o t disq u a lified from
r e c e iv in g u n em p loym en t benefit b y rea son o f h is b ein g em p loy ed a t som e w o rk w h ich he
o rd in a rily fo llo w e d ou tsid e th e reg u la r w o r k in g h ou rs o f h is tra d e.


T a b l e 4 , — R E G IS T R A T IO N S ,

A N D V AC A N C IE S R E P O R T E D A N D F IL L E D , 1913, 1914, A N D

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom and Board
of Trade Labor Gazette for February, 1916.]

Trade groups and years.

Insured trades:
Uninsured trades:




Per cent
o f vacan­
cies filled.









Isolating the proportion of vacancies filled for adults on ly1 and
stating them separately for different groups of trades, we get the
following results:
T able 5 .— PER

S U R E D T R A D E S W H IC H H A V E B E E N F IL L E D , 1912, 1913, A N D 1914.
[Source: Board of Trade Labor Gazette, for February, 1914, and February, 1915.]
Groups of trades.




IN U E T A E .






D r e s s .........................................................................................................................
A ll other trades.........................................................................................................








Building and works of construction.....................................................................
Engineering, shipbuilding, construction of vehicles, sawmilling, and
related insured occupations................................................................................

U IN U E T A E .
Conveyance of men, goods, and messages...........................................................
General laborers.......................................................................................................
Domestic service......................................................................................................
Food, tobacco, drink, and lodging.......................................................................

These figures show that, while in both the groups of insured trades
there has been a slight decrease each year in the proportion of
vacancies filled, yet that proportion was each year higher than the
average proportion for both insured and uninsured trades. This
difference is too slight to have any great significance; but it tends to
show that the obligatory registration of unemployment, as neces­
sitated by unemployment insurance, not only increases the use of the
exchanges by those seeking employment in the respective trades but
also makes it possible to fill a larger proportion of th,e vacancies
reported by the employers. It has been suggested that the engage­
ment of labor through the public labor exchanges might be made
1 The term “ adults ” is applied to persons 17 years of age and over, and the term
“ juveniles,” for whom separate statistics are collected through the juvenile branches of
labor exchanges, to persons under 17 years of age.



compulsory in the case of the insured trades. It is difficult to see any
strong objection to this from the employers’ point of view since,
obviously, they can not be compelled to engage any persons not
selected by themselves or considered unsuitable by them for any
reason whatsoever and since, on the other hand, the exchanges have
an absolutely complete record of all persons belonging to an insured
trade who are out of work at any one time. But, on the other hand,
in the absence of better evidence, the figures given above seem to indi­
cate that the use made of the labor exchanges by employers in these
trades is probably at least as satisfactory as the use made by em­
ployers in other trades; and it is doubtful whether much is to be
gained by making their voluntary cooperation an obligatory one.
One unfortunate effect of the unemployment insurance law on the
work o f the labor exchanges, though a purely temporary one, has
been that for a year or two it laid such a heavy burden of additional
work upon a staff which had hardly begun to master the more
intricate problems of the labor-exchange work proper that improve­
ments and developments of that work have been held back. The
growth of the work of the exchanges, that is, the fuller use made of
them on the part of both workers and employers, as illustrated by the
figures given in Table 1, is all the more remarkable in view of the
fact that at the same time the attention, especially of the higher
officers in the system, was also taken up with the administration of
another new, original, large, and difficult piece of social legislation.

So far we have considered the results of the operations of the labor
exchanges in general. They have, however, in addition, been in­
spired from the first by a number o f specific social purposes. First
among these is that of the “ decasualization ” of labor.
Recent inquiries into the nature of the unemployment problem
and the composition o f the unemployed in any one place or at any
one time have indicated that normally the chronically underemployed
form a much larger proportion of the total than had generally
been thought. A more serious endeavor to mitigate the evil effects
of unemployment made in the United Kingdom, especially after
the trade crisis of 1904r-5, also showed that they were the most
difficult and socially the most menacing cases to be dealt with. Not
only in the great harbor cities, such as London and Liverpool, but
in many manufacturing centers a large part of the normal margin
o f unemployed labor was found, on inquiry, to consist of men who
never work more than a few days at a time, earning sometimes wages
that are fairly good as reckoned by the hour, but quite insufficient,
on an average, to maintain themselves and their families in health,



decency, and modest comfort. It was obvious that if all this labor
were recruited at a central labor exchange instead of separately by
each employer at his own door the total volume o f available work
might be distributed in such a way as to give regular or nearly regu­
lar employment to some of the previously casual workers, while
others would have to go entirely without work. This policy, so far
as practicable, has been applied to the work of the national labor
exchanges. It is the only one by w^hich the normal surplus of labor
due to its unsystematic and wasteful marketing can substantially be
It is nothing more than a development of the general policy of
giving priority to the most qualified workers in filling a vacancy, a
policy which obviously results in leaving those least experienced or
skilled in a trade or least satisfactory on account of physical or
moral defects more frequently out of work than the most able and
desirable. In applying the principle to the filling of vacancies in
occasional w ork some naturally are “ squeezed out ” of the labor
market altogether. Owing to the hardships which would result if
such a policy were suddenly and rigorously applied, it has in practice
been only in the background, influencing but not dominating the
choice of applicants for jobs. In some cases, however, the excessive
labor reserve due to the separate margin of casual labor kept for their
own convenience by a number of employers in the same trade and
locality was on inquiry found to be so stupendous, so wasteful of
character and virility among the less favored portions of these under­
employed, and so unnecessary that steps were taken at least to pre­
vent the entry of new workers into a field already so sadly over­
The most discussed example of the application of such a policy
is the Liverpool dock scheme which, started in 1912, has attracted
world-wide attention.1 Briefly, it operates by a system of connected
branch exchanges or clearing houses at different points along the
water front, administered by joint committees of employers and
workers, of which the local representative of the Board of Trade is
the secretary. Here tallies are issued to registered workmen, and the
total weekly earnings, sometimes made at a number of different docks,
are paid out to them in a lump, weekly sum. In spite of a natural
initial prejudice against such a scheme on the part of the longshore­
men who partly had no desire to work more regularly and partly
feared that a concentration of the available work upon a smaller
1 T h e m eth od s used in re g u la rizin g d ock la b or in L iv e r p o o l are d escrib ed by M r. C harles
B . B arn es in “ T h e L o n g s h o r e m e n ” (R u ssell Sage F ou n d a tio n , N ew Y ork, 1 9 1 5 ), and
m ore fu lly b y th e ir o rig in a to r, M r. R . W illia m s, in “ T h e L iv e r p o o l D ock s P rob lem ”
(N o rth e rn P u b lish in g C o., L iv e r p o o l, 1 9 1 2 ), a n d “ F ir s t Y e a r ’ s W o r k in g o f th e L iv e r p o o l
D ock s S c h e m e ” (P . S. K in g & Son, L on d on , 1 9 1 4 ).



number would be used for lowering hourly rates o f wages, the least
that can be said for it is that it has proved workable. Indeed, cer­
tain details of the system have become so popular with the workers
that they would go out on strike if they were withdrawn.
The scheme is made possible or, at least, helped by the national
system of compulsory health insurance with which it is linked up,
the employers having been persuaded to limit their hiring of labor
to men licensed by the clearing houses by the financial bait of a re­
duction in their contributions to the insurance of these employees.1
When the scheme was started 68 employers were parties to it and
31,000 laborers were registered under it. In addition to six clearing
houses, situated at convenient points along the 8 miles of docks, each
dealing with a definite dock area—stamping insurance cards, paying
wages (for two-thirds of the employers), registering workmen, etc.—
there are 14 surplus stands, each connected by telephone with the
local clearing house to which it belongs, for the purpose of providing
shelter for the longshoremen belonging to the particular section who
are not hired at one of the four regular hiring times of the day, but
may be distributed from there to any part of the docks where they
may be wanted. In practice it means that each shipowner, stevedore,
or firm, employing labor in closed docks, subject to this agreement
has a more or less regular supply of labor engaged. In the case
o f the majority, this labor is paid through the clearing house
for the particular section. For any additional help that may be re­
quired, the local clearing house obtains labor either from one of the
local surplus stands or, if necessary, from one in some other section
of the water front.
While dock labor as a whole can not be entirely regularized, this
system at least provides for a complete pooling of all the reserves
which individual employers of longshoremen require at times of
pressure. Various schemes for absorbing the surplus labor of the
docks into other occupations or otherwise providing for it have been
discussed, but none so far have been carried into practice. Indeed,
it is an achievement to have succeeded, in so short a time, by the
methods pursued, in virtually closing the doors of employment in the
Liverpool docks to all who are not members of the union or other­
wise registered as regular dock workers. Only four years ago every
U nd er se ctio n 99 o f th e N a tio n a l In s u ra n ce A c t , 1911, th e B o a r d o f T ra d e is able t o
d ed u ct th e w o r k m a n ’ s sh are o f th e h ea lth in su ra n ce co n tr ib u tio n (4 p e n ce ) [8 ce n ts ] fro m
his t o ta l w eek ly ea rn in g s p a id a t th e cle a rin g hou se in re s p e ct o f a ll th e jo b s h eld b y him
d u rin g th e w eek. T h e a m ou n t o f c o n tr ib u tio n fo r th e sam e m a n ’ s in su ra n ce fro m d iffe re n t
em p loy ers is n o t d eb ited to them sep a ra tely severa l tim e s o v e r (a s w o u ld be th e ca se h a d
ea ch in the cou rse o f th e w eek sep a ra tely en g ag ed th e w o rk e r ou tsid e th e o rg a n ize d s y s ­
te m ), but is d ed u cted o n ly on ce in resp ect o f the one m an an d a p p o rtio n e d b etw een the
va riou s em p loy ers a cco r d in g to th e to ta l nu m ber o f m en e m p loy ed by ea ch d u rin g th e
week. A sm a ll com m ission , co v e rin g th e a ctu a l cle rica l co st, is ch a rg e d e m p lo y e rs f o r
p a y in g th e ir w a g es fo r them .



unemployed workman looked upon the docks as a possible means of
earning a few dollars. Mr. Williams computed in 1914 that the
maximum demand never exceeds 23,000 men in the busiest season, and
that the number of men registered and in possession of tallies aver­
aged about 31,000. Not more than 10.4 per cent of these during the
first year worked 52 weeks. Over one-half (55.5 per cent) worked less
than 40 weeks, two-fifths (38.8 per cent) less than 27 weeks, and nearly
a quarter (23.5 per cent) less than 14 weeks. The statistics gleaned
from the payment o f wages through the clearing houses, in Mr.
Williams’ words,1 “ prove very clearly that shipowners are suffering
very severely by reason o f the fact that they have no reliable reserve
o f labor” and “ that, given efficient and systematic organization, a
very large number o f men could be permanently employed year in
and year out at the docks.” But neither have employers as yet reached
a recognition o f this fact nor are dockers as a class willing, so far, to
work regularly for the same employer.2
A similar scheme in Goole, a small east coast port, has proven even
more successful in practice and is warmly praised by employers and
employed. Arrangements under section 99 o f the insurance act,
methods o f registration, issue of tallies, and payment of wages, are
much the same as in Liverpool. There are two dock waiting rooms
to which, through the central labor exchange, employers can com­
municate at the earliest possible moment the arrival of ships, number
o f men required, time of starting work, etc., and, in case o f need, re­
quests for additional men at any hour. A feature of this scheme is
the payment o f advances of wages to men who are not accustomed to
wait for a weekly pay day from sums deposited with the clearing
house for this purpose by employers at the beginning o f each week.
On a smaller scale the main elements of the scheme are also applied
to the hiring of longshoremen in Sunderland. But here both partici­
pation o f employers and registration o f workers desirous of employ­
ment by them are optional, and the total number o f men affected is
1 “ The First Year’s Working of the Liverpool Dock Scheme,” p. 130.
2 Of considerable interest is the successful creation of a force of permanently employed
longshoremen in Liverpool in the “ Dock Battalion, Liverpool Regiment,” started in the
spring o f 1915, of which Lord Derby is colonel and M r. R. W illiam s is major and adjutant.
A t the end of August, 1915, it was 1,200 strong, and promised to prove an object lesson
to the port as to w hat can be done by regular labor. The battalion was primarily formed
for the purpose of doing Government work, and spends over nine-tenths of its time on
discharging and loading for it ammunition, provisions for the troops, and the like. The
men are properly enlisted soldiers and in every way subject to m ilitary discipline. They
are made up entirely of unionists, and, in addition to the regular hourly earnings at union
rates— but in their case guaranteed not to be less than 35s. ($ 8 .5 2 ) a week— they receive
infantry rates of daily pay, amounting to Is. (24.3 cents) a day in the case of privates.
Their hours have been regulated as far as possible, even in spite of abnormal pressure at
times, and, by one in an excellent position to judge, it is thought “ that the influence of
the battalion is bound to have a very striking effect on future work of the docks after the
w ar,”

