The Gross National Product of the nation rose from $74 billion at the beginning of the decade to more than $104 billion in 1929. Wages were up. Workers had more money to spend, and they spent it on automobiles, home appliances, radios, phonographs, and popular entertainment, especially movies. Millions of ordinary Americans invested in the stock market for the first time as stock prices soared upwards.
Farm commodity prices fell dramatically following World War I. By 1925 there was a serious downturn in the building industry, which was in a state of depression four years before the stock market crash of 1929. Black sharecroppers in the South were barely surviving economically on an average wage of about $350 a year. When the stock market crashed in 1929, millions of people were thrown out of work, fortunes were lost and businesses were ruined.