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Release on Delivery
Monday, June 3 , 1968
9*00 a.m., E . D . T .

OPPORTUNITY AND CHOICE IN AN
EXPANDING ECONOMY

A Commencement Address

By
A n d r e w F . Brimmer
Member
Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve System

At

Clark College
A t l a n t a , University
A t l a n t a , Georgia

June 3 , 1968

OPPORTUNITY A N D CHOICE IN AN
EXPANDING ECONOMY
By
Andrew F . Brimmer

I am both delighted and flattered to have been asked to
speak to this graduating class of Clark C o l l e g e .

Although this

is the first time that I have been on this campus, I have visited
other units of Atlanta U n i v e r s i t y .
actually began a long time a g o .

In one sense, this trip

Having been born in a rural

parish in the northeast section of Louisiana -- and having

lived

there until 1944 when I left at the age of seventeen -- I feel like
a Southerner who has traveled afar and has finally returned to his
own home g r o u n d .

P e r s o n a l l y , I a m pleased that I have been honored

to share in these exercises marking an ending as well as a new
beginning.
I am certain that in these times of trouble for both the
nation and its peoples -- white and black -- no commencement

speaker

would dare insult his audience with an irrelevant sermon on the need
for faith and fortitude on the road of life a h e a d .

Instead, I shall

ask you to examine with m e , w i t h o u t sentiment or illusions, some
of the hard but necessary choices which you must face -- not alone
because you are black in a predominantly white society but also
because you are young and destined to live in a world in which most
critical decisions are made by men of middle age and beyond.
one s e n s e , you are particularly fortunate:

In

as the first generation

to reach maturity since the Supreme Court began in 1954 to forge

-2the legal foundations of a new environment of freedom, you can
choose to a considerable degree the conditions under which you
wish to live.
-

Will you pursue the traditional careers followed
by most Negro college graduates in the past -- or
will you strike out along the new paths that have
been recently cleared?

-

Will you seek the security of mainly middle-grade
government employment -- or will you respond to the
challenge of widening opportunities in the private
sector?

-

Will you risk the agonies and realities of competition
in an integrated society -- or will you settle for the
comforts and illusions of protection in a segregated
community?

Undoubtedly, still other choices -- all equally hard and
equally necessary -- will have to be made by you.

However, from

my personal vantage point, which involves sharing the responsibility
for formulating

and implementing monetary policy -- one phase of

national economic policy, I think it is of critical importance that
we focus on the new opportunities that will be generated by an
expanding economy -- and on the avenues that will be open to you
to participate in the years ahead.

Expansion of Economic

Opportunity

With the widening efforts to reduce poverty in the United
States (efforts which I think are still inadequate), one could easily
lose sight of the fact that economic progress _is being made in this
country.

While these strides are neither rapid nor comprehensive

e n o u g h , they are no less g e n u i n e .

While the task of eradicating

racial discrimination in employment and of increasing

facilities

for training and promotion remains formidable, I am personally
convinced that there is more reason to expect a quickening -- rather
than a slowdown -- in the expansion of economic

opportunities.

In particular, I am convinced that Negro youths in planning
careers need no longer restrict their horizons to the traditional
professions w h i c h , in the past, had a guaranteed outlet in a
segregated m a r k e t .

Historically, racial segregation has been viewed

primarily as a barrier blocking N e g r o e s ' access to schools, h o t e l s ,
restaurants, transportation and other forms of public services.
these barriers were strict and h a r s h .

As such,

On the other h a n d , what is

not so widely recognized is the fact that segregation also provided
a protective tariff behind which most Negroes in professional occupations found outlets for their skills:
Negro teachers (constituting the largest professional
group among Negroes as among the population at large)
taught Negro children almost exclusively.
Negro ministers preached in Negro churches, and Negro
undertakers presided over Negro funerals.
Negro physicians and dentists tended Negro patients,
and Negro lawyers counseled Negro clients.
Negro businessmen (confined almost entirely to ghetto
areas) provided personal and other services to Negro
customers from which they were barred in the market
place at large.
While there were always a few Negro professionals who
made their way in vigorous competition in the open m a r k e t , the
above fields traditionally accounted for the vast majority of

-4professional jobs held by N e g r o e s .
this employment pattern:

But there is no mystery about

barred by racial discrimination from

access to most jobs and opportunities for practice in the society
at large, Negro professionals had few alternatives to pursuing
their careers within the framework of the Negro community.

