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State Highway Marker

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Lure of $1.25 a Day

Lure of WPA Higher Pay Causing Labor Concern
NEW KENT C.H- The farm labor problems in New Kent County is becoming acute because of the higher pay of WPA which is luring workers away from the farms, it was brought out at the meeting of the Board of Supervisors last Monday.
A report was made to the board that laborers in New Kent who had jobs available in the county at $1.25 per day in agricultural pursuits were being employed by WPA to the disadvantage of the local farmers.
The clerk was directed to contact W.A. Smith, State administrator of WPA, and arrange for an interview on Friday, Feb. 16, for a discussion of the matter by representative citizens of the county.
-The Chickahominy Sun, February 15, 1940


The wages of people employed by the Works Progress Administration were often controversial. In theory they were set to prevailing wage in the counties they were located in. Liberals believed the rates were set too low and that the WPA should be used as a force to drive wages up. On the other hand conservatives and business believed that the WPA prevented wages from finding a natural floor. In the South the issue of race was involved since Federal regulations forbid racial considerations in hiring. Many southern farmers and business believed that WPA projects drained off good field hands and provided Black women with other outlets than domestic work.

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