Rearmament and Work Relief

May 21, 1941

Report Outline
Unemployement and Relief in Defense Boom
Effect of Defense Boom on Unemployment
Defense Jobs and Federal Work Relief
Special Focus

Unemployement and Relief in Defense Boom

Substantial declines during the past year in the total v number of unemployed persons, and optimistic predictions as to the extent of the job opportunities that will be provided as defense production gathers momentum, have led to the assumption in some quarters that unemployment in the United States will soon be almost entirely wiped out. In consequence, there has been a belief that the federal government in the near future could eliminate, or reduce to very modest proportions, the W. P. A. and other forms of emergency work relief, thereby making available large savings that could either be applied to defense costs or used to obviate the necessity of as heavy an increase in taxation as has been proposed.

Relief Appropriations and Non-Defense Economies

Some members of Congress have inclined to the view that any reductions in non-defense expenditures should be subtracted from the amount of revenue to be sought from new taxation. Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, on the other hand, has urged not only that Congress levy $3,500,-000,000 in new taxes, but that it also cut non-defense expenditures by as much as $1,000,000,000. When asked by a member of the Ways and Means Committee, April 24, to suggest where cuts could be made, Morgenthau mentioned the advisability of re-examining such items as agricultural parity payments, soil conservation payments, highway appropriations, postal subsidies, and appropriations for the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration. He told the committee he could not “think of better examples than the C. C. C. and the N. Y. A., which are taking boys over 21 just as though we did not have the Army taking them.”

Subsequent attempts to thrust upon the administration the responsibility for recommending specific reductions in appropriations were countered by Morgenthau, May 12, with an assertion that it was up to Congress to take the initiative. President Roosevelt said the same thing at a press conference four days later. Senator Byrd (D., Va.) meanwhile had proposed in a newspaper interview, May 2, that a flat 10 per cent cut be made in all non-defense appropriations, to effect a saving of $500,000,000, and that another $500,-000,000 be cut from appropriations for unemployment relief. In mid-May Rep. Disney (D., Okla.) likewise advocated a $500,000,000 reduction in relief appropriations, and Rep. Taber (R., N. Y.) proposed an $800,000,000 cut.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
U.S. Preparation for World War II
Aug. 22, 1947  Industrial Mobilization
Sep. 23, 1941  War Organization of the Government
Aug. 02, 1941  Daylight Saving
Jul. 24, 1941  Conservation of Strategic Materials
Jun. 27, 1941  Atlantic Islands and American Defense
May 27, 1941  Production of War Materials
May 21, 1941  Rearmament and Work Relief
Mar. 15, 1941  War Aims
Feb. 20, 1941  War Orders and Decentralization
Feb. 05, 1941  Regulation of Priorities
Jun. 03, 1940  Methods of Financing War
Dec. 27, 1938  American Rearmament
Feb. 20, 1937  War Profits and Industrial Mobilization
Defense Budget
U.S. at War: World War II
Unemployment and Employment Programs