And

what the Negro community needed most were those services from which
they were cut off by segregation -- either legal or customary:
schools and colleges; religious observances; medical facilities and
legal services, and public accommodations.

T h u s , an ambitious Negro

youth (who also had an eye on occupational security) naturally
became a teacher, clergyman, physician, dentist, lawyer or businessman catering to the Negro m a r k e t .
T o d a y , however, while an ambitious Negro youth may still
choose to follow one of these traditional career paths (and they
are all still honorable professions), the alternatives among which
he can choose have widened dramatically in the last few y e a r s .

In

fact, we face the paradox where in the nation at large there may
actually be more professional, technical and other jobs requiring
well-developed skills, freely open to Negroes than there are Negroes
to fill them.

But without dwelling on the underlying causes of this

dilemma -- causes which can be traced to the legacy of discrimination
and segregation which has restricted the horizon of expectation of
Negro youth and limited their opportunities to acquire skills -one can identify a number of new fields offering
promising careers for Negro y o u t h .

exceptionally

-5We can sketch with considerable precision the m a i n
contours of the new job opportunities that will emerge during the
1970's.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the

U . S . Department of L a b o r , total employment in all industries will
grow by about 20 per cent during the decade 1965-75.

In services

and government, the rate of growth will be about double that for
all sources of employment combined.

In manufacturing (which has

provided the largest number of jobs for Negroes as well as for
American workers g e n e r a l l y ) , the rate of increase is expected to
be less than half that for industry as a w h o l e .

In terms of

principal occupations, the most rapid expansion in employment
during. 1965-75 will center in those categories requiring
education and training.

extensive

For e x a m p l e , employment in professional

and technical occupations will climb by roughly 45 per cent over
that p e r i o d , while

services (particularly the types other than in

private households) will record a gain of about one-third, and
clerical workers only slightly less.

The number of m a n a g e r s ,

officials and proprietors will increase by about

one-quarter.

Sales workers and skilled craftsmen will increase by approximately
one-quarter, while the number of semiskilled employees will rise
by just over 10 per cent.

Nonfarm laborers are expected to show

no increases at a l l , while the number of farmers will probably
shrink by almost

one-fifth.

Given these general trends, which career paths are likely
to offer Negro youths the most clearly marked route into full

participation in A m e r i c a n society?

U n d o u b t e d l y , the most dramatic

opportunities will come as a direct result of the widening
application of electronic computer technology in American
and governmental a d m i n i s t r a t i o n .

industry

We are all familiar with the

extent to which computers have already taken on much of the enormous
burdens of record-keeping in large corporations and government
departments.

Perhaps what is less widely appreciated is the extensive

reliance on the computer in the control of numerous manufacturing
processes, air and ground traffic m a n a g e m e n t , banking and other
financial operations, telephone and other communication n e t w o r k s ,
complex research and similar fields.

From all of these activities

has sprung a large and growing demand for computer-related

personnel:

for systems a n a l y s t s , who design the basic framework linking the
computer with the different information systems within an organization
which generate inputs for the computer; for pr.gramers, who transcribe
information into the technical input language required for the
computer to perform the desired calculations; for computer operating
personnel (keypunch operators, data typists, console

operators,

tape librarians and others) required for the actual operation of
computers.

A l r e a d y hundreds of thousands of professional and semi-

professional jobs (which did not exist as recently as a few years
ago) have been created by the advent of the computer.

Moreover,

this new field has been particularly hospitable to N e g r o y o u t h .
In thousands of private establishments and in hundreds of government
b u r e a u s , Negroes hold a substantial proportion of the jobs associated

-7with computer operations -- ranging from keypunch operators

through

advanced systems a n a l y s t s , and with a heavy concentration among
programers.

These jobs will certainly continue to expand

rapidly

in the future.
On the other h a n d , let me hasten to say that I am not
blind to the fact that many Negro youths will continue to find
satisfying and rewarding careers in some of the traditional
occupations.

