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American UnemploymentPast, Present, and Future$
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Frank Stricker

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043154

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043154.001.0001

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The Twenties and the Thirties

The Twenties and the Thirties

Boom, Bust, and New Deal

(p.39) Chapter 2 The Twenties and the Thirties
American Unemployment

Frank Stricker

University of Illinois Press

Between 1921 and 1929, there were no depressions, but prosperity was accompanied by substantial unemployment, especially for farm laborers and blue-collar workers. Unions were weak and business influence strong. Income inequalities widened. The late ’20s saw an explosive combination: unregulated stock markets and mass underconsumption. The ’20s boom led to the Great Depression. Herbert Hoover’s neo-laissez-faire response failed, but it cleared the decks. President Franklin Roosevelt and other New Dealers acted to expand government functions to aid those in distress and to jump-start economic growth. The CCC, the CWA, the WPA, and the PWA are each evaluated for wage levels, job creation, and treatment of women and African Americans. Economic recovery added millions of jobs, but unemployment stayed high until World War II.

Keywords:   Great Depression, underconsumption, unions, Herbert Hoover, New Deal, WPA, PWA, Franklin Roosevelt, African Americans

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