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August 27, 2014

Job Hunting in the 1930s: A Period Marked by the Great Depression in the United Kingdom

The Great Depression in the United Kingdom, also known as the Great Slump, was a period of national economic downturn in the 1930s, which had its origins in the global Great Depression. It was Britain's largest and most profound economic depression of the 20th century. The Great Depression originated in the United States in late 1929 and quickly spread to the world.

A man wore this sign on his back, hit the road, traveling from place to place, hoping to find some work, ca. 1930.

Through the 1930s, poverty and unemployment blighted large areas of Wales and northern England. Around London, however, some parts of the economy thrived: the suburbs enjoyed a building boom, helped by cheap interest rates.

During the Great Depression, millions of people were out of work. Unable to find another job locally, many unemployed people hit the road, traveling from place to place, hoping to find some work. A few of these people had cars, but most hitchhiked or “rode the rails”. A large portion of the people who rode the rails were teenagers, but there were also older men, women, and entire families who traveled in this manner. They would board freight trains and crisscross the country, hoping to find a job in one of the towns along the way.


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