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Unemployment Statistics during the Great Depression

Unemployment Statistics during the Great Depression


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Unemployment statistics for The Great Depression show a remarkable collapse in the labor market in just a few years, with recovery that did not take place until the onset of World War II created an industrial demand that brought the economy back to prosperity. In addition to unemployment, workers during the Great Depression found themselves working in an atmosphere of insecurity for lower salaries and wages than before.

Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957 (Washington, D.C., 1960), p.70.

Depression Era Unemployment Statistics

Year

Population

Labor
Force

Unemployed

Percentage of
Labor Force

1929

88,010,000

49,440,000

1,550,000

3.14

1930

89,550,000

50,080,000

4,340,000

8.67

1931

90,710,000

50,680,000

8,020,000

15.82

1932

91,810,000

51,250,000

12,060,000

23.53

1933

92,950,000

51,840,000

12,830,000

24.75

1934

94,190,000

52,490,000

11,340,000

21.60

1935

95,460,000

53,140,000

10,610,000

19.97

1936

96,700,000

53,740,000

9,030,000

16.80

1937

97,870,000

54,320,000

7,700,000

14.18

1938

99,120,000

54,950,000

10,390,000

18.91

1939

100,360,000

55,600,000

9,480,000

17.05

1940

101,560,000

56,180,000

8,120,000

14.45

1941

102,700,000

57,530,000

5,560,000

9.66

Despite the evidence of a national catastrophe, support for Unemployment Relief remained sketchy until FDR introduced the New Deal in 1933.


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