How Bad Was the Great Depression? Gauging the Economic Impact

How did the Great Depression impact the American economy? The U.S. economy shrank by a third from the beginning of the Great Depression to the bottom four years later.

  • Real GDP fell 29% from 1929 to 1933.
  • The unemployment rate reached a peak of 25% in 1933.
  • Consumer prices fell 25%; wholesale prices plummeted 32%.
  • Some 7,000 banks, nearly a third of the banking system, failed between 1930 and 1933.

In this video, St. Louis Fed expert David Wheelock uses data to describe the severity of the economic conditions that occurred during the Great Depression.

David Wheelock discusses the Great Depression as part of an economic education workshop at the St. Louis Fed. This is Part 3 of that presentation. Recorded July 11, 2013.

Tools for Teaching about the Great Depression

Discover Great Depression activities and lesson plans.

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