The Works Progress Administration

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A New Works Progress Administration
The American government, and therefore its taxpaying citizens, get nothing out of the welfare system. When government financial support came into existence during the 1930's, this was not the case. Roosevelt, in an attempt to curb the effects of the depression, created the New Deal. The New Deal was a series of economic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They involved presidential executive orders or laws passed by Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were in response to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call the "3 R's": Relief, Recovery, and Reform. That is, Relief for the unemployed and poor; recovery of the economy to normal levels; and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression.

Of all of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) is the most famous, because it affected so many people’s lives. Roosevelt’s vision of a work-relief program employed more than 8.5 million people. For an average salary of $41.57 a month, WPA employees built bridges, roads, public buildings, public parks and airports. Under the direction of Harry Hopkins, an enthusiastic ex-social worker who had come from modest means, the WPA would spend more than $11 million in employment relief before it was canceled in 1943. The work relief program was more expensive than direct relief payments, but worth the added cost, Hopkins believed. “Give a man a dole,”(a dole is modern day equivalent to the word "handout") he observed, “and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit”.

The WPA employed far many more men than women, with only 13.5% of WPA employees being women in the peak year of 1938. Although the decision had been made early on to pay women the same wages as men, in practice they were consigned to the lower-paying activities of sewing, bookbinding, caring for the...
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