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EMPLOYMENT OF W O M E N
IN THE EARLY POSTWAR PERIOD
With Background of Prewar and War Data

U N I T E D

S T A T E S

W O M E N ' S




D E P A R T M E N T

B U R E A U

•

OF

B U L L E T I N

L A B O R
211

LETTER O F TRANSMITTAL
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR,
WOMEN'S

BUREAU,

Washington, October 8, 1940.
SIR: I have the honor to present a report showing the changes in
women's employment that occurred in the first few months after the
close of the war and outlining the chief employment problems that
face women in the postwar period. Following a more comprehensive
study of changes in women's employment during the war, this report
was written by Mary Elizabeth Pidgeon, Chief of the Economic
Studies Section of the Women's Bureau Research Division. It was
prepared originally in response to a request from the International
Labor Office, Section on Women's Work and the Protection of Young
People. Current demands for the information contained are so
heavy that it is thought useful to make the study available for general
distribution.
Respectfully submitted.
FRIEDA S . MILLER, Director.
H O N . L . B . SCHWELLENBACH,

Secretary oj Labor.
n




CONTENTS
Page

Letter of Transmittal
Numbers of Women Employed—Prewar, War, and Postwar Periods
Prewar Employment
Wartime Increases in Employment
Postwar Employment
-Occupational and Industrial Distribution of Women—Prewar, War, and
Postwar Periods
Wartime Changes in Occupational Distribution
Wartime Changes in Industrial Distribution. Wartime Changes in Proportions Women Constituted of Those Employed in Various Industry Groups—
Postwar Occupational and Industrial Distribution
Age of Women Workers—Prewar, War, and Postwar Periods
Aging of Female Population During War Period
Usual Age-Group Composition of Female Labor Force
Wartime Changes in Age-Group Composition of Female Labor Force..
Proportions of All Women of Various Age Groups Who Are in the
Labor Force
Postwar Age Distribution
Marital Status of Women Workers—Prewar, War, and Postwar Periods..
Changes in Marital Status in the Population
Prewar Marital Status of Female Labor Force
Wartime Marital Status of Female Labor Force
Postwar Marital Status of Female Labor Force
Trends in Redistribution of Women War Workeis.
Proportions Women Constituted of Total Postwar Placements and of
Prewar Labor Force
Distribution of Women in Postwar Placements Compared to Their
Distribution in the Prewar and Wartime Labor Force
—
Difficulties in Redistribution of Women War Workers
—
Supplement—Dates for Which Information is Available
TABLES
1. Changes in employment of women—Prewar, war, and postwar periods.
2. Percent distribution of women 14 years and over in the population, by
labor force status—Prewar, war, and postwar periods
—
3. Occupational distribution of employed women, before and during the
war
-—
4. Industrial distribution of employed women before and during the war..
5. Percent women in labor force were of women-14 years and over in the
population, by age group
6. Age distribution of women 14 years and over in the population and in
the civilian labor force in March of 1940, 1944, and 1945
7. Marital status of women workers, 1940 and 1944
8. Women in the nonagHcultural labor force in 1940, and placements for
selected months in 1944 and 1945
—




in

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2
3
3
4
5
5
6
6
6
7
7
8
10
10
10
10
10
11
11
12
13
14

2
3
4
4
8
9
11
12

WOMEN WORKERS—WAR AND POSTWAR

Women in the Civilian Labor Force.

Millions 0}
women

War increase
6
March 1940 (old series)
13
War peak (old series) __ 19

Millions of
women

Early postwar decline
4
July 1945 (new series)
. . . 20
January 1946 (new series)
16
War Changes in Industrial Distribution of Women.
Proportions in manufacturing increased greatly.
Proportions in service industries declined considerably.
Postwar Changes in Employment of Women.
Immediately after the war (June to September 1945)—
1 in 4 of the women in factories lost jobs.
Unemployment was small; many women left labor force.
Ages of Women in Population and Labor Force.
Of the increase in women workers during the war (1940-45)—
One-third were 45 years old or more.
Three-fifths were 35 years old or more.
The postwar population includes 2 million more women of 45 and
older than in 1940. Those over 35 are likely to be more numerous
in the postwar than the prewar period.
Marital Status of Women in Population and Labor Force.
Of the increase in women workers during the war (1940-44)—
Over 1 million were single, widowed, or divorced.
Nearly 3 million were married.
The postwar population includes 3% millions more married women
than in 1940. They are likely to be more numerous in the postwar
than the prewar period.
Types of Jobs Open to Women in Early Postwar Period.
Fewer are in manufacturing than in wartime.
Large proportion are in clerical, sales, service.
Many of the Jobs Available to Women—
Do not fully use their best wartime skills.
Pay lower rates than their wartime jobs.




EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN IN THE EARLY POSTWAR
PERIOD
NUMBERS OF WOMEN EMPLOYED—PREWAR, WAR, A N D
POSTWAR PERIODS
In considering the employment of women after the war, it is well to
present at the outset the prewar employment situation and the
changes brought about by the war, as background to which the postwar conditions can be related. The Bureau of the Census Monthly
Reports on the Labor Force form the basis for a knowledge of the
changes in the numbers of women employed in late prewar years as
well as during and since the war.1
PREWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

In 1940 the civilian labor force included some 13 million women,
who constituted practically a fourth of all persons in the labor force.
Of all women in the population at that time, slightly over a fourth
were in the labor force, and of these 13 percent were unemployed;
practically three-fourths were not in the labor force. (See tables 1
and 2.)
W A R T I M E INCREASES IN E M P L O Y M E N T

From 1940 to the peak of women's war employment in July 1944, the
number of women in the labor force had increased by more than 6
million, or by nearly half the 1940 number. This of course reflects
the summer employment of women and schoolgirls in agriculture and
other highly seasonal work as well as in war factories. However,
more than nine-tenths of these additional women in the labor force
were in nonagricultural employment.
By July of the next year, just before the close of the war, there had
been a decline in the employment of women, though relatively little
increase in unemployment. Some* women had left the labor force,
but there was not an extremely marked difference between July 1944
and July 1945. Women constituted more than a third of the total
civilian labor force both in July 1944 and later (March 1945). In
July 1945 they were 35 percent of the civilian workers.
1
Figures used in this analysis are from Bureau of the Census, Monthly Reports on the Labor Force. (For
March 1940, these do not differ very markedly from figures on employment of women in the decennial
census taken that month, but use of the monthly series figures makes a more exact comparison possible.)
Figures in these Monthly Reports were revised in July 1&45 and a new series Issued since that time. For
July 1945 two sets of figures are available—old series, comparable with previous dates, and new serie3, comparable with subsequent dates. Since no single series of figures runs throughout the entire period, exact
figures for comparing postwar with prewar months are not available.—Dates for which various types of information are available are listed in the Supplement, p. 14.




1

2

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

POSTWAR EMPLOYMENT

From March 1945 to the end of the year, during the closing months
of the war as well as in the postwar period, the participation of women
in nonagricultural employment was continually decreasing, as shown
by the Census Monthly Reports. In January 1946 the number of
women in the labor force had declined by nearly 4 million from that
in the closing period of the war, July 1945. This is a number nearly
one-fifth as great as the entire July 1945 female labor force. Although
representing in part a decline from the seasonal peak in agriculture,
over half of the reduction occurred in nonagricultural employment.
Of the decline of more than 2 million women in nonagricultural pursuits, just over half came at the close of and immediately after the
war, July to September 1945.
The increased unemployment among women w&s not nearly so
great as the employment decline. In January 1946 something over
half a million women were unemployed, only 60,000 more than in the
previous July. This was a number very much less than the prewar
unemployment of women, which amounted to about 1 % million in
March 1940.
After the war, many women left the labor force. However, the
total number of women of working age in the population was larger
in 1946 than in 1940. Although numbers of women outside the labor
Table 1.—Changes in Employmeiit of Women—Prewar, War, and Postwar Periods
INum bers shown in thousands]
Women who were—
Employed
In civilian
labor force

Total

Nonagricultural

Unemployed

Not in
labor force

Old series
March 1040
July 1944
Change In number
Percent change

13,010
19,110
+6,100
+46.9

11,240
18,590
+7,350
+65.4

10,730
16,440
+5,710
+53.2

1,770
520
-1,250
-70.6

37,120
33,340
-3,780
-10.2

July 1944
July 1945
Change In number
Percent change.

19,110
18,810
-300
-1.6

18,590
18,280
-310
-1.7

16,440
16,170
-270
-1.6

520
530
+10
+1.9

33,340
34,190
+850
+2.5

19,610
15,630
-3,980
-20.3

16,900
14,750
-2.150
-12.7

470
530
+60
+12,8

32,920
37,320
+4,400
+13.4

New series
July 1945
January 1W6. ______
Change in number
Percent change

20,080
16,160
-3,920
-19.5

Source: Bureau of the Census, Monthly Reports on t he Labor Fo roe. ChangtJS computed in Women's
late cannot 1be compared
Bureau. Figures were revised as of July 1L945, hence t]aose subsequ ent to that <
with those of 1940 or those of any war year.




W O M E N ' S EAKLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

3

force have increased somewhat, larger proportions of the female
population may remain a part of the labor force in the postwar period
than before the war. In January 1946 over 30 percent of the adult
women of the country could be accounted workers.
Table 2.—Percent Distribution of Nomen '14 Years and OtvT in th e Populcition, by
Labor Force Status —Prewar , War, aiid Postwtjr Periods
iNunibers of women:shown in t housands]
Status

March
1940

Women in population:
Number
, s 50.130
Percent..
100.0
Women in civilian labor force
26.0
22.4
Employed
4
Unemployed
3.5
Not In labor force..
74.0
Percent women were of all persons in
civilian labor force
24.5

