The Labor Force in Wartime America

The Labor Force in Wartime America

The Labor Force in Wartime America

The Labor Force in Wartime America

Excerpt

In this study of the size of the labor force in the United States during the wars that began in 1914 and 1939 Mr. Long has made a contribution of great scientific value. His detailed analysis of the data From which estimates of this country's working population are commonly derived not only suggests the limits that the total number of people available for work imposes upon a nation's war effort but also helps to answer many questions that have always puzzled students of our decennial censuses of occupations.

One of the most interesting of his findings is the contrast between the strain on our labor force in the first and second world wars. During World War I Mr. Long concludes that net additions to the normal labor force were "few or non-existent." Presumably losses to the armed services were then made up by transferring men and women from non-essential to essential activities. But in this war the situation has been altogether different. The labor force increased substantially. "Little or no net increase took place during the two years before the United States entered the war, despite fuller employment. During 1942 and 1943, however, there was a rise of nearly six million men and women, of whom more than four-fifths came in independently of the growth in working-age population." Of these nearly five million, "more than two million were women, all but a quarter of whom were 25 and older. More than two and a half million were men, all but a fifth of whom were 24 or younger."

As concerns the possibility of further increasing the net labor force of the United States at present, when our military program contemplates inducting more than a million additional men and manpower problems are becoming more pressing in several of our most important industrial areas, Mr. Long offers little hope. The only untapped sources of new labor supply are children at school and women with children under 14. Efforts to draw upon these reserves, Mr. Long believes, will encounter strong and effective resistance. If, therefore, the war goes on and further increases, in the armed forces are deemed necessary, it may be inferred from these figures that maintaining, or increasing, war production will require large transfers from civilian to war work or more hours and harder work, or both.

No striking difference is observed in the degree to which Britain . . .

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