The stock market crash of October 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression of the 1930s brought an abrupt end to several decades of industrial boom and ushered in a prolonged period of misery for millions of ordinary Americans, who found themselves unemployed and facing complete destitution through no fault of their own. Indeed, worker-output per hour had actually increased 32% from 1923 to 1929. One of the underlying causes of the depression was the fact that industrial managers had increased wages during those same six years only 8%, thereby further accentuating the most unequal distribution of wealth and income in American history to that time. On the eve of the Great Depression, one-half of one percent of Americans controlled almost one-third of the nation's entire wealth. When panic hit the stock market and those large investors lost more than half the paper value of their investments, they brought the entire American economy down with them. This module offers three perspectives on the Great Depression, two in graph form and one as a map. The first graph charts stock market prices from 1923 to 1939. The second graph reveals unemployment from 1925 to 1943. The map shows the regional impact of the Great Depression as indicated by the percentage of people in each state receiving public relief in December 1934.
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