M arch
1944

March
1945

» 52,320 >52,830
100.0
100.0
32.3
34.0
31.5
33.3
.6
.8
67.7
66.0
32.0

34.7

July
1945

July
1945 1

January
1943 1

* 53,000
100.0
35.5
34.5
1.0
64.5

53,270
>100.0
37.7
30.8
.9
61.8

53,590
3100.0
30.2
29.2
1.0
69.6

35.0

36.4

30.1

i New series.
'rora July :1944, when
» Civilian population only. Distributor in July 1£>45 (old ser differs but little 1
t
ies)
36.4 percent of the women were in the labor force,
»Total exceeds details, as women in the armed forices, constit uting one-]balf of 1 pc
sreent or less, are not
shown separately.
4
Includes women on public emergency pirojects.
r
n
Source; Bureau of the Census, Monthly Report oii the Labc> Force. ]Mote that figures froi the new
series, begun in July 1645, cannot be compiared with t hose of ear her monthi5.

OCCUPATIONAL A N D INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION OF W O M E N PREWAR, WAR, A N D POSTWAR PERIODS
The war period saw enormous changes in the occupational and
industrial distribution of women workers.
WARTIME CHANGES IN OCCUPATIONAL DISTRIBUTION

As would be expected, the group that expanded most markedly
was that of craftsmen, foremen, operatives, and laborers (other than
farm), whose numbers increased nearly 119 percent from March
1940 (the Census date) to March 1944. A close second was the
clerical group, which increased nearly 85 percent in the same period.
These two groups in 1944 employed considerably larger proportions
of the total female labor force than in 1940.
The one big decline occurred in domestic service, which in 1944
had 20 percent fewer workers than in 1940, and which employed less
than 10 percent of all women workers in 1944 as compared to almost
double that proportion in 1940.
The number of women in the professions was somewhat greater in
1944 than in 1940, but owing to the much greater increases in the
numbers of manufacturing and clerical employees, the proportion of
all women workers who were in the professions was appreciably
smaller in 1944 than in 1940. The accompanying table 3 shows the
differences ia the occupational distribution of women workers in 1940
and 1944,




4

WOMEN'S EARLY POSTWAR EMPLOYMENT

Table 3.—Occupational Distribution of Emplo yed Wom<en, Before and During the War
Employed
women in
March
1914 (in
thousands)

Occupation group

All occupations

Percent distribution in
March—

Percent
change
since
19401

1944

1940

* 16.480

.

+48.0

*100.0

* 100.0

1.490
660
4,380
1,240

+1.2
+53.3
+84.5
+58.4

13.2
3.8
21.3
7.0

9.0
3.9
26.6
7.5

4,920
1,570
1,650
560

+118.7
-20.4
+30.9
+18.0

20.2
17.7
11. a
4.2

29.9
9.5
10.0
3.4

Professional and PemiprofessWwl
Proprietors, managers, and officials
*
Clerical and kindred...
.
Sales.
...
Craftsmen, foremen, operatives, and laborers except
farm
Domestic s e r v i c e . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Other services...
.........
......
......
Farm workers—
... ...........
.....

1
Takes no account of the women who in 1940 were unemployed oi on emergency work and who were a
part of the labor force. Their inclusion would have redineed the inn ease.
1
Total exceeds details, since those in occupations not classifiable < not shown separately.
ire
lovment Dui•ing the War , Special Bu)1 . 20, p. 9.
Source: Women's Bureau, Changes in Women's Emp]
1

WARTIME CHANGES IN INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION

Among the various groups of industries, manufacturing showed the
greatest expansion, an increase by 1944 of over 140 percent in employment of women. This was most marked in the direct war industries, whose additions of women to the labor force amounted to some
460 percent of the 1940 numbers. The one decline occurred in the
domestic and other service group, which had dropped by nearly 10
percent. In the war period (1944 or 1945) as compared to 1940,
manufacturing workers were a very much larger proportion of the
total number of women in the labor force. The accompanying table
4 shows the differences in the industrial distribution of women workers
in 1940, 1944, and 1945 (the later figures giving less detailed classification than the earlier).
Table 4.—Industrial Distribution of Emiployed W omen Befc>re and During the War

Industry group

All industries
Agriculture....
....
................
Manufacturing
Group I (direct war industries)
Group II (essential consumer industries)
Group III (all other manufacturing)
Trade, wholesale and retail
Transportation, communication, public utilities.
Finance, business, repair, professional
Domestic, personal, recreation services
Other (mining, construction, government, forestry,
fishing)..............
....

Employed
women in
Murch
1944 (in
thousands)

Percent
change
since
19401

Percent distribution In
March—
1940

1944
»100.0

* 16,480

+48.0

U00.0

580
5,590
2,690
2,160
730
3,190
680
2,680
2.660

+19.4
+140.7
+462.7
+62.6
+42.6
+57.2
+98.4
+12.6
-9.8

4.4
20.8
4.3
12.0
4.6
18.2
3.1
21.3
26.5

1.080

+180.0

3.5

3.5
33.9
16.3
13.1 }
4.4
19.4
4.2
16.2 |
16.1

1945
100.0
6.4
31.0
14.9
16.1
20.9
41.8

6.6

i Takes no account of the women who in 1040 \rere unempliayed or on einergency M
rork and *rho were a
part of the labor force. Their inclusion would have reduced tibe increase,
* Total exceeds details, since those in industriesnot classifialale are not shtown separately.
1
Source: For March 1940 and March 1944, and percent chaiage, Women 's Bureau, Special Biall. 20, op.
cit., p. 15; for March 1945, Bureau of the Census, Series P-S1So. 8, Feb. 13. 1946.




