Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter to the Speaker of the House on Unemployment Relief.

February 10, 1938

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives:

I have the honor to submit herewith for your consideration a supplemental estimate of appropriation of $250,000,000, for relief of the unemployed.

Emergency and Work Relief: To continue to provide relief and work relief as authorized in the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1937, and subject to all the provisions thereof, $250,000,000, which amount shall be added to, and proportionately increase the specified amounts of the limitations prescribed under the appropriation made in such Act [50 Stat. 352].

According to the best estimate available at this time it appears that, during the past three months, approximately three million persons have lost their jobs with private employers. This increase in unemployment could not, of course, have been foreseen at the time the last relief appropriation was under consideration. Hundreds of thousands of needy unemployed persons have recently applied for relief work which could not be provided for them with the funds on hand. It has become increasingly clear that these needs cannot be met unless employment by the Works Progress Administration is increased immediately.

The funds available on January 1, 1938, would permit employment of an average of only 1,700,000 persons for the six months ending June 30, 1938. The number of persons on the Works Progress Administration rolls today is 1,950,000. Funds available at this time will not only not take care of the additional burden caused by the recent increase in unemployment but will require a sharp reduction in the near future of the number on the Works Progress Administration rolls. This estimate of $250,000,000 will permit the continued employment for the next five months of the number now on such rolls, and will provide a reasonable measure of relief for those who have recently become unemployed and are in need.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to the Speaker of the House on Unemployment Relief. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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