Top 10 New Deal Programs of the 1930s

FDR's signature strategy to combat The Great Depression.

The New Deal was a sweeping package of public works projects, federal regulations, and financial system reforms enacted by the U.S. federal government in an effort to help the nation survive and recover from the Great Depression of the 1930s. The New Deal programs created jobs and provided financial support for the unemployed, the young, and the elderly, as well as adding safeguards and constraints to the banking industry and monetary system.

Mostly enacted between 1933 and 1938, during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New Deal was implemented through legislation enacted by Congress and presidential executive orders. The programs addressed what historians call the “3 Rs” of dealing with the depression, Relief, Recovery, and Reform — relief for the poor and jobless, recovery of the economy, and reform of the nation’s financial system to safeguard against future depressions. 

The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1939, was the largest and most significant economic depression to affect both the United States and all Western countries. The stock market crash on Oct. 29, 1929, is infamously known as Black Tuesday and was the worst stock market decline in the history of the United States. Heavy speculation during the rising economy of the 1920s combined with widespread buying on margin (borrowing a large percentage of the cost of an investment) were factors in the crash. It marked the beginning of the Great Depression.

Herbert Hoover was president when the crash occurred but felt that the government should not take stringent action to deal with heavy losses by investors and the subsequent effects that rippled throughout the economy. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected in 1932, and he had other ideas. He worked to create numerous federal programs through his New Deal to help those who were suffering the most from the Depression. Besides programs to directly help those affected by the Great Depression, the New Deal included legislation intended to correct the situations that led to the stock market crash of 1929. Two prominent actions are the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, created in 1934 to be a watchdog over the stock market and police dishonest practices. The SEC is one of the New Deal programs still in effect today. Here are the top 10 programs of the New Deal.

Updated by Robert Longley

01
of 10

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

1928: American statesman Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882 - 1945) smiling when he heard that he was leading the contest for Governor of New York State on June 1, 1928.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1928, four years before he was elected president of the U.S. FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The Civilian Conservation Corps was created in 1933 by ​FDR to combat unemployment. This work relief program had the desired effect and provided jobs for many Americans during the Great Depression. The CCC was responsible for building many public works projects and created structures and trails in parks across the nation that are still in use today.

02
of 10

Civil Works Administration (CWA)

CWA workers
Civil Works Administration workers on their way to fill a gully with wheelbarrows of earth during the construction of the Lake Merced Parkway Boulevard in San Francisco in 1934. Photo by New York Times Co./Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Civil Works Administration was also created in 1933 to create jobs for the unemployed. Its focus on high-paying jobs in the construction sector resulted in a much greater expense to the federal government than originally anticipated. The CWA ended in 1934 in large part because of opposition to its cost.

03
of 10

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

Boston Mission Hill development
Boston's Mission Hill housing development built by the Federal Housing Administration. Federal Housing Administration/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

The Federal Housing Administration is a government agency created in 1934 to combat the housing crisis of the Great Depression. A large number of unemployed workers combined with the banking crisis created a situation in which banks recalled loans and people lost their houses. The FHA was designed to regulate mortgages and housing conditions and still plays a major role in the financing of houses for Americans.

04
of 10

Federal Security Agency (FSA)

William R. Carter
William R. Carter was a laboratory aide in the Food and Drug Administration of the Federal Security Agency in 1943. Photo by Roger Smith/PhotoQuest/Getty Images

The Federal Security Agency, established in 1939, was responsible for oversight of several important government entities. Until it was abolished in 1953, it administered Social Security, federal education funding, and the Food and Drug Administration, which was created in 1938 with the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

05
of 10

Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC)

Foreclosure auction
Foreclosure, like this one in Iowa in the 1930s, was common during the Great Depression. The Home Owners' Loan Corporation was created to help deal with this crisis. Library of Congress

The Home Owners' Loan Corporation was created in 1933 to assist in the refinancing of homes. The housing crisis created a great many foreclosures, and FDR hoped this new agency would stem the tide. In fact, between 1933 and 1935 one million people received long-term, low-interest loans through the agency, which saved their homes from foreclosure.

06
of 10

National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA)

Chief Justice Hughes
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes presided over A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, which ruled that the National Industrial Recovery Act was unconstitutional. Harris & Ewing Collection / Library of Congress

The National Industrial Recovery Act was designed to bring the interests of working-class Americans and business together. Through hearings and government intervention the hope was to balance the needs of all involved in the economy. However, the NIRA was declared unconstitutional in the landmark Supreme Court case ​Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that the NIRA violated the separation of powers.

07
of 10

Public Works Administration (PWA)

Public Works Administration housing
The Public Works Administration provided housing for African-Americans in Omaha, Nebraska. Library of Congress

The Public Works Administration was a program created to provide economic stimulus and jobs during the Great Depression. The PWA was designed to create public works projects and continued until the U.S. ramped up wartime production for World War II. It ended in 1941.

08
of 10

Social Security Act (SSA)

Social security machine
This machine was used by the Social Security Administration to sign 7,000 checks per hour. Library of Congress

The Social Security Act of 1935 was designed to combat widespread poverty among senior citizens and to aid the disabled. The government program, one of the few parts of the New Deal still in existence, provides income to retired wage earners and the disabled who have paid into the program throughout their working lives via a payroll deduction. The program has become one of the most popular government programs ever and is funded by current wage earners and their employers.

09
of 10

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

Tennessee Valley Authority
General planning was conducted by the Tennessee Valley Authority to replan the valley. Library of Congress

The Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933 to develop the economy in the Tennessee Valley region, which had been hit extremely hard by the Great Depression. The TVA was and is a federally owned corporation that still works in this region. It is the largest public provider of electricity in the United States.

10
of 10

Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Works Progress Administration
A Works Progress Administration supervisor teaches a woman how to weave a rug. Library of Congress

The Works Progress Administration was created in 1935. As the largest New Deal agency, the WPA affected millions of Americans and provided jobs across the nation. Because of it, numerous roads, buildings and other projects were built, it was renamed the Works Projects Administration in 1939, and it officially ended in 1943.

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Kelly, Martin. "Top 10 New Deal Programs of the 1930s." ThoughtCo, Nov. 11, 2017, thoughtco.com/top-new-deal-programs-104687. Kelly, Martin. (2017, November 11). Top 10 New Deal Programs of the 1930s. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/top-new-deal-programs-104687 Kelly, Martin. "Top 10 New Deal Programs of the 1930s." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/top-new-deal-programs-104687 (accessed November 19, 2017).