The job market can seem daunting. However, despite how it has been in the past, finding a job is not as hard as it was back then.

Today, there are more opportunities than there were before. Thanks to technology and the ability to even work remotely or virtually, the job market is healthy.

During tough times like the Depression, when the economy was in turmoil and jobs were scarce, life was scary.

Let’s explore how people found work during the Great Depression.

Great Depression
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What Was the Great Depression?

The Great Depression (TGD) was a rough time for people living during the 1930s and ‘40s. It was one of the hardest economic times in America – and the rest of the world.

It began with the stock market crash in 1929. From there, more than half of the nation’s banks failed, and people were laid off. During this time, it’s estimated 13-15 million Americans were unemployed.

TGD affected everyone in America. The poor, the rich, the young, the old. Fortunately, many people worked together to help each other out. Anything could happen at any time, and the future was uncertain for every American.

World War II is credited with ending the Great Depression when Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor created a high demand for factory jobs and unemployment.

In addition, WWII called women to the workforce, while men were drafted for the war.

Great Depression
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Related: How to Overcome Unemployment

What Jobs Were Out There?

Unfortunately, there weren’t many jobs available. During this time, most of the middle and lower classes were forced out of their homes because they couldn’t pay their mortgages.

Men and women worked; sometimes, even children. The most common jobs during this time were seamstresses, servants, or working in the textile or other positions with railroad companies.

Work was often dangerous; however, people would work it for little pay because they had to feed their families.

Many children dropped out of school to work and help feed their families. Those who survived offered essential services like plumbing and mechanics.

The military was also an attractive option for those who could get in. When Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in 1932, he implemented work programs, which tried to alleviate the skyrocketing rates of unemployment and the death of the economy in his New Deal plans.

Great Depression
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How Did People Find Work?

The Great Depression was scarcity in every sense of the word. People lost their homes, their houses, their family, everything. Some had it rougher than others.

For many, the Depression happened over a series of time. It didn’t happen all at once.  It left many families struggling for years, as the Depression began in 1929 and ended in 1939; however, the economy was still in turmoil until 1941 with the beginning of WWII.

To pay their bills and support their families, people were forced to leave their homes and travel where there was work.

Most work available was farming related or working with the railroad, and many women found work as servants or seamstresses. Some families even made and sold toys out of their homes.

Work was always uncertain. People found temp positions and short term work – anything they could get to stay alive.


Have you experienced long bouts of unemployment? How did you handle the challenges of being unemployed?

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