Great Depression Project

Unemployment by Katelin & Hunter

Unemployed Workers in the Great Depression

A little background on the great depression

1929 -- early 1940s The Great Depression, an immense tragedy that placed millions of Americans out of work, was the beginning of government involvement in the economy and in society as a whole.

Unemployment in the Great Depression

In 1933, at the worst point in the Great Depression years, unemployment rates in the United States reached almost 25%, with more than 11 million people looking for work.


Farmers who had lost their land and homes to foreclosure as a result of the Dust Bowl made up a large part of the idle workforce. “Hoovervilles” (named after Herbert Hoover, the American president many blamed for the Great Depression) and shantytowns sprung up all across America, areas in which people gathered and constructed makeshift homes out of boxes, packing crates, abandoned cars, and scraps of wood.

To solve the problem of unemployment during the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt created a number of job-related programs as part of his New Deal, most notably:

•Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)

•Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)

•Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA)

•Work Projects Administration, Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Facts About Unemployment During The Great Depression

Here are some facts about unemployment during the Great Depression:


•In 1929, unemployment was at 3%


•In 1930, unemployment had jumped to 9%.


•In 1931, unemployment reached almost 16%.


•In 1932, unemployment climbed to 24%


•In 1933, unemployment reached almost 25%.


•In 1934, unemployment dipped slightly, to 22%.


•In 1935, unemployment fell to 20%.


•In 1936, unemployment dropped to 17%.


•In 1937, unemployment lowered to 14%.


•In 1938, unemployment rose again, to 19%.


•In 1933, which could be considered the worst year during the Great Depression (which lasted from 1929-1941), more than 11 million people were unemployed.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION: HARD ROAD TO RECOVERY

Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.




Depression-era hardships had fueled the rise of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in 1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its neutrality. With Roosevelt’s decision to support Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers, defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private sector jobs. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to an American declaration of war, and the nation’s factories went back in full production mode. This expanding industrial production, as well as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level.

When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.


Among the programs and institutions of the New Deal that aided in recovery from the Great Depression were the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which built dams and hydroelectric projects to control flooding and provide electric power to the impoverished Tennessee Valley region of the South, and the Works Project Administration (WPA), a permanent jobs program that employed 8.5 million people from 1935 to 1943. After showing early signs of recovery beginning in the spring of 1933, the economy continued to improve throughout the next three years, during which real GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew at an average rate of 9 percent per year. A sharp recession hit in 1937, caused in part by the Federal Reserve’s decision to increase its requirements for money in reserve. Though the economy began improving again in 1938, this second severe contraction reversed many of the gains in production and employment and prolonged the effects of the Great Depression through the end of the decade.

Depression-era hardships had fueled the rise of extremist political movements in various European countries, most notably that of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in Germany. German aggression led war to break out in Europe in 1939, and the WPA turned its attention to strengthening the military infrastructure of the United States, even as the country maintained its neutrality. With Roosevelt’s decision to support Britain and France in the struggle against Germany and the other Axis Powers, defense manufacturing geared up, producing more and more private sector jobs. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to an American declaration of war, and the nation’s factories went back in full production mode. This expanding industrial production, as well as widespread conscription beginning in 1942, reduced the unemployment rate to below its pre-Depression level.

When the Great Depression began, the United States was the only industrialized country in the world without some form of unemployment insurance or social security. In 1935, Congress passed the Social Security Act, which for the first time provided Americans with unemployment, disability and pensions for old age.
The Great Depression scared all, including the rich. The Stock Market crash and other economic struggles forced Americans to stop purchasing!
Fishing coins from sewer drains with a magnet on a string – one of many ingenious tricks devised by individuals struggling to survive in the Depression
The Great Depression: Unemployment