19 JUNE 1947, Page 2

The Working Population

Mr. Herbert Morrison has said that we are in a critical period so far as industrial production is concerned. The effort of the not few weeks will have a lasting long-term effect: There is more than a suspicion that what Mr. Morrison has said about the present phase-would be equally trite Of any other phase in the next few years, but there is at least the present comfort that the working population is rising slightly. The Ministry of Labour's April figures show an increase of io,000, all of them women, in the numbers in industry as compared with the March figure. A heavy reduction in unemployment, due to recovery from the fuel crisis, swelled the numbers effectively employed by 200,000 in the same-period, so that the foundation of the production effort is growing stronger for the time being. It must not be forgotten, however, that taking the next four years as a whole, the trend will be exactly the opposite of that of the past month. The total working population is likely to fall by about too,000, an increase of about 260,000 in the number of male workers being more than offset by a decrease of some 355,oco in the female working population. What is more there will be a remarkable and striking increase in the average age of the workers. The exact effect on productivity of the changing age- composition of the working population remains to be seen, but the decline in the total clearly indicates that everything possible must be done to increase productivity per head in all branches of in- dustry. Experience since the war, so far as it is possible to reduce it to figures, has been far from satisfactory, and there is no doubt whatever that greater results are likely to follow from a drive to increase productivity per head than from any desperate measures to stem the ebb-tide of the working population. In fact, it is now up to the Ministry of Labour and the other Departments concerned to match the excellent figures of the number of people at work with a better indication of how hard they are working.