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President Eisenhower and the Development of Active Labor Market Policy in the United States: A Revisionist View


Hugh A. Wilson is professor emeritus in the Department of Political Science at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. He has published articles on nuclear power, urban politics, and public policy and the suburbs. His current research centers around the bipartisan expansion of the postwar welfare state.


Revisionist analysis indicates that Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration was not hostile to the American welfare state, and even extended it in areas such as social security. However, one area of the welfare state—active labor market policy—has received minimal attention from scholars. This article analyzes the Eisenhower administration's efforts at advancing active labor market policies. The analysis bears out Eisenhower's active engagement in this policy arena and contributes to the revisionist literature. The analysis also challenges the prevailing orthodoxy on active labor market policy as a two-stage process—the Employment Act of 1946 and the Kennedy-era legislation on manpower training—which ignores the Eisenhower era.