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Wartime Employment
O f Boys and Girls
Under 18

Publication 289

United States Department of Labor
Children’s Bureau

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Wartime Employment of Boys and
Girls Under 18
The employment of children and young people under 18 years of
age is increasing at a tremendous rate. The demands that these
young people leave school to work on farms, in stores, in service in­
dustries, and in factories are growing daily. High wages offered
are exerting a strong pull in this same direction. Thousands have
left school for work and other thousands are working in addition
to attending school, many in unsuitable employment and for long
hours. Fewer children are enrolling in high school, and many who
enroll drop out in the middle of their courses to go to work. Others
have left for employment even before completing the elementary
grades. At the same time that our children and youth are cutting
short their education for employment, the Selective Service System
is reporting that scores of thousands of the young men of this country
have been found to be unequipped to enter the armed forces because
of elementary educational deficiencies—a serious loss to the country s
military strength when it is most needed.
Wholesale increases in employment of young persons under 18
mean curtailment of schooling at the very time when more adequate
and universal education of youth should be recognized as a war
measure and given its due priority. Modem wars are won in indus­
trial workshops and scientific laboratories. The country needs edu­
cated youth to do its war planning and skilled technicians to carry
on both war and civilian production.
The direct causes of the increasing movement from school to work,
' 1 boys are drafted
opportunities opened
Bkawing off of emH nd civilian indus[Hice. But another
>r is that the schools are an
___^__ o I_______ __ _^
lers. It is often
much more difficult to recruit workers from minority groups, women,
and older persons not normally in the labor market, than it is to call
516847— 43
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


