The depression had struck hard among the ranks of unskilled workers, but many applicants for work relief also included professional and technical workers, proprietors, office workers, and even former business executives. (audio clip, 86k) Jennings realized that work relief could not be carried on with maximum efficiency unless applicants were classified according to the type of work they could do. The resulting labor inventory carried on under his orders disclosed the exact number of skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled persons in the district who were looking for jobs.
The administrative machinery for work relief was ready for action. There was an immediate need, however for a wide variety of projects that would provide an outlet for the unemployed labor.
Plans for projects were many, and fell into a number of different categories. A variety of construction and engineering projects were undertaken which saw the building of roads and highways, public buildings, public utilities, air fields, and other such items. Another large group of projects that was launched saw WPA workers provide a wide array of services to the community. Beyond established programs in these areas, WPA workers were also available to be utilized as relief crews in cases of natural disasters.
Until the last two years of WPA operation, construction projects as contrasted to service projects received comparatively more emphasis in Indiana than they did in the United States as a whole, judged by the number of workers. Available statistics reveal that the ratio of construction employees to service employees changed gradually from nine to one in 1938 to three to one in 1942. The average monthly expenditure per person did not vary sharply between the two operating divisions, although sponsors' contributions were constantly heavier within the Division of Engineering and Construction
(Source: Work Relief Under John K. Jennings, 1931-1939. Chapter II, Evansville District Director.)
Construction/Engineering Projects || Service Projects || Response to Disaster
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