Unemployment and Recovery

May 19, 1936

Report Outline
Continuance of Heavy Unemployment Relief Burden
Extent and Incidence of Unemployment, 1929–1936
Durable and Consumer Goods as Factors in Recovery
Labor-Saving Machinery and Future Employment
Special Focus

Continuance of Heavy Unemployment Relief Burden

President roosevelt reported in his relief message to Congress on March 18,936, that approximately 5,300,000 families and unattached persons were then receiving public assistance—3,800,000 on the federal works program and 1,500,000 unemployables on local and state relief rolls. Official estimates of the whole number of persons supported by the works program and by direct relief are not available, but it is indicated that the total is now in the neighborhood of 19,000,000 to 20,000,000 men, women, and children. That number approximates the corresponding total for May, 1935, and is larger than the estimates for the same month in 1933 and 1934. Federal, state, and local emergency relief expenditures increased from a combined total of $793,000,000 in 1933 to $1,477,000,000 in 1934, and $1,827,000,000 in 1935.

While the President estimates that at least 5,000,000 more persons were at work in December, 1935, than in March, 1933, approximately 15 per cent of the whole population is still dependent on some form of public assistance, and expenditures for that purpose have risen each year. Continuance of a heavy relief burden despite, evidences of substantial business improvement has caused growing concern. It has given rise to assertions that private industry has failed to do its part in absorbing the jobless, to contentions that technological advances have made inevitable the existence of a permanent army of unemployed, and to proposals for shortening the work-week and for restricting the employment of youths and of old persons.

Unemployment Data and Studies of Recovery Problem

There is an almost complete lack of official data regarding the extent and incidence of unemployment, and unofficial estimates vary widely. The only nation-wide enumeration of the unemployed was taken by the Bureau of the Census in April, 1930, more than six years ago. In June, 1934, the House passed a bill providing for a special unemployment census, but the measure was not acted upon by the Senate. The fact that the proposed census was to give jobs to over 100,000 persons just after the congressional elections led to Republican charges that the project was of political origin. It was reported on March 1, 1936, that the Business Advisory Council of the Department of Commerce had under consideration a plan for a census of the unemployed in 1937, long enough after the approaching elections to avoid accusations of patronage motives. Various government departments are cooperating meanwhile in a recently initiated W. P. A. investigation of technological unemployment.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Economic Crises
Unemployment and Employment Programs