upon school children— a group that can be found all together in one
place, a group naturally eager for new experiences and for what
seems an exciting part in the war effort, a group inexperienced in
employment relationships and often willing to accept any wages
offered. Since Pearl Harbor this “easy way” has been taken only too
often, in spite o f its dangerous implications. There has been no
Nation-wide, balanced program to avoid waste o f this irreplaceable
source o f future manpower.
The President in his radio speech o f October 12, 1942, recognized
“ grown” boys and girls as one o f the sources of manpower but also
cautioned that they should be used where “ reasonable.” In connec­
tion with the President’s suggestion that plans be worked out to enable
high-school students “ to take some time from their school year and to
use their summer vacations to help farmers raise and harvest their
crops, or to work in the war industries,” he referred to “ older students”
and said, “ This does not mean closing schools and stopping education.”
But up to the present time the use o f school children in employment in
this country has often failed to follow these suggestions. In many
cases schools have been closed for weeks at a time and education dis­
rupted; many younger children have been employed when older
youth could have been made available. Much o f this employment has
not been “reasonable” from the point o f view o f the best interests of
youth or o f the Nation or from the long-range point o f view o f winning
both the war and the peace.
To reach the President’s objective, a clear view must be taken o f the
varied contributions that these young people should make to the
Nation’s welfare. They must be regarded primarily as the reservoir
for the trained minds and bodies of tomorrow. This is not incon­
sistent with participation in the war-production effort by many o f the
more mature, provided this participation is guided'and supervised so as
to give them experience of some educational value and a feeling of
direct contribution to wartime needs. Both their schooling and their
employment must be carefully directed so as to conserve their educa­
tional opportunities and protect them from undue physical strain and
work hazards. As the President on another occasion has said: “ All
our energies at the present must be devoted to winning the war. Yet
winning the war will be futile if we do not throughout the period o f
its winning keep our people prepared to make, a'; lasting and worthy
peace.” 1
1 Letter to Dr. Everett Case, President of Colgate University, September 10, 1942, on the
occasion of the beginning of Dr. Case’s term as president and the celebration of the 125th
anniversary of the founding o f the university.
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How many young workers between 14 and 18 years of age are
No count o f children and young persons at work has been made since
early in 1940, when the census showed somewhat less than 900,000 boys
and girls between 14 and 18 years o f age employed—209,347 of 14 arid
15 and 662,967 of 16 and 17 years.2 The only recent information is
from rough estimates based on sample trends since that time, which
indicate a total of around 2 million in January 1943, and around
3 million in the preceding July, during the school vacation period. O f
these, about a fourth, according to the same rough estimates, were in
the younger age group, that is, 14 or 15 years of-age.
Reports o f employment and age certificates, issued in most States
for children going to work, give clues to the upward trend since 1940.
It must be borne in mind, however, that they show only the numbers
obtaining certificates during a given period and not the number
actually at work at any particular time. Though they do not tell the
whole story, they indicate that in the year 1940, at the very least,
more than 250,000 minors between 14 and 18 years of age, and in 1941
more than 500,000, entered their first full-time or part-time jobs.
During the first 6 months of 1942 these young workers were joined
by more than 50,000 children 14 and 15 years old and more than
275,000 young persons 16 and 17 years old. Incomplete reports for
July to December 1942 already show a total of more than 300,000
minors between 14 and 18 years o f age entering full-time or part-time
employment during this 6-month period; about 60,000 were 14 or 15
years of age.
The number o f boys and girls o f these ages who obtained certificates
for full-time or pa'rt-time jobs in 1941 was more than double the
1940 total, the increase for the 16- and 17-year-olds being 132 percent
and for those o f 14 and 15 years, 77 percent. The number between
14 and 18 years of age obtaining certificates in the first 6 months of
1942 was about 60 percent greater for both 14- and 15-year-old and
16- and 17-year-old workers than in the corresponding period of 1941.
The incomplete reports for the last 6 months of 1942 show that more
than three times as many children 14 and 15 years of age left school for
work in those months as in the same period of 1940 and also that more
than three times as many took vacation or part-time jobs. In the 16* These figures do not give a complete picture of the extent of employment of boys and
girls between 14 and 18 years of age. The fact that the census was taken in early spring
inevitably resulted in the omission of many children of the ages covered who are regularly
employed in agriculture. Although some commercial crops are under cultivation as early
as the last week in March— the census date— the majority of children who engage in indus­
trialized agriculture are not working at that date. Also, it is probable that some part-time
and self-employed child workers were not counted as employed.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and lT-year-old group four times as many boys and girls took full-time
or part-time jobs in this 6-month period as in the corresponding period
of 1940.
These certificate figures, striking as they are, do not give a complete
picture even o f the flow of children and young persons between 14 and
18 years of age into full-time and part-time employment. Many go to
work without obtaining certificates, either because the law does not re­
quire a certificate for the occupation they enter or because the employer
does not demand the certificate required by law. Certificates are not
usually required for work in domestic service or agriculture. In some
States much, if not all, nonfactory work outside school hours and dur­
ing vacation is outside the scope of the certificate law, and a few States
have no State certificate system even for 14- and 15-year-old children.
For minors of 16 and 17 about half the States do not require certificates,
although administratively they are issued on request.
Another important limitation on these certificate figures is that
they reflect only legal employment of the young workers between 14
and 18 years o f age. In all parts of the country State officials who
enforce labor laws have been reporting that illegal employment of
minors has increased greatly. This is likely to happen under present
conditions when jobs are easy for children to find, when employers
are eager for workers, and when law-enforcement officials are much
How many children under 14 years of age are employed?
No one knows how many children under 14 years o f age are at work.
The census of 1940, for the first time since 1870, did not enumerate
workers under 14 years old. Employment-certificate figures do not
"include them. Nevertheless, it is obvious from reports from all over
the country and from general observation that many children younger
than 14 are in fact engaged in street trades and industrialized agricul­
ture, where their employment is subject to comparatively little legal
restriction, and that large numbers are employed in stores and in other
miscellaneous kinds of work. There can be little doubt that the num­
ber of children under 14 years of age engaged in agriculture last sum­
mer reached into hundreds of thousands. Under most State laws the
employment of children under 14 is prohibited in factory and commer­
cial occupations. However, State officials report many instances of
illegal employment. Federal inspectors under, the Fair Labor Stand­
ards Act of 1938 have been finding violations of the act in the employ­
ment of these young children. O f the approximately 4,000 minors
found employed contrary to the child-labor provisions o f the act
during the year ended June 30,1942, nearly 1,200 were under 14 years
o f age.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Are more boys and girls going to work?
Although a great many girls between 14 and 18 years o f age are
being employed, the working boys o f these ages predominate and the
proportion o f boys has been increasing. O f the 16- and 17-year-old
minors who obtained first regular certificates3 in 1941, 59 percent
were boys as compared with 56 percent in 1940 and 54 percent in 1939.
In the corresponding group o f 14- and 15-year old minors, the propor­
tion o f boys is larger and has increased more rapidly; it was 67 percent
in 1941, 58 percent in 1940, and 51 percent in 1939. Many more boys
than girls are going to work during vacation and outside school hours;
in 1941 only about a third of the minors o f 16 and 17 and a tenth of
those o f 14 and 15 years were girls.4
What kinds o f work are these boys and girls doing?
Some young persons 16 and 17 years o f age are going into plants
producing war materials. For example, in aircraft factories they are
doing assembly work or are working in sheet-metal shops; in shipyards
they are doing subassembly work or are working in the sheet-metal
shops, moldlofts, or machine shops. In other war plants they are
undertaking a variety o f jobs. In larger numbers boys and girls of
these ages are working in factories producing textiles, wearing apparel,
shoes and other leather products, electrical equipment, and all sorts
o f metal products, as well as various kinds o f machinery. However,
although the proportion entering manufacturing industries is increas­
ing, the majority of 16- and 17-year-old workers are probably employed
in nonmanufacturing industries—in wholesale establishments and
warehouses; in retail stores as sales clerks, errand boys, stock boys, and
shipping clerks; in offices; in laundries; as telegraph messengers and
telephone operators; as ushers and cashiers in places of amusement;
in hotels and restaurants; and as clerical workers in many industries.
Many others, especially in the summer months, are employed on farms.
The 14- and 15-year-old children find their way into more miscel­
laneous types o f employment.
They are doing delivery and errand
work; clerking in stores; working as busboys or counter boys in lunch­
rooms or as soda jerkers in drug stores; helping in filling stations and
garages; doing miscellaneous clerical jobs; working as curb hops, as
caddies, as pin boys in bowling alleys; delivering and selling news­
papers and working in other street trades; and doing housework and
odd jobs in private homes. Like the 16- and 17-year-old boys and girls,
* These certificates permitted the minor to leave school and take full-time employment,
but some of the minors may in fact have continued in school and worked only outside
school hours or in vacation.
4 Employment-certificate reports, upon which this information is based, are incomplete
for domestic service, in which more girls than boys of these ages are employed, and for
agriculture, in which more boys than girls of these ages are employed.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