47784°— 16-------8



Casual labor is dealt with under a separate scheme also in the
case o f cloth porters in Manchester and cotton porters in Liver­
pool ; the provision o f separate registries and waiting rooms here re­
duce for the workers the need of standing about the gates of different
warehouses in all sorts of weather and enable employers to secure,
at a few minutes’ notice, the best of all the men available in the city
for the purpose. The health insurance contribution cards in this case
also are stamped by the registry officials with an appreciable saving to
employers. The expense incurred by the clearing house in stamp­
ing the contribution cards and paying out the wages on behalf of
employers who are parties to the agreement is charged to them on
a pro rata basis. In Manchester, the standing o f the porters affected
has been considerably raised by this arrangement. Men who pre­
viously worked for only one employer—sometimes not more than a
day or two in a week—now often work for four different employers
on different days of the same week and take substantial wages home
with them at the week end. But of at least equal importance to the
higher earnings in all these cases is the increased self-respect o f
workers who now await a call for them in a decent environment
where previously they were for long hours hanging about a particu­
lar work place in the hope of attracting attention and being engaged
before others.
The placements of the special exchanges for dock laborers, cotton
porters, and cloth porters are enumerated separately in the Board of
Trade statistics and are o f interest although, of course, by far the
greater amount of placement of casual workers is done through the
general register of the exchanges all over the country. In 1915, the
number o f men given casual employment through the special casual
registers was 9,401, and the number of jobs given them about 53,286,
not including 37,325 jobs filled through the clearing-house system for
longshoremen in Liverpool.

6 .—N U M B E R OF JOBS F O U N D T H R O U G H C ASU AL R E G IS T E R , 1911 TO 1914.

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United k in gd om and Board
of Trade Labor Gazette for February, 1915.]
Class of laborers.





Cotton porters, Liverpool....................................................................
Cloth porters, Manchester...............................................................
Dock laborers.........................................................................................





T otal.............................................................................................





The sudden rise in the number of jobs found for longshoremen in
1912 is due to the inclusion of figures for men engaged under the
Liverpool clearing-house scheme which came into operation in July,
1912. The considerable reduction in the number o f jobs found



through these special registries in 1914 and 1915, as compared with
1913, is undoubtedly due to the effect of the war on these occupations
in the latter part of the former and throughout the latter year. But
the steady decrease between 1911 and 1914 in the case of the Liver­
pool cotton porters, whose occupation is seasonal as well as casual,
may perhaps partly be attributed to a genuine success in making em­
ployment less casual.
Another scheme of regularization which uses as a lever compulsory
insurance against unemployment under Part I I of the act of 1911,
as well as health insurance, has been introduced in the leading South
Wales ports to organize the work of men casually engaged in ship
repairing. In this case no provision is made for the payment of
V ages on behalf of employers; but the exchange takes charge of the
stamping both of the health and unemployment insurance contribu­
tion cards and renders weekly accounts to each employer showing the
amounts due in respect of contributions under both these parts of the
insurance act. While each employer contributes to the health in­
surance of each worker employed by him during the week according
to the number o f days’ labor used, his contribution to unemploy­
ment insurance does not vary but is at the full weekly rate, whether
the person insured has been employed during the whole week or only
part of it. In this instance, also, the clerical expense incurred by
the labor exchange is charged to the employers in the shape o f a
small definite* monthly fee.
While, on the whole, public authorities have been slow to avail
themselves o f the services of the national labor exchanges, some o f the
larger municipalities, notably Birmingham, have agreed to engage
all their temporary labor through them. In Leicester nearly all
employers in the building trades have adopted a scheme under which
the great majority of their vacancies are filled through the labor ex­
change, thus lessening the need for individual workmen to tramp
from one builder’s yard to another in search of work, which is the
usual procedure of securing work in those trades..1
Considerable efforts have been made by the women’s branches in
different divisions to “ decasualize ” as far as possible the work of
charwomen. In Glasgow and other large cities the educational
authorities have been persuaded to regularize the cleaning work in the
schools. Large private employers also have similarly been induced
I t sh ou ld be n oted th a t, in a d d itio n to th e v a rio u s schem es here in sta n ced , p re v is io n is
a lso m ad e f o r th e use o f h e a lth in s u ra n ce a s an in ce n tiv e t o “ d e ca su a liz a tio n ” in th e I n ­
su ra n ce A m en d in g A c t o f 1913. C lause 19 o f th a t a c t g iv e s p o w e r t o th e in su ra n ce co m ­
m ission ers t o sch ed u le a n y p a r t ic u la r tra d e in a n y d is t r ic t as b e in g o f a ca su a l n a tu re, an d
to o rd e r th a t in stea d o f th e u su a l a p p o rtio n m e n t o f th e h e a lth in su ra n ce c o n tr ib u tio n be­
tw een w o rk e r a n d em p loy er— 4 d. (8 ce n ts ) p er w eek by th e fo rm e r and 3d. (6 ce n ts) b y
th e la tte r— th e fo rm e r sh a ll p a y o n ly Id . (2 ce n ts ) an d th e la tte r 6d. (1 2 c e n ts ). T h is,
o f cou rse, m akes m u ch m ore exp en sive to em p loy ers th e h irin g o f w o rk e rs b y the d a y o r
hour, beca u se th e fu ll co n tr ib u tio n has to be p a id b y the first em p lo y e r in a n y on e w eek.
N o re p o rt is a va ila b le so fa r on th e a p p lica tio n a n d resu lt o f th is cla u se.



to replace as far as possible the miscellaneous hiring o f numbers o f
temporarily employed cleaners in their plants by the creation o f a
few permanent positions. Much yet remains to be done in that

The problem o f seasonal labor is not, perhaps, quite so pronounced
in the United K ingdom as it is in the United States, since weather
fluctuations are less severe. Y e t it is o f fundamental importance,
and, from the first, the labor-exchange system has been used to con­
tribute as far as possible to its solution by studying ways and means
o f dovetailing different seasonal employments in the same locality.
I t has also, in some cases, been able to reduce the seasonal nature o f
certain employments by persuading sympathetic large employers
to rearrange their policy o f production in such a way as to regularize
They have exercised a not negligible influence in
this direction on public opinion, and through it on the enterprise o f
municipal and other public authorities and o f big corporations. In
an eastern seaside resort, for instance, owing to the representations
made by the manager o f the exchange, the city was induced to make
a more deliberate endeavor to carry on all works o f improvement
as far as possible in the off season when large numbers o f unskilled
workers, engaged during the rest o f the year in the many different
branches o f the conveyance, hotel, and catering trades, are apt to be
completely idle. In at least one place a railroad company was
induced to rearrange its annual schedule for painting and structural
alterations to station premises, bridges, etc., in such a way as to spread
the employment offered over a longer period and have as much of
the indoor work as possible done during the winter months when
the building trades are slack.
Special efforts have been made, through the central and divisional
offices, to secure workers in sufficient numbers for seasonal rural
occupations of importance.2 Thus, in 1915, between June and Octo­
ber, 7,106 vacancies were filled for fruit and hop pickers, the corre­
sponding figure for 1914 being 8,031. N ot only in the south o f
England but also in Perth and other parts o f Scotland the number
of women placed each year as fruit pickers is on the increase. Sim i­
larly, the Edinburgh exchange and others fill hundreds o f vacancies
for women in the potato-digging seasons. I t is not impossible that
with a development o f this special service the labor exchanges m ay
1 The special difficulties connected with the casual employment of women are further
referred to on page 37.
2 It is, however, the general policy of the department to do nothing in the direction of
encouraging the seasonal flow of Irish labor into British agriculture, whichj for long, has
been one of the least satisfactory features of British rural life.



contribute to revive in certain districts branches o f cultivation which
have been on the decline for lack of an adequate labor supply at the
proper season.
Arrangements are made each year with the general post office to
hire temporary labor for a few weeks in connection with the Christ­
mas traffic. T he number of applicants for this special work, 50,400
in 1915, and the number o f vacancies filled, 32,039, are very consider­
able. T he number of vacancies filled was 33,264 in 1911, 39,700 in
1912, 42,343 in 1913, 35,553 in 1914, the decrease in 1914 and 1915,
as compared with the two previous years, obviously being due to war

A ll of the larger labor exchanges and many of the smaller ones
have separate departments for women, administered by woman offi­
cers. In each divisional office there is at least one woman officer
o f senior rank who supervises the women’s work in the division. In
1915, 1,232,891 woman applicants were registered, an increase o f
nearly 526,000 over the previous year, and of more than 700,000 over
1913, which was due to the great demand for women in Government
service and in the replacement of men in transportation, agricul­
ture, textile industry, etc., and also to increased registration o f women
engaged in nonresident domestic service, including laundering and
washing. The law does not permit the labor exchanges to deal
with indoor domestic servants, except in the case of girls under 17
years o f age, who in some districts may be placed in such positions
by the juvenile branches under the supervision o f the advisory com­
mittees. A large part o f the woman applicants coming under the
heading o f domestic servants— over one-half o f all woman applicants
in 1914 and over one-third in 1915 come under that heading— are
older women, many of them married or widowed, who enter the
lowest paid form s o f service and often are engaged in entirely casual
or seasonal employments. O f 385,101 vacancies for women workers
filled in 1915, 145,253 were for those included in this general group
o f domestic servants.
T he placement o f these women— hotel, restaurant, and laundry
workers with well-defined qualifications apart— presents special diffi­
culties, because o f the less concise description o f ability and ex­
perience possessed by the worker in domestic service compared with
that possible in industrial occupations.
A further complication
arises from the fact that some o f the applicants desire only tempo­
rary work to help over a period o f financial strain in the home and
may have little or no qualifications for the work they intend to
undertake apart from the limited experience of their own home;



