Earning Money in the Great Depression

By: Patton and Stella

Men Laying Bricks
The Great Depression brought many problems to the U.S. Parents sacrificed many things for their children. Money was needed. American citizens did about everything to have it. Read on to find out what they did.

During the Great Depression, many people lost their jobs; 13 million people, to be exact. Now, these people didn’t just simply get fired. The unemployment had its reasons and causes. For example, the entire American banking system was on the edge of collapse. Many factories were closing because the government couldn’t afford them. In fact, industrial production dropped by 45%. Once people lost their jobs, they needed another one. Unfortunately, industries weren’t willing to pay their employees as much. Thus, they weren’t willing to hire as many people. There were also farmers who were producing too many goods due to being so scared of not having enough money to feed their families. The food prices were also way too low. There weren't many people to buy all these extra goods. The goods went bad, the farmers went bankrupt, and then they were thrown off their land. This depression was not a stroll through the park!

Grave Digger at Work

Since so many people were unemployed, they made desperate attempts to make ends meet. From shoveling dirt to selling rotten food, people did anything to save or get money. Some of them paved concrete. Others took to the woods and cut trees. 110 people died of starvation. Parents were so desperate they refused medical and dental care for themselves and their children. 1.5 million married women abandoned their husbands in search of a better life. Women and men alike just dropped everything and left. However, official divorce was never pursued because it was not affordable. They couldn’t pay for a separate household or sustain themselves. 200,000 teens left home because of unemployed parents who couldn’t afford them. Things got so bad that Africa, which then was extremely poor, was willing to spare $3.77 million for the U.S.! This may not seem like much, but being from Africa in this time period, this was a lot of money. America needed improving. Immediately!

Now, some kids left home and took to riding the rails. [This subject is described in greater detail in another piece on this same wiki.] Others stayed home and helped their parents earn money by getting jobs. Teenagers worked in factories. You saw kids on the street begging. This time period wasn't safe for minors. It was barely safe for adults!

You have read this piece on the Great Depression. You now know how bad things were. Money was as scarce in the U.S. as water is in the Sahara. People lost their jobs. They did many strange things to make money. Even children had to give their share of effort. This country has seen bad days and good days. The Great Depression was definitely one of its bad days. Luckily, things went up hill from that point. We are now one of the richest nations of the world. We can only hope we won't have to deal with the poverty and pain our ancestors endured. And if we do, we can only hope we will be as strong as they were.

Ruth, Amy. Growing up in the Great Depression. Minnesota: Lerner Pulblications, 2003. Print.

"The Wall Street Crash." bbc.co.uk/ Accessed 3/23/12 URL http;//www.bbc.co uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/usal/walldepressionrev3.shtml "Children and the Great Depression." Publisher Digital History Last Updated 3/25/12 Accessed on 3/25/12 URL http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/learninghistory/children