large numbers are engaged in cultivating and harvesting fruits and
vegetables in industrialized agriculture. Children under 16 years of
age found illegally employed by inspectors under the Fair Labor
Standards Act o f 1938 included workers engaged in preparing fruits
and vegetables and seafood in canning, packing, and freezing estab­
lishments and operating machines in other manufacturing plants 5
assembling, wrapping, and packing ; poultry picking ; and doing indus­
trial home work such as shelling nuts, caning chairs, making flowers,
and stringing tags.
What proportion o f these boys and girls are going into manu­
facturing industries?
O f the minors 16 and IT years o f age who obtained regular employ­
ment or age certificates in 1941 according to reports received by the
Children’s Bureau, 41 percent went into manufacturing industries, as
compared with 36 percent in 1940. Comparatively few 14- and 15year-old children obtain certificates for regular factory work because
the 16-year minimum-age standard set by the Fair Labor Standards
Act o f 1938 affects productive work in all establishments producing
goods for interstate commerce, and most manufacturing establish­
ments fall in this class. Thus, under the Federal act, only work in
establishments producing no goods for interstate commerce and a small
amount of nonproductive work in interstate factories are legal for
children of 14 and 15 years. Moreover, 15 States have established a
basic minimum age of 16 for work in factories, at least during school
hours. As a result, only a small percentage of the children of 14 and
15 who left school for work (exclusive of newsboys) went into work
for manufacturing establishments—3 percent in 1940 and 5 percent
in 1941. The corresponding figure for those going to work during
vacation or outside school hours is 2 percent in both years.
Are boys and girls working in dangerous occupations or under
harmful conditions?
Many examples may be cited of fatal or disabling injuries that occur
to boys and girls under 18 at work in occupations that demand experi­
ence and maturity o f judgment.
A 13-year-old boy employed on odd jobs in a bakery started to clean a dough­
mixing machine while it was running. His arm caught in the machinery and he
died as a result of the injuries received.

