During the Great Depression, Black Unemployment Was as High as 70% in Some Cities

African Americans during the Great Depression

Before the Great Depression, African Americans at the time mostly had unskilled jobs. However, after the stock market crash in 1929, those entry-level, low-paying jobs disappeared very quickly and the ones that remained were given to white job seekers who also needed employment. In fact, according to the Library of Congress, the African-American unemployment rate in 1932 climbed to about 50%.
There is no doubt that the Great Depression affected all Americans, but no demographic of job seekers was affected more than African Americans. They were the first to see hours and jobs cut, and they had a lot less financial resources and savings to help them survive when the economy collapsed.

In some U.S. cities, the Black unemployment rate was even higher. For example, in Philadelphia and Detroit, 60% of Black workers were jobless in 1932.

Sadly, even after the Great Depression had ended in 1933, African American families were still struggling financially. In Atlanta, the rate of Black unemployment climbed to nearly 70% in 1934.

This eventually led to the rise of African-American activists who launched the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

Since then, history has continued to show that whenever the economy has suffered from a recession, African American communities continue to be the most affected.