1st-1930s Economic Concerns

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The Civil War affected many of the southern states. Due to its' effects, many cotton farms were deserted, and land values decreased. Since blacks now had some rights from the Reconstitution, they no longer had to work for free in the cotton farms. The reconstitution allowed previous slaves to have a small amout of control on their labor work. Many plantation owners could not afford these changes so they had descended into some other form of farm tenancy. Over the next 50 years many of these tenants were again abandond for diffrent jobs, people turned to low-wage coal mining, iron and steel mills, textile factories, and the timber, turpentine, and pulpwood business.

Although farm prices improved enough to sharply reduce increasing poverty level during World War I , the post-war collapse of cotton prices sent them plumiting downward again. In 20 years the percentage of white and black tenants was 65%, the 5th highest in the nation. Agricultural policies of 'The New Deal' forced millions of tenants off their land. Alabama was in an economic and social tragedy. People were becoming so poor that only 1.4 percent contained running water, 0.7 percent a flush toilet, 11.6 percent a refrigerator, and 19.9 percent a radio in the south. Many people were forced to live in shacks, that leaked when it rained, or trembled when a bad wind blew. Non-farm employment dropped by 15% from 1930-40, the highest rate for any sothern state.

The industrial district of birmingham was hit ahrd with deacreasing unemployment. It went from 100 thousand full time employees to only 15 thousand. "Some nation observers contended that Birmingham was the major American city most affected by the Great Depression." Since unemployment was at a high, and so were prices, many people tried to move away from the area. In a total of 4 months detectives for the L&N Railroad expelled more than 27,200 illegal riders on trains, around 43% of which were teenagers. This was later called rail-hopping. 'The New Deal' programs were helpful to Alabama with things such as the CWA which employed 129 thousand, the CCC which employed 67 thousand. Also, the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority that electrified the nnorthern 3rd of the state. Bringing electricity to farms and created cheap electricity, that brought in many businesses, and industrys to the valley. This would provide even more jobs in the south to ease the depression.