The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview
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WPA JOBS, as federal officials have pointed out repeatedly, are designed to provide employment for needy unemployed workers. Need and employability, therefore, are the two primary --though by no means the only--considerations in determining eligibility.1

Conditions of eligibility for WPA jobs have been modified again and again since the WPA was first established. Workers meeting all requirements for work at one stage of the game have, at a later stage, frequently found themselves suddenly ineligible for further employment. This fact has caused no end of misunderstanding on the part of both workers and the public since wholly eligible persons have found themselves transformed overnight into "chiselers," not because of something they did, or did not do, but because of sudden changes in the rules while the game was in progress. Conversely, persons ineligible at one moment may by changes in policy or law suddenly find themselves eligible for employment.

Some of the changes in rules regarding eligibility have been more or less consistent from year to year. Typical of these has been the increasing stringency of the policies of Congress (a) in precluding the employment of aliens, and (b) in limiting jobs to workers who are in need. On the other hand, from year to year, Congress has made it less and less difficult for veterans, veterans' widows, and the wives of unemployable veterans to secure jobs with the WPA.

Other changes have been more erratic. Provisions in effect at one time have frequently been reversed at a later time only to be adopted again some time still later.2

This is not to say, of course, that all who are in need and employable (and otherwise meet prescribed eligibility requirements) are assured of employment. For, as shown in some detail in chap. 25, thousands upon thousands of admittedly needy and employable persons meeting all eligibility requirements have been denied jobs simply because there have never been enough jobs to go round.
Because changes in policy have followed one another so rapidly, little attempt is made in this volume to show how long any given policy continued in effect. Usually all that is specified is the date on which a given policy is prescribed. However, poli


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