A 14-year-old boy was killed as the result o f an accident when he was helping
to operate a delinting machine in a cotton-ginning plant. His leg was struck by
a part of the machine and he was knocked into the machine, where the saws caught
his arm and mangled it and cut into his side.

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A 15-year-old boy on the night shift in a laundry tried to extract a tangled
sheet from an operating mangle. He was drawn into the mangle, his right arm
was tom off above the elbow, and his leg was fractured.
A 16-year-old farm hand fell asleep at 4 o’clock in the morning while he was
driving a truck to market In the resulting accident he was severely injured.
A 16-year-old boy who was a helper on a coal truck tried to jump onto the truck
while it was moving. In doing so, his foot slipped and he fell under the rear
wheel, which crashed his head and arm and caused instant death.
An inexperienced 17-year-old boy working as a laborer in a bituminous coal
mine was loading a truck underground at a coal conveyor in the mine. The con­
veyor safety belt, which was too long and extended beyond the guard, caught on
the boy’s glove. Before the motor could be stopped, his left middle finger was
twisted off at the second joint.

More and more boys and girls attending school are going to work at
part-time jobs. Most of them are 16- and 17-year-old high-school
students, though many are 14 or 15 years of age and some even younger.
The result in many cases is that the pupil’s health is impaired, and he
either fails in his school work, or, discouraged with lack of school
progress and lured by the pay envelope, he drops out o f school.
Examples may be multiplied from one end of the country to the other.
In one city a survey of 3 high schools shows from 31 to 41 percent o f the school
enrollment employed. The majority are 16 and 17 years old but many are
younger. In one boys’ school in this city about 2,000 are employed—269 in fac­
tory jobs, 211 in clerical work, 616 in sales jobs, 459 as delivery boys, and the rest
chiefly as pin boys, ushers in theaters, garage helpers, and so forth. Nearly 400
are working 35 or more hours a week—257 of them 40 or more hours a week—in
addition to carrying school work.
A 14-year-old boy in the ninth grade goes to school from 8 :1 5 or 8 :3 0 a. m.
until 2 p. m .; sells candy in a theater from 2 p. m. to 10 p. m. 6 days a week
(with an hour off for supper). On one day he gets off from work at 6. His total
hours of work are 46; with school hours added, his part-time and school work
program amounts to 73^ hours a week.
A 13-year-old girl works afternoons and evenings in a restaurant with a
total of 56 hours a week o f school and work.
A 14-year-old boy in the seventh grade works as delivery boy on a bakery truck
on school days from 5 :3 0 to 8 : 00 a. m .; attends school from 9 :4 5 to 3 :1 5 p. m.
On Saturdays he works from 5 : 30 a. m. to 5 :3 0 p. m., with three-quarters of an
hour off. His wages are $9 a week.
A 13-year-old boy in the eighth grade sets pins in a bowling alley at a wage of
$13 a week. He works from 6 to 11 p. m. on school days and from 1 p. m. to 12
midnight on Saturday and Sunday, with a half-hour off.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Bowling alleys are employing children from 12 years o f age and up
until midnight or even until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. The result
is weariness and poor work in school, truancy, and, too often,
What of needed educational opportunity?
Even before the war equal educational opportunity—the demo­
cratic ideal—was far from attainment. According to the 1940
census, 1 out o f every 8 o f the adult population 25 years o f age and
over had had less than 5 years of schooling. Ten percent o f the chil­
dren of the country 14 and 15 years o f age and 5 percent of those be­
tween 7 and 14 years of age were not attending school in March 1940.
Among the rural farm children the average out of school was 18 per­
cent for the 14- and 15-year-olds and .9 percent for those between 7 and
14 years o f age. In some parts o f the country the proportion of
children out of school was much higher—among the rural farm chil­
dren in some States, 23 percent or more for the 14- and 15-year-old
group and 12 percent or more for the younger group.
Great Britain has recognized education as an integral part of the
war effort and has increased its appropriations for public education
during these war years. Many British educators echo the regret of
Prime Minister Churchill that England did not raise the age for
leaving school (14 years) to 16 at the close o f the first World War, so
that better-trained youth would now be available for the war effort.
What has happened in the field o f child-labor and schoolattendance laws?
Though there has been some pressure to repeal or modify protective
provisions o f child-labor and school-attendance laws, serious relaxation
o f standards was for the most part prevented in 1941 and 1942. In
fact, in Louisiana and Puerto Rico notable advances were made in
child-labor legislation in 1942. Moreover, although a number of States
passed legislation under which hours o f labor and certain other stand­
ards may be relaxed during the war, the majority o f these laws provide
that such relaxation shall not apply to minors under 18.
In the field o f Federal legislation the minimum age for employment
o f girls under the Public Contracts A c t 6 was reduced from 18 to 16
by a ruling o f the Secretary o f Labor under authority given her by
the act, under safeguards strictly limiting the conditions o f labor and
the kinds o f work permitted for girls o f 16 and 17. This ruling results
in a minimum age o f 16 for both boys and girls, which is the basic
minimum age for employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act
* This act (the Walsh-Healey Act) applies to employment in the production of goods for
the Federal Government under contracts in excess of $10,000.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

