National Youth Administration (NYA) (1935)

President Roosevelt created the National Youth Administration (NYA) on June 26, 1935 with Executive Order No. 7086, under authority of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 [1].

When Roosevelt signed the Executive Order creating the NYA, he stated: “I have determined that we shall do something for the Nation’s unemployed youth because we can ill afford to lose the skill and energy of these young men and women.  They must have their chance in school, their turn as apprentices, and their opportunity for jobs—a chance to work and earn for themselves” [2].

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) already employed many young American men on forestry projects.  The NYA filled two needs that the CCC did not: The employment needs of young women and the greater variety of work and training opportunities needed by young people as a whole [3].  The NYA provided part-time work for two groups: “1. Youth who were in school but who needed financial assistance in order to continue their education; and 2. Youth who were out of school, unemployed and needy” [4].  Ages of eligibility for the first group were 16-24 and for the second, 16-25 [5].

Like the workers of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), young men and women in the NYA engaged in a wide variety of public works and public service projects, such as: Cancer research; flood control studies; agricultural experimentation; refurbishing furniture; health care; construction of recreational facilities; automotive repair; building maintenance; landscaping of public grounds; library services; forestry and soil work; and national defense and industry training (e.g., aviation mechanics) [6].

During the first four years of its existence the NYA was a division within the WPA; over the next three years it was a division within the Federal Security Agency; and for most of its last year it was a division of the War Manpower Commission [7].  Aubrey Williams served as the administrator of the NYA for almost the entire duration of the program, from Roosevelt’s signing of the Executive Order in 1935 until September 10, 1943 [8].

The NYA program ended on January 1, 1944, per the Labor-Federal Security Appropriations Act of 1944 and the Second Deficiency Appropriations Act of 1943 [9].  By the time it closed its doors, the NYA had employed 2,677,000 young men and women in its out-of-school work program and 2,134,000 in its student work program [10].  The work of these young Americans motivated thousands of letter-writers to attest “to the educational, social, democratic, and human values that have accrued to America from this investment” [11].

Total expenditures of the NYA program were $662 million, of which $468 million went to the out-of-school work program and $170 million went to the student work program (the remaining amount went to administration) [12].

Sources: (1) The American Presidency Project, Franklin D. Roosevelt: 97 – Executive Order No. 7086, June 26, 1935, University of California Santa Barbara, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15092, accessed February 10, 2015.  (2) Federal Security Agency and War Manpower Commission, Final Report of the National Youth Administration, Fiscal Years 1936-1943, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944, p. 23.  (3) Ibid. (4) Ibid. at p. 24.  (5) Ibid. at pp. 49 and 26, respectively.  (6) Ibid. at pp. 59-63.  (7) Ibid. at p. 25.  (8) Note 2 at p. iii.  (9) Ibid. at pp. iii-iv.  (10) Ibid. at pp. 109 and 82 respectively.  (11) Ibid. at p. 82.  (12) Ibid. at p. 240.