January 21, 1933 - Article - Unemployment, What Is It?, by Garet Garrett
Unemployment is the crisis, related to the total population, is no greater - it may be less - than it was in the depression fifty years ago. That is something. But if you set it against the increase in the total wealth of the country during the last fifty years, the weight of it is so much less that we should be able to bear it easily and with fortitude; and that is amazing.
Imperfect as the statistics of unemployment are, they are better than none. Fifty years ago the unemployed were not counted at all. Say that at the extreme depth of that depression the number of unemployed was five millions - that will be a reasonable estimate - and it was 10% of the population. Say that at the extreme of this depression the number has been eleven millions. That is less than 10% of the population. Roughly, unemployment has a little more than doubled; the population has much more than doubled.
In 1880, when there was said to be work enough for only two-thirds of the people, and the rest might have to find a way of taking themselves off the earth, we were fifty millions. Now we are more than 120,000,000. At the extreme depth of this depression the number of unemployed was only one in six or seven of the increase in population since fifty years ago. In 1880 the number of people who might be engaged in gainful occupations was, according to the census, 47% of the population; in 1930 the number was 49%.
In 1880 the total national wealth was estimated at 45 billions of dollars. Fifty years later the annual payroll - wages and salaries - was approximately 50 billions of dollars. (pg. 56)