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Impact of World War 2 on America WW2

Updated on April 4, 2013

The economy

World War 2 proved to be a stimulise for the American economy. 17 million new jobs were created and unemployment was virtually wiped out. Average wages increased by 30%, this was mainly due to the high levels of industrial output. By Christmas 1942 USA output was greater than Japan, Germany and Italy combined. Jobs dramatically rose by 52% due to the high level of demand, for wartime resources.

This was also debatably a huge moment for America because it was economically growing at rapid pace compared to the rest of the world. After the war many other powerful countries suffered greatly economically and this led to America's superpower status that it still holds today.

The government

Federal power during the war increased which gave less power to state laws. This occurred because people following the First World War (1914-18) and the Great depression (1930s) began to accept that the country would benefit across all 50 states. This shift from state laws to federal laws proved extremely important in later US history, particularly in times of the civil rights era and the Vietnam war.

'Rosie the Riverter'

US society: Women

The war provided an opportunity for women to get involved in the world of work, that would not have otherwise been available. With a large majority of US men having to fight in Europe, there was a drastic shortage of men to work in the factories. This was answered by the women who were available to work. By 1945, one third of all industrial workers were women, as opposed to one quarter before the war. These numbers were as high as 18,000 female workers in industry by 1945.

Propaganda images such as 'Rosie the Riveter' began to symbolise the change from the women working at home to the women working in factories. By working in the factories they gained a higher income however it was not equal to men. When the war ended many women were forced out of the factories so that men could once again resume their role. This was however a major step towards the women jobs revolution. Women's first major taste of full independence.

Philip Randolph: For Jobs and Freedom

US society: Black American's

The war also provided an essential platform for the black civil rights movement later in 1950/60s. Before the Second World War black Americans were nearly always treated as second class citizens. However the war proved to change this.

Before the war there was segregation in the armed forces, only 12 black officers were appointed, black people were often given jobs in the kitchen and living quarters and were not allowed to provide blood for transfusions. However as the war continued the number of black officers and pilots improved, black soldiers saw combat duty and black people were allowed to give blood transfusions.

The battle of Bulge in late 1944 was also significant as there were mixed race combat units. Black leaders also used this as a platform to launch their civil rights campaigns which proved to become extremely successful. For example Philip Randolph along with his supporters created the Double V Campaign. He organised a 100,000 strong mixed race march on Washington in 1941 drawing attention to the blacks social situation. This proved successful and resulted in the creation of the (FEPC) Fair Employment Practices Committee as Roosevelt feared strikes and disorder among the black community and white supporters.

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) attracted almost 0.5 million supports by 1945 and drew the black social situation into the worlds light. This proved excellent grounding for the civil rights movement in the 1950/60s.


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