More about Federal Writers' Projects - Works Progress Administration (WPA)

The Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unskilled workers to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western areas. The budget at the outset of the WPA in 1935 was $1.4 billion a year (about 6.7 percent of the 1935 GDP), and in total it spent $13.4 billion. At its peak in 1938 it provided paid jobs for three million unemployed men (and some women), as well as youth in a separate division, the National Youth Administration. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs. Full employment, which emerged as a national goal around 1944, was not the WPA goal. It tried to provide one paid job for all families where the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment.

The WPA was a national program that operated its own projects in cooperation with state and local governments, which provided 10%-30% of the costs. WPA sometimes took over state and local relief programs that had originated in the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) or FERA programs.

Liquidated on June 30, 1943 as a result of low unemployment due to the economic boom of World War Two, the WPA had provided millions of Americans with jobs for 8 years. Most people who needed a job were eligible for at least some of its positions. Hourly wages were typically set to the prevailing wages in each area. However workers could not be paid more than 30 hours a week. Before 1940, there was very little training to teach new skills, to meet the objections of the labor unions.

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Federal Writers' Projects - Works Progress Administration (WPA)
Idaho: a Guide in Word and Picture

Idaho: a Guide in Word and Picture