The Effect World War II had on America
“The world must know what happened, and never forget.” - General Eisenhower ("World War 2 Quotes."). World War 2, also known as the Second World War, was a war fought from 1939 to 1945 in Europe and, during much of the 1930s and 1940s, in Asia. The war in Europe began in earnest on September 1, 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, and concluded on September 2, 1945, with the official surrender of the last Axis nation, Japan. However, in Asia the war began earlier with Japanese interventions in China, and in Europe, the war ended earlier with the unconditional surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945. The conflict spilled over into Africa, included a handful of incidents in the Americas, and a series of major naval battles. It was the largest armed conflict in history, spanning the entire world and involving more countries than any other war. World War II had a positive effect on America because it assisted in the ending of the Great Depression, provided women with more opportunities, and helped create more advanced machinery and warfare.
World War II assisted in ending the Great Depression. The common view among economic historians is that the Great Depression ended with the advent of World War II. Many economists believe that government spending on the war caused or at least accelerated recovery from the Great Depression. However, some consider that it did not play a very large role in the recovery, although it did help in reducing unemployment. The mobilization of manpower following the outbreak of war in 1939 finally ended unemployment. America's late entry into the war in 1941 finally eliminated the last effects from the Great Depression and brought the unemployment rate down below 10%. In the United States, massive war spending doubled economic growth rates, either masking the effects of the Depression or essentially ending the Depression. Businessmen ignored the mounting national debt and heavy new taxes, redoubling their efforts for greater output to take advantage of generous government contracts. My salary as a postman was cut $300.00 a year. At that, I found myself better off than most. Two nephews and a brother-in-law had to go for relief for food and clothing. They considered that a disgrace, no one asked for help till they hit rock-bottom. There was very little I could do for them as I had five to support on my small salary.... It was not until World War II that conditions got better. What a pity- that our country had to engage in another terrible war to bring us out of our slump. (Morgan, Alvin) The government began heavy military spending in 1940, and started drafting millions of young men that year; by 1945, 17 million had entered service to their country. But that was not enough to absorb all the unemployed. During the war, the government supported wages through cost-plus contracts. Government contractors were paid in full for their costs, plus a certain percentage profit margin. That meant the more wages a person was paid the higher the company profits since the government would cover them plus a percentage. Using these cost-plus contracts in 1941-1943, factories hired hundreds of thousands of unskilled workers and trained them, at government expense. The military's own training programs concentrated on teaching technical skills involving machinery, engines, electronics and radio, preparing soldiers and sailors for the post-war economy. (Jensen) Structural walls were lowered dramatically during the war, especially informal policies against hiring women, minorities, and workers older than 45 or younger than 18. Strikes (except in coal mining) were sharply reduced as unions pushed their members to work harder. Tens of thousands of new factories and shipyards were built, with new bus services and nursery care for children making them more accessible. Wages soared for workers, making it quite expensive to sit at home. Employers retooled so that...
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