How Great Was the Great Depression?

Economic Episodes in American History: The Great Depression, Part 3

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

David Wheelock gives a presentation on “The Great Depression” as part of an economic education workshop at the St. Louis Fed. Recorded July 11, 2013.

Part 1: Why Do We Still Study the Great Depression? (5:55)

Part 2: Some Useful Terms (7:03)

Part 3: How Great Was the Great Depression? (3:06)

Part 4: The Great Recession vs. the Great Depression (6:25)

Part 5: What Caused the Great Depression? (9:59)

Part 6: The Role of Bank Failures and Panics (11:33)

Part 7: Where Was the Fed? (6:48)

Part 8: What Caused the Recovery? (3:47)

Part 9: Lessons Learned and Concluding Remarks (3:01)

For additional Great Depression-related multimedia resources, from newsreels to oral histories, visit our audio, video and interview series pages.

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