while others frankly desire casual work to secure “ pin money,” and
still others are obliged to work regularly to contribute substantially
to the household income. In the larger exchanges, applicants for
permanent and temporary employment are as fa r as possible segre­
gated; but it is not possible to carry through such a policy com­
pletely. Those most desirous and in need of regular employment
often are among the least suitable to fill the vacancies about which
the exchange has information, through lack o f experience, strength,
health, skill, appearance, or other necessary qualities. Various sug­
gestions have been made for improving the employability Qf this type
o f woman by special training in housework, simple nursing, laundry
work, washing, and the lik e ; but none o f them, so far as the writer
is aware, has as yet been put into practice.
Girls under 17 are dealt with by the juvenile branches or ad­
visory committees. I n 1914, 61,320 o f them were placed, 7,434 of
them more than once, and about one-third o f them in domestic
service.1 W h ile, as a general rule, there is an oversupply of boy
and girl labor in British industrial centers, there are some districts
in Lancashire and Yorkshire where, owing to the rapid expansion
o f the textile industry, the supply o f girl labor never comes up to
the demand. Since in these districts wages are relatively high, labor
exchange managers in other parts o f these and neighboring coun­
ties have endeavored for some time to move to them families with
many daughters or families in low-wage districts which are de­
pendent on the earnings of their female members.
In one case
which has come to the writer’s notice, the officer o f an exchange
prided him self on having caused a whole street o f people to move
from a small country town to a manufacturing center. So far as
these efforts have gone, they have been entirely successful, in some
cases bringing considerable prosperity into homes which previously,
through lack of opportunity, had been poverty stricken.2 But it
must be confessed that on a large scale such removals, by depleting
the rural labor market and by making the male and adult members o f
the fam ily more dependent on the earnings of their minor and fe­
male relatives, would not be devoid o f an element o f social danger.
The labor exchanges have proved o f great value in organizing the
female labor market during the war. In March, 1915, the president
o f the Board of Trade issued a special appeal to women who were
prepared to accept employment, i f offered, to enter their names at
the labor exchanges in a special register o f women for war service.
^^The corresponding figures for 1915 were not published at the time this article was
2 The officers in these cases not only were careful to select suitable families already
largely dependent on the work of their female members and with a minimum of local ties,
but also went to considerable trouble to secure friends and suitable accommodation for
them in the towns to which they helped them to migrate.



The total number thus registered to the end o f the year was 124,405
(including 1,397 women also on the general register), o f whom 60,651
have since canceled their registration or have been removed from the
register as not effective. The total number placed in employment
from this register was 8,255, o f whom 1,268 were placed in armament
work, 880 in agriculture, 978 in transport, and 1,234 in commercial
and clerical occupations. The number remaining on the register at
the end o f the year was 55,499.1

A problem to which the British labor-exchange system has per­
haps given more attention than to any other is that o f the employ­
ment o f minors. The essential difference between the placement o f
adult and juvenile workers is that in the case o f the latter employ* ment has not only to be secured but a career to be chosen. Even more
than in the case o f adults, the endeavor must be to protect the appli­
cant against a possible wrong choice and, subsequently to his place­
ment, to watch over the initial stages of his industrial career. F or
this purpose, special juvenile advisory committees were created un­
der the Labor Exchanges A c t, representative o f employers, tradeunionists, and persons specially interested in, and having special
knowledge of, children. A lso, nearly everywhere, one or more sepa­
rate rooms are provided for boy and girl applicants fo r work, with
Separate access from the street, and so arranged that inform al,
X^ersonal talk between the officers and the individual applicants is
One of the essential conditions o f success in the juvenile work o f
labor exchanges is the close cooperation between those charged with
the duty o f placement and those charged with the duty o f education.
A fte r some slight initial difficulties and jealousies between the edu­
cational %
and vocational authorities this condition is being admirably
1 The number of women actually placed from this special register may seem surprisingly
small, especially if compared with a statement made by the minister of munitions (Mr.
Lloyd George) at a meeting in Newcastle-on-Tyne in December, 1915, that half a million
women were then working in munition factories. The explanation is that the vast ma­
jority of those engaged on Government work were previously engaged in other industries
and were transferred on the general register.
The large number of applicants dropped from the special register or who have with­
drawn from it is explained in two ways : First, the register distinguishes between those
who at some time, usually previous to marriage, have been engaged in gainful occupations
and those who have not. A large proportion of the latter, though registered on applica­
tion, liave subsequently been removed from the effective reserve as unsuitable. Second,
when, upon the publication of the appeal, women patriotically offered their services in such
large numbers, unscrupulous employers in different parts of the country, munition manu­
facturers and others, were found guilty of using the situation for exercising pressure upon
wages, in some cases actually replacing regular paid workers by volunteers. The number
of such cases may not have been large, but it sufficed to startle the country, and resulted
in large numbers of withdrawals from the special register and the exercise of greater
vigilance on the part of labor-exchange managers.




fulfilled under the present system. The juvenile work is carried
on in each locality under one o f two different acts o f Parliament.
In M arch, 1916, labor exchanges in 59 cities were aided by juvenile
advisory committees appointed under the provisions o f the Labor
Exchanges A c t o f 1909. T hat means the work o f placement and
vocational guidance is prim arily in the hands o f the officers o f the
national authority, the Board o f Trade, assisted by local advisers. In
69 towns and cities committees have been appointed by the local au­
thorities under the Choice o f Em ploym ents A c t o f 1910, all but two o f
which cooperate with the Board o f Trade and leave the actual place­
ment work to the juvenile branch o f the local labor exchange, while
they themselves are prim arily responsible for the work o f guidance
and supervision after placement.1 The great importance o f a close
coordination between the work o f placement and that o f vocational
guidance and educational oversight in the case o f minors appears
from the fact that about a quarter o f the vacancies filled with boys
and girls under 17 years o f age represent the first situations obtained
after leaving school.2
T he sincerity o f the endeavor to make this placement work o f real
social value m ay perhaps best be illustrated by two quotations from
a circular issued jointly by the two national authorities responsible
fo r it— the Board o f Trade and the Board o f Education.3
W e are o f opinion that the employment o f juveniles should be
prim arily considered from the point o f view o f their educational
interests and permanent careers rather than from that o f their imme­
diate earning capacities, and accordingly we urge upon local educa­
tion authorities the desirability o f undertaking, in accordance with
the principles set out in the present memorandum, the responsibili­
ties offered to them by the new act.
T he work to be undertaken by public bodies in giving assistance in
the choice o f employment fo r juveniles m ay be regarded as having
two branches. In the first place there is the task o f giving such ad­
vice to boys and girls and their parents as w ill induce them to extend
where possible the period o f education, and to select, when em ploy­
ment becomes necessary, occupations which are suited to the indi­
vidual capacities o f the children, and by preference, those which
afford prospects not merely o f immediate wages but also o f useful
training and permanent employment. In the second place, there is
the practical task o f registering the actual applications for employ­
ment and bringing the applicants into touch with employers who
have notified vacancies o f the kind desired.
1 In London there are 20 local advisory committees, appointed by the General Advisory
Committee for Juvenile Employment. In addition to the committees enumerated, there
are in Scotland three school boards with whom the Board of Trade cooperates in working
employment bureaus established under the Education (Scotland) Act, 1908, and three
juvenile employment committees in England, not appointed under any direct statutory
authority, with whom the Board of Trade also cooperates.
2 2 3.6 per cent of the boys and 26.7 per cent of the girls in 1915, as compared with
3 Joint memorandum, 1911.
24.2 and 28 per cent, respectively, in 1914, and 24 and 30.4 per cent, respectively, in 1913.



The Board o f Trade further outlines the kind o f cooperation with
the elementary schools which is desirable: 1
E very advisory committee will work out fo r itself the methods
which are best adapted to its own local needs. There are, however,
certain broad lines of action which seem to be applicable at least to
the great m ajority o f committees. I t is in the first place necessary
that some sort o f report should be obtained from the schools upon
those children with whom the committee are to deal directly; while
certain subsidiary advantages are secured i f a report is obtained
upon all children leaving, whether work has been found for them
independently or not. Such an arrangement, for example, enables a
committee or its representatives to deal wisely with children who
may fa ll out o f employment at a later date and to exercise a useful
supervision upon those who have independently obtained employ­
ment. The record obtained from the schools should show generally
the capabilities and the attainments o f the pupil, and special results
o f the final medical inspection and any wishes or recommendations
with regard to employment and continued education.
Considerable attention has, from the first, been' paid to the super­
vision or, as it is more frequently called in England, the “ after care ”
o f the children after placement.

This service is carried on, as a rule,

by committees o f voluntary workers attached to the different schools,
but sometimes directly to the juvenile placement bureau and under
the direct control o f the manager or the officer appointed by the
education authority under the Choice o f Em ploym ents A c t for the co­
ordination o f the placement work with the educational system. Often
the persons responsible for the after care o f individual children are
appointed before these have left school, and their names placed on
the school-leaving form . The latter is a communication from the
principal o f the school to the advisory committee for each child leav­
in g the school, stating his physical and mental characteristics, ability,
health, probable date o f leaving, standard reached, and particulars
about the kind o f employment and o f further education recom­
mended. The supervisor has to report regularly to the committee
and has to keep in touch with the juvenile worker and his parents
whether the conditions o f employment and of home are good or bad.
Unless supervision is arranged for in respect o f each juvenile, the
exchange has no certain means o f knowing whether the juvenile and
his parents are satisfied with the place or even whether the juvenile
is still in the place found for him. The person named in the schoolleaving form as supervisor should be regarded as one who will repre­
sent to the advisory committee at the exchange the juvenile’s point of
I t is even more im portant in the case o f child workers than in that
o f adults to prevent frequent changes o f occupation and to safe^
Circular, June, 1912.
Handbook for the Use of the Local Advisory Committee for Juvenile Employment in
London, April, 1913.




guard such periods o f idleness as must occur during unavoidable
changes between jobs. T he first o f these aims, under the British sys­
tem, is increasingly well attained by careful placement; the second
is helped at least by the interest o f the voluntary visitors in their
charges. B u t periods o f idleness in youth should be utilized, i f at all
possible, for some educational training which w ill increase the ability
o f those out o f work to secure and retain employment. In this respect
very little has as yet been attempted in connection with the labor
exchanges in spite o f the fact that the insurance act expressly au­
thorizes the provision o f educational training for unemployed in­
sured workers whose prospects to secure employment m ight be
improved by that means. A t one or two branch exchanges in L on ­
don classes for unemployed boys have been tentatively established
by advisory committees, but a wider program o f adequate provision
fo r this special need, though indorsed by educationalists o f national
reputation, has not yet been realized.1
The work among minors has so far been the most successful part
o f the placement work o f the labor exchanges. The proportion of
reported vacancies filled in every year since 1911 was less than in
the case o f adults, but the proportion o f individual applicants regis­
tered for whom work was found was substantially greater.
T a b l e 7 .—PROPORTION

W O R K , 1911 to 1915.

[Source: Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom, and Board
of Trade Labor Gazette for February, 1916.]


Per cent of reported Per cent of regis­
tered persons pro­
vacancies filled.
vided with work.









