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The Great Depression

Essay by   •  March 5, 2011  •  680 Words (3 Pages)  •  1,137 Views

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The 1930s, a decade of despair and depression all across the United States, contrasted sharply with the prosperity of the "roaring" 1920's (). Many factors played a role in bringing about this decade of despair universally referred to as The Great Depression. The main causes are believed to be a combination of the stock market crash (October 24, 1929) and the greatly unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and middle class citizens throughout the 1920s (). The Great Depression was the worst and longest economic collapse in U.S history and affected the vast majority of Americans and their families. At least twenty-five percent of the American work-force was unemployed by late 1932 (683). Numerous families began lacking adequate food, shelter, and clothing while many blamed themselves for their desperate state. () Those who managed to keep their jobs saw salaries decline by forty percent and their work hours significantly cut back (). Many families did their best to endure with less income and constantly struggled to maintain their customary lifestyles. They devised ways to "cut corners," "make do," and "keep up appearances." () With almost no extra money to budget for entertainment, Americans needed their recreation and leisure activities to be inexpensive or free. Physically and psychologically The Great Depression was devastating to countless American families.

As economic panic grew, consumers began cut back on their purchases, manufacturers and business cut their production and began laying off workers (). During the height of the Depression in 1933 over thirteen million Americans in the work force were unemployed (680). Ford laid off more then two-thirds of its workers in Detroit. The average wage fell by roughly one-third and shorten work hours largely affected those who had managed to retain their jobs (682). All of the remaining personnel at U.S. Steel, America's first billion-dollar corporation, were but on "short hours" and by 1933 the massive steel company had no full time workers (682). From 1929 to 1933 the total annual income of labor in the United States dropped from $53 billion to $3l.5 billion (tx). For many, government assistance appeared to be the only answer to aide in the financial despair, however President Herbert Hoover strongly believed in individualism and self-sufficiency and was convinced that giving federal relief payments would undermine recipients' self-reliance ().During this time there were few government programs designated to help the poor or those in temporary hardship. This massive wave of unemployment struck before a food stamp program or unemployment insurance existed (). As the unemployment rate

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