What kind if economic distress did the village of Salem have in Act I of The Crucible?
The hysteria which breaks out in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible is understandable given the conflicts which exist between the characters. While there is no specific economic distress spoken of, outside of Reverend Parris' own greed, the villagers simply wish to own more land.
Reverend Parris speaks about the fact that he does not have money to pay for firewood. He believes that the money allotted to him (for firewood) is part of his salary and he should not have to take his salary to pay for it. He is told that the extra money is for firewood and is not part of his salary.
Outside of that, the "financial distress" of the villagers of Salem is only one of greed. Many of the accusations made against others are a result of greed. The villager accuses another given that once accused their land will come available for purchase. Therefore, it is not that any of the characters are poor; instead, they only wish to become richer by owning more land.
This is exemplified in Act One where Proctor and Putnam are arguing about lumber on their lands. Each believe that the land is theirs and they both have a right to it.