o f 1938. The Secretary’s action was taken at the request o f the Federal
departments most concerned with the war, and its purpose was to
prevent retardation of essential production.
In State laws relaxations in 1941 and 1942 related chiefly to the
employment o f minors in the commercialized amusement areas—as, for
example, in bowling alleys. In some States special provisions were
made for release o f children from school for work in agriculture,
though in a few instances for limited periods and under safeguards
giving administrative control to agencies concerned with the welfare
of youth. Other exceptions that were allowed lengthened hours of
work or relaxed night-work prohibitions for 16- and 17-year-old minors.
Much stronger demands for weakening legislative protection for
young workers are evident this year, when most o f the State legisla­
tures are in session. For the most part the bills so far introduced deal
with work in agriculture and bowling alleys, but some would lower
standards for a wider range o f employment. On the other hand, in a
few States bills raising standards have been introduced.

How can wise plans be made for participation of youth in war­
tim e em ploym ent?
Positive action must be initiated through State and local groups that
represent both the forces primarily interested in the welfare o f youth
and the forces primarily interested in production needs and the con­
tribution of young persons to those needs. These groups should plan
and carry out definite programs for conserving the health and educa­
tional opportunities of youth under 18, while at the same time satisfy­
ing legitimate demands for their assistance in meeting labor needs in
a particular area. Programs must be developed to meet existing sit­
uations, and future emergencies must be foreseen and planned for.
Only an alert and aroused public opinion, coordinated through such
group action, will recognize and successfully combat the dangers
inherent in the present trends.
What principles should guide programs for participation of
youth in wartime em ploym ent?
The following principles will provide a general foundation for com­
prehensive planning to guide the contribution o f children and young
persons to the war program through employment:
Programs must be planned on the basis o f the particular needs of
young persons at different ages.—In general, the need of children
under 14 years o f age is for complete freedom for healthful physical,
mental, and social growth, and their part in the war effort should be

