During the time of the Great Depression the United States saw a huge change in the supply and demand of labor. Prior to the Great Depression labor was in such high demand that many women, whom previously stayed at home, were now working in industries that typically belonged to men. Labor was in high demand amongst men as well, as they were either being required or recruited to serve in the military. However, as the Great Depression began in 1929 and continued on into the early 1940s both men and women alike found themselves in a job market that had no large demand for labor and an overabundance in the supply of labor. The war was now over, which left many military men, previously “employed” now looking for new jobs back at home. In addition many women struggled to keep the jobs that had employed them during the war time, as they were now left to support their families themselves. However many factories, whom had previously required a high supply of labor to manufacture different steel products for the war, no longer required the large production of the steel products after the war was over. Therefore, there was an even larger than ever labor supply but a smaller demand. These factors caused the unemployment rate in the United States to rise to an all-time high of 25%. That being said the wages during the Great Depression did not plummet as one might expect. Most employers made the decision to uphold wages and instead ration jobs.
1) The Journal of Economic History. (2001). Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/pss/2697910