The Great Depression - Timeline

The Path towards the New Deal

  • The value of farmland falls 30 to 40 percent between 1920 and 1929.
  • Organized labor declines throughout the decade.
  • The middle class comprises only 15 to 20 percent of the total population.
  • Technological unemployment enters the nation's vocabulary; as many as 200,000 workers a year are replaced by automatic or semi-automatic machinery.
  • At the end of the decade, the richest one percent of the population own 40 percent of the nation's wealth, while the real income declines for the bottom 93 percent.
  • Productivity rises 43 percent throughout the decade. At the same time, the income gap widens substantially.

  • Only 200 corporations control over half of all American industry.
  • About half of all Americans are living below the minimum subsistence level.
  • Herbert Hoover becomes President. Hoover continues Coolidge's policy of favoring supply-side economics.
  • The economy starts to stall: Warehouses fill up as consumer demand slows down. Production and wholesale prices decline.
  • October 24: The stock market begins to slip.
    October 29: "Black Tuesday." Losses for the month will total 16 billion US $.

  • Democrats gain in Congressional elections, but still do not have a majority.
  • The first bank panic occurs later this year; a run on banks results in a wave of bankruptcies. As people loose trust in the banks, they demand to withdraw their deposits.
  • The Federal Reserve cuts the prime interest rate from 6 to 4 percent. Money supply is expanded through buying back U.S. securities. Consequently, however, the treasury believes in the self-healing powers of the markets.
  • The GNP falls 9.4 percent from the year before. The unemployment rate climbs from 3.2 to 8.7 percent.

  • A second banking panic occurs in the spring.
  • The GNP falls another 8.5 percent; unemployment rises to 15.9 percent.

  • This and the next year are the rock bottom years of the Great Depression. The GNP falls a record 13.4 percent; unemployment rises to 23.6 percent.
  • The Fed makes its first major expansion of the money supply since February 1930.
  • Top tax rate is raised from 25 to 63 percent.
  • Congress creates the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.
  • Popular opinion considers Hoover's measures too little too late. Franklin Roosevelt easily defeats Hoover in the fall election. Democrats win control of Congress.


  • Over 13 million Americans have lost their jobs.
  • Farm prices have fallen 53 percent.
  • International trade has fallen by two-thirds.
  • 10,000 banks went bankrupt. That are 40 percent of the 1929 total.

1933 Principle New Deal Measures, 1933

  • "Bank Holiday", March 1933
  • Federal Emergency Relief Act, March 1933
  • Agricultural Adjustment Act, May 1933
  • Tennessee Valley Authority, May 1933
  • Home Owners' Loan Corporation, June 1933
  • National Industrial Relations Act, June 1933
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, June 1933
  • Civil Works Administration, November 1933
  • National Industrial Relations Act, June 1933

Table of Contents