A relatively shorter supply of, or larger demand for, boy and girl
labor as compared with adult labor would, o f course, be sufficient to
explain the placement o f a larger proportion o f juvenile applicants
and the nonsatisfaction o f a larger proportion of requests for juvenile
workers from em ployers., But there is no reason for believing that
during the period covered the demand for juvenile labor was rela­
tively greater than the demand for adult labor. I t was a period o f
exceptionally good trade during which the demand for adult workers
1 See “ The Training of Unemployed Youths,” by Rowntree and Lasker, in Bulletin of
International Association on Unemployment, June, 1912, and authorities there Quoted.



must have been exceptionally keen.1 T ak in g the relative demand
for adult and juvenile labor in a normal year as a basis of com­
parison, one would expect the demand for juvenile labor to be
relatively higher in a year o f bad trade and lower in a year of good
trade when the most expensive reserve of labor, that is obviously of
adult persons, is called into use. W e therefore have this phenomenon
that although for the reason stated the demand for adult workers
must have been exceptionally keen, yet the proportion of juvenile ap­
plicants provided with work was substantially higher. A t the same
time a comparatively smaller proportion o f the jobs offered by em­
ployers was filled. M ay one not perhaps conclude from this that
the officers o f the juvenile branches or advisory committees have been
successful in a more deliberate choice than is possible with adults
o f suitable positions for their applicants without, for that reason,
leaving a correspondingly larger proportion o f them unprovided
with work?
W h ile there is still some persistent and, as we shall see, not always
unjustifiable criticism o f the work o f the general labor exchanges
both from employers and from employed, there are no two opinions
on the value o f the juvenile work where it has been organized on
the basis of the agreement between the Board o f Trade and the
Board o f Education. Em ployers find that they are saved much in­
vestigation and disappointment by consulting the manager o f the
juvenile labor exchange about the school record, home conditions,
previous occupations, special abilities, and character o f the boy and
girl workers they wish to engage. They are helped by a very thor­
ough preliminary selection, based on ample data, made on their
behalf by officers o f experience, even when they have to make a final
choice for themselves. The system where fu lly worked out secures
for them the aid o f the supervisors in persuading to stay in their em­
ployment young workers who give satisfaction and whom they de­
sire eventually to promote into permanent adult positions, but who
are apt, without some controlling influence, to throw up their job
on the least provocation. Reversely, they can return with a better
conscience boys and girls who are m anifestly unsuitable fo r the
work in hand but for whom, since they have entered their employ­
ment, they feel some responsibility. T he advantages o f the system
to the young people themselves and to society at large are so obvious
and are so well understood that they need hardly be dwelt upon
1 The average yearly proportion of trade-union members unemployed in 1911 to 1914,
for instance, was only one-half that of the previous four years— 2.9 per cent, as compared
with 6 per cent.— Seventeenth Abstract of Labor Statistics of the United Kingdom, p. 6.
2 See especially “ Youth, School, and Vocation,” by Meyer Bloomfield, Houghton, Mifflin
Co., Boston, 1915, and other works by the same author.



T o round out the general description given o f the British system
o f labor exchanges and its results it w ill be well briefly to consider
the advantages which, in normal times, their operations have brought
to employers and workers. In doing this the writer is obliged to fa ll
back upon notes taken on the occasion o f two detailed personal in­
vestigations made by him in 1911 and in 1913, the results o f which
have been communicated in part to the International Association on
Unemployment.1 O n both occasions a definite schedule o f questions
was submitted to the persons interview ed;2 on both occasions the
replies received verbally and in writing were contradictory on many
points and the general tendencies and effects had to be studied largely
by personal observation.
The great m ajority o f employers when the scheme was started
were opposed to it, either from political prejudice or because they
were satisfied with their method o f hiring labor, or because they could
not get away from the idea that it was meant as a means o f disbur­
dening the community o f the care o f the inefficient and “ unem­
ployable ” by palm ing them off on unsuspecting employment clerks
and foremen. There was also some hostility due to the interference
o f the National Government in what many regarded as a local prob­
lem. Even after five years o f education through actual practice the
labor exchanges have not yet succeeded entirely in opening the eyes of
the public to the fact that the causes o f unemployment are industrial
rather than regional and that the wider the area over which it is
possible to spread operations fo r the prevention o f ill adjustment,
the more probable is their success.
The criticism that the labor exchanges are often staffed with men
from a distance who are entirely unacquainted with local trades and
usages and frequently supply workers o f the wrong kind simply be­
cause they do not understand the technical description and terminolo g y of the jobs given in notifications o f vacancies,#is frequently heard
and has justification in fact. A s a remedy, the transformation o f the
national exchanges into a federation of municipal exchanges has been
advocated. On the other hand, there has also been consistent oppo­
sition to a purely municipal scheme. One large builder, for instance,
told the w riter: “ O n no account must we have municipal participa­
tion in the management o f labor exchanges. Municipal management
o f employment bureaus has always been guided by sentiment and not
by business principles. They" never get the highest type o f man be­
cause they will give preference to local men or to men with a fa m ­
ily .” Several employers favored a rule under which, with retention
1 Bulletins of October-December, 1911, and July-Septem ber, 1913.
2 See Appendix E.



o f national control, either the manager pr some other prominent offi­
cial o f each exchange must be drawn from a local industry. B ut it
it is clear that such an arrangement would not be satisfactory. W here
officers have been appointed who previously were engaged in local
industry, one continually hears the charge that they know nothing
o f the other trades in the town or that they lean to the side o f the
employers or of the labor associations, as the case may be. Such a
man, in fact, just because o f his local affiliations previous to the
appointment, has special handicaps to overcome and is apt to be less
effective than a stranger o f equal ability.
The solution o f this special problem, lack o f intimiate knowledge,
would rather seem to lie in the direction o f a gradual accumulation
o f local data and experience, that is, continuity o f service on the part
o f the staff, and the aid o f local advisers from the ranks o f both em­
ployers and workers. A t the present time there are 17 advisory trade
committees, consisting o f an equal number o f employers’ and work­
men’s representatives appointed by the Board o f Trade. Several o f
them cover whole divisions (such as Ireland and W e st M id lan ds),
others smaller industrial sections o f a more or less homogeneous char­
acter (such as Liverpool and district, Manchester and district, W est
E id in g o f Yorkshire, southern section, North W ales, etc.). In one or
two cases, the m utually hostile attitude o f employers’ and workers’ or­
ganizations was so firmly rooted that the advisory committee, instead
o f helping the efficiency o f the exchange or group o f exchanges with
which it was affiliated, was rather apt to raise new difficulties by con­
tinual bickering over all sorts o f questions o f minor importance— so
that some o f these committees, though still nominally in existence,
have been allowed in practice, more or less, to vegetate. Generally
speaking, however, the advisory trade committees have contributed
not a little to a smooth working o f the exchanges’ activities. In at
least one case known to the writer, the cooperation on a matter o f
common interest on the part of the representatives o f management
and labor has had the effect o f bringing into closer personal sym ­
pathy men who previously saw each other only on the occasion o f
trade disputes when anger and mis judgment prevailed.
I t is unquestionably true that, at the beginning, many labor-exchange officials, in an excess o f zeal, were more concerned with piling
up figures o f vacancies filled than with a careful selection'of suitable
men. W h en they failed to find men o f the description wanted, in­
stead o f admitting their inability, they tried to place others who came
near the description and happened to be out o f work. In the course
o f time, however, especially as the knowledge and experience o f the
labor-exchange staffs increased, this tendency has practically disap­
peared, and the attitude o f employers, in consequence, has become
more sympathetic.



Especially, many o f the largest employers and those employing
many varieties o f skilled persons have found the labor exchange o f
great practical value to them. T o secure a man o f experience in
some comparatively rare trade frequently required considerable ex­
penditure on advertising and long delays. Now, such a man, i f at
all available, however distant, can be traced without delay through
the clearing house o f the labor exchange. In the writer’s own knowl­
edge, the operations o f one divisional exchange, at least, have ex­
tended to the filling o f positions fo r quite a number o f professional
persons, such as a cookery teacher, a social worker in a factory, and
an architect. O f this advantage o f the automatic enlargement o f the
field for inquiry when persons o f the description wanted are not to
be found in the locality, a large manufacturer says r
Em ployers now have the great advantage o f being able to consult
an up-to-date and live list o f unemployed which oversteps lim iting
geographical boundaries. L et me give a few instances of what is
occurring. Y o rk has found builders for the Doncaster coal fields.
Leeds has imported borers for horizontal boring machines (a class of
labor which it is always difficult to obtain). W orkm en in so highly
specialized a trade as fine gun-sight work have recently been trans­
ferred from the South to the North o f England. A firm o f Selby
shipbuilders tvere recently stopped for riveters; the exchange rap­
idly secured them a. gang from Birkenhead.
In the course o f time, the classification o f unemployed skilled
workers in the files o f the labor exchange has greatly improved,
partly by the diligent study o f the different local trades on the part
o f the managers o f the exchanges and partly by the issue, from time
to time, o f revised and corrected lists o f occupations from head­
One advantage to employers which, curiously enough, few o f them
seem as yet to have made a very fu ll use o f is that the local records
o f the labor exchange put them in a better position, before accept­
ing a contract or entering upon an extension o f their plant, to get
an idea o f the amount o f labor o f the type required which is likely
to be available.
A gain , in spite o f the instances given above of attempts at regu­
larizing employment, it must be admitted that as yet comparatively
few o f the lesser employers o f labor seem to have grasped the saving
to themselves which m ight be realized from pooling their labor re­
serves with those o f other employers. W here plenty o f men anxious
to secure work are hanging about the gates of the individual factory
or yard there is, first, a continual temptation to the foreman or em ­
ployment manager to dismiss a man for the slightest cause; and this
means an unnecessarily large labor turnover, im plying often lower
i “ The Advantages of the Labor Exchange to the Large Employer,” by Arnold S.
Rowntree, M. P. Privately printed (1 9 1 3 ? ).



production, more accidents, favoritism, demoralization, and general
dissatisfaction among the men. Then there is the deterioration in
the men themselves from being irregularly employed or from being
subject to undeserved and often rash dismissal.
A ll this must
eventually tell upon the cost o f production. In Great Britain the
discussion o f questions such as these has been so long continued that
many o f the larger and more intelligent employers were glad to get
rid of the line o f applicants at their doors, which to them was at once
a source o f waste and a secret cause o f moral uneasiness. Some o f
those seen expressed themselves as highly gratified by the results o f
hanging out the little enameled shield proclaiming that all labor
taken on by the firm was hired through the labor exchange and con­
fessed their previous error in believing an individual reserve o f labor
an indispensable precaution.
W here labor is obtained by advertisement, the expense saved, in
some cases which have come to the writer’s notice, from using the
labor exchange instead has been considerable. A n employer who
on one occasion spent a three hours’ railway journey in looking
through a batch o f answers to one advertisement later on had the
same type o f employee supplied him by the labor exchange in his
town without any cost and trouble to himself. Reference has already
been made to the arrangement under which employment officers of
large concerns are permitted to select employees from a number of
applicants submitted to them in a room at the exchange placed at
their disposal. Rural employers save whole days by sending a post
card where previously they had to drive around or attend a fair
to secure farm servants.
M any other instances m ight be given o f the advantage o f a national
system o f labor exchanges to employers as experienced in the United
Kingdom . In the case o f the North o f England at least, with which
the writer is more fam iliar than with the rest of the country, this
advantage was .striking and substantial, not merely theoretical. N a t­
urally there is always room for improvement in the efficiency o f the
service, and the growth in the number o f employers making use o f
it in itself produces better and better results in individual placements.

