United States

What is the Second New Deal?

The Second New Deal, launched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935, was a wave of legislation aimed at economic recovery and social reform during the Great Depression. It introduced pivotal programs like Social Security and the Works Progress Administration, profoundly shaping America's social safety net. How did these reforms redefine the role of government? Explore with us the lasting impact of this historic initiative.
Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

The Second New Deal was a continuation and expansion of the original New Deal program enacted by US President Roosevelt during the Great Depression. By 1933, Roosevelt’s New Deal was being criticized, because many felt it did not offer enough relief and that very little had improved in terms of job growth and economic stability. The Second New Deal went much further in terms of direct government involvement and aid. Some of those programs are still in action, such as the Social Security Act and the Federal Housing Authority.

During the height of the Great Depression, many senior citizens and retired workers were living in poverty, with only about 3% drawing pensions of any kind. The Social Security Act was created to help these unemployed retirees become self-sufficient. The program is generally viewed as a retirement insurance policy, which is funded by workers and their employers. The amount a retiree can earn from Social Security is based on her previous contributions.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Second New Deal.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Second New Deal.

Another important program that was developed during the Second New Deal was the Federal Housing Authority (FHA). This mortgage insurance program was designed to help secure home loans for low-income families. Due to the creation of the FHA, many Americans who previously had no hope of purchasing a home were now able to get the necessary financing. The dramatic increase in home sales as a direct result of FHA financing helped contribute to improvements in the general economy.

Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt's Second New Deal.
Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt's Second New Deal.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), which was developed in 1935, was perhaps the most effective project undertaken during the Second New Deal. Over the course of an eight-year period, approximately 9 million people were employed constructing airports, roads, and government parks. The jobs were intended for the neediest Americans and were first open only to the unemployed.

In 1935, President Roosevelt was able to get Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act. It was considered the first sweeping legislation aimed at regulating the labor unions. Also known as the Wagner Act, it gave unions the protected right to organize and bargain with their respective employers. Before this act, unions were considered disorganized and dishonest. This act required the unions to hold certified elections and established a government body to oversee and address any allegations of wrongdoing within their ranks.

President Roosevelt won what was considered a landslide victory in his re-election campaign in 1936. Low-income and minority Americans who generally did not vote turned out in huge numbers in a show of support for his job creation programs. It was during this election that African-Americans switched their traditional Republican vote to the Democratic Party.

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Discussion Comments


@cardsfan27 - I agree. Most people that disagree with the New Deal and particularly the Second New Deal point to World War II as adding jobs to the economy, however the statistics do not lie, as they show that nearly twenty million jobs were created between the New Deal and World War Two and there is no possible way that this was just economic growth that would have happened despite the New Deal.

It is true that the nation great expanded economically with World War II, but the expansion was already happening due to the New Deal, and the United States was already more prosperous, because of the invention of Social Security, which allowed more people to live out the rest of their days not poor as in the past.

Overall, the New Deal was a genius conception and the Second New Deal only added to what was already created to make this country better. Sure there were flaws, but they are so minute that to point out those flaws is to completely ignore the success of the New Deal.


@TreeMan - I do agree with your statement, but there are historians that look at the New Deal as a very corrupt plan, that was created by a man with an agenda in mind.

Those who criticize the New Deal usually criticize it from the fact that the governmental system, particularly the United States economic system was merely saved itself from itself with the New Deal.

They saw the New Deal as merely something that allowed a corrupt system in dire need of reform to continue with changes included to make it better, but not reform the system at all or address the problems with it. So, in reality the problems got worse, but in a way that the country was able to deal with them

All in all these people are in the vast minority and people need to keep in mind that no idea is perfect on such a large scale and the fact that the New Deal had so much economic success should show that it helped the country.


@stl156 - I absolutely agree. What most people do not realize about the New Deal is how genius it was and how much it helped the nation right away.

Most of the time it takes a while for legislation to have impact and although it took a few years with the New Deal to have an impact it was quicker than normal and the second New Deal came soon after to help the program even greater.

The fact that the New Deal was helping the nation so much, although the papers did not fully realize it yet, allowed for a radical idea like social security to flourish and allow the nation to actually trust the government and believe in the nation during the tough times.

The New Deal really should be given a lot more credit than it gets and it is almost impossible to say that it was a bad idea, as it was something radical, that was needed to be done to help pull the country out of the rut it was in.

I think the testament to the New Deal is how its programs have lasted so long and many like social security have lasted to this day.


Contrary to the popular belief held by most people, the New Deal was actually divided into two different parts and although it can be a bit confusing I feel that the easiest way to think of the Second New Deal is to visualize it as something that included things the original New Deal missed or needed to be added.

Although the original New Deal was extremely successful and included a whole to that helped the country, it was not perfect and there were a few things that were missed that needed to be added to help the nation as a whole.

Although the Second New Deal did not add a whole lot to the original legislation, the major thing that it did include was social security as this was something that had been talked about in years prior, but had not been fully realized.

Also the nation was in a Depression and what people needed to start trusting the government and the banks again before an idea such as social security could be grasped in the eyes of the public.

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    • President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Second New Deal.
      President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Second New Deal.
    • Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt's Second New Deal.
      By: Zap Ichigo
      Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, as part of President Roosevelt's Second New Deal.