Poverty in the Great Depression By Gracie Young and Dylan Belquist

Alice is a mother of five children struggling to take care of her family financially while her husband is dying of pneumonia at home. She works at a textile mill producing and finishing clothing items. Alice supports her family on an hourly income of thirty two cents, the average meager wage of a textile worker.

Alice’s fears come true as she loses her job at the textile mill, the company can no longer afford to pay its employees’ salaries. All the workers lost their jobs, and Alice now had to face the possibility of living without a home.

Following the first ten months of the Depression, banks began to close down taking people’s money with them. Alice now faces the same fate as many families before her and must find some way to maintain economic stability for her family. People like Alice turned to the banks to withdraw their deposits in cash forcing the banks to liquidate loans which eventually led to their foreclosures.

There are many programs currently in place that help those affected by poverty in the US today. The progressive income tax taxes people with higher incomes at higher rates. Since the wealthy receive greater incomes, it’s fair to raise their taxes accordingly. Social security also helps those who have retired or are unable to work by providing a set income which they have saved for by paying into social security taxes in the past. Federal money goes towards funding the training of unskilled workers, encouraging business structure, and to help build up inner-city development. Economic development programs such as the Small Business Administration help bridge the gap created by job discrimination and encourage the businesses to get government business contracts. The unemployment rate during the Great Depression in 1933 was at 25%. Today the unemployment rate in the US is only at 4.9%. Overall, our views on poverty have not changed, but it is clear that financial aid programs from today are much more effective than those that existed in the Great Depression.

Credits:

Created with images by WikiImages - "woman children florence thompson" • buckle1535 - "Great Depression" • Children's Bureau Centennial - "LC-DIG-nclc-01379" • FDR Presidential Library & Museum - "48-22 3704(30)" • Boston Public Library - "Spooling yarn, Dallas Cotton Mills, Texas" • Children's Bureau Centennial - "LC-DIG-nclc-02128 Family"

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