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The economic depression that fell upon the United States in the 1930s had devastating effects on the country At the depth of the depression in 1933 one American worker in every four was out of a job The great industrial slump continued throughout the 1930s shaking the foundations of Western capitalism Despite the seeming business prosperity of the 1920s however there were serious economic weak spots a chief one being a depression in agriculture Also depressed were such industries as coal mining railroads and textiles Throughout the 1920s US banks had failed averaging of 600 a year along with thousands of other business firms By 1928 the construction boom was over The US stock-market crash that occurred in October 1929 with huge losses marked the beginning of the most traumatic economic period of modern times By 1930 the slump was apparent but few people expected it to persist previous financial panics and depressions had reversed in a year or two The usual forces of economic expansion had vanished however Technology had eliminated more industrial jobs than it had created the supply of goods continued to exceed demand the world market system was basically crumbling As business failures increased and unemployment soared and as people with dwindling incomes nonetheless had to pay their creditors it was apparent that the United States was in the grip of economic breakdown The stark statistics scarcely convey the distress of the millions who lost jobs savings and homes From 1930 to 1933 industrial stocks lost 80 percent of their value In the four years from 1929 to 1932 approximately 11000 US banks failed 44 percent of the 1929 total and about 2 billion in deposits evaporated The gross national product which for years had grown at an average annual rate of 35 percent declined at a rate of over 10 percent annually on average from 1929 to 1932 Agricultural distress was intense farm prices fell by
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