Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Remarks on Signing Executive Order Creating Civil Works Administration

November 08, 1933

Four million men now out of employment will be put to work under a plan announced today by the President.

Two million of these will become self-sustaining employees on Federal, State and local public projects on November 16th, and will be taken completely off the relief rolls. An additional two million will be put back to work as soon thereafter as possible.

This plan will be administered by the newly created Civil Works Administration. The President today appointed Harry L. Hopkins, as Administrator.

The Civil Works Administration will be financed jointly by funds from the Public Works Administration and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, but States, cities, counties and towns will be required to provide the funds to meet their share of the Civil Works program.

Secretary Harold L. Ickes, Public Works Administrator, was prepared to make available an amount up to $400,000,000 to the Civil Works Administration.

The two million men comprise those now on work relief provided by local relief administrations operating under the State and Federal Emergency Relief Administrations. These will immediately be placed on regular pay at the hourly rates prevailing for similar work in the community. The program contemplates a thirty-hour week for the workers.

Work relief divisions of the existing State and local emergency unemployment relief administrations will be modified to perform the expanded employment activities and will be known as Civil Works Divisions.

Creation of the new agency constitutes a fundamental change in the Federal program to deal with unemployment aspects of the depression. It will remove from the relief rolls a major portion of those receiving the necessities of life on the basis of public aid and place them on regular employment. It is designed to remove from relief all employable persons. Those hired by the Civil Works Administration will benefit by an immediate increase in income over their former relief allowances.

The projects on which the workers will be used will include not only the type on which work-relief is now being given, but also a wide range of employment in activities bordering on but not covered in the province of the Public Works Administration. This expanded field will enable the local Civil Works Divisions to undertake considerably more construction and to use greater quantities of construction materials. Work relief has been limited almost entirely to work involving a minimum of materials, since expenditure of emergency relief funds under this method was necessarily confined to relief allowances in the form of work relief wages.

Approximately 3,000,000 families are now being cared for throughout the country by public relief administrations financed in whole or part by Federal emergency relief funds.

Approximately 2,000,000 adult members of these families are earning relief in the form of wages for part-time employment on made-work projects. The total amount earned by the members of any one family is less than $20 a month in most of the localities.

By this one stroke at least two-thirds of the families in the country now receiving relief will be placed on a self-sustaining basis.

APP Note: The title of this document was modified by Gerhard Peters to include the words "Remarks on Signing".

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks on Signing Executive Order Creating Civil Works Administration Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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