The advantages to the workers are more widely appreciated. In
the first place it is o f obvious advantage to organized labor to have
the country aroused on the seriousness o f the problem o f unemploy­
ment, and the labor-exchange system, with its careful collection o f
statistical material, undoubtedly contributes to this. Indeed, the
labor exchanges bill was supported by the Labor P arty “ on the



ground that reliable data for effective unemployed legislation would
be secured as a result o f its operations.” 1
Y e t at the outset the attitude o f the trade-unions in Great Britain
was anything but sympathetic. M any o f them feared that, in spite
o f protestations to the contrary, blacklegs were going to be supplied
in case o f strikes or that it would be made easier fo r employers to
secure labor at less than the current rates o f wages. One or two o f
the larger unions, however, realized from the beginning that the labor
exchanges only menaced the interests o f labor i f and to the extent to
which organized labor refused to use them. Thus, in a communi­
cation to the Iron Founders’ Society by the general secretary o f the
Federation o f the Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades, dated June
4 ,1 9 1 0 , we read :
I t is to lessen the competition o f so many sources o f labor supply
that the federation.urge the members o f the affiliated societies to make
the fullest possible use o f labor exchanges. I f employers realize that
by applying to these institutions they can obtain an immediate supply
o f dependable and efficient workmen, they will at once discard all
except this one source and make as fu ll and exclusive use o f these
institutions as it is desirable they should.
These institutions have come to stay. I f they are ignored by the
organized trades, they; will be used by the nonsociety men who, freed
from the supervision, influence, and example of the trade-union move­
ment and protected and encouraged by a department o f tKe State,
w ill feel themselves justified in selling their labor at a rate which will
be governed solely by their inclination and necessity in open defiance
o f the general interests o f their craft and o f the conditions which
apply to their particular trade. Labor exchanges will thus become
the rivals and competitors of the trade-unions and the happy hunting
ground o f employers who wish to engage cheap labor, and the fault
will lie at the d oor,of those who by their abstention presented these
exchanges as a monopoly to men who declined to pay a trade-union
contribution, and who will constitute a State-aided menace to the
observation o f trade-union conditions. I t is necessary that tradeunionists shall use these exchanges as a measure o f protection to the
funds o f their own societies.
I t was only to be expected that everything would not go smoothly
at first from the point o f view o f lab or; but the actual instances in
which a labor exchange was perverted to serve the interests o f the
employing class on investigation resolved themselves into very few,
indeed. T he letter just quoted, for instance, while encouraging the
affiliated societies to send in well-authenticated causes o f complaint
to be brought before the Board of Trade, says that “ complaints in­
numerable have already been made, many o f which on investigation
have been found to be paltry and unfounded.” One of the cases,
occurring soon after the establishment o f the exchanges, which

1 Labor Yearbook, London, 1916, p. 325.



raised a storm o f indignation, was, indeed, a bad one. T he super­
vising officer o f the Yorkshire division, in a circular addressed to
boards o f guardians (public charity authorities), drew attention to
the shortage o f female labor for the worsted industry in the rural
districts around Bradford and H a lifa x , and for the woolen industry
o f the upper Colne Valley, and suggested that, with the help o f the
labor exchanges in the division, places m ight be found fo r widows
and daughters from 13 years o f age in receipt o f outdoor relief, i f
they were willing to remove to these districts. The wages offered
he represented as the standard rates for the districts. T he tradeunions in the towns named had no difficulty in showing that the
wages offered were below standard rates and that there were num­
bers o f unemployed without the importation o f paupers. Obviously
it was a case o f overzeal on the part o f the official concerned, acting
on a suggestion from an employer and without malice or corruption.
H e was promptly removed.
In spite o f rumors which were current for some time that the ex­
changes discriminated against trade-unions, rumors which on in­
vestigation always turned out to be baseless, the discontent o f the
organized workers did not last long. Generally speaking, more in­
telligent comprehension o f the wider social aims of the system is to
be found among labor leaders than among employers. Once the
original prejudice was broken down— sometimes as a result o f a
lecture campaign by the exchange officials in their own time— they
realized the importance o f making the fullest possible use o f these
new institutions in order to “ permeate them,” as one trade-union
official said, “ with a trade-union atmosphere.” O f course the ex­
changes have not in any proved case leaned toward the unions in
defiance o f the rules prescribed for them by the Board o f Trade, but
in some cases a most cordial cooperation between the trade-union sec­
retaries and the staff o f the exchanges has been established which
indirectly benefits the unions. N ot infrequently the membership
books o f the unions are kept at the exchanges to enable the officials
rapidly to ascertain which members are out o f work. In the insured
trades it is necessary for the manager o f the exchange, who is also
the insurance officer, to keep in close touch .with the union secretaries.
In one city the trades and labor council— the local federation o f
trade-unions— has established its headquarters next door to the ex­
change and encourages the officials to come in at any time to consult
with the secretaries when in need o f men o f any particular descrip­
tion not on the register o f applicants. In some towns trade-unions
make extensive use o f the privilege granted them under the regula­
tions o f the Board o f Trade of holding meetings after business hours
on the premises o f the labor exchange. Such permission is only given,
47784°— 16------ 4



however, subject to the approval o f the local trade advisory com­
mittee, upon which employers are equally represented with the work­
ers, and a fee, often only nominal, is charged.
Obviously the fear that a larger knowledge o f available labor
would enable employers to lower wages proved groundless, since
that tendency was balanced by an equal enlargement o f the workers’
knowledge o f available jobs both in their own town and elsewhere.
Indeed, as a rule, employers had had better facilities in the past to
find out what labor was available than the individual unemployed
workman had to find out what jobs there were. B u t the fact that
new vacancies are continually seen posted up on the bulletin boards
o f the exchanges also has changed the mental outlook o f the unem­
ployed worker. Even i f none o f the vacancies posted on a particular
day happen to be suitable, the knowledge o f a continued stream o f
fresh jobs is apt to keep up courage and to dissipate that mental
depression which in days gone by resulted from a fruitless tramp
between the different possible sources o f employment. A n d by liftin g
that depression, that fear pf being unable to secure a job o f any kind
impressed by the legend read on a hundred doors, “ N o new hands
taken on to-day,” the bulletin board o f the labor exchange has given
the man out o f work a more courageous stand when jobs are offered
him at less than standard rates o f wages. Both through the use o f
labor exchanges by trade-unions and from this natural cause, there­
fore, their general effect on wages undoubtedly, in so fa r as there was
any effect at all, has been beneficial to the workers. Fortunately for
their sound development, the beginning o f the British labor exchanges
coincided with a period o f rising good trade. I t meant that the
knowledge o f vacancies in different centers stiffened the workers in
their demands, and, although probably it did not have much effect
on wages in the aggregate, it did induce employers in the low-wage
districts to offer wages coming up more nearly than before to those
paid in neighboring centers with higher standard rates.
The effect o f this tendency, however, is exceedingly slow and must
not be overrated. F irm s notorious fo r the payment o f low wages are,
on the whole, still in a position— after the exchanges have been in
existence for five years— to secure a sufficient labor supply without
using the exchanges. A lso, though it is often charged by employers
that the labor exchanges attract and supply men o f the lowest grade
who “ won’t work,” actual experience seems to indicate that this
class o f persons, which is w illing to accept almost any wage, so long
as payment is immediate and no great or continuous effort is required,
does not as a matter o f fact make much use o f the exchange. I t has
been confused with a different class, namely, that o f men who are
shiftless, not because they are “ happy-go-lucky,” but because they
are constantly trying to “ improve ” themselves and never stay long



enough in any one place^ really to do so. The manager o f a large
ship-repairing firm, though blam ing the exchange for supplying too
many men o f that type, admitted that employers have chiefly them­
selves to thank fo r the instability o f so many workers. Often, while
the best workers— those who constitute the irreducible minimum o f a
permanent force— are kept in regular employment at standard wages,
the employer does not see the same necessity o f offering good condi­
tions to the rest o f his employees* with the result that either he has
to put up with second-rate men or that those who accept work at a
lower wage than they consider fair are always discontented, do not
improve in efficiency, and on the slightest provocation go off else­
where “ to improve themselves.”
T he chief advantage o f the exchanges to labor as not to be sought
in the effect on wages, but in an appreciable shortening o f the search
for work, especially when employment is difficult to get in the work­
er’s own town. T o the skilled and highly organized men the labor
exchange has little to offer locally. Usually the employers know
where to find them, and the members o f the union, at their ordinary
meeting place, are as quickly informed o f new vacancies when they
arise as is the clerk at the labor exchange. B u t the widened field o f
inquiry, through the operation of the interlocal scheme o f registra­
tion, has been o f help even to the most strongly organized workers.
T hus one very able and influential trade-union official, though some­
what critical o f the labor exchanges and complaining especially of
their lack o f understanding o f the specific needs o f local trades and
their ignorance o f local customs, went on to say that trade-unions
by themselves never could have hoped to organize so efficient an inter­
local registration service, and that in his opinion the system had
quite appreciably shortened the period o f the search for work when
work had to be sought outside the unemployed worker’s own town.
The advancing o f railway fares to men for whom work is found
in other towns is a boon that is much appreciated and, curiously, little
abused. In the year ending September, 1914, nearly $37,000 was
advanced in about 20,800 cases; the total number o f advances made
from the commencement o f the system to that date being about 54,800
and amounting to about $87,600. The advances may be made only
to applicants placed more than 5 miles from their hom es; and local
officers are especially warned “ to avoid unduly encouraging rural
laborers to migrate from the country to the towns or between Great
Britain and Ireland.” 1
Application for an advance may be made by a workman when
engaged through the exchange for work at a distance. In that case,
1 For the same reason, that of preventing the encouragement of a rural exodus, local
exchanges are not allowed to disseminate information on openings in foreign countries
except with the special permission o f the central office in London.



the employer agreeing, he is provided with a voucher exchangeable
for a railroad ticket, the cost o f which is deducted in installments
from his weekly wages. Or, an employer m ay ask the exchange to
advance the amount o f the fare and refund it.

T he amount which

the Board o f Trade has failed to recover has remained almost negli­
gible in comparison with the importance o f these transactions. No
allowance is made for conveyance o f the worker’s fam ily.
A few figures w ill show the importance o f the interlocal service.
T he vacancies filled in 1915 included no less than 288,644 cases,1 or
22 per cent o f the total number, in which persons were placed in ex­
change districts other than those in which they were registered. The
corresponding number for 1914 was 177,312, or 16 per cent o f the
total, and for 1913 110,992, or 12 per cent.

The increase is mainly

accounted for by the war, especially the transference o f labor for the
erection o f munition factories and huts for military camps, and by
the demand for munition workers. In 1915 67,557 transferences, or
nearly one-quarter o f the total number, were beyond the limits o f
the exchange division. O f the total number of vacancies filled in
1914, 113,267, or over one-tenth, were filled by applicants residing
more than five miles from the place where the work was to be per­
formed. M ore recently the attitude o f the workers toward the labor
exchanges has been considerably modified by unemployment insur­
ance which, as we have seen, is largely administered through the in­
strumentality o f the exchanges and for certain classes o f labor makes
their use obligatory. I t has brought more o f the best type o f worker
into contact with the exchanges, men who previously were prejudiced
against them. O f course, every expansion in its appeal means fo r a
placement bureau not only so much added business, but also so much
more efficient business. T he larger the volume o f transactions, the
easier it is suitably to fit demand and supply.
T he labor exchanges, in some cases, have been o f some assistance
to benefit societies, hospitals, trade-unions, tuberculosis committees,
and other bodies in finding suitable employment for incapacitated
workers. In this they directly contribute to the solvency o f these
societies and institutions and at the same time help to prevent that
demoralization which so often tomes to the partly disabled as a result
o f complete idleness. Especially in connection with the national
health insurance scheme, local insurance committees have in some
cases benefited considerably from the w illing cooperation o f laborexchange managers in suitably placing persons whose support other­
wise would have fallen on their funds.
1196,057 men, 53,096 women, 19,976 boys, and 14,515 girls.



