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His first step was to pick field representatives, set up an organization. His relief organization today includes only 121 people with a total payroll of $22,000 a month. All his relief funds are given direct to states which scramble them with their own cash. His local administrators are state relief officials who draw no Federal pay.
Harry Hopkins' second step was a research division to find out how many people were getting relief—something nobody knew. He discovered that last March there were 4,500,000 families on relief rolls, that the number fell to 3,000,000 in September, gradually mounted toward 3,500,000 (over 15,000,000 people) as winter came on. He found out that relatively there were twice as many negroes as whites on relief rolls. He found out that relief families had more than their average share of children; that the number of families getting relief varied from 29% in West Virginia and 27% in Florida down to 3% in Vermont and 2% in Wyoming, and averaged 11% of the families in the U. S.
Of his $500,000,000, half was given to states on the basis of their past relief performances, each state to receive one third of the amount it had spent during the previous three months. Some states were broke and were able to spend little or nothing. Mr. Hopkins hired experts on state and municipal finance to decide whether and how much of the burden could be borne locally. Of the relief funds distributed the percentage furnished by the Federal Government varied from 99% in Arkansas and Mississippi down to barely 10% in Connecticut and Wyoming, averaging nearly 62% for all states. The amount of state and Federal relief given each month (depending on the number of families on the rolls) varies from $60,000,000 to $80,000,000.
Those who want direct relief—the thing Herbert Hoover stubbornly set his face against for four hard years—have to register with local offices, are investigated to see if they are really without income, then are given orders good with grocers for food, or with landlords for rent. After starting in this way, Mr. Hopkins branched out and gave "work relief" to those who could work. A man getting $7 a week in grocery orders was asked to work on the roads or other public projects at the local rate of wages for enough hours to earn his $7. Said Mr. Hopkins: "We found that when we started work relief, many people, fine people, who would not come to us for direct relief would come for work relief because they said it was a job." Soon he had 2,000,000 people on work relief.
Next step was to start the Civil Works Administration. The Public Works Administration was not getting people employed fast enough. Industry under NRA had not, as expected, soaked up the great puddles of urban unemployment. So in November CWA was set up and PWA allotted it $400,000,000 with which to hire 4,000,000 men and put them to work by mid-December. Snip, snip, snip, Mr. Hopkins began to cut red tape. He and many of his relief assistants stepped over to work simultaneously for CWA. (CWA's own pay roll has 204 employes, is less than $30,000 a month.) A week after he started he held a meeting in the Mayflower Hotel attended by over 1,000 mayors, governors, state relief administrators from every state, told them his plans. They were to hire at once 2,000,000 people already on work relief. Then they were to hire 2,000,000 more through the Federal Employment Service. They were not to take them from the relief rolls because 1) Mr. Hopkins did not want all the unemployed in the U. S. asking for relief in order to get a job; 2) he wanted to give jobs to many who were too proud to ask relief. In most states state Relief Administrators were made state CWAdministrators.
With PWA's $400,000,000, CWA was to use PWA's wage scale: 40¢ to 50¢ an hour for common labor, $1 to $1.20 an hour for skilled labor.