Q:

How did the Dust Bowl impact the economy?

A:

Quick Answer

The Dust Bowl was both a geographical location in the Midwest and a series of devastating droughts that crippled the economy in the 1930s by shutting down many farms and forcing farmers to leave in search of jobs that did not exist. The first of the droughts occurred when the Great Depression was underway, which meant work was scarce. Many former farmers ended up homeless.

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Full Answer

The exodus of farmers and migrant workers from the Dust Bowl was the largest the United States had experienced in such a brief period of time. By 1940, as many as 2.5 million people had left the Great Plains region, 200,000 of them moving to California in hopes of changing their luck. Many Dust Bowl residents simply packed what little they had and left without tying up loose ends or even shutting their doors. As a result, a large number of Midwestern banks and businesses shut down abruptly.

Those who stayed struggled with record low prices for their crops and livestock, a result of the concurrent Great Depression. In 1933, pig farmers slaughtered 6 million animals to reduce supply in hopes of driving up prices. The subsequent public backlash spurred the federal government to create the Surplus Relief Corporation, which ensured surplus crops and livestock fed the poor rather than going to waste.

Author John Steinbeck wrote about the Dust Bowl era in the novels "Of Mice and Men" and "Grapes of Wrath," for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    When did the Dust Bowl start?

    A:

    The Dust Bowl began in the early 1930s. After favorable weather conditions throughout the 1920s, unusually dry seasons began in the summer of 1930 throughout the Midwest and the Great Plains.

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  • Q:

    What did the U.S. government do about the Dust Bowl?

    A:

    Franklin Roosevelt and the U.S. government had two responses to the Dust Bowl: creating agencies and laws to help alleviate financial burdens of migrants and farmers affected by the Dust Bowl; and addressing the environmental issues that created the Dust Bowl. Through the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration, they provided subsidies and purchased sub-prime land to give money to the farmers and restore grasslands to over-farmed wheat fields.

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  • Q:

    How many people died in the Dust Bowl?

    A:

    The exact number of deaths from the Dust Bowl remains unknown, but evidence suggests hundreds, even thousands, of Plains residents died from exposure to dust. The Dust Bowl claimed the lives of men, women and children, although children and the elderly were most susceptible to the harmful effects of the dust. The thick dust produced by the Dust Bowl also harmed plants and animals, leaving them dead in the aftermath.

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  • Q:

    What was daily life like in colonial New Hampshire?

    A:

    Daily life in colonial New Hampshire differed depending on socioeconomic status, gender and location; men living closer to the shore held maritime jobs or worked as farmers, while women and girls tended to domestic chores, including cooking and sewing. Agriculture and fishing formed the primary part of colonial New Hampshire's economy. Men and boys living in coastal areas served in professions such as shipbuilding and sailing, while those living near cities engaged in the sale and trade of many products, including syrup and rum.

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