According to UCLA economist, Lee E. Ohanian, concluded in a new study that the great depression was caused by Pro-labor policies pushed by President Herbert Hoover after the stock market crashed in 1929.
After the crash, Hoover met with major leaders of industry and cut a deal with them to either maintain or raise wages and institute job-sharing to keep workers employed, at least to some degree, Ohanian found.
Hoover had the idea that if wages were kept high for workers and they shared jobs instead of being laid off, they would be able to buy more goods and services, which would help the economy improve, Ohanian said.
These policies accounted for more than two-thirds of the precipitous decline in hours worked in the manufacturing sector, which was much harder hit initially than the agricultural sector, according to Ohanian.
By keeping industrial wages too high, Hoover sharply depressed employment beyond where it otherwise would have been, and that act drove down the overall gross national product, Ohanian said. His policy was the single most important event in precipitating the Great Depression.
The Depression was the first time in the history of the U.S. that wages did not fall during a period of significant deflation, Ohanian said.