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Great Depression in the United States worst and longest economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world lasting from the end of 1929 until the early 1940s Beginning in the United States the depression spread to most of the worlds industrial countries which in the 20th century had become economically dependent on one another The Great Depression saw rapid declines in the production and sale of goods and a sudden severe rise in unemployment Businesses and banks closed their doors people lost their jobs homes and savings and many depended on charity to survive In 1933 at the worst point in the depression more than 15 million Americans--one-quarter of the nations workforce--were unemployed The depression was caused by a number of serious weaknesses in the economy Although the 1920s appeared on the surface to be a prosperous time income was unevenly distributed The wealthy made large profits but more and more Americans spent more than they earned and farmers faced low prices and heavy debt The lingering effects of World War I 1914-1918 caused economic problems in many countries as Europe struggled to pay war debts and reparations These problems contributed to the crisis that began the Great Depression the disastrous US stock market crash of 1929 which ruined thousands of investors and destroyed confidence in the economy Continuing throughout the 1930s the depression ended in the United States only when massive spending for World War II began The depression produced lasting effects on the United States that are still apparent more than half a century after it ended It led to the election of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who created the programs known as the New Deal to overcome the effects of the Great Depression These programs expanded government intervention into new areas of social and economic concerns and created social-assistance measures on the national level The Great Depression fundamentally changed the relationship between the government and the people who came to
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