Winter Relief, 1933–1934

December 5, 1933

Report Outline
Federal Government and Unemployment Relief
Unemployment Relief Problem at End of 1933
Civil Works Program of Direct Employment
Federal Relief Aid and Unemployment Insurance
Special Focus

Federal Government and Unemployment Relief

Formulation and prompt execution of the plan to employ 4,000,000 persons on civil works projects before December 15 has given the nation assurance that the needs of distressed members of the population are to be more adequately met during the coming months than at any time since the volume of unemployment reached major proportions. The United States is now entering the fifth winter of depression, but it is the first in which the federal government will directly share the responsibility of providing relief to the needy. Although the Reconstruction Finance Corporation loaned $300,000,000 to the states for relief purposes under the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of July 21, 1932, it was not until passage of the Federal Emergency Relief Act on May 12, 1933, that authority was given to use federal funds for outright relief grants, That law not only made available an appropriation of $500,000,000 but, by setting up the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, provided a national agency under whose leadership relief standards and practices throughout the country have been raised and unified.

Assumption of a part of the relief burden by the federal government—a policy which had been resisted by the Hoover administration—became one of the first objectives of President Roosevelt. Passage of legislation providing for unemployment relief grants was recommended in a message transmitted to Congress 011 March 21, At the same time the President urged immediate creation of “a civilian conservation corps to be used in simple work, not interfering with normal employment, and confining itself to forestry, the prevention of soil erosion, flood control, and similar projects.” The latter proposal had been foreshadowed on March 4 when the President, declaring in his inaugural address that “our greatest primary task is to put. people to work,” had asserted that “it can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time through this employment accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our great national resources.”

Civil Works Plan as a Supplement to Recovery Measures

Attacking fundamental economic ills in its effort to “put people to work,” the administration proceeded to develop the far-reaching industrial program which was embodied in the National Recovery Act, approved June 16, Aside from the provisions designed to bring about shorter hours and higher wages, that statute contained authorization for a huge public works program to increase jobs and stimulate the heavy industries. Influenced by the administration's activity, business improved and unemployment declined during the spring and early summer. In spite of the setback in business that then followed, the total volume of unemployment continued to decline through September, mostly as a result of the application of N. R. A. codes. As the autumn advanced, however, it became evident that neither the industrial recovery nor public works programs, at their current rate of progress, could be depended upon to make deep inroads in the ranks of the unemployed before winter. While the number of jobless had fallen to the lowest figure since the end of 1931, there were still some 10,000,000 persons out of work.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
New Deal, Great Depression, and Economic Recovery
Feb. 20, 2009  Public-Works Projects
Jul. 25, 1986  New Deal for the Family
Apr. 04, 1973  Future of Social Programs
Nov. 18, 1944  Postwar Public Works
Apr. 12, 1941  Public Works in the Post-Emergency Period
Mar. 08, 1940  Integration of Utility Systems
Feb. 26, 1938  The Permanent Problem of Relief
Jun. 08, 1937  Experiments in Price Control
Jan. 05, 1937  Credit Policy and Control of Recovery
Nov. 27, 1936  New Deal Aims and the Constitution
Oct. 16, 1936  Father Coughlin vs. the Federal Reserve System
Sep. 25, 1936  Roosevelt Policies in Practice
Feb. 11, 1936  Conditional Grants to the States
Dec. 11, 1935  Capital Goods Industries and Recovery
Sep. 25, 1935  Unemployment Relief Under Roosevelt
Jul. 17, 1935  The R.F.C. Under Hoover and Roosevelt
Jul. 03, 1935  Six Months of the Second New Deal Congress
Jun. 04, 1935  The Supreme Court and the New Deal
Mar. 05, 1935  Public Works and Work Relief
Feb. 16, 1935  Organized Labor and the New Deal
Dec. 04, 1934  Rural Electrification and Power Rates
Oct. 26, 1934  Federal Relief Programs and Policies
Jul. 25, 1934  Distribution of Federal Emergency Expenditures
Jul. 17, 1934  Debt, Credit, and Recovery
May 25, 1934  The New Deal in the Courts
Mar. 27, 1934  Construction and Economic Recovery
Mar. 19, 1934  Price Controls Under N.R.A.
Feb. 15, 1934  Federal Promotion of State Unemployment Insurance
Jan. 10, 1934  Government and Business After the Depression
Jan. 02, 1934  The Adjustment of Municipal Debts
Dec. 12, 1933  The Machine and the Recovery Program
Dec. 05, 1933  Winter Relief, 1933–1934
Nov. 11, 1933  Power Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 28, 1933  Buying Power under the Recovery Program
Oct. 19, 1933  Land Settlement for the Unemployed
Sep. 20, 1933  The Capital Market and the Securities Act
Jul. 18, 1933  Public Works and National Recovery
Jul. 01, 1933  The Plan for National Industrial Control
May 03, 1933  Economic Readjustments Essential to Prosperity
Apr. 26, 1933  Government Subsidies to Private Industry
Mar. 25, 1933  Rehabilitation of the Unemployed
Feb. 17, 1933  Federal Cooperation in Unemployment Relief
Nov. 16, 1932  Systems of Unemployment Compensation
Nov. 09, 1932  Policies of the New Administration
Aug. 18, 1932  Emergency Relief Construction and Self-Liquidating Projects
Dec. 28, 1931  Relief of Unemployment
Aug. 01, 1931  National Economic Planning
Jul. 20, 1931  Dividends and Wages in Periods of Depression
Feb. 19, 1931  Insurance Against Unemployment
Jan. 19, 1931  Business Failures and Bankruptcy Administration
Jan. 01, 1931  Federal Subsidies to the States
Dec. 08, 1930  Federal Relief of Economic Distress
Sep. 25, 1930  The Extent of Unemployment
May 16, 1930  Politics and Depressions
Dec. 20, 1929  The Federal Public Works Program
Jun. 08, 1929  The Federal Reserve System and Stock Speculation
Apr. 14, 1928  The Federal Reserve System and Price Stabilization
Feb. 25, 1928  The Federal Reserve System and Brokers' Loans
Economic Crises
Unemployment and Employment Programs