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Between the World Wars 1919 – 1939

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Employment

The Great Depression, the ‘Slump’ is notorious, but Leyton escaped the worst of it.  Between 1929 and 1932 Britain’s gross domestic product fell by 5.8%.  Industrial production by 11.4%, compared with 15.7% and 40.8% in Germany.  By early 1932 output in the United States had fallen by 40% and wages by 60%.  In 1932 there were 2.3 million unemployed in Britain, 6 million in Germany and 15 million in the US.  Between 1929 and 1932 the cost of living in Britain fell by 12% and wages by only 4%, so those in employment were better off.  

People in Leyton did suffer.  Unemployment benefit payments in Leyton reached their highest level in the year to March 1932 2.


From the late 1920s London was the favourite location for new factories in new consumer-centred industries, many of them subsidiaries of United States companies. 70% of employed men worked outside Leyton 1.  Leyton was not the home of any big names, and it was easier to reach central London than the industrial estates with the well known names, but it did retain Caribonum.  It was better to be in Leyton than the areas of heavy industry where the Great Depression was harshest.  


1  The New Survey of London aimed at identifying the working class and obtaining information on standard of living from a sample of these.  66% worked outside the borough (38,201) - 10,540 in the City, 8,185 in West Ham and the remainder in Stepney, Poplar and elsewhere.  5,557 people in Walthamstow, West Ham and other places travelled to work in Leyton. (My analysis shows that 174 interviewees 1929-30 were employed locally in Leyton and Leytonstone, 81 at Stratford, 63 in the City, 42 in the East End and other places between Leyton and the City of London, 20 on the east side of London east of Leytonstone, 19 in outer London other than the east side of London, 10 in inner London outside the City, 8 at Walthamstow, 6 in the Docks, 2 outside London, 1 at Chingford, 6 somewhere in London not described more precisely, 1 overseas, 13 did not have a fixed location for their work, with 204 for whom the location of employment was not shown.)


2  Leyton Youth Employment Committee Twenty-Fourth Annual Report / Year ended 31st July 1948

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