How Much? How Many?

Numbers of WPA employees fluctuated. In April 1936, 120,267 people in Massachusetts – about 2.8% of the state population – worked for the WPA. The lowest statewide number of WPA workers in 1936 was 96,400 in August.

In Massachusetts in 1936:

* 470,000 people (10.5% of the state population) – including WPA workers and their dependent family members – survived on WPA wages

* the WPA spent $98,334,785 – about $1.5 billion today

* all other federal works programs employed 10,000 people

* 23.7% of state residents received public assistance.

Adapted from William Haber, “The Public Welfare Problem in Massachusetts,” The Social Service Review 12.2 (1938).


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Founded in 1978 as the Immigrant City Archives, the mission of the Lawrence History Center is to collect, preserve, share, and animate the history and heritage of Lawrence and its people.