Economy during the Great Depression

In the 1930s, American capitalism practically stopped working.

For more than a decade, from 1929 to 1940, America's free-market economy failed to operate at a level that allowed most Americans to attain economic success. Those of us lucky enough not to have lived through the ordeal of the Great Depression may have a difficult time imagining the unprecedented depths of economic collapse and social disarray that mired America in the 1930s.
Industrial production fell by more than half, and construction of new industrial plants fell by more than 90%. Production of automobiles dropped by two thirds; steel plants operated at 12% of capacity.

During Herbert Hoover's presidency, more than 13 million people lost their jobs. Of those 62% of those found themselves out of work for longer than a year; 44% longer than two years; 24% longer than three years; and 11% longer than four years. Unemployment peaked at an astonishing 24.1% in 1933.
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The Great Depression began soon after the stock market crash of October 1929, which sent Wall Street into a panic and wiped out millions of investors. Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, causing steep declines in industrial output and rising levels of unemployment as failing companies laid off workers. By 1933, when the Great Depression reached its nadir, some 13 to 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half of the country's banks had failed.

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