Galbraith: Unemployment Statistics Of The New Deal Era

by Bruce Webb
A little antidote to Amity Shlaes and the other New Deal Deniers. From TPM Cafe J.K. Galbraith introduces Marshall Auerback

The view that the New Deal was too small and accomplished little, that only WWII ended the Depression, is very widely held. But it is not correct. It is based on a mis-reading of reconstructed unemployment statistics from that time, which treat the workers actually employed by the New Deal as though they were unemployed. Which they were not.

In fact, the New Deal accomplished a huge amount, both in specific construction projects and in providing employment to the American people.

I am going to turn over my microphone, not for the first time, to Marshall Auerback, and quote at great length from his paper entitled “A New New Deal.” Those wishing to get the whole paper should contact Marshall at

While Galbraith has permission to cite this paper at length I don’t know that I do. But I do know the topic is of extreme importance in light of the Republicans’ clear plan to sabotage the stimulus package in favor of tried (I mean tired) and true tax cuts on capital.
Link to extract from Auerbach Unemployment Statistics Of The New Deal Era I thought the following was particularly interesting

Even pro-Roosevelt historians such as William Leuchtenburg and Doris Kearns Goodwin have meekly accepted that the millions of people in the New Deal workfare programs were unemployed, while comparable millions of Germans and Japanese, and eventually French and British, who were dragooned into the armed forces and defense production industries in the mid-and late 1930s, were considered to be employed.

Forced by Hitler to build tanks and bombs? Gainfully employed. Asked by Roosevelt to build parks and schools? Makework slacker who is certainly not ’employed’. Now THAT is a perverse use of statistics.