Employment in the Great Depression: New Data and Hypothesis

John Joseph Wallis, Explorations in Economic History 26(1), 45-72, January .


The traditional source of information on employment during the Great Depression is the BLS establishment sample, the foundation of Lebergott's employment and unemployment estimates. The sample was collected in detail sufficient to estimate total nonagricultural, manufacturing, and nonmanufacturing employment series at the state level for every year between 1930 and 1940. The resulting series have several features of interest: a marked variation in the employment experience of different regions that is not attributable to differences in the industrial composition of employment across regions; a southern economy which suffered smaller employment declines during the Great Crash and more rapid recovery after 1933 than the rest of the nation; and indications that several New Deal programs may have significantly affected private employment.

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