For instance, between 1965 and 1975, BLS expects the

number of elementary school teachers to grow by more than 15 per
cent.

During the same d e c a d e , about four-fifths of the 1.1 million

teachers in elementary education in 1965 will have to be replaced
because of retirements, deaths and resignations.

Of the 823

thousand secondary school teachers in classrooms in the fall of
1965, about three-quarters would have to be replaced, and net
expansion may amount to nearly 25 per cent.

The number of college

teachers (around 245 thousand in 1965) may expand by nearly twofifths over the decade ending in 1975.

Other occupations (such as

social and welfare w o r k e r s , medical a s s i s t a n t s , and urban planners)
closely associated with the intensifying efforts to rehabilitate
our cities will also offer a range of opportunities which will be
expanding at a rate much in excess of that for the economy as a
whole.
M a n y of these newer career fields, while offering a much
wider range of opportunities, are also fields in which annual incomes
are generally higher than in most jobs traditionally held by N e g r o e s .

-8In general terms, the following situation existed in 1966-67
Profession
Median

A n n u a l Income
Typical Range

Teachers
Elementary

Secondary

$ 6,609

7,095

$ 5,300 (Ala., A r k . , K y . , M i s s . ,
N . D . , S.D.)
7,600 (Calif., N . Y . , H a w a i i )
5,700 (Ark., M i s s . , S.D.)
8,000 (N.Y., Calif.)

10,387

7,122
14,402

(Instructors)
(Professors)

Social Workers

7,600

5,800
9,500

(Beginning)
(Supervisors)

Nurses (Reg. Prof.)

5,400

5,200
8,000

(Beginning)
(Directors)

Sociologists

11,300

6,450
15,000

(Beginning)
(Senior)

Accountants

12,300

7,000
18,000

(Beginning)
(Chief)

9,000

6,500
22,000

(Beginning)
(Advanced)

11,750

7,700
17,000

(Beginning)
(Senior)

9,500

5,300
10,045

(Beginning)
(Experienced)

Programers

10,300

7,300
12,000

(Beginning)
(Supervisors)

Systems Analysts

12,900

8,000 (Beginners)
17,000 (Advanced)

College

Urban Planners

Economists

Computer Operating
Personnel

While the higher incomes in some of the newer career
fields partly reflect higher educational requirements, this is

-9not the full explanation.

In many instances, the differences

also reflect a growing need for people to help meet the expanding
demand for professional services in both the public and private
sectors.

T h u s , as I said at the o u t s e t , Negro youths

increasingly

w i l l have numerous choices among the career alternatives which are
coming to the forefront.

Whether they adopt the venturesome course

or stick to the traditional paths is a matter for each young person
to decide for h i m s e l f .

But I personally urge the venturesome

route.

Employment Opportunities in the Public and Private Sectors
The second major occupational choice which Negro youth
must face is whether to seek jobs in the private sector to a
greater extent than in the past.

H i s t o r i c a l l y , a large proportion

of employed Negroes (especially of those in professional positions)
has been on the public payroll than has been true for the population
as a w h o l e .

For e x a m p l e , in 1966, N e g r o e s , who constituted about

12 per cent of the country's total labor force, represented about
8.2 per cent of total employment in nonfarm occupations in private
industry.

In the same y e a r , they accounted for 13.9 per cent of

all civilian employees in the Federal Government.

M o r e o v e r , while

Federal employment absorbed 3.1 per cent of the total civilian labor
force, about 5.0 per cent of the Negroes in civilian jobs were on
the Federal payroll.
Behind these overall statistics is an even heavier

reliance

by Negroes on the public sector for a disproportionate share of the

-10better jobs they h o l d .

The extent of this reliance was fully

documented in the 1960 Census of P o p u l a t i o n .

In that y e a r ,

public employment at the F e d e r a l , State and local level
accounted for about 10.2 per cent of total employment.

The

percentage of nonwhites so employed was roughly the s a m e , 9.9
per cent.

H o w e v e r , while just over one-third of all professional

and technical workers were employed by public a g e n c i e s , nearly
three-fifths of nonwhite workers in the same occupations were
employed by such agencies.

