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WPA Archives - Vintage Brochure - Other Federal Agencies - 1939


  • What other Federal agencies provide emergency employment; and what is their relation to the WPA program?

The Public Works Administration (PWA)

The Public Works Administration (PWA), because of the similarity of the initials, is sometimes con-fused with the WPA. The PWA is not primarily a work-relief agency; its principal objective is to stimulate reemployment, directly, through con-tractors carrying out PWA jobs, and indirectly through the stimulation of productive activity in heavy goods industries. PWA projects are restricted to construction activities.

The PWA as such does not carry out the actual prosecution of projects (as does the WPA), but makes grants, sometimes supplemented by loans, to State and local governments, which in turn let contracts for the prosecution of the work under the general regulations of and subject to the approval of the Public Works Administration.

The PWA regularly inspects the actual construction work as it is carried out. Under the act appropriating funds to the PWA for fiscal year 1939, need of relief is not a condition for employment on PWA jobs.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

The CCC's special task is to help conserve and develop the Nation's parks, forests, and other natural resources; it provides employment and training in camps to about 300,000 workers, chiefly among unmarried youths from 17 to 23 years of age, but including also many war veterans.

The National Youth Administration (NYA)

The NYA provides part-time employment for needy students of both sexes, from 16 to 25 years of age, thus enabling many of them to continue their education. It also affords part-time employment through work projects to many young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are not in school or college.

Other Agencies

The Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Navy, War, and Treasury, and various other Government agencies, provide emergency employment by expanding the work which they ordinarily carry out under regular appropriations. Part of the work of certain agencies can be adapted readily to the employment of relief workers, with relatively small outlays for materials and equipment, and emergency projects of this nature are financed by the transfer of WPA funds. Other agencies are able to carry out projects of the heavy construction type, on an expanded and emergency basis, and these projects are financed by the allocation of PWA funds, or by direct appropriations of an emergency nature. Some agencies, of course, operate emergency projects of both types.

Thus the War and Navy Departments employ relief workers to help construct and rehabilitate army posts or navy yards; the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is able to do more flood control work and inland waterway improvement; the Bureau of Public Roads allocates funds to States for the construction of more roads and the elimination of dangerous grade crossings; the Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine conducts more extensive campaigns against plant diseases and insect pests; the U. S. Public Health Service carries on health projects and health surveys; and the Bureau of Reclamation conducts various irrigation projects all either using workers from the relief rolls or providing jobs for other unemployed workers.

The WPA—besides cooperating with other Federal agencies in providing emergency employment—helps to operate about 35,000 local work projects all over the country. Its employment varies in inverse ratio with the level of private employment, having ranged from 1 1/2 million in the fall of 1937 to 3 1/4% million in the fall of 1938. It takes its workers almost entirely from the relief rolls; it employs many women as well as men; and its projects, while in the main devoted to such work as building roads and sewers, also include education, health, recreation, art, music, and other projects giving employment to trained professional and technical workers.


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