The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was instituted by presidential executive order under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of April 1935, to generate public jobs for the unemployed. The WPA was restructured in 1939 when it was reassigned to the Federal Works Agency.
By 1936 over 3.4 million people were employed on various WPA programs. Administered by Harry Hopkins and furnished with an original congressional allocation of $4.8 billion, the WPA made work accessible to the unemployed on an unparalleled scale by disbursing funds for an extensive array of programs. Hopkins argued that although the work relief program was more costly than direct relief payments, it was worth it. He averred, "Give a man a dole, and you save his body and destroy his spirit. Give him a job and you save both body and spirit."