About The Depression high-school
topic: US History
The definition of depression is a condition in economic life in which a great many people have no work, machines stand idle, and the standard level of economic activity is low. During the depression, the high management of companies lost money along with everyone else, but during the recession, in order to maintain profits, the high management cut the workers' jobs.
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The Depression

circa 1994

The definition of depression is a condition in economic life in which a great many people have no work, machines stand idle, and the standard level of economic activity is low. During the depression, the high management of companies lost money along with everyone else, but during the recession, in order to maintain profits, the high management cut the workers' jobs.

Both the depression and the recession put people out of jobs and forced people to manage their money more closely. During the depression of the 1930s, people pinched every penny, and if there was work available, all members of the family who could work did. During the depression, all someone really needed was money enough to buy food for their family, but nowadays, people consider many luxury items as essential, such as Levi's, whereas during the depression people would be happy to have anything to wear.

During the depression, there were very few whole families who were living on the street. People who had lost their homes could move in with friends or relatives, or sleep in churches and other shelters. People pulled together in whatever groups they could; neighbors would give if they didn't have enough food, and the family as a whole chipped in to help each other.

Today, there is a social net to catch people who loose everything; they can receive welfare and unemployment payments, and sometimes if they are dismissed from their job, the company will continue to pay them for a limited time before they get a new job. In the 1930s, there was no such net, so if someone lost everything, they lost everything. They had to rely on friends and relatives to help them get afloat.

The depression affected people over almost all financial classes; very rich people lost everything as well as lower and middle class people. People who didn't lose their jobs during the recession kept going almost business as usual, while not spending quite as much money as before. The people who were really affected were the people who lost their jobs. Many upper-middle management jobs were cut and while minimum wage jobs are plentiful, career occupations requiring a college education are sparse. During the depression, people were hard-hit whether or not they lost their jobs.

During the depression, it was easier to get started again because, in many cases, one would be considered successful if one simply provided enough food for one's family. Now if one simply provides food, she will not be considered successful. Many people today consider televisions and telephones absolute necessities, while in reality they are not needed to survive.

Although there was up to 25% unemployment during the depression and there was only an average of 7% during the recession, the recession might have had a greater effect because it further divided the high and low classes from each other, shifting more wealth to a smaller number of people.


[Zak Smith] [zak@computer.org] [/~zak/documents/high-school/depression/html]
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