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The Great Depression was the worst economic decline ever in US history It began in late 1929 and lasted about a decade Throughout the 1920s many factors played a role in bringing about the depression the main causes were the unequal distribution of wealth and extensive stock market speculation Money was distributed unequally between the rich and the middle-class between industry and agriculture within the United States and between the US and Europe This disproportion of wealth created an unstable economy Before the Great Depression the roaring twenties was an era during which the United States prospered tremendously The nations total income rose from 743 billion in 1923 to 89 billion in 1929 However the rewards of the Coolidge Prosperity of the 1920s were not shared evenly among all Americans In 1929 the top 01 percentage of Americans had a combined income equal to the bottom 42 That same top 01 percentage of Americans in 1929 controlled 34 of all savings while 80 of Americans had no savings at all Automotive industry tycoon Henry Ford provides an example of the unequal distribution of wealth between the rich and the middle-class Henry Ford reported a personal income of 14 million in the same year that the average personal income was 750 This poor distribution of income between the rich and the middle class grew throughout the 1920s While the disposable income per capita rose 9 from 1920 to 1929 those with income within the top 1-percentage enjoyed an extraordinary 75 increase in per capita disposable income These market crashes combined with the poor distribution of wealth caused the American economy to overturnIncreased manufacturing output throughout this period created this large and growing gap between the rich and the working class From 1923-1929 the average output per worker increased 32 in manufacturing During that same period of time average wages for manufacturing jobs increased only 8 Thus wages increased at a rate one fourth as fast as
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