Warehousing the unemployed? Federal job training programs in the depression-era south

Regina Werum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Depression-era vocational programs had a double purpose: to train local workers and "warehouse" the unemployed. Drawing on theories of the state, I analyze the mechanisms affecting the match between federal policy goals and local policy outcomes. Vocational enrollments in three southern states (1937; N = 279 counties) reveal race-specific patterns. Black enrollments responded to funding differences, making state-regulated supply the driving force. White enrollments responded to urban employment opportunities, rising where manufacturing and clerical sectors thrived. Only weak evidence exists that federal vocational programs served their intended "warehousing" function for either group. Instead, vocational programs absorbed white secondary students rather those out of work, while comprehensive high schools warehoused the unemployed. The discussion links differences between federal policy goals and their actual outcomes to the rise of academic high schools and the dismal state of black training opportunities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-265
Number of pages38
JournalAmerican Journal of Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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