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.

---- Selected Quotes ----

Quotes regarding Unemployment Statistics during the Great Depression.

By Jimmy Carter
Any system of economics is bankrupt if it sees either value or virtue in unemployment.
Accepting nomination for president, 1976 Democratic Convention