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Impact of WWII on the U.S. Economy

One impact of the war on the American economy was the widespread and rapid urbanization of the population, as jobs in urban industry opened up to facilitate the war effort.

Additionally, a more general recovery of the American economy was in evidence. Where there might have been Depression Hoovervilles, there began to appear boom towns across America, which arose in specific response to the military needs of the war. This is reflected in the remembrance of a small-town girl from Illinois who saw the town change from a rural backwater to a war-driven boom town.

Around late 1940, we began hearing rumors that the government was going to build a shipyard here. The men who did not have work were excited. We were still feeling the Depression. The trucks began rolling in with great loads of material. In my lifetime, we never had this traffic. Then came the new people, cars and cars and cars . . . All of a sudden Seneca and the surrounding area had about 27,000 . . . Everybody took in boarders. Then the government built barracks and new housing for the workers . . . Oh yes, the war changed my life. I went to work in a doctor's office. Otherwise, I would have lived my life out keeping house and washing clothes (Terkel, 1984, pp. 305-306).

The wide-ranging demands of the government offered a number of opportunities to those with a little capital and a


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