The Great Depression caused many American families to suffer. During the '20s 18 million citizens lived in poverty. The depression affected the poor members of society the most. Farmers were still suffering, and now more Americans had lost all their savings in the stock market or became laid off because of the awful economy. During 1930, their were 4 million Americans unemployed, and the statistics only went up from there. A quarter of all families did not have a single family member that had a job to earn them money. Those that did have jobs suffered from pay cuts and hour reductions. Only a tenth of all companies did not cut pay, and by 1932 three quarters of all workers were working only part time. Minimum wage was reduced to four dollars, and by 1933 the average family income was down 40%.

Families that could not pay their mortgage or rent were evicted. In Pennsylvania, 3 or 4 families could be found living in one room shacks. In Arkansas families would live in caves, and others lived in sewer pipes throughout California. These "Hoovervilles" could not afford medical or dental care. Some even went without milk or meat and lived off of stale bread or wild weeds. In New York City during 1931, their were 20 cases of starvation. During 1934, their were 110 cases. Even Africa saw America's suffering and Cameroon sent $3.77.
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This is a political cartoon depicting some of the troubles of unemployment. People that were unemployed and did not have sufficient amounts of money would stand on the streets and sell apples for 5 cents each.

Everyone in the country was suffering, even the wealthier members. The president cut his salary 20 percent and the Vice President's was cut by 15%. President Hoover's fortune went from $4,000,000 down to $700,000. Doctors and lawyers saw their incomes fall by 40 percent because nobody could pay for their services.

The loss of jobs imposed some strain on certain families, and in others it brought them closer together. Jobless men lost their power as the primary decision makers in the family, and as women entered the work force they began to gain more power and independence. They finally had a say in family decisions. Other families had to develop strategies just to get by and survive. It brought larger families together because they would move in with each other and pool their incomes. The marriage, divorce, and birthrate fell drastically. People could not afford to get married or divorce. In 1940 their were 1.5 million women living away from there husbands and hundreds of thousands of children without a completed family in their home.

Whites were not the only people that suffered. About 70% of the black population was unemployed, and their income averaged at less than $1000 a year. Apartment owners would rent out 6 room apartments to 6 different families. Each room was defined as a "kitchenette" and would be rented for $32 a month. Spaces were cramped as whites tried to pack almost 300 African American families into apartment buildings that should only hold 60. As for Mexican Americans, they faced opposition from organized labor and authorities deported as many as possible.

Americans would continue to suffer through unemployment and low wage problems for years to come. When FDR is elected into presidency, he will begin to pass laws for programs that will give Americans the chance for low wage jobs and other benefits. His programs will begin to repair the country and give Americans things that they had never received before, such as minimum wage and maximum hours. These things are still important to our country today in order to provide the average American with proper payment and labor rights. To read more about FDR's jobs programs, click here.