W e have here reached the consideration o f advantages from a
national system of labor exchanges, as exemplified in the United
K ingdom , not only to employers or workers but to the State as a
whole. W ith all its faults and shortcomings, in spite of the large
discrepancy which we have found to exist, even during a favorable
period, between the volume of offer and o f demand registered, this
system must undoubtedly be pronounced a national benefit. W e
have only to picture to ourselves the almost entire lack o f provision
for “ marketing la b o r” prior to 1910, the failure o f the sporadic
attempts that had been made here and there to set up a machinery
for bringing together labor and the demand for labor, to realize
that for the first time a whole industrial nation is actually in posses­
sion o f a means of securing accurate knowledge o f the labor situation.
The direct services rendered to employers and employees quite apart,
this in itself has proved o f inestimable advantage to the country,
especially in the present war.
W hatever m ay or m ay not have been at fault with British u pre­
paredness ” in other directions, in her system o f labor exchanges she
did have ready, at the moment *of need, a barometer o f employment
which was o f the highest value, aside from the point o f view o f
industrial recruiting and the manufacture of munitions. I t was
possible from the outset to forestall distress arising from unemploy­
ment owing to the sudden changes in the demand fo r commodities
by drafting the workers displaced in one locality or industry to
others where their qualifications were needed. Jewelry workers from
Birmingham found remunerative employment in the manufacture of
small arms in Sheffield; army arid ordnance clerks, not available in
sufficient number in some o f the smaller towns where m ilitary head­
quarters are situated, were introduced from the larger commercial
centers where, owing to a decrease in shipping, there was a surplus
o f experienced office workers. W ith the aid o f actual knowledge con­
cerning the state o f employment— even though that knowledge was
necessarily incomplete— it was possible to stimulate public and pri­
vate employment with a view to avoiding distress from unemploy­
ment. The labor exchanges at one time indicated what appeared
to be a total standstill in the building trade, and Parliament
was induced to pass a relief measure enabling municipalities and
other public bodies to draw upon the treasury to a greater extent
than under previous enactments for funds with which to carry
through housing schemes for the working classes that would absorb
large numbers o f men engaged in that trade.1 O n the other hand,
1 Owing to the enlistment of large numbers of men, the abnormal unemployment rate
in the building trades soon subsided, and few of the contemplated building schemes have
actually been carried out.



the knowledge o f the labor market provided by the labor exchanges
was o f help in discouraging injudicious attempts at relief measures
made in the excitement o f the first few weeks o f the war. In spite of
the greatest scarcity of labor witnessed by the present generation, the
harvests o f both 1914 and 1915 were saved by a methodical and effi­
cient supplying, through the labor exchanges, o f farmers with the
most needed labor. M any other services have been rendered by the
labor exchanges in the emergency which overcame the nation that no
public authority could have rendered five years ago.1
The writer has heard m any complaints o f the large volume o f
seemingly useless statistics required from the labor exchanges by the
central clearing office. I t is difficult to judge whether the tabulations
o f daily, weekly, m onthly, and yearly data are really going to be o f
value some day in a more comprehensive study o f the whole problem
o f unemployment than any yet made. They are admittedly only
partly o f value fo r immediate purposes. B ut, a priori, the writer
inclines to the view that even a little wasteful expenditure on statis­
tical work fo r a few years is preferable to the possible waste o f so
great an opportunity fo r securing facts which eventually may prove
o f the highest social importance. 4 n e employer seriously argued
that by throwing an additional burden on the cost o f production,
however small, legal provisions such a§ labor exchanges could only
add to the difficulties o f manufacturers in competition with those of
other countries, and therefore to unemployment. T he answer is
that, o f course, there m ay be individual concerns so situated that
they can not get any financial advantage out o f the labor exchanges
which would balance the amount of their tax contributions for their
support. B u t spread over the taxpayers as a whole, the total cost
is practically negligible compared with the saving from m aladjust­
1 Complete knowledge of the aid which the national system of labor exchanges has ren­
dered in preventing distress from unemployment and in shaping the Government’ s labor
policy after the outbreak of the war w ill be available only when the Board of Trade pub­
lishes the complete report of its activities during that period.
The industrial crisis
feared in August and September of 1914 as a result of the shock received by the financial
system, the closing of markets, the dislocation of traffic, and other causes, did not take
place. But many trades were very seriously affected by unemployment, and only recov­
ered slowly.
Some have practically disappeared, and the workers usually engaged in
them have been absorbed in others. A t the same time, a shortage of labor, resulting
from the removal— at first of thousands, then of millions— of men from industry gave
rise to entirely new and unforeseen problems. In some cases the rush of volunteer work­
ers into all sorts of productive occupations actually led to a dismissal of the regular work­
ers— this, as we have seen, was the case especially in some women’s employments— and a
severe depression of wages.
The l&bor exchanges by themselves could not, of course,
regulate conditions such as these. But they played a large part in the work of local
committees for the prevention and relief of distress which, a t the instigation of the Local
Government Board, were created in every center o f industry. These representative bodies
had to rely for their knowledge of the state of employment almost entirely on the local
labor exchange, whose manager, under instructions from headquarters to render all the
services in his power, in many cases acted as joint secretary of the committee or as chair­
man of a subcommittee charged with a continuous survey, during the war, of the state
of employment in the locality.



ment, from suffering, and from human deterioration. There can be
no doubt that in the United K ingdom , even in these initial five years,
when naturally the cost per vacancy filled was higher than it will
be when the exchanges are more universally used by employers and
workers, they have been a paying proposition from the point o f
view o f national economy. Indeed, there is not now any responsible
group o f persons, so far as known to the writer, who would seriously
wish to see them abolished.

The practical value o f the British system o f labor exchanges has
hardly yet had time to be tested fu lly, at any rate in the period pre­
ceding the present war. W h ile it is possible to come to certain definite
conclusions, a complete judgment must be withheld until a longer
period o f working under normal circumstances has elapsed. One
critic observes1 that—
In too many instances, as yet, the labor exchange is an engine which
is working extremely well but which has not attached to it the rolling
stopk o f social progress. B ut it is o f the greatest importance, none
the less, to have prepared at a time o f prosperity such an engine
which at any moment, apart from fulfilling a useful national purpose,
can be hinged on— as it has been in the case o f unemployment insur­
ance— to new measures o f social reform.
The present writer, in 1911, w r o te :2
I t would be unreasonable to expect that after so short an existence
the labor exchanges should show a better result. Indeed, consider­
ing the distrust, indifference, and political hostility against which
they have contended, the results so far attained are very encouraging.
H e would now go further and say that the labor exchange has fully
proved itself as a social instrument of the highest value, even with­
out the attachment of other measures of reform. I t has brought
thinking persons both of the employing and working class to a fuller
realization of the many misfits, hardships, physical and moral
breakdowns which could be avoided by a more careful selection o f
employees on the one hand and of positions on the other. I t has
provided the nation with reliable data on the state of employment,
comparable fo r different times, different trades, and different locali­
ties, on a sufficient scale to perm it o f safe deductions. I t has helped
the scientific analysis o f the problem o f unemployment, and thereby
brought appreciably nearer its final solution. I t has contributed to
our knowledge of the causes o f and best remedies for specific social
problems, such as casual and seasonal irregularity of employment.
1 D. Carad og Jones, M. A ., F. S. S., in Bulletin of the International Association on
Unemployment for July-September, 1913.
2 Bulletin of the International Association on Unemployment for October-December,



It is sometimes said that labor exchanges can not create work when
there is none available. But, in a sense, they undoubtedly have in­
creased the volume o f employment, and this in more than one w a y :
by helping employers to secure labor when none was locally available
and none could have been procured without the aid o f a nation-wide
apparatus o f inquiry; by shortening the average duration o f the
unemployment which results when the opportunity for work is in
one place and the person looking for it id another; by forcing
men who otherwise would have been content with intermittent
employment o f one or two days each week, to secure more regular
work or none at all, and by thus indirectly compelling State and
community to make provision for those who encumber the labor
market and live on precarious “ catch jo b s ” because old age or ill
health prevents tjiem from working more regularly; by placing those
desirous o f work, especially boys and girls, more fittingly, thus
preventing frequent changes attended by periods of idleness; by
preventing in all these various ways that moral deterioration which
is apt to result from long or frequent periods o f involuntary idle­
ness, and to lead to an unemployment problem which is not caused
by inability to secure work, but by unwillingness to perform it.
Thus, not to any considerable extent so far, perhaps, yet noticeably,
the British system o f labor exchanges has reduced unemployment.


AN ACT to provide for the establishment o f labor exchanges and for other
purposes incidental thereto. (20th September, 1909.)
1. (1) The Board o f Trade may establish and maintain, in such places as
they think fit, labor exchanges, and may assist any labor exchanges maintained
by any other authorities or persons, and in the exercise of those powers may,
if they think fit, cooperate with any other authorities or persons having powers
for the purpose.
(2) The Board of Trade may also, by such other means as they think fit,
collect and furnish information as to employers requiring workpeople and work­
people seeking engagement or employment.
(3) The Board o f Trade may take over any labor exchange (whether estab­
lished before or after the passing o f this act) by agreement with the authority
or person by whom the labor exchange is maintained, and any such authority
or person shall have power to transfer it to the Board of Trade for the pur­
poses of this act.
(4) The powers of any central body or distress committee, and the powers
of any council through a special committee, to establish or maintain, under the
Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905, a labor exchange or employment register shall,
after the expiration o f one year from the commencement o f this act, not be
exercised except with the sanction of, and subject to any conditions \imposed by,
the Local Government Board for England, Scotland, or Ireland, as the case
may require, and that sanction shall not be given except after consultation with
the Board of Trade.
2 . (1) The Board of Trade may make general regulations with respect to the
management of labor exchanges established or assisted under this act, and
otherwise with respect to the exercise of their powers under this act, and such
regulations may, subject to the approval of the treasury, authorize advances
to be made by way of loan towards meeting the expenses o f workpeople travel­
ing to places where employment has been found for them through a labor
(2) The regulations shall provide that no person shall suffer any disqualification or be otherwise prejudiced on account o f refusing to accept employment
found for him through a labor exchange where the ground o f refusal is that
a trade dispute which affects his trade exists, or that the wages offered are
lower than those current in the trade in the district where the employment is
(3) Any general regulations made under this section shall have effect as if
enacted in this act, but shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon
as may be after they are made, and, if either House of Parliament within the
next forty days during the session o f Parliament after any regulations have
been so laid before that House resolves that the regulations or any o f them
ought to be annulled, the regulations or those to which the resolution applies
shall, after the date o f such resolution, be o f no effect, without prejudice to the
validity of anything done in the meantime under the regulations or to the mak­
ing of any new regulations.




(4) Subject to any such regulations, the powers o f the Board of Trade under
this act shall be exercised in such manner as the Board of Trade may direct.
(5) The Board of ir a d e may, in such cases as they think fit, establish ad­
visory committees for the purpose o f giving the board advice and assistance in
connection with the management of any labor exchange.
3. I f any person knowingly makes any false statement or false representa­
tion to any officer o f a labor exchange established under this act, or to any
person acting for or for the purposes o f any such labor exchange, for the pur­
pose o f obtaining employment or procuring workpeople, that person shall be
liable in respect o f each offense on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding
ten pounds.
4. The Board of ^Crade may appoint such officers and servants for the pur­
poses of this act as the board may, with the sanction o f the treasury, determine,
and there shall be paid out o f moneys provided by Parliament to such officers
and servants such salaries or remuneration as the treasury may determine,
and any expenses incurred by the Board o f Trade in carrying this act into
effect, including the payment o f traveling and other allowances to members of
advisory committees and other expenses in connection therewith, to such amount
as may be sanctioned by the treasury, shall be defrayed out of moneys provided
by Parliament.
5. In this act the expression “ labor exchange ” means any office or place
used for the purpose of collecting and furnishing information, either by the
keeping of registers or otherwise, respecting employers who desire to engage
workpeople and workpeople who seek engagement or employment.
6. This act may be cited as the Labor Exchanges Act, 1909.

