Scott Meyers-Lipton, author of ‘Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis Through Civic Works,’ says what usually comes to mind when you say civic works is the alphabet soup of agencies created by FDR as part of his New Deal.
Workers with those agencies did everything from repaving roads to building our Bay Bridge.
“They hired over ten million people during that time of seven years, and cut unemployment from 24 percent in 1933, to 14 percent by 1940, and if you include the public workers, it actually went to 10 percent – the greatest decrease in U.S. history,” Meyers-Lipton said.
But, the key will be how it’s administered. President Roosevelt put two models forward. The PWA was partnership between government and the private sector. The WPA was run completely by the government. Some will be surprised to learn that the WPA was far more efficient, hiring more people.
“And, it got 80 cents to the dollar in people’s pockets, that actually the workers got, compared to 36 percent,” Meyers-Lipton said.
Consequently, FDR continued to fund the government run WPA at much higher levels.