ETI Publications

Document Type

Technical Paper

Publication Date



From 1930 to the present Milwaukee city and county governments have created thousands of jobs for families who could not find unsubsidized employment and who sought county relief. Federal funds were used to create construction, education, health and office work for men and women heading families hardest hit by the Great Depression. In the 1930s in Milwaukee County federal “relief workers" helped build one of the finest park systems in the nation. For over sixty years Milwaukee County used local funds to operate work programs as part of its local provision of relief to individuals and families. Milwaukee's long history of work relief programs demonstrates that adults respond in large numbers to employment opportunities, that meaningful public service jobs can make important and lasting contributions to the community, and that local governments can provide effective leadership in developing jobs for individuals and families out of work. Given an employment situation in the Milwaukee area where total openings for full-time and part-time jobs make up only half to sixty percent of the jobs needed for unemployed workers and adults on welfare in the Milwaukee area, community service jobs along with improved labor exchange programs and transportation systems may be needed to insure adequate employment of Milwaukee area residents. This history of Milwaukee's community service employment programs for relief workers is presented in order to stimulate public discussion regarding the role of community service employment in assisting unemployed families today and the types of jobs which could most appropriately serve the Milwaukee area at this time.