Of course, in each c a s e , public

employment was heavily weighted by the large number of teachers
in the public schools.
But aside from e d u c a t i o n , the much greater reliance of
Negroes on the public sector for white collar jobs is still
noticeable.

For instance, in 1960, about 1 in 8 of all salaried

managers worked for public institutions, but the ratio was 1 in 5
for n o n w h i t e s .

About 17 per cent of the nonwhite engineers worked

for government bodies compared with only 7 per cent for white
engineers.

For a c c o u n t a n t s , the ratios were one-third for nonwhites

and only 13 per cent for white accountants.

Some 22 per cent of

nonwhite chemists were employed by public a g e n c i e s , compared with
only 15 per cent of the white chemists.
Clerical workers provide the most striking example of all.
In 1960, about two-fifths of all nonwhite women employed as secretaries,
stenographers, and other classes of clerical workers were on the
public payroll.

Only 14 per cent of the white women employed as

-11clerical workers were on the public payroll.

M o r e o v e r , while

nonwhite women represented less than 4 per cent of all women
with such j o b s , they accounted for 10 per cent of those employed
in the public sector.
Although the details obviously have changed since 1960,
the broad conclusions probably still h o l d .

While private industry

has greatly accelerated its hiring of Negroes in recent y e a r s ,
so has the public sector.

For e x a m p l e , in 1962, Negroes

constituted

L3 per cent of total employment in the Federal Government; by 1967,
the ratio had risen to 14.9 per cent of the work force.

In the

five year period, the number of Negroes employed by the Federal
Government rose from 293 thousand to 391 thousand, a gain of
98 thousand -- representing 33 per cent of the increase in total
Federal civilian employment.
H o w e v e r , while great strides have been made in the employment and promotion of minority groups in the Federal G o v e r n m e n t ,
the vast majority of Negroes are still concentrated in the low- and
middle-grade jobs.

(See table on next page.)

For e x a m p l e , of the

391 thousand Negroes employed by the Federal Government in 1967,
two-thirds (254 thousand) were in the postal field service
(132 thousand) or held blue collar (wage board) jobs.

Moreover,

in regular civil service categories, Negroes are heavily concentrated
in the low to middle salary grades.

-12Negro Employment in the Federal Government
N o v e m b e r , 1967

Category

Total
Employment

Negro Employment
Number
Per Cent
of
Total

2,621,939

390,842

14,
.9

1,270,051

133,626

10,
.5

369,968

75,846

20,
.5

( 5,565 - 9,598
9 - 11
( 8,054 - 12,555)
12 - 18
(11,461 - 27,055

349,020

40,494

.6
11.

296,560

12,631

4,
,3

254,503

4,655

.8
1.

Wage Board
Up thru $4,499
4,500 - 6,499
6,500 - 7,999
8,000 and over

596,647
45,023
235,082
233,218
83,324

121,829
24,464
65,227
28,879
3,259

20.
.4
54.
.3
27.
.7
12.
,4
3.
,9

Postal Field Service
PFS 1 - 4
($4,118 - 7,151)
s — O
- Q
j
( 5,651 - 9,249)
9 - 11
( 7,515 - 11,546)
12 - 20
( 9,775 - 26,840)

698,346

132,011

18.
.9

601,160

123,632

20.
,6

77,746

7,805

10.
,0

14,985

467

,
3. 1

4,455

107

2.
,4

56,895
6,523
10,970
7,107
32,295

3,376
1,252
1,073
359
692

5.
.9
19. 2
,8
9.
.1
5.
2.
,1

A l l Pay Plans
(October, 1967)
General Schedule
GS 1 - 4
($3,776 - 6,489)
Q
j
—

A l l other Pay Plans
Up thru 4,499
4,500 - 6,499
6,500 - 7,999
8,000 and over

-13Thus , I believe that Negro youth ought to be attracted
to the private sector to a far greater extent than in the past.
W h i l e many companies (particularly the large ones in the manufacturing sector) have made considerable progress in employing
N e g r o e s , the experience is most u n e v e n .