5

WOMEN'S EARLY POSTWAR EMPLOYMENT

WARTIME CHANGES IN PROPORTIONS W O M E N CONSTITUTED OF THOSE
EMPLOYED IN VARIOUS INDUSTRY GROUPS

The figures reported by the Census for March 1945 enable us to
compare with 1940 the proportions women constituted of all workers
in certain of the chief industrial groups. Among all employed persons,
tie proportion of women had increased from 25 percent to 35 percent,
and every major industrial group shared to some extent in this increase.
Greatly increased proportions were found in government employment,
in trade, and in direct war industries.
In March 1945 women were 45 percent of the workersin trade and
nearly 40 percent of those in government; they were about 33percent
of the manufacturing employees, but at that time they constituted
larger proportions in other manufacturing 2
than in the direct war
industries. The proportions were as follows:
Percent women constituted
of total workers in March—

Industry group

1940
All industries

1945

24.7

Agriculture
.
Manufacturing
...
Metal, rubber, chemicals
Other
.
Trade
Government
....
All other........

,

„
„.

..............

....
................
....

.

.....

..........
........

34.6

5.8
22.0
11.5
24.7
26.9
19.4
35.2

15.4
32.7
27.5
39.7
45.1
38.4
39.4

POSTWAR OCCUPATIONAL A N D INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION

No complete figures exist as yet on the occupational or industrial
distribution of women workers in any period since the war. It may
be considered fairly certain that among women workers somewhat
smaller proportions in the postwar than during the war period are in
manufacturing. Contributing to this conclusion are the following:
1. Reports on heavy lay-offs in direct war manufacturing immediately following the end of the war which were considerably
heavier for women than for men.—By September 1945 it was
reported that 1 out of every 4 women employed in factories
in June had been dropped, and all major manufacturing groups
had smaller proportions of women in September than in June
(except for a very slight increase in the proportion of women
in food industries). By December, more than 1 million women
had lost factory jobs, more than half of them immediately after
the war.
2. The trend in placements of women—to be discussed later in
this report.
3. Notesfrommany localities indicatingtypes of employment needing workers which emphasize heavy demands for service and
for clerical employees—also to be discussed more fully later.
' Source: Bureau of the Census data as follows: For March 1940,16th Census of the United States, 1940.
Population, Vol. m . Fart 1, United States Summary, Table 74; for March 1945, Series P-S No. 8» Feb. 13
718148°—46

2




6

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

While the facts.just noted indicates smaller proportion of women
in manufacturing since the war than at the war peak, nevertheless,
judging from reports of women war workers in various areas on their
postwar work intentions and from announced plans for expansion in
many industries, somewhat larger proportions of all women workers
are likely to be in manufacturing than in 1940.
The experience after the last war was that representative war manufacturing plants, though employing fewer women after the war than
at the war peak, nevertheless employed both larger numbers and
larger proportions of women than in the prewar period.

AGE OF W O M E N WORKERS—PREWAR, WAR, A N D POSTWAR
PERIODS
Figures to show the changes that occurred from the prewar to the
late war period in the proportion of women in our population (14 years
of-age and older) who were in the labor force—and the proportions of
each age group who were in the labor force—are available for March
1940 (the date of the last Census), March 1944, and March 1945, as
indicated in table 5.
A G I N G O F FEMALE P O P U L A T I O N DURING W A R PERIOD

During the war the entire female population 14 years of age and
over increased from 50% million in March 1940 to more than 52%
million in March 1945, the latest date at which figures for some age
groups in the population are available. Of the whole increase, nearly
three-fourths occurred in the age group of women 45 years of age or
over, and in 1945 the population contained over 1% million more of
these older women than before the war (in 1940). At the same time
there was a decline of half a million in the number of girls in the "14
but under 20" group.3
Somewhat more detailed age figures available for March 1944 indicate that age 35 is the significant point above which the feminine
population has increased most markedly. In 1944 this country had
700,000 more women in the age group "35 but under 45" than in 1940;
it had 2 million more women of 35 and over than in 1940, and these
constituted 54.5 percent of the female population (14 and over) as
compared to only 52.3 percent in 1940. There were much slighter
increases among those aged 20 to 34 (only about 160,000), and the
number of girls of 14 to 19 had declined by about 393,000.
The median age for all women 14 and over in 1940 was 36.3 years
(i. e., one-half were younger, one-half older); in 1944 it was 37.4 years.
U S U A L A G E - G R O U P C O M P O S I T I O N O F FEMALE LABOR FORCE

Normally, a larger proportion of the women aged 20 to 24 than of
those in any other group are in the labor force. Of these ages are
many young women out of school and either unmarried or continuing
work after marriage. Taking each successive 10-year age group of
8
Since this Report was prepared, data for 1946 hare become available on age distributions in the population (though not on labor force status). They show in general a continuation of wartime age-population
trends. The 1946 population had 53H million women, an increase from 1940 of nearly 3 million. More
than 2 million of these additional women were 45 or older. Women 35 and older constituted 55 percent of
the 1946 woman population 14 and over, as compared to 52.4 percent in 1940. There also was a further
decrease in number of girls 14 and under 20. See Bureau of the Census release, Population, Series P-S
No. 10, Oct. 14,1946.




