The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview
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TO BE ELIGIBLE for WPA employment a worker must not only give evidence of being "employable" and "in the labor market" but must also be unemployed, seeking work, willing to work, and available for work.


Unless an applicant's need can be attributed to "unemployment" he cannot, as a rule, qualify for a WPA job. The significance of this requirement, particularly with respect to women, to the blind, and to older workers, has already been mentioned.1 This policy has also resulted in denying WPA employment to a number of other types of workers such as members of families in which some person is already employed on some other kind of work. Under a Minnesota ruling of 1940, for example, no member of a household could be given WPA employment if the husband or wife or, if both were unemployable, any other "logical wage earner," was employed in private industry on a full-time job, in which case the problem was construed to be one of inadequate wages rather than unemployment.2

Unemployed "Through No Fault of Their Own"

Even workers who can qualify as "unemployed" are not eligible for WPA employment in some areas unless they can show, too, that they are out of work "through no fault of their own." One statement of this issue, as presented by the WPA in North Carolina in 1940, was as follows: "It is the purpose of the Work Projects Administration to give employment to that group of people who are in need, and who, through no fault of their own,

See chaps. 11 and 18.
Minnesota Department of Social Security, DSW-WPA-11. St. Paul, July 9, 1940. For discussion of policies regarding the effect of outside employment upon eligibility for WPA jobs see chap. 17.


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