The general pattern can

be seen in the following statistics (based on data supplied by
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) relating to the first
quarter of 1966:

Industry

A l l Industry

Negro Employment
as per cent of
Total Employment

8.2

Percentage of
Firms with
N o Negro Employees

47.1

Banking and Finance
Banking
Insurance

1.9 - 11.8
4.4
3.3

31.9 - 77.8
31.9
77.8

Advertising
Communication
Construction
Manufacturing
Wholesale Trade
G e n . Merchandise Stores

3.7
4.3
12.7
4.0 - 19.7
6.5
7.4

60.2
40.9
47.0
22.2 - 52.7
62.5
33.4

-14T h u s , while Negroes constituted 8.2 per cent of total
employment in industry in early 1966, almost half the 117,000-odd
firms covered in the EEOC reports had no Negro employees.

In

g e n e r a l , the predominantly white collar industries (such as banking
and finance, a d v e r t i s i n g , communications) had relatively few N e g r o
employees.

In construction and m a n u f a c t u r i n g , where blue collar

occupations d o m i n a t e , the employment of Negroes was generally above
the national a v e r a g e .
In the last few y e a r s , opportunities for Negroes in the
private sector have expanded rapidly, and the pace will undoubtedly
quicken in the future.

T h u s , N e g r o youth will have a genuine choice

between seeking employment in the private sector -- rather than
relying in disproportionate numbers on the public payroll.

The Illusion of A n A I 1 - B l a c k Community
The third area in which N e g r o youth will have an opportunity
to choose the path they will follow concerns the option of living in
an integrated society as opposed to restricting their lives primarily
to the confines of a segregated community.

While I realize that the

question of separateness taken alone is more than sufficient for a
commencement a d d r e s s , I think it is inconceivable that a speaker
before a graduating class in 1968 would fail to take note of what
must be an issue of major concern to those about to leave the campus
to live in the community at large.

-15In my personal j u d g m e n t , this choice should pose no
real contest.

None of us should have any illusions whatsoever

about the basic structure of the society in which we will have
to live in the years ahead:

it will be primarily an integrated

society with large collections of well-defined and mainly segregated
sub-communities within it.

Given the fundamental commitment to

integration on the part of the vast majority of the white community
and the vast majority of the Negro community, I think the main
thrust toward widening the opportunities for Negroes and other
minority groups to participate more fully in an open society w i l l
not be turned a r o u n d .

While the pace at which the corrosive effects

of discrimination and segregation are eroded w i l l vary from
time-to-time and from place-to-place, in my own mind there is no
doubt that these barriers will continue to be reduced rather than
erected a n e w .
A t the same time, I also have no expectation of seeing
the complete elimination of our large urban ghettos at any time in
the foreseeable future.

Given the large concentration of Negro and

other low income groups in our central cities -- and given the virtual
impossibility of restructuring economic and other

institutional

arrangements in the short run -- it seems obvious to me that a good
part of the Negro population will continue to occupy sizable sections
of our urban areas for many y e a r s .

T h u s , while I personally would

not set out to create a segregated society, nor deliberately try to

-16check its erosion, it would also be an illusion to pretend that
we will not have to deal with the world as it is -- and as it will
be for some time to come.
A t the same time, it is imperative that we get on
immediately with the enormous investments of m o n e y , m a n p o w e r , and
materials which w i l l be necessary to rehabilitate our urban a r e a s .
In view of the intensive debate over the need for such an effort -a debate ranging from the cities, through State capitals, all the
way to the Federal Government -- it is unnecessary for me to dwell
further on it at this time.

Simply let me say, a g a i n , that whatever

the estimates that have been made of the magnitude of the public and
private - investment that w i l l be required to cope with the mounting
crises in our c i t i e s , these estimates will probably have to be
revised u p w a r d .
Returning to the question of the part that Negro youth can
play in this reconstruction of American society, let me state my
own views explicitly.

In my o p i n i o n , the advocates of a self-contained

and self-sufficient all-black community are misguided and headed for
bitter disappointment.

In one sense, because of segregated housing

patterns which w i l l persist for some time, there is no doubt that
Negro and other minority groups living in large segregated urban
areas will be able to exercise considerable political power based
entirely on their ability to vote as a b l o c k .

