On Labor Day I
thought it was appropriate to honor the vital role of production in the Allied
victory in World War II.
The United States was well situated to become
the "Arsenal of Democracy." Other than a handful of bombings from Japanese
submarine-based planes and shellings from submarines, America was undamaged. The factories and shipyards functioned free from danger. The US also had
a large industrial infrastructure with Yankee flexibility. Assembly lines for
automobiles and washing machines were reconfigured to crank out jeeps and
tanks. Women stepped forward to work in the factories, with 16 million women in
the workforce by 1943.
Work days were lengthened and manufacturing wages
rose, from an average of $25 per week in 1940 to $45.70 in 1944, while civilian
prices and rents were frozen.
American industry and workers stepped up
production so that by 1944, real economic output had increased 150%. By 1942,
the United States produced more arms than all the Axis countries combined. As a
result, America was able to keep itself and the rest of the Allies well
Dark spots existed. Despite taking a "no-strike pledge" after
Pearl Harbor, unions launched many strikes that slowed production, especially in
the railroads and the coal and steel industries. The threat of government
takeover, public outrage, and disgust from the military ended these strikes. In
June 1944, sailors on the USS Coos Bay sarcastically sent $412 in pennies to buy
off the workers at the Wright aircraft factory in Ohio.
In the end,
American production was a key factor in the Allied victory. By keeping the
Allies suppled with arms, vehicles, planes, ships, equipment, uniforms, medical
supplies, and food, the "Arsenal of Democracy" lived up to its name.
Labels: Labor Day, World War II