Effects of the Great Depression on the Lower Class
One cannot deny that money keeps our modern society in motion. This ideology was especially evident in the 1930s, during the massive economic downturn of the Great Depression. During this time, money was a privilege to hold.
The impacts of the Great Depression were numerous and affected the world population tremendously. The American population, specifically the lower class, were directly affected by the repercussions that came from the Depression. According to multiple credible sources, the Great Depression had detrimental impacts on the lives of the lower class. To begin, the Great Depression forced the people already in the lower class, under the poverty line which caused the population many troubles. The repercussions of this caused a greater increase in the percentage of the American population below the poverty line, not to mention the many forms of reliefs and the many organizations concocted by the government as a retaliation against this economic tragedy. Author Steve Byas states explicitly in “The Great Depression, Why It Started, Continued, and Ended,” “The gross domestic product had contracted by one-fourth in a year’s time, wages had fallen by 20 percent” (Byas 36).
The lower-class during this time-period was already living from paycheck to paycheck, but to lose over a fifth of what they were barely surviving on is more than enough to push these individuals under the poverty line. These lower-class families must now rely on the limited relief packages that are a product of a country whose domestic production is decreasing exponentially. It is quite evident that the Great Depression induced an economically inefficient country which is driving itself down. Secondly, Nolan Brown, Author of “‘Evangelization, Not Legislation’ Christian Fundamentalism, the Brier Bible Institute, and the Politics of the Great Depression,” show his readers the monetary side of the American government’s detrimental influence on the lower-class population. It states in the article at hand, “In the grip of the Great Depression, over 90% of the population of Moose Jaw was on some sort of relief” (Brown 2). The county of Moose Jaw is located in a very rural area with the primary occupation being low-income farmers.
These already monetarily deprived citizens had just enough to live on before the disaster that was the Great Depression. Whether it be directly impacted by the American government or indirectly by the fallout from the Great Depression, financial insecurity was prominent in the lower-class during the 1930s. Due to the Great Depression, the American unemployment rate was at its highest of all time. During this time the fight for a job, any job, was intense and was highly discriminatory. Vanessa Bush wrote an intelligent review of the nonfiction novel To Ask for an Equal Chance: African Americans in the Great Depression which effectively shows the reader the discriminatory actions of the few employers that were still in business during this time of an economic catastrophe.
It states in Bush’s review, “When unemployment among whites stood at 17 percent in 1930; among blacks, the number was… as high as 50 or 75 percent in urban areas” (Bush 16). As stated in the quote, the unemployment rate for blacks was more than double that of whites.
The lower class had a much more difficult time searching for a job, any job since many companies preferred higher-class, better-off employees, since the company did not want responsibility for those employees under the poverty line. The left out lower-class made up the majority of the increasing unemployment rate, which negatively impacted the lives of those affected. Secondly, the lower-class who had happened to hold on to their livelihoods, were not going to keep them for much longer. The Library of Congress states, “By 1932, approximately half of black Americans were out of work. In some Northern cities, whites called for blacks to be fired from any jobs as long as there were whites out of work” (Library of Congress 1). Because of this segregation, more than half of all African-Americans were unemployed and unable to pay for daily necessities.
The segregation also contributed to the already worsening of the American economy since millions of citizens were forced out of work and increasing the rate relief packages were needed. Companies who preferred those who were better off for many financial reasons were unaware of the travesty they were causing to the individuals, their families, and the American economy. In conclusion, the Great Depression affected everyone in 1930’s society, but the worse-off had less financial security, less employment options, more discrimination, and much more social repercussions than the better-off. All these complications are produced for the same source, a lack of money. Money is an influential item that, in modern society, would induce travesty after travesty if one is lacking it. This powerful item causes as many tragedies as it causes victories.
Overall, money might not be able to buy memories, but, as it proved, it can make them just as well.