The WPA and Federal Relief Policy

By Donald S. Howard | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIII
DETERMINANTS OF VOLUME OF WPA
EMPLOYMENT

IN VIEW OF THE wide variations in the numbers employed by the WPA from month to month and from year to year, one might well ask how it is that the total number given jobs at any one time is determined. Establishment of these totals involves: determining the number of man-months of employment that are to be provided in any one year and deciding what proportion of these are to be provided in each month of the year. Once these decisions are made there remains the further step of allocating among the several states their shares of whatever employment is to be provided at any given time. The determination of the total number of jobs to be provided in a given year is discussed in this chapter. The other two questions are discussed in the chapter which follows.


THE AMOUNT OF MONEY AVAILABLE

The answer to the all-important question as to how many workers the WPA will employ in any given year is determined primarily (though not wholly1) by the amount of money appropriated for the WPA by Congress. Appropriations in their turn, however, are affected by the number of jobs Congress decides the WPA should provide. This decision, in turn, is affected by such questions as the following: How many jobs will the people of the United States be willing to pay for? How many jobs can the country afford to provide?

Federal authorities frequently have implied that the number of jobs the WPA has provided from time to time were about all the nation's credit would stand. This was once suggested by President Roosevelt, who, in defense of the administration's policy of providing employment only for needy persons rather than

____________________
1
When available funds have not permitted employment of as many workers as WPA officials have thought imperative to prevent hardship and suffering, necessary employment has, on occasion, been provided and supplementary appropriations have been asked of Congress.

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