Leading up to this time period, the Homestead Act had made hundreds of millions of acres of public land available to those willing to improve the land. However most of the prime low-lying land along rivers had been claimed by the beginning of the 20th century. As this land became less available, it removed an option from workers. This caused the opportunity cost of accepting a job to decrease and therefore a decrease in wages as seen below. It is possible that this played a large role as the Homestead Act provided 1.6 million homesteads between 1862 and 1934. Since the population at this time was less then 100 million there is reason to believe that this was at least an option for workers.