Roosevelt and the New Deal

Promoting Economic Recovery

National Recovery Administration (NRA)

One of the causes of the Great Depression had been overproduction. Some competing businesses lured customers by slashing prices. As a result, they had to lay off workers or cut wages.

A new federal agency, the National Recovery Administration (NRA) aimed to keep prices stable while boosting employment and buying power. Most of the country's major industries agreed to pay workers a minimum wage, to stop hiring children, and to keep wages and prices from falling too low.

The NRA succeeded in raising prices. However, critics charged that the agency's codes favored large businesses. More important, the NRA failed to improve the economy.

Public Works Administration

Another agency, the Public Works Administration (PWA), was granted more than $3 billion to build large public-works projects. The PWA improved the nation's infrastructure (SEE BELOW) and employed many people.

PWA projects included New York's Lincoln Tunnel, Florida's Key West Highway, and the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington. In fact, nearly every county in the nation could boast at least one PWA project.

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Tennessee Valley Authority

In 1933, Congress formed the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). This agency built giant dams along the Tennessee River. Planners believed that these dams would control flooding, provide cheap electricity, and increase jobs and prosperity in one of the country's poorest rural areas.

The TVA accomplished its major goals. By 1945, power from TVA plants lit thousands of farms that had never before enjoyed electricity. Still, the TVA failed to relieve the region's poverty. Conservatives criticized the TVA for driving some property owners off their land. They also argued that it was unfair for the government to compete with private power companies.

Project: Tennessee Valley Authority


basic public works needed for a society to function, including the systems of roads, bridges, and tunnels.