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limited to suitable tasks at home and suitable group activities as
volunteers under careful supervision. They should not be considered
as part of the hired labor force. For children of 14 and 15 also, edu­
cation and physical and social development are primary needs. I f
they are to be employed, their work should be only in carefully se­
lected occupations and under conditions that properly protect them.
Many young persons between 16 and 18 can make their best contribu­
tion to the war program by continuing their schooling. Those with
special aptitudes and capacities must be encouraged to continue their
training in order to meet more effectively their military or civic re­
sponsibilities. Others who will gain most by assuming the role of
wage earner and worker or whose employment is found essential
in the war program should be guided into occupations that are suited
to their age and capacity and in which they can make the greatest con­
tribution with the least danger to their health and well-being.
2. Demands fo r these young workers must be carefully scrutinized.—
This scrutiny is particularly important in cases of appeals to the
schools for release of pupils for employment. The comparative im­
portance of the work they may perform if they curtail their schooling
and of the education and training they will forfeit must be weighed.
A careful check should be made with agencies responsible for supply­
ing workers to see whether other sources of labor can and should be
used— for instance, men and women in minority groups, women not
normally in the labor market—or whether the need should be met by
appeal to consumers to sacrifice nonessential services. Children have
frequently been employed, particularly the younger ones, without con­
sideration o f whether their services were actually needed, whether they
were desired merely as a cheap and readily available labor supply,
or whether other sources of labor could be used.
3. The health and safety o f all employed workers between Up and 18
years o f age must be protected.—This is particularly essential in view
of increases in industrial accidents and in view of the stress and pres­
sure of present industrial conditions. Many young persons under 18
years o f age are entering jobs formerly filled by mature, older work­
ers. They are still in adolescence and comparatively immature' in
emotion and intelligence. They are more susceptible to industrial
accidents and probably to industrial poisons than older, more ex­
perienced persons. Workers 14 and 15 years of age need the greater
safeguards, of course, but boys and girls of 16 and 17 entering industry
for the first time are also in need of protective measures. In the inter­
ests of production as well as of the workers it is important that their
physical well-being should be safeguarded in every possible way, and
that they be given safe jobs. Particular attention should be given to
limitation on hours, to provision for meal and rest periods, and to
avoidance o f night employment.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

4. Conditions o f 'part-time work fo r school children must he con­
trolled.—Employment of school children in part-time work is already
widespread and is increasing rapidly. In some places school programs
are being adjusted to shorten the school period and permit children to
take jobs. Combined work and school programs if properly
safeguarded may offer an opportunity to young persons to help in es­
sential production or community service and at the same time keep on
with their education. But these programs must be carefully planned
and directed i f harm to the child is to be avoided.
Surveys in many parts of the country show that this planning and
direction has often been insufficient or entirely absent and that
thousands of children are undertaking a burden o f combined school
and work far too heavy for them. For instance, in 9 junior or senior
high schools in 4 eastern cities, a recent survey showed that in ad­
dition to children employed in street trades and domestic service,6
nearly 5,000 children out of a total enrollment o f approximately 17,000
were employed after school hours. O f these working students, 1,003
were under 16 and working in occupations prohibited to children of
this age by State law. Children from 11 to 18 years o f age were em­
ployed in all sorts o f enterprises, working 6 and 7 days a week, 40, 50,and 60 hours a week. Night work was common—627 children were em­
ployed until 10 p. m. or later and 307 until midnight or later. From
many parts of the country have come reports o f young schoolboys set­
ting up pins in bowling alleys until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. A
school official in a Western State reports requests from employers for
school children to work on shifts of 4 to 8 hours that require them to be
on duty as late as 12 or 1 o’clock at night. Another example reported
to the Children’s Bureau is that of a 15-year-old boy working 35 hours
a week up to 10 and 11 p. m., as an usher in a movie theater, making a
60-hour week of school and work combined.
The amount and kind o f work a high-school student can safely do in
addition to his school work is limited, and his unrestricted contribution
to a job may easily cost the Nation far more than it is worth in waste
of his energies and in damage to a future citizen. Desirable limitations
on part-time employment o f youth in school may vary with conditions,
but in all cases opportunity should be maintained for a full night’s rest,
for adequate recreation, and for safeguarding educational progress.
5. The widespread use o f school pupils fo r supplying emergency
labor needs requires that the State and the comrmmity assume re­
sponsibility for the conditions under which these pupils are recruited
and employed.—This assumption of responsibility by the community
is particularly essential in the programs for employing children in
the cultivation and harvesting of crops, in order to insure that these
a Employment in these occupations outside school hours is not covered by the childlabor law of the State where the survey was made.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

young workers are adequately safeguarded and that they make the
most efficient possible contribution to production in areas where they
are needed. Experience during 1942 shows the need for careful ad­
vance community planning of programs for the recruitment, place­
ment, and supervision of these young workers, for whom little
protection has been provided by law. Leadership from State and
community agencies is needed to insure this planning and the ob­
servance o f standards that will safeguard adequately the health and
welfare of young workers drawn on to meet shortages in farm labor.
Strict enforcement of such provisions of the school-attendance, childlabor, and other labor laws as are applicable to the work is funda­
6. A ll wartime programs fo r employment o f children and you/ng
people v/nder 18 years of age should he conducted with due regard
to child-labor and school-attendance standards established by law.—
These standards are of special value in this period of rapid recruit­
ment o f new sources o f labor as a guide in distinguishing what is
proper employment for boys and girls from what will be detrimental
to them because of their youth. In the long run these standards also
make for efficiency in production.7 Both school-attendance and childlabor laws should be actively enforced.
7. Growing pressure fo r the break-down of standards o f child-labor
and compulsory school-attendance laws through legislation or ad­
ministrative action must be intelligently met. Pressure should be fore­
seen and met by advance planning and by intelligent analysis of
legal standards in relation to the conditions of work for which the
children are wanted and to the problems that the standards were
designed to meet. Well-directed plans are needed to combat Con­
fusion and thoughtless action. I f careful study does not disclose any
practicable alternative to modification of existing standards, the modi­
fications adequate to meet the need may often be worked out within
^ 0 framework of the law. Any relaxations should be limited to the
duration o f the particular emergency, and safeguards and adequate
administrative controls should be provided.
8. I f child-labor and school-attendance laws are to be more than a
dead letter, law-enforcement agencies, already depleted and over­
worked, must be strengthened.—Along with the current increase in the
employment of children and youth have come widespread reports of
employment contrary to law, particularly of children under 16 years
o f age. Sufficient funds must be appropriated for effective admin­
istration of child-labor and school-attendance laws in the States com­
mensurate with the task created by the greatly increased employment
t Information on legislation may be obtained from the State departments of labor and
from the Children’s Bureau of the U. S. Department of Labor.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

o f young persons under 18 years o f age, and qualified staff necessary
to effective administration must be provided.
Children and young persons themselves must realize that educa­
tion is itself a patriotic duty.—Children and parents should be brought
to understand that in doing their school work well, these young people
are upholding the American tradition just as surely as if they were
fighting in northern Africa or making guns and bullets in a muni­
tions factory. Young people’s patriotic service is to develop to the
fullest degree their capacities for citizenship in a democratic world.
At the same time they may be called upon to participate in voluntary
community programs in which their services are vitally needed.
What guideposts point the way to wise participation of young
persons under 18 in wartime em ploym ent?
Since the beginning of the war Federal agencies and other groups
concerned with the well-being o f the children and youth o f the Nation
have developed plans to protect this reservoir of future manpower.
These plans include the setting up o f specific standards and policies
for the participation of young people in meeting the labor needs of
the Nation with due regard for the essential conservation of the
health and educational opportunities o f youth.
In February 1943 the War Manpower Commission issued a state­
ment of national policy for the employment of boys and girls under
18 that should serve as a guide to all agencies, groups, and indi­
viduals interested both in promoting the welfare o f youth and in
augmenting the effective manpower of the Nation. This statement
of p olicy 8 recognizes not only that many young persons are needed
in the labor force but also that careless and unsupervised use of youth
power is a waste of the most precious resource of the Nation. It
starts from the premise that the first responsibility and obligation of
young people even in wartime is to take full advantage o f their edu­
cational opportunities in order to prepare themselves for war and
post-war services and for the duties o f citizenship. It then proposes
standards to insure that those who enter employment will make the
maximum contribution to manpower needs consistent with the pro­
tection o f their welfare.
