The Post World War II Boom: How America Got Into Gear

Comment by Jim Campbell

May 26th, 2020

As President Trump has repeatedly told us, there will be a pent up demand for goods and services in the third and 4th quarter of this year.

Much to the chagrin of the left, this of course will happen in time for the 2020 elections returning President Trump for a second term.

In the summer of 1945, as WWII drew to a close, the U.S. economy was poised on the edge of an uncertain future.

In late 1940 for the United States to serve as the “arsenal of democracy,” the American industry had stepped up to meet the challenge.

U.S. factories built to mass-produce automobiles had retooled to churn out airplanes, engines, guns, and other supplies at unprecedented rates.

Chrysler tank production factory

Automotive Council for War Production Collection, National Automotive History Collection, Detroit Public Library.

In the summer of 1945, as WWII drew to a close, the U.S. economy was poised on the edge of an uncertain future.

In late 1940 for the United States to serve as the “arsenal of democracy,” the American industry had stepped up to meet the challenge. U.S. factories built to mass-produce automobiles had retooled to churn out airplanes, engines, guns, and other supplies at unprecedented rates. At the peak of its war effort, in late 1943 and early 1944, the United States was manufacturing almost as many munitions as all of its allies and enemies combined.

At the peak of its war effort, in late 1943 and early 1944, the United States was manufacturing almost as many munitions as all of its allies and enemies combined.

On the home front, the massive mobilization effort during World War II had put Americans back to work. Unemployment, which had reached 25 percent during the Great Depression and hovered at 14.6 percent in 1939, had dropped to 1.2 % by 1944 — still a record low in the nation’s history.

World War II

The Marshall Plan and Recovery

After World War II much of Europe was destroyed. Armies from both sides had bombed roads, bridges, supplies, and communication facilities throughout Europe. Europe needed to rebuild.

This was not easy however. Many governments were in debt or out of money because they had used all their resources in fighting the war. On top of this, their economies were devastated making it difficult to collect taxes in order to rebuild. Many people did not have enough food to eat let alone money to pay taxes.

Fear of Communism

The United States, as well as much of Europe, had allied with the Russians in order to defeat Hitler and the Germans. However, now they were worried about the Russians and the spread of communism. If Western Europe did not rebuild and grow strong quickly, it may soon fall to communism.

Fortunately, the land of the United States had been free of war and devastation. The US economy was doing well, making the United States the richest country in the world. They wanted to help Europe and their allies recover from the War.
Report Ad

The Marshall Plan

In order to help Europe recover from the war, the United States came up with the Marshall Plan. It is named after Secretary of State George Marshall. The Marshall Plan offered help and finances to European countries in order to recover from World War II.

Marshall Plan Label
Label placed on items provided by the Marshall Plan
Source: US Government

Although the US had already been helping Europe to recover, the Marshall Plan made it official in 1948. Over the next four years the US gave $13 billion in assistance to Western European countries. The US also offered assistance to Russia and its allies, however, they turned it down.

Success

By the time the Marshall Plan funding ended, all of the countries that participated had larger economies and were stronger than before the war. The plan was successful in helping Western Europe recover economically from the war.

Interesting Facts:

George Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his contribution to the Marshall Plan.

The Marshall Plan helped with supplies for factories. For example, the plan supplied carbon black to a tire plant in Birmingham, England keeping the plant open and 10,000 workers with jobs.

The US also helped to improve technology and manufacturing techniques in a number of European countries.

Winston Churchill said that the Marshall Plan was “the most unsordid act in history”.

Japan was not a part of the Marshall Plan but did receive US economic aid through other programs.

General George Marshall
Source: US Army

Shopping with ration stamps

With the war wrapping up, and millions of men and women in uniform scheduled to return home, the nation’s military-focused economy wasn’t necessarily prepared to welcome them back.

As Arthur Herman wrote in his book, Freedom’s Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, U.S. businesses at the time were still “geared around producing tanks and planes, not clapboard houses and refrigerators.”

Veterans had no trouble finding jobs, according to Herman. U.S. factories that had proven so essential to the war effort quickly mobilized for peacetime, rising to meet the needs of consumers who had been encouraged to save up their money in preparation for just such a post-war boom.

With the war finally over, American consumers were eager to spend their money, on everything from big-ticket items like homes, cars and furniture to appliances, clothing, shoes and everything else in between. U.S. factories answered their call, beginning with the automobile industry.

New car sales quadrupled between 1945 and 1955, and by the end of the 1950s, 75 % of American households owned at least one car.

In 1965, the nation’s automobile industry reached its peak, producing 11.1 million new cars, trucks and buses and accounting for one out of every six American jobs.

Studebaker 1946

Residential construction companies also mobilized to capitalize on a similar surge in housing demand, as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and the GI Bill gave many (but not all) returning veterans the ability to buy a home. Companies like Levitt & Son, based in New York, found success applying the mass-production techniques of the auto industry to home building.

Between 1946 and the early 1960s, Levitt & Son built three residential communities (including more than 17,000 homes), finishing as many as 30 houses per day.

New home buyers needed appliances to fill those homes, and companies like Frigidaire (a division of General Motors) responded to that need. During the war, Frigidaire’s assembly lines had transitioned to building machine guns and B-29 propeller assemblies. After the war, the brand expanded its home appliance business, introducing revolutionary products like clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers and garbage disposals.

Driven by growing consumer demand, as well as the continuing expansion of the military-industrial complex as the Cold War ramped up, the United States reached new heights of prosperity in the years after World War II.

H/T GP Cox

THE END

About JCscuba

I am firmly devoted to bringing you the truth and the stories that the mainstream media ignores. Together we can restore our constitutional republic to what the founding fathers envisioned and fight back against the progressive movement. Obama nearly destroyed our country economically, militarily coupled with his racism he set us further on the march to becoming a Socialist State. Now it's up to President Trump to restore America to prominence. Republicans who refuse to go along with most of his agenda RINOs must be forced to walk the plank, they are RINOs and little else.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Post World War II Boom: How America Got Into Gear

  1. GP Cox says:

    Thank you for including my article in your post, Jim.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.