Registration of applicants for employment.

I. (1) Applicants for employment through a labor exchange shall register
and shall renew their registration there in person, if they reside within three
miles of the exchange or within such other distance as the Board o f Trade
may direct from time to time, either generally or as regards any specified dis­
trict or class of applicants.
(2) In the case of applicants not residing within the above limit o f distance,
the officer in charge of the labor exchange may accept registration or renewal
of registration through the post.
(3) Applicants shall register upon a form containing the particulars set
forth in the first schedule hereto, subject to such modifications as may be made
by the Board of Trade from time to time, either generally or as regards any
specified district or trade or class o f applicants.
(4) The above regulations shall not apply to juvenile applicants.
Period of registration.

II. Registration o f applications for employment shall hold good for seven
days from the date of registration or for such other period as the Board of
, Trade may from time to time direct either generally or as regards any specified
district or trade or class of applicants, but may be renewed within that period
for a like period and so on from time to time.



Strikes and lockouts.

III. (1) Any association o f employers or workmen may file at a labor ex­
change a statement with regard to the existence of a strike or lockout affecting
their trade in the district. Any such statement shall be in the form set out in
the second schedule hereto, and shall be signed by a person authorized by the
association for the purpose. Such statement shall be confidential except as
hereunder provided and shall only be in force for seven days from the date of
filing, but may be renewed within that period for a like period and so on from
time to time.
(2) I f any employer who appears to be affected by a statement so filed
notifies to a labor exchange a vacancy or vacancies for workmen of the class
affected, the officer in charge shall inform him of the statement that has been
filed, and give him an opportunity o f making a written statement thereon. The
officer in charge in notifying any such vacancies to any applicant for employ­
ment shall also inform him of the statements that have been received.
Wages and conditions.

IV. (1) The officer in charge of a labor exchange in notifying applications for
employment and vacancies to employers and applicants, respectively, shall un­
dertake no responsibility with regard to wages or other conditions, beyond sup­
plying the employer or applicant, as the case may be, with any information in
his possession as to the rate of wages desired or offered.
(2) Copies or summaries of any agreements mutually arranged between as­
sociations of employers and workmen for the regulation of wages or other con­
ditions of labor in any trade may, with the consent of the various parties to such
agreements, be filed at a labor exchange, and any published rules made by pub­
lic authorities with regard to like matters may also be filed. Documents so
filed shall be open to inspection on application.
(3) No person shall suffer any disqualification or be otherwise prejudiced on
account of refusing to accept employment found for him through a labor ex­
change where the ground of refusal is that a trade dispute which affects his
trade exists or that the wages offered are lower than those current in the
trade in the district where the employment is found.
Advance of traveling expenses.

V. (1) Where an applicant for employment has been engaged through a labor
exchange at which he is registered to take up employment at any place re­
moved from the exchange or from his ordinary residence by more than five
miles by the quickest route, or by such other distance as the Board of Trade
may direct from time to time, either generally or as regards any specified dis­
trict the officer in charge may, at his discretion, make an advance to the ap­
plicant toward meeting the expenses of traveling to the place of employment.
(2) The advance may be made at the request either of the employer or of the
applicant. The person at whose request the advance is made shall give such
undertaking with respect to the repayment of the advance as the Board of
Trade, with the consent o f the treasury, may from time to time prescribe either
generally or as regards any specified district or class of applicants.
(3) No advance shall be made where the officer in charge has reason to be­
lieve that the employment falls within the terms of Regulation IV (3) hereof.



(4) In making advances care shall be taken to avoid unduly encouraging
rural laborers to migrate from the country to the towns or between Great
Britain and Ireland.
(5) The advance shall not exceed the amount required to defray the appli­
cant’s fare to the place of employment, and will be made by the provision of a
ticket or pass, or, in exceptional circumstances, in cash.
Employment outside the British Isles.

VI. The officer in charge of a labor exchange shall consult the central office
in London before notifying to applicants for employment vacancies at any
place outside the British Isles.
Advisory trade committees.

VII. (1) There shall be established by the Board o f Trade in such areas o f
the United Kingdom as they think fit advisory trade committees, consisting of
equal numbers of persons representing employers and workmen in the district
and appointed by the Board o f Trade after consultation with such bodies and
persons as they may think best qualified to advise them on the matter, to­
gether with a chairman, agreed upon by a majority both of the persons repre­
senting employers and of the persons representing workmen, or in default of
such agreement appointed by the Board o f Trade.
(2) It shall be the duty of advisory trade committees to advise and assist
the Board of Trade in regard to any matters referred to them in connection
with the management o f labor exchanges.
(3) The members of an advisory trade committee, including the chairman,
shall remain in office for three years.
(4) Vacancies, howsoever caused, occurring in the membership or chairman­
ship of an advisory trade committee shall from time to time be filled in the
same manner as provided by subclause (1) o f this regulation in regard to the
original appointment o f members and chairman. Any person appointed to fill a
vacancy shall not hold office after the expiration of the period during which the
person in whose place he is appointed would have held office.
(5) At the request o f the majority either o f the persons representing em­
ployers or of the persons representing workmen on an advisory trade committee
present at any meeting, voting on any particular question shall be so conducted
that there Shall be an equality of votes as between the persons representing
employers and the persons representing workmen, notwithstanding the ab­
sence of any member. Save as aforesaid every question shall be decided by a
majority of the members present and voting on that question.
(6) On any question on which equality o f voting power has been claimed
under subclause 5 of this regulation the chairman shall have no vote, but in
case of the votes recorded being equal he shall make a report to that effect to
the Board of Trade and may also, if he think fit, state his own opinion on the
merits of the question.
(7) Subject to these regulations the procedure of any advisory trade com­
mittee shall be determined from time to time by the Board o f Trade, or by the
committee with the approval of the board.
Grant of accommodation within the premises of a labor exchange.

VIII. (1) All applications for accommodation within the premises o f a
labor exchange shall be made to the officer in charge of such labor exchange,



who shall consult the advisory trade committee for the district. Any such
application shall only be granted for such purposes and on such terms and
conditions as the committee may approve.
(2) In the case of labor exchanges which were in operation before the
passing of the Labor Exchanges Act,* 1909, existing arrangements with regard
to accommodation may be allowed to continue except in so far as they may
be modified or canceled hereafter.
Juvenile employment.

Subject to these regulations, special rules may be made from time to
time by the Board o f Trade, after consulting the Board of Education so far as
regards England and Wales and the Scottish Education Department so far as
regards Scotland and the Lord Lieutenant o f Ireland" so far as regards
Ireland, with respect to the registration o f juvenile applicants for employ­
ment ; that is to say, applicants under the age of 17 or such other limit as the
board may fix, either generally or as regards any specified district or trade
or class o f applicants.
The Board of Trade make these regulations by virtue of the power con­
ferred upon them by section 2, subsection (1) of the Labor Exchanges Act 1909.
Dated this 28th day of January, 1910.
F ir s t S c h e d u l e .



( N . B.— Applicants are not compelled to furnish all the particulars specified.)


Surname_______________________ Other names______________________ Age____
Work desired_________________________________________________________________
Last employer and previous employer in that class of work, with, address and
period and date of employment____________________________________________
Qualifications for desired employment________________________________________
Also willing to take work as_________________________________________________
Whether willing to take work at a distance______________________________
When free to begin work________________________________________________
Second S c h e d u l e .

the undersigned, being duly authorized by {give the name of the asso­
ciation) beg to notify that the above association has a trade dispute, involving
(insert “ a strike” or “ a lockout” as the case may be), with ( give the names
of firms or class of firms or the name of the association).
Dated this_________ day o f_____________ 19__.
Signature___________ _______________________________________________________



1. Juvenile applicants for employment shall register on the forms prescribed
in the schedule to these'rules, subject to such modifications as may be made
therein by the Board o f Trade from time to time. Such applicants, or any
prescribed class of such applicants, may be permitted in lieu of attending
personally at a labor exchange to register their applications at such other
places as may be recognized by the Board of Trade as suitable for the purpose.
Forms containing such applications, if transmitted forthwith to a labor
exchange, shall be treated as equivalent to personal registration.
2 . (1) Special advisory committees for juvenile employment shall be estab­
lished in such areas as the Board of Trade may think expedient. These com­
mittees shall include persons possessing experience or knowledge of education
or of other conditions affecting young persons, appointed after consulting such
authorities, bodies, and persons as the boanjl think best qualified to advise
them, and also persons representing employers and workmen, appointed after
consulting any advisory trade committee established in the district in pur­
suance of regulation No. VII of the general regulations, together with a
chairman appointed by the board.
Such labor-exchange officers as may be designated by the Board o f
Trade, and such of His Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools as may be designated
by the Board of Education, may be present at meetings of the special advisory
committees, but shall not be members thereof.
3. Subject to these rules, the procedure of a special advisory committee for
juvenile employment shall be determined from time to time by the Board of
Trade or by the committee with the approval of the board.
4. It shall be the duty of a special advisory committee to give advice with
regard to the management of any labor exchange in its district in relation
to juvenile applicant^ for employment.
5 . Subject to these rules,- a special advisory committee may take steps, either
by themselves or in cooperation with any other bodies or persons, to give
information, advice, and assistance to boys and girls and their parents with
respect to the choice of employment and other matters bearing thereon. Pro­
vided that the Board of Trade and the officer in charge of a labor exchange
shall undertake no responsibility with regard to any advice or assistance so
6 . (1) I f any local education authority for higher education which has or
may acquire statutory powers for the purpose of giving advice, information,
or assistance to boys and girls with respect to the choice of employment or
other matters bearing thereon, submits to the Board of Education a scheme
for the exercise of those powers, and the Board of Education, after consulting
with the Board of Trade, approve that scheme with or without modifications,
the foregoing rules shall, so long a^ the scheme is carried out to the satisfaction
of the Board of Education, apply to the area of that local education authority
with the following modifications:
The officer in charge of any labor exchange shall not undertake the
registration of juvenile applicants for employment except in accordance with
the provisions of the scheme.
The special advisory committee for juvenile employment shall take no
steps under rule 5 except in accordance with the provisions of the scheme.
(c) The Board o f Trade may, if they think fit, recognize, in lieu of any
special advisory committee established or to be established under these rules,



an advisory committee constituted under the scheme, provided that such com­
mittee includes an adequate number of members possessing experience or
knowledge of educational and industrial conditions, and thereupon the Board
of Trade may, if the circumstances require, either dissolve any special advisory
committee or modify its area and constitution.
Nothing in this rule shall affect the registration at any labor exchange
o f vacancies for juvenile workers notified by employers.
These rules shall apply to the registration of juvenile applicants in Eng­
land and Wales.
These rules are made by the Board of Trade after consultation with the
Board of Education in pursuance of regulation No. IX of the general regula­
tions for labor exchanges managed by the Board o f Trade.
Dated this seventh day of February, 1910.
S chedule


S p e c ia l R u l e s .


