Great Depression (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: The worst period of poverty and hardship in the twentieth century, both in North America and abroad.
Summary of Event
Beginning in the summer of 1929, the U.S. economy began a contraction that continued, with minor interruptions, until March of 1933 and from which the nation did not fully recover until 1939. The value of the nation’s output of goods and services, or gross national product (GNP), fell from $104 billion in 1929 to $55 billion in 1933, causing a 30 percent decline in the quantity of output and interrupting for more than a decade the historical trend toward increase in per capita production. Industrial production declined 51 percent before reviving slightly in 1932.
Unemployment statistics poignantly revealed the impact of the Depression on Americans. In 1929, the Labor Department reported 1,499,000 jobless persons, or 3.1 percent of all employables. After the crash, the figure soared. At its peak in 1933, unemployment stood at 12,634,000, more than one out of every four people in the labor force. Some estimates placed unemployment as high as sixteen million. By 1933, the annual national income had shrunk from $87.8 billion to $40.2 billion. Farmers, perhaps the hardest hit economic group, saw their income decline from $11.9 billion to $5.3 billion.
The Depression resulted from a severe decline in aggregate demand. One contributing factor was a massive wave of...
(The entire section is 2087 words.)
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