By the mid-1920s, as electric power came to more homes, radios became very popular as a form of family entertainment. Radio stations were built all over the nation. People began to travel and attend movies and sporting events for entertainment. Americans had a reputation for being hard workers and their hard work gave them disposable income to pursue hobbies and other entertainment.
In 1929 the American stock market crashed. This event is sometimes called, "The Great Crash of 1929." On October 29, 1929, known as Black Tuesday, stock prices fell to record lows and all companies, including large ones such as General Electric and U. S. Steel were affected. Many investors in the stock market lost all of their money. Stock prices continue to fall until the middle of November. The stock market crash decimated the United States economy and triggered The Great Depression.
During the Depression, industrial production was cut in half and more than 13 million Americans were unemployed, many for more than four years. The stock market lost 80% of its value. Two out of every five banks closed and the savings of many Americans deposited in those banks were lost. Men traveled from city to city looking for work. Families struggled to feed themselves. The government started work programs to put some of the population back to work.
In 1941 Congress enacted the Lend-Lease Act. These gave the United States government the authority to loan and lease billions of dollars' worth supplies and war materials to Britain, France and other European Allies to assist them during WWII. Manufacturing in America ramped up. Americans went back to work and produced more than $13 billion worth of products to support the war effort. Farmers grew cotton, oil companies, who had discovered several fields in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma in the 1930s, ramped up production and refining to produce more gasoline. Iron was mined to produce steel for all types of military equipment.
On December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor Naval Station in Hawaii and America entered World War II, the American economy began to grow again. As men were drafted and shipped overseas, women entered the workforce in record numbers. Women built airplanes, ships, guns and other war materials. They also built appliances and radios for the homefront. Basically any item that had been manufactured by men, in America, was now being manufactured by women as well.
At the end of WWII as servicemen returned from Europe and the Pacific, a housing boom started. Mortgages were affordable and men and women were beginning to buy homes and start families. Americans also began to buy automobiles and appliances. The American economy grew rapidly in the post WWII years.