Such a voting pattern

w i l l guarantee that the citizens of a predominantly black community
will be able to decide to a considerable extent the political

-17arrangements in their own n e i g h b o r h o o d s .

M o r e o v e r , they will

also be able to influence in a significant way political decisions
in their large metropolitan areas -- and even at the State level
in some cases.

F u r t h e r m o r e , given the growing importance of urban

issues in the deliberations of C o n g r e s s , the growing political
power of black communities will also be registered

increasingly

in the affairs of the national government.
On the other h a n d , the prospects for a viable all-black
economy are not at all promising.

In the first p l a c e , no matter

how much investment may be made in plants and other job-creating
enterprises in the g h e t t o , the vast majority of the N e g r o population
will have to find employment in exactly those firms in which the
vast majority of the total labor force is employed:

the large

n a t i o n a l manufacturing corporations, the nationwide commercial and
transportation e n t e r p r i s e s , the large financial institutions, and
those government agencies serving the community as a w h o l e .

While

many of these enterprises may be inclined (or induced) to locate
branch facilities in the ghetto at an increasing rate, such establishments w i l l never provide enough jobs to absorb the e x i s t i n g , hard
core u n e m p l o y e d , those employed outside the g h e t t o , and to offer new
opportunities for the future residents of the ghetto.

The principal

underlying reason is that the economies of scale and of plant

location

in most instances will seldom if ever tip the decision in favor of
concentrating a substantial part of the output of any major firm in
the ghetto -- removed from its principal markets in the country at
large.

-18If these exceptionally strong enterprises cannot be
expected to provide enough jobs in the ghetto to support a separate
black community, what are the chances that Negro businessmen could
meet the challenge?
negative.

The answer must necessarily be even more

While Negro businessmen over the years undoubtedly will

acquire a growing share of the markets in the ghetto, I think there
is no prospect whatsoever that they will be able to reserve such
markets for themselves.

Quite the contrary, as income of Negro

families continues to rise (probably more rapidly than for the
population as a w h o l e ) , the large national corporations will find
the Negro market increasingly attractive.

T h u s , these corporations

are not about to withdraw and allow the Negro businessman to treat
the Negro market as his special preserve.

M o r e o v e r , Negro house-

holds even in the ghetto cannot be expected to abstain from the
consumption of many goods and services which are available only
outside the ghetto.

Therefore, while segregation and discrimination

once provided a fairly effective protective tariff in the past, I
see no indication that such protection will be available in the
future.
Furthermore, I see no net advantage to the Negro community
of chasing out the few white businessmen who are still doing business
in the ghetto.

Undoubtedly, many of the practices followed by some

of these businessmen in the ghetto (practices ranging all the way
from sale of inferior goods at exorbitant prices, the imposition
of Excessive credit charges, etc.) did amount to exploitation

-19however it is d e f i n e d .

N e v e r t h e l e s s , it is possible to eliminate

or drastically reform such practices without insisting that white
businessmen abandon their businesses or turn them over to black
merchants.

In fact, I personally find entirely unacceptable the

frequently heard suggestion that the Federal Government create some
kind of financial institution which would use public funds to buy
out existing white businesses in the ghetto and turn them over to
black m e r c h a n t s .

One v a r i a t i o n of the proposition would require

that training facilities be provided for the new merchants as a
by-product of the transfer, thus upgrading the skills of black
businessmen in the p r o c e s s .

Despite this apparent advantage, the

entire proposition runs exactly counter to the basic policy of the
Federal G o v e r n m e n t , which is to fight against segregation and
discrimination rather than promote it.
As I said at the outset of this discussion, there is no
doubt that a considerable amount of both public and private investment will be required to finance the rehabilitation of urban areas.
This investment must be made in h o u s i n g , education, public facilities
as well as in business enterprises in the ghetto.

In this process

of urban reconstruction, Negro youth can obviously play a critical
role.

On the other h a n d , I think it would be extremely unwise --

and in the long-run counter-productive -- to join this effort on
the assumption that a separate black community can be created and
maintained as a viable e n t i t y .

Instead, despite the frustrations

I think the great rewards will come from vigorous efforts to create
an intregated and democratic society in the United States.


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