In March 1933, the United States stood on the brink of ruin. Twenty-five percent of the population was unemployed; many people had not worked for several years. The situation was even worse in cities with major industries, where unemployment surpassed the national average.
Yet the real worry of the era cannot be captured by statistics alone.
Dan Price, owner and chief executive officer of Gravity Payments, has cut his salary and given each of his employees a $70,000 wage. This move raises the salaries for more than half of the 120-person staff at his credit card processing company in Seattle. Many business leaders have criticized his move. Rush Limbaugh called it socialist, predicting the company would fail. Tim Kane, an economist at the conservative Hoover Institute at Stanford University, said, “It will reduce turnover, increase morale, and help him build an even greater company.” The day after the new wage plan was made public, Price received letters from 3,500 job applicants, and Gravity signed up several new clients (New York Times, April 19).