The model Ohanian and Cole use is the ultimate depression, the Great Depression of the 1930s. Early in that depression, unemployment hit 25 percent. It fell all the way to 13 percent or 14 percent in the mid-1930s, only to head up to 19 percent in the later 1930s. This was a huge shift from the preceding decade, when unemployment averaged less than 5 percent.
What was transpiring at GM or Ford Motor Co. in those days? In the 1920s, Henry Ford pushed for wage increases in the faith that they would enable workers to buy more cars. A young labor leader named John L. Lewis was also pushing for higher wages. Lewis convinced Herbert Hoover, who, first as Commerce secretary, and then as president, insisted higher was better. After the stock market crash of 1929 — the equivalent period to now, more or less — Hoover sought to block wage cuts.
Direto da Bloomberg.