A Transforming Workforce During WWII:
In the years preceding the Second World War, the United States, and the entire world, had experienced a crippling economic depression.There were large numbers of people out of work, and families struggling to make a better life.By the late 1930's the country just seemed to be getting back on its feet. Then, in 1941, America was drawn into the two-theater global war, and big changes were on their way.Immediately, droves of men from 17-40, prime working men, enlisted in the army and went overseas to fight.The military needed supplies; guns, ammo, uniforms, ships, planes, tanks, etc., and they turned to private industries, and the American people, to provide them with what was needed.Employers were in need of more workers, and so they hired non-traditional industrial workers such as women and African Americans.World War II thereby created an era of opportunity for American workers by creating a labor vacuum, increasing demand for produced goods, and encouraging women and African Americans to enter the workforce.
As American men left their homes and families to join the Army, they also left their jobs vacant.The nation, obviously, did not cease to function when the war began, and these jobs still had to be done.Just one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the size of the armed forces more than doubled to around 5 million troops .These men who enlisted to fight were essentially the cream of the American industrial workforce.With 5 million job seeking Americans out of work prior to the start of the war, these job openings were eagerly filled. Although many industries which normally produced consumer goods switched to producing military supplies, work still needed to be performed.
As our military entered WWII in two simultaneous theaters against very formidable enemies, they needed large quantities of suppl