When there was a job opening, there were often literally a thousand people applying for the same job. Those who weren’t lucky enough to get the job would perhaps stay in a shantytown (known as “Hoovervilles”) outside of town. Housing in the shantytown was built out of any material that could be found freely, like driftwood, cardboard, or even newspapers.
The official first day of the Great Depression was referred to as “Black Thursday”. One in four Americans could not find a job, that meant 25% unemployment rate. Reports estimated that the number of unemployed jumped from 429,000 in October 1929 to 4,065,000 in January 1930. The number rose steadily to 8 million in January 1931, and to 9 million in October. Unemployment rose and wages fell for those who continued to work. The use of credit for the purchase of homes, cars, furniture and household appliances resulted in foreclosures and repossessions. As consumers lost buying power industrial production fell, businesses failed, and more workers lost their jobs. During this period most of the Americans found the job via word-of-mouth, persistence and family connections.