World War II

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How Did The Us Government Mobilize The Economy For War

How did US mobilize economically and militarily for war?

This question refers to WWII.

The US government mobilized the economy for war by taking control of many industries or put-in-place policies to encourage industries to produce for the war effort. The economy was shifted from producing goods for civilians to one that was entirely focused on the war. To help facilitate this, rationing was instituted, and the government created programs to support fair prices and protect consumers and producers alike.

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The United States military entered World War II in December 1941, in the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of American vessels in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A number of drastic economic impacts were experienced as a result of the war effort.

For starters, the war effort had a fantastic effect on...

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The United States military entered World War II in December 1941, in the aftermath of the Japanese bombing of American vessels in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A number of drastic economic impacts were experienced as a result of the war effort.

For starters, the war effort had a fantastic effect on unemployment rates, which had been at around 25% since as a result of the Great Depression, which had begun in 1929. American factories that had been closed were reopened to produce goods required by the war effort, and suddenly the unemployment rate was about 10%. With men being sent away to fight, women took their place in assembly lines, now required to do what had previously been seen as “men’s work”.

Drastic shifts took place in the economy to facilitate the production of items required for the war effort. For example, the manufacturing of cars was halted soon after the USA entered the war, and car manufacturers focused instead on the production of military vehicles.

In order to pay for all this, a five percent tax was imposed on anyone who earned a high income. It was also the first time that taxes were automatically deducted from paychecks. In addition to this, the purchase of war bonds was encouraged by means of emotional appeals to citizens.

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The US economy was an important factor in the US's victory in WWII. In order to provide incentives for factories switching from peacetime to wartime production, the government offered low-cost loans and suspended competitive bidding, thus making it easier for the largest producers to switch to making the planes and tanks needed for winning the war. In 1940, Detroit made 6000 planes—in 1942, America's first full year into the war, over 47,000 came off the assembly lines. Franklin Roosevelt also passed laws that looked favorably on unions in order to keep the factories running smoothly. As a result, the per capita income increased by over seven hundred dollars by the end of the war. Roosevelt also promoted integration by awarding government contracts to factories who hired both black and white workers. The US stopped making cars in December 1941—the next year there were no new refrigerators or radios made in American factories as the nation channeled more of its energy into the war effort.

Roosevelt's authorized the Office of Price Administration in 1942 in order to freeze wages, control prices, and manage rationing. The organization rationed food, shoes, gasoline, and tires. In order to pay for this war, Americans were encouraged to buy war bonds. The government also instituted a five percent tax on anyone who made over $642 per year. These measures ensured price stability, few shortages, and a constant supply of money to support both the Allies and the American war effort.

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The United State's economic mobilization for World War II was widespread and all-encompassing. As the conflict spread through Europe and Asia in 1939, the United States began converting the economy to a state of preparedness. The federal government tasked many industries in converting to the production of war goods. While there was initial resistance by many industrialists, the government offered many incentives, such as cost-plus contracts.

When the United States entered the war, economic mobilization ramped up drastically. Under the federal government's direction, competitive bidding was suspended to keep costs down. Massive subsidies were given to industries to convert their operations and build new plants. Basically, the entire industrial sector of the country shifted from the production of civilian goods to produce wartime products and materials.

The agricultural sector also saw support from the government. The Roosevelt administration set high crop prices so that farmers would be eager to produce more for the war effort.

With the entire economy of the country converted to supporting the war effort, there had to be severe rationing for civilians. Common household goods became unavailable. To account for the rapidly rising prices of goods, the federal government created the Office of Price Administration in January 1942. This agency was tasked with setting prices of common goods, establishing rationing programs, and freezing wages.

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World War II was the second war in which the U.S. was engaged in which the economy was totally mobilized. Mobilization for the war effort was a major element in America's recovery from the Great Depression.

To facilitate the war effort, the Government created the War Production Board which saw industrial production converted to the production of war goods. Automobiles, refrigerators, washing machines, even typewriters were taken out of production and the steel used in their production was used for tanks and munitions. (There was no such thing as a 1943 Ford Automobile.) The most obvious conversion of metals was the production of pennies made of steel and zinc rather than copper in 1943.

Additionally gasoline, sugar, coffee, meat and tires were rationed by a coupon system. There were no publicly supported victory gardens or meatless Tuesdays, however the public were admonished to

Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without.

In addition to further mobilize the economy for the war effort, the government instituted wage and price controls. Those few labor unions which struck in response to wage controls saw their industries temporarily seized by the government. In one particular instance when the government temporarily seized Montgomery-Ward Company, the company''s CEO refused to vacate his office. When he did, government agents bodily carried him out.

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