Surname.-______________________ Other names______________________________
Date of birth________________________________________________________________
Full address_________________________________________________________________
Name of last day school and date of leaving__________________________________
Standard or class in which applicant was on leaving__________________________
Whether applicant was a half-timer before leaving, and, if so, how long?_______
Whether attending or proposing to attend any continuation or technical school,
and, if so, in what course or subjects, and whether in the day or evening_____
Employment or employments since leaving school:
(1 )


(2 )

Employment desired__________________________________________________________
Whether willing to be apprenticed, and, if so, whether a premium can be paid_
Whether willing to take work at a distance__________________________________
Remarks ____________________________________________________________________

We have had under consideration (a) the Education (Choice of Employ­
ment) Act; 1910, and (b) the special rules with regard to registration of juvenile
applicants in England and Wales made on the 7th February, 1910, by the Board
of Trade, after consultation with the Board of Education, under the Labor Ex­
changes Act, 1909, and printed as an appendix to the present memorandum.
Under the new act the councils of counties and county boroughs, as local educa­
tion authorities, are empowered to make arrangements, subject to the approval
of the Board of Education, for giving to boys and girls under 17 years of age
assistance with respect to the choice of suitable employment, by means of the



collection and the communication of information and the furnishing of advice.
In the special rules of the Board of Trade two alternative methods are indicated
by which information, advice, and assistance with respect to the choice o f employ­
ment and other matters bearing thereon can be given to boys and girls and their
parents in connection with the working of labor exchanges. Paragraphs 2 to 5
o f the rules make provision for the establishment by the Board of Trade of
special advisory committees for juvenile employment, which may, as one o f their
functions, take steps to give such information, advice, and assistance, butvwith­
out any responsibility with regard thereto being undertaken by the Board of
Trade or the officers in charge of labor exchanges. Paragraph 6 o f the special
rules contemplates the case o f a local education authority which has and desires
to exercise statutory powers for the purposes o f giving information, advice, and
assistance, and provides that, where such powers are exercised in accordance
with a satisfactory scheme, the registration of juvenile applicants for employ­
ment shall not be conducted by the labor exchange except in accordance with the
scheme, and that the Board of Trade may dispense with the services of a special
advisory committee so far as the area of the authority is concerned. The en­
actment of the Education (Choice of Employment) Act, 1910, renders it possible
for the procedure contemplated by paragraph 6 of the special rules to be brought
into operation.
2. We are of opinion that the employment of juveniles should be primarily
considered from the point of view of their educational interest-s and permanent
careers rather than from that of their immediate earning capacities, and ac­
cordingly we urge upon local education authorities the desirability o f under­
taking, in accordance with the principles set out in the present memorandum,
the responsibilities offered to them by the new act. We consider that it is of
importance ’that these responsibilities should be exercised in the fullest cooperaton with the national system of labor exchanges established under the
Labor Exchanges Act, 1909, and the Board of Education will, therefore, before
approving any proposals from local education authorities for the exercise of
their new powers, require adequate provision to be made for such cooperation.
Where a satisfactory scheme has been brought into force by a local education
authority, paragraph 6 of the special rules will operate, and the Board of Trade
will be prepared to recognize a committee of the authority as charged with
the duty of giving advice with regard to the management of the labor ex­
change for its area in relation to juvenile applicants for employment. There
are certain areas in which, pending the passing o f the act, the Board o f Trade
have already established, or have definitely undertaken to establish, special
advisory committees under paragraphs 2 to 5 of the special rules, and we
presume that the local education authorities for these areas will desire to
continue the arrangements already made, at least until some further experi­
ence has been gained, and will consequently defer the exercise of their powers
under the act. So far as other areas are concerned the Board of Trade do not
propose to take any steps for the establishment of special advisory committees
until after the 31st of December, 1911, except in the event of the local educa­
tion authority passing a formal resolution to the effect that they do not pro­
pose to exercise their powers under the Choice of Employment Act.
3. We recognize that the methods to be adopted by authorities in working
the act must necessarily be subject to considerable variations in accordance
with local conditions, and will, in particular, be affected by the distribution of
the labor exchanges, the districts of which are not necessarily conterminous
with the areas o f authorities. We think, however, that in normal cases some
such arrangements as are indicated in the following paragraphs are likely to



be found effective in practice, and may be expected to insure a reasonable
distribution and correlation of functions between the authorities and the labor
4. The work to be undertaken by public bodies in giving assistance in the
choice of employment for juveniles may be regarded as having two branches.
In the first place there is the task of giving such advice to boys and girls and
their parents as will induce them to extend where possible the period o f educa­
tion, and to select, when employment becomes necessary, occupations which are
suited to the individual capacities o f the children, and, by preference, those
which afford prospects not merely of immediate wages but also of useful train­
ing and permanent employment. In the second place, there is the practical task
of registering the actual applications for employment and bringing the appli­
cants into touch with employers who have notified vacancies of the kind desired.
5. In any scheme o f cooperation put forward under the new act the first o f
these two tasks, that o f giving advice, should, we think, be assigned to the
local education authority, with the assistance of such information as to the
conditions and prospects o f particular kinds o f employment as can be furnished
by the Board o f Trade through the labor exchanges. We think that .the
authority should act through a special subcommittee, which may, perhaps,
also be the subcommittee charged with the supervision of continuation and
technical schools, and which should always include an adequate number o f
members possessing experience qj* knowledge of industrial as well as of educa­
tional conditions. In its detailed working, which should include the keeping
in touch with boys and girls after as well as before employment has been
found for them, such a subcommittee will, we trust, utilize to the full the
services not only of teachers and of school attendance officers, but also o f
voluntary workers, whose activities may here find one of their most valuable
educational spheres; but the work will be of a kind which depends largely upon
skilled and effective organization, and it will probably be found desirable, as
a rule, to put at the disposal of the subcommittee an executive officer who will
act as its secretary and maintain the daily contact between the authority, the
voluntary workers, and the labor exchange.
6. As regards the second o f these two tasks, namely, the registration of appli­
cations for employment and the selection of applicants to fill vacancies notified
by employers, there is need for cooperation between the education authority and
the labor exchange, and direct relations should be established between the sub­
committee or officer of the authority and the officer in charge of the juvenile
department o f the labor exchange. For this purpose it will probably be found
convenient for the two officers to be located in the same or contiguous buildings.
At present a good deal o f the work done in connection with the employment o f
children is done at the elementary and other schools at which the children
are in attendance, and no doubt this will continue to be the case, at any rate
so far as the giving o f advice is concerned, but we desire to point out that the
notification of applications for employment to a central office will increase the
range of vacancies open to any one applicant, and will therefore advance the
fundamental object of placing each applicant in the employment which best
suits him, and to which he is best suited. We contemplate, therefore, that
applications for employment from children still at school will continue to be
received and entered upon the necessary cards by their teacher, but that the
cards will then, generally speaking, be forwarded by him to the authority’s
officer. The applications from boys and girls who have left school can, we
think, most conveniently be registered by the officer of the labor exchange, but
arrangements should be made to admit of such applicants being interviewed by'
the authority’s officer either at the time of registration or as soon as possible
47784°— 16------- 5



after, as it is desirable that they should be fully advised before vacancies for
employment are brought to their notice. All applications received in either of
the ways indicated should at once be made available either in original or in
copies for the use both o f the education authority and of the labor exchange.
Notifications of vacancies for employment should be made to the officer o f the
labor exchange, who will furnish the authority’s officer with information as to
each vacancy for which he proposes to submit a boy or girl, and with the name
of any boy or girl whom he proposes to submit for it. Information passing
between the authority and the labor exchange will naturally be held to be
strictly for the purposes of their cooperation. We anticipate that in ordinary
cases the question whether a particular vacancy is suitable for a particular
boy or girl will give rise to no difference of opinion between the two officers.
It will, however, probably be necessary to provide for the possibility of a dif­
ference of opinion. We think, therefore, that as a rule the decision should rest
with the authority’s representative as regards any child who is still in attend­
ance at an elementary or other day school or has not left the day school more
than six months previously, and that as regards applicants who have passed
this limit the decision should rest with the officer o f the labor exchange, wiio
will, however, consult the authority’s representative in all cases in which this
is practicable, and will in all cases inform him as to the manner in which each
vacancy is ultimately filled.
Should any scheme be submitted for the approval o f the Board of Edu­
cation under the act in which it is proposed to vary these limits or otherwise to
depart materially from the scheme of cooperation outlined in this memorandum,
it should be accompanied by a full statement o f the special reasons urged by the
local education authority in support of the proposed variation. The special
circumstances of the case will then be considered jointly by the two departments.
Sydney B uxton,
President of the Board of Trade.
W alter R u n c im a n ,
President of the Board of Education.
3rd January, 1911.

CHANGES, 1913.

(1) What is their present attitude to the labor exchange?
(2) What proportion of employers in the locality avail themselves o f the
labor exchanges to fill vacancies as they occur?
(3) Do they use the labor exchanges to an equal extent for filling vacancies
for skilled and unskilled workers, and for male and female workers? If not,
state and explain limited use o f labor exchanges.
(4) Do all departments o f the local authority regularly use the labor
exchanges, and for all purposes o f labor supply? I f not, why not?
(5) How are the employers who use labor exchanges satisfied as regards
(a) rapidity of process; (&) suitability and choice of workers supplied; (c)
effect on Stability of workers; i. e., has it unsettled workers or encouraged
unreasonable demands as regards wages and labor conditions? (On the other
hand, has it increased the chances of good men to improve their position?)
(6) Have labor exchanges been o f any help to agricultural employers, or
on the contrary tended to decrease their labor supply?



(1) What is their present attitude to the labor exchange?
(2) Are there any complaints as to supply of blackleg labor or preference
being given to nonunionists? (I f so, obtain absolutely reliable evidence.)
(3) What, in the opinion o f workers, has been the effect of the labor exchange
on wages? Has it, in practice, enabled employers— especially o f unskilled
labor— to reduce wages by offering them a wider choice o f applicants for work,
or has it enabled workers to stand out for better terms?
(4) Has the interlocal registration of vacancies tended to equalize wages as
between different manufacturing towns? I f so, has the tendency been in the
upward or downward direction?
(5) Has the use o f the labor exchange substantially shortened the search
for work on the part of bona fide applicants?
(6) What has been the effect of the labor exchange on trade-union member­
ship, if any?


(1) Has the work of the labor exchange tended to increase casual labor by
making it easier for employers to recruit occasional workers and for workers
to throw up their jobs by providing a greater choice o f alternatives? Has any
definite policy of “ decasualization ” been followed, and with what amount of
success ?
(2) Give instances of any ascertained effect of labor-exchange activity on
wages and labor conditions.
(3) Is the juvenile department run by the labor exchange or by the educa­
tion authority? In either case, what is done in advice as to choice of employ­
ment, and to what extent is the exchange actually used by children leaving
school? Has the juvenile department actually succeeded in reducing juvenile
unemployment and in preventing frequent changes of employment?
(4) Is there a permanent surplus of female applicants for employment? If
so, how are vacancies for casual women workers (such as charwomen) filled;
on what principle?
(5) To what extent, in the opinion of the officials, are the vacancies notified
and applications made typical o f the total demand and supply o f labor in the
locality? What proportion of the vacancies actually occurring during the
year—roughly— is filled through the labor exchange? Explain any restriction
o f the use actually made o f the labor exchange by workers and employers.
(6) Has the system of unemployment insurance had any effect on the general
work of the labor exchange? I f so, describe and explain.
(7) Any suggestions of the officials for improving the mechanism o f the
labor-exchange system, or for widening its sphere of usefulness.
N o t e .— Many o f the questions put above can be answered only by stating
opinions. These should be given as fully as possible, with name and occupation
(not for publication) of informant, and, if possible, in his own words.
Rumors and insinuations should, as far as possible, be investigated and
evidence be given of any complaints.
All facts and illustrations to be given in sufficient detail to enable their full