The Great Depression was by far the worst economic decline in the United States that began in 1929 and ended in 1939 that struck the industrialized world. This crash brought on a skyrocketing number of unemployment across the United States which made the standard of American living very difficult to meet. This made it difficult for people to even bring food to the table and even went as far as forcing families to sell their homes and downsize substantially. This was a major contribution to human suffering in the early 20th century.
The Great Depression was the era of poverty and suffering across the United States. Wage cuts and layoffs plagued the forestry and mining industries. Relief programs suddenly became a major expense the government was forced to take on due to the thousands of newly unemployed men and women. However, these programs often were insufficient and ended up leaving thousands of people without enough food, clothing, and other necessities important to support their families. This was also a cause of severe malnutrition and it became extensive and enabled the widespread of beriberi, tuberculosis and other serious diseases.
Street rallies were held by the unemployed workers as they became increasingly dissatisfied and restless asking for better relief programs and jobs from the government. In 1934 the Commission of Government was sworn in and this began violent riots and protests to break out, outside the Colonial Building. Still insufficient relief payments existed as this change was very little help to the unemployed workers. As most of the working class consisted of workers in the fishery or the forest and mining industries when the Great Depression broke out in 1929 it had such a greatly negative impact on all. Then in the 1930s world trade steadily declined causing these three sectors to suffer lThe Great Depression as One of the Worst Cases of the Economic Recessionosses very heavily. For example, iron ore exports fell from 1.6 million tons in 1930 to 194,000 tons in 1933, newsprint exports to the United Stated also dropped from $9.1 million in 1930 to $4.1 million in 1935. Merchants now began refusing to loan supplies on credit because so many companies went into such deep debt.
Companies and industries were now forced by The Depression to introduce cutbacks, which now made it almost impossible for unemployed workers to obtain jobs even elsewhere. During the Depression the government laid off close to one third of its employees and inflicted wage reductions on the rest. The postal service suffered heavy losses as approximately 300 offices closed across the country. Seasonal employment in United States also disappeared as the Depression took its toll on other countries as well such as Canada. Many already working abroad had to return home after losing their jobs; this aggravated the country’s already sizeable unemployment problem.
The thousands of now unemployed men and women had turned to the help of the government relief programs were known as the dole, these payments were minimal and really was only providing half of a person’s total nutritional requirements. Applicants did not receive money to buy what they wanted, instead they had to accept items from a prepared list. For example, a single adult on the dole in one month would receive roughly: 25 pounds of flour, almost four pounds of fat back pork, two pounds of beans, two pounds of corn meal, one pound of split peas, three-quarters of a pound of cocoa, and one quart of molasses.
A lot of people resented the dole. They were in belief the dole did not provide them with nearly enough food to live on and should be able to freely select their own groceries and necessities. However due to the little amount of money the government had to spend, not much went into relief programs because the increasing national debt and shrinking income.
Deaths, poor diets, and widespread poverty from malnutrition also contributed to steady rise in infant mortality rates along with adult life expectancy rates, spreading tuberculosis, beriberi, and other diseases. Medical care in the U.S was not free, and most couldn’t afford services of a doctor that were much necessary. School became a secondary priority and rent was also an additional expense that was unaffordable. Most children would stay at home when parents were unable to even buy them shoes and clothes or pay school fees; many families became homeless because rent wasn’t being paid and tenants would throw them out.
In regard to the dole, many people risked disqualification if at least some amount of money wasn’t saved for medical and other emergencies, and many of our government officials and members thought that many of the people that received relief didn’t really need it. Power was then given to relieving officers to in depth investigate all dole applicants. If a relief officers found out that an applicant had any more money than the qualifying limit, growing vegetables, or poaching rabbits or any other animals, they could have a reduction in dole payments and or cut them off completely. Some people were left with the only option to just sell their possessions and then have to live off of money that has been earned before reapplying and qualifying for relief.
Truly World War II in 1939 was the ending of the economic hardships. This was the launch of foreign bases across the country that had suddenly created thousands of jobs for local workers. Jobs became abundant as enlistment became another avenue of steady employment. When jobs became available, people receiving government relief rapidly decreased from 75,144 in 1939 to 6,907 by the end of 1942. This meant that people were now finally able to abandon the dole and now again support their families and themselves.
The Great Depression had a greatly negative impact on African Americans. It was a moment in history that greatly contributed to the start of African-American activism, paving the way for the Civil Rights Movement. President Franklin D. Roosevelt gained immense popularity during this time with his New Deal program bringing African Americans to become a key part of the Democratic Party when switching political parties became also very noticeable.
The Great Depression caused African-American unemployment rates to double and even triple the rates of White Americans. Before the era of the Great Depression, it was still considered a difficult time for African Americans as education was still limited forcing them to work predominantly in unskilled jobs. When the crash of the stock market happened in 1929 this caused many of the lower entry-level paying jobs to vanish or the African American workers were eliminated from those positions and were filled with white workers in need of employment. In 1932 the unemployment rate for African Americans drastically rose to nearly 50 percent according to the Library of Congress.
According to historian Cheryl Lynn Greenberg states, “those doubled and tripled rates of unemployment for African Americans where far worse in the south than any other part of the nation”. In the south alone roughly, 70 percent of African American employees had no form of work. While across the North a mere 25 percent of white workers were unemployed. This forced 1.75 million African Americans to make way for the Great migration from the south and up to the north and western parts of the country. Protests now broke out in hopes for reformation of racially discriminating hiring practices. Grassroot organizations were formed to do just this, African Americans were the creators of these groups to promote unity for progression politically and economically. These grassroot eventually led to the positive outcome of employment for 2,000 African Americans.
While The Great Depression sprung an even greater depression for African Americans it also hit Mexican and Hispanic immigrants particularly tough. While also faced similarly with the job crisis’s, food shortages and racial inequality that affected the African Americans, Mexican and Hispanic Americans faced additional threats such as deportation. As unemployment sporadically grew so did the aggression towards immigrant workers, meanwhile the government also created programs to deporting immigrants to Mexico making things much worse for these immigrants. Tricks were played on immigrants while they were offered train rides to Mexico, some going voluntarily, however many were bullied into deportation, and due to suspicion on even some U.S. citizens some caused them to be deported because it became such an issue of racial discrimination towards Mexicans.
The Mexican and Hispanic immigrants that were able to stay fought to persist in these frantic conditions. With the extreme economic decline bank foreclosures became common and pushed farmers off of their land. In search of work at this time many of the immigrants took on migratory exitance by traveling the highways as many of the southwestern farm families were of Mexican and Hispanic origin. Through this minor migration several immigrants stumbled upon stable migrant work camps that came into act by the U.S. Farm Security Administration (FSA). These camps were providers of food, housing, protection against criminal features that made for vulnerability for immigrants and medical care for these migrant farming families. The ultimate goal for these camps was to make a place of safety from violence.
While farm work had become an important foundation of employment for immigrants both African, and Mexican Americans, establishment in the American workforce was made by the end of the 1930’s. In the end, the immigrant workers found that railroad work was now a new for of not only a stable income but also an inexpensive way to travel and escape the effects of the Great Depression.
The Great Depression caused a massive plunge in the economy, society, and politically. We can understand and figure that tons of people hundreds of thousands, and many companies and businesses went bankrupt as a result of this plunge. So many took on such big losses so drastically and even though there has been a variety of significant economic recessions in not only the U.S but other countries as well, The Great Depression is by far one of the most severe cases of economic decline.