7

WOMEN'S EARLY POSTWAR EMPLOYMENT

those 25 and older, the proportion of women at work normally shows
a diminution from the preceding younger group. Generally Speaking,
the greatest load of household management and the bearing, care,
and rearing of children falls on women of 25 to 34 (to a lessening extent,
on women beyond these years). In this group the proportion of
women who are employed usually has been smaller than among
women 20 to 24, though still larger than in any other age group.
As ages advance to 35 and beyond, smaller and smaller proportions
of the female population ordinarily become gainful workers, but as
will be more fully stated, it was these somewhat older women who
made up the largest proportion of the wartime increase in the female
labor force (almost 60 percent).
W A R T I M E C H A N G E S I N AGE-GROUP C O M P O S I T I O N O F FEMALE LABOR
FORCE

The numbers of girls and women (14 and over) in the labor force
had increased during the war in every age group. The most marked
proportional increases were in the numbers of those who were 35 or
more, and of those who were under 20. Of the 5 million additional
girl and woman workers in March 1945 above the March 1940 number,
3 million were 35 or over, and of these latter more than 40 percent
were 35 to-44; about 1% million were 20 to 34; and somewhat under a
million were in the 6-year group of those less than 20 years of age.
PROPORTIONS O F A L L W O M E N O F V A R I O U S A G E GROUPS W H O ARE I N
THE LABOR FORCE

The big changes in the proportion of the female population who
were at work came in the younger group, 14 to 19, and in the group
35 to 44. The least change occurred among those 25 to 34, who, as
has been noted,)carry much of the responsibility for family care, and
who already were in the labor force in large proportions.
In the war period as in normal times, larger proportions of the female
population were at work among those 20 to 24 than of any other age
group, even though increases in the proportions who went to work in
that period were greater in some other age groups. By 1945, 54 percent of the women 20 to 24 were in the labor force. Smallest proportions are at work in the female population of 45 and over, but during
the war the proportion of this group that came into the labor force
advanced from 16 percent to nearly 24 percent of the female population of these ages.
One of the greatest changes, and perhaps the one most significant
for the future, came among the women 35 to 44; by 1945,38 percent of
them were in the labor force as compared to only 27 percent in 1940.
These are the women who have been developing new skilly during the
war, and who will be most likely to wish to continue at work, since to
a considerable extent they are beyond the ages carrying the heaviest
load of household care. There were 1% million more of them in the
1945 than in the 1940 labor force.
Enormous increases also took place among the girls 14 to 19. By
1945 a third of them were at work, compared to omy a fifth in 1940.
Since these girls may be expected to continue in school more generally
in normal times than in the war period, the problem of their job
placement will differ greatly in character from that of women 35 to




8

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

44 and even older who expect to remain in the labor force. The
summary that follows shows the proportions of each age group of the
female population who were in the civilian labor force in prewar and
war years.
Tabic 5.—Percent Women in Labo r Force \Vere of 1Women 114 Years and Ov er in the
Popu lation, b] Age G roup
/
Date (March In each year)

1944
1945

All ages
14 and
over
25.4
32.3
34.0

14-19
13.8
31.7
33.1

20-24
45.1
53.3
53.5

25-34
32.9
35.7
37.6

35-44

45 and
over

26.9
36.8
38.1

16.1
21.3
23.8

Source: Table 6 and unpublished data.

POSTWAR A G E DISTRIBUTION

I t still is too early to give a conclusive report on the age distribution of the women in the postwar labor force. However, there are
strong indications that women in the older groups will make up a
notably larger proportion of the postwar than of the prewar labor
force. Factors indicating this already have been mentioned. One
of these is the aging of the adult female population. Another is the
fact that in the war period very much larger proportions than formerly
of women 35 to 45 were in the labor force and developing new skills.
Many of these undoubtedly plan to continue work. In Women's
Bureau studies in war-congested areas 81 percent of all women
workers 45 and over indicated their intention to continue in the labor
force, as compared to only 70-75 percent of those in the age groups
20 to 44 years. At the same time, the group 65 and »over is likely to
retire, and there was some decline in the numbers of women of these
ages after VE-day.
Trends in the labor force over past decades show an increase in the
proportion women workers 45 and over constitute of the entire
female labor force. Based solely on such trends, regardless of any
possible effects of the war, the women 45 and over are expected to
constitute 24.2 percent of the labor force in 19504 as compared to
21.7 percent in 1940; this is less than the war proportion of 25.3 percent in March 1945. (See table 6.) Some lessening may be accounted for by retirement of those 65 and over. Put in numbers,
this would mean some 1,120,000 more women of 45 and over in the
labor force in 1950 than in 1940. A similar addition of 1,355,000
would occur among the 35-44 group between 1940 and 1950. Altogether, on the basis of normal trends regardless of the war, there
would be some 2 V million more women of 35 and over in the 1950
2
than in the 1940 labor force.
I t is all too probable that women above 45 or even 35 may often,
as formerly, experience difficulty in obtaining jobs. In an investigation of more than 1,000 job openings for women in Connecticut, early
in 1946, the Women's Bureau found that the maximum hiring age for
nearly 60 percent of the clerical jobs was 35 years or less, for approxi* Source: Bureau of the Census, Population, Special Report, Series P-44, No. 12, July 12,1944.




W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

9

mately 55 percent of the factory jobs, 40 years or under. If this is
fairly typical, openings in service occupations would be the chief
ones available for many women beyond these ages. This situation
also may be intensified by the increase in the numbers of women of
35 and older who are in competition for jobs.
Older women who belong to occupational groups not covered by
unemployment compensation may be without means of support if
they cannot obtain paid work. When under 65, they are considered
too old for jobs but not old enough to be eligible for old-age insurance
benefits, even if they have been previously engaged in work included
under such insurance. Moreover, public assistance or relief given
older unemployed persons able and willing to work is small.
There is a very pronounced tendency to consider older women
seeking work unemployable, whereas some adjustment in conditions of
work and types of jobs best suited to their performance may assure
the double advantage of saving valuable skills, and at the same time
enabling them to make a living.
Table 6.—Age Distributi on of W<amen 14 Years anid Over iin the Pojpulation and in the
Civilian L abor For ce in Mcirch of 1S>40, 194-4, and >45
Total

14-19

20-24

25-34

35-44

55 and
over

45-54

Numbers of women in population (in thousands)
1940
1944
194 5
Chango 1940-45:
Number
Percent

50,549
52,320
52,830

7,341
6,948
6,830

5,895
5,975
5,960

+2,231
4-4.5

—511
-7.0

+65
+1.1

10,818
9,168
10,899 |
9,882
21,040
+1,054
+5.3

7,550
9,777
8,041 |
10,575
19,000
+1.673
+9.7

lumbers of women in labor forcei (In thousands)
IS
1940
194 4
194 5
Change 1940-45;
Number
Percent
Percent distribution of
increase

12,845
16,885
17,940

1,377
2,205
2,260

2,659
3,182
3,190

3,561
3,887
4,160

2,465
3,037
3,800

1,606
2,478 i
4,530

+5,095
+39.7

+8S3
+64.1

+531
+20.0

+599
+16.8

+1,335
+54.2

+1,747

100.0

17.3

10.4

11.8

26.2

34.3

1,117
1,496

+62.8

Percent distrib ution
Population:
1940
1944
1915.
Civilian labor force:
1940
1944
194 5

100.0
100.0
100.0

14.5
13.3
12.9

11.7
11.4
11.3

21.4
20.8
39.8

18.1
18.9

14.9
15.4

100.0
100.0
100.0

10.7
13.1
12.6

20.7
18.8
17.8

27.7
23.0
23.2

19.2
21.5
21.2

13.0
14.7!
25.3

36.0

19.3
20,2
8.7
8.9

Source: Bureau of the Cens data as follows: 16th Census of the United States,, 1940, Population, Vol.
as
IV, Part I, United States SUE
amary, Ta ble XIV; IVIonthly R eport on Labor Forec% March 1944, and supplementary unpublished matesrial; The Ijabor Foroe Bulletin, July 1945, Table 3; S;ries P-S No. 6, Oct. 29,
<
1945. Since this Report was jirepared, data have become avaliable on ages of wornen in the population in
1940. See footnote 3, p. 6 for reference.




10

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

MARITAL STATUS OF WOMEN WORKERS—PREWAR, WAR, A N D
POSTWAR PERIODS
An understanding of the changes in employment of women according to their marital status requires some initial consideration of the
changes in marital status in the population.
Married women always greatly exceed single women in the population, but normally very much larger proportions of the single than of
the married are in gainful work.
C H A N G E S I N M A R I T A L STATUS I N THE P O P U L A T I O N

The war period was a time of great acceleration in the marriage rate.
In 1944 the female population included nearly 2% million more
married women but 830,000 fewer single women than in 1940. Single
women made up nearly 28 percent6 of the female population in 1940,
but only about 25 percent in 1944.
PREWAR M A R I T A L STATUS O F FEMALE LABOR FORCE

In 1940, as at previous Census dates,6 many more single than
married women were working, though married women far exceeded
single women in the population. In all, 45 percent of the single but
only 15 percent of the married women were in the labor force, as is
shown in the accompanying table 6. Of all women workers nearly
half were single, and the single, together with the widowed and
divorced women, constituted almost two-thirds of the prewar female
labor force.
W A R T I M E M A R I T A L STATUS O F FEMALE LABOR FORCE

At the outset of the war a large proportion of the available single
women already were at work. During the war, as has been stated,
the number and proportion of single women in the population declined.
Thus, the needed labor supply of women had to come to a considerable
extent from among the married group.
The war pressures for added labor supply brought into the labor
force greatly increased numbers of single women, nearly 1 million,
but the increase of married women in the labor force was nearly 3
million. As a result, for the first time in this country's history the
number of married women somewhat exceeded the number of single
women in the labor force.
Of the single women in the population in 1944, more than 20
percent were wartime entrants to the labor force; of the married
women, nearly 10 percent. However, well over half the single
women in the population, but less than a fourth of all married women,
were in the labor force.
POSTWAR M A R I T A L STATUS O F FEMALE LABOR FORCE

No over-all" figures after 1944 are available as yet for an analysis
of postwar marital status. However, from July 1945 to January
1946 approximately 4 million women left employment, over and
* Women's Bureau, Special Bull. 20, op. cit., p. 22.
4
As reported back to 1890. Since this Report was prepared, data have become available for 1946 on marital
status of women in the population (though not in the labor force). See footnote 3, p. 6 for reference. These
data show a continuation to 1946 of the trends observed in 1944—namely, further increase in number of
married women, further decrease in number of single women in the population.




W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

11

above the number reported as unemployed. Undoubtedly a large
number of these were married, a much smaller number single.
Furthermore, studies made in various regions during the war indicate
the intention of many married women to leave the labor force. The
Women's Bureau made studies of the economic responsibilities and
postwar work intentions of women in 10 war-congested areas. Of the
married women in these samples, 4 in 10 planned to leave the labor
force, but of other status groups only 1 in 10 planned to leave. Or
stating it a little differently, about nine-tenths of the single women
(and also of the widowed and divorced), but only about three-fifths
of the married women planned to continue in the labor force.
>rker$, 1940 and 1944
Tabic 7—Marital Staifus of Women Wc
T 'omen in the labor for ce
V
Marital status

Number (in thousands)

Percent distribution

Percent of woman
population

1940
Total
Single
Married
Widowed and divorced

1944

12,850

16,880

100-0

100.0

25.4

32.3

6,350
4,560
1,940

7,230
7,470
2,180

49.4
35.5
15.1

42.8
44,3
12.9

45.6
15.2
29.8

55.1
23.0
32.4

1940

1944

1940

1944

Stmrc«: Bureau of the Census, 16th CensiJ S of the U]aited State;s, 1940, Pop
mlation, Vol. i n , Par11, United
States Summary, Table 6; and Women's Biureau, Spe<nal Bull. 2 ), op. cit., p 28,29, a: also p. 22 for popuC
ip.
nd
lation figures on which pereents in last twci columns iire based.

TRENDS IN REDISTRIBUTION OF W O M E N WAR WORKERS
As has been stated, the female labor force declined by nearly
4 million after the war, though the major part of this decline did not
appear as an addition to the rolls of the unemployed. There are no
over-all figures to show the types of industries or occupations in which
displaced women war workers have found employment. The nearest
approximation to such information is in an analysis of all placements
made by the U. S. Employment Service, which may be taken as some
indication of the situation, though it includes only those placed by
this agency, and many workers find jobs through direct contact with
employers; moreover, placement includes service to all those who
apply to the Employment Service, and reports therefore are not
limited in coverage to those specifically displaced from war jobs.
PROPORTIONS W O M E N CONSTITUTED OF TOTAL POSTWAR PLACEMENTS
A N D OF PREWAR LABOR FORCE

I t is of interest to compare the proportions women constituted of
the 1940 labor force and of late war and postwar placements by the
U. S. Employment Service. As table 8 shows, women constituted
much larger proportions of the nonagricultural placements in March
1944 than of those employed in March 1940; In March 1945 women's
proportions among placements had declined somewhat from the
previous war year but still were well above the proportion they were
of the 1940 employed. In the latter part of 1945, the proportions of
women among those placed had declined, but they still constituted




W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR

12

EMPLOYMENT

much the same part of the total as in 1940 employment and were
slightly above 1940 proportions in employment in manufacturing and
in government, and to a somewhat greater extent, in service industries.
Table 8.—Women in the Nonagricultural Labor Force in 1940, and Placements for
Selected Months in 1944 and 1945
Proportions women constituted of all
workers i n Total,
non agricultural
Labor force:'
1940 (Mar.)
Placements:
1944 (Mar.)
1945 (Mar.)
(July)
(Aug.).
(Sept.)
(Oct.)
(Nov.)
(Dec.)

Manufac- Trade and
turing
service

Government

28.1

22.0

42.8

19.5

36.0
32.1
29.0
29.8
30.1
28.8
29.0
28.4

36.6
33.7
28.8
29.2
27.1
24.0
24.1
22.6

54.9
45.3
45.0
46.4
48.6
48.2
47.7
47.4

43.2
40.0
41.7
40.7
35.0
32.5
28.0
20.2

i Excludes new women workers seeking work and those on public emergency work.
Source: Bureau of the Census, 16th Census of the United States, 1940, Population, Vol. Ill, Part I, United
States Summary, Table 74; and U. S. Employment Service, The Labor Market, February 1946, pp. 53,54.

DISTRIBUTION O F W O M E N IN POSTWAR PLACEMENTS C O M P A R E D
THEIR DISTRIBUTION I N THE PREWAR A N D W A R T I M E L A B O R FORCE

TO

The most marked change in industrial distribution of women
workers during the war was in the great increase in their proportions
in manufacturing employment and the almost corresponding decline
in their proportions in the various service industries. In the nonagricultural placements of women made in the last 3 months of 1945
through the U. S. Employment Service, the distribution among the
various industries was much the same as in the labor force of the war
period—much larger proportions were in manufacturing, smaller
proportions in the services, than in 1940 employment. These proportions are shown in the summary following.
Percent distribution of women in—
Employment

Industry

1040
100

All nonagricultural employment
Manufacturing
Household service
Other services
Trade—
Government..
Other

—
— —
—

-

Placements—
Oct .-Dec.,
1945

1944

_

*

100

22
19
27
19
3
10

35

}
}

«
20

100
f
1

»{

39
24

S

I

Of the women in the manufacturing labor force in 1940, about 43
percent were employed in textiles and apparel. Many plants in
these industries had retained and even increased their labor force




13

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

during the war, making much the same products as in peacetime; the
chief change was that the markets were supplied with war needs
instead of the normal ones. In the last 3 months of 1945 these industries accounted for 28 percent of all placements of women in manufacturing through the U. S. Employment Service.
DIFFICULTIES IN REDISTRIBUTION O F W O M E N W A R WORKERS

There are certain distinct difficulties that face womeo in particular
in the redistribution of the labor force in the postwar period. Chief
among these difficulties, bearing with special force on women, is the
frequent lack of openings for many workers at the levels of skill
developed during the war. Some women were not in the labor force
before the war. Others have developed higher skills during the war
period than before. Because they are new entrants to the labor force
or to occupations of-certain skills, many of these women do not have
prior seniority in the jobs they hold when lay-offs occur. Few of
them are entitled to the job preferences afforded veterans. When
jobs of the skill levels women have developed in war work are no longer
available, the tendency is to refer them back to their earlier types of
jobs, which many of them no longer desire. In a sample study made
m three cities 7 by the U. S. Employment Service, it was found that
40 to 61 percent of the openings for women were in clerical, sales, or
service jobs, but only. 15 to IS percent of the women claimants had
last worked in these fields. Reports from the field indicate that
women do not desire to return, not only to service occupations, but in
some instances to manufacturing occupations in which they were
formerly engaged. For example, some localities report shortages of
women workers in garment and hosiery factories owing to women's
lack of desire to return to such jobs.
The jobs available for women tend to pay lower basic rates than
did their wartime work. Meanwhile elimination of overtime hours
and overtime pay have cut amounts in pay envelopes, making women
all the more hesitant to accept new jobs where basic rates are lower
than they have been receiving. This tends also to keep women
longer unemployed and to throw more women for longer periods on
unemployment compensation. At the same time, the restrictions on
receipt of unemployment compensation bear with particular hardship
on women.
Furthermore, the increased number of older women in the labor
force, and the tendencv for hiring specifications in some types of
clerical and manufacturing work to be placed at relatively low age
ranges—facts that already have been discussed—indicate that when
the labor market eases a greater number of women than before the
war may experience difficulties in obtaining jobs owing to their ages.
* Atlanta, Ga.f Columbus, Ohio, and Trenton, N. J.




14

W O M E N ' S EARLY POSTWAR E M P L O Y M E N T

SUPPLEMENT
Dates for Which Information is Available
Figures are available for analysis of the female labor force, war and
prewar, and totals (only) for postwar, as follows:
Labor Force—Monthly figures, March 1940 to July 1945; and
July 1945 (revised) to date. As to the revised figures, see footnote 1 of the text. Of these available figures, the following
have been used:
1940, and war peak, July 1944;
July 1944 and July 1945 (shows similarity to peak, with
slight decline);
July 1945 (new figures) and January 1946 (also intervening
months).
Occupational Distribution—March 1940 and March iy^4 (Women's Bureau, Special Bull. 20).
Industrial Distiibution—Same as occupational, with addition of
figures with less fine breakdown for March 1945.
Age—Labor Force—March 1940, 1944, 1945.
Age—Population—March 1940, 1944; figures also for March 1945,
but not enabling analysis for the important 35-44 group.
Since preparation of this Report, figures for 1946 have become
available.
Marital Status—Labor Force and Population—1940 and 1944
(Women's Bureau, Special Bull. 20). Since preparation of this
Report, figures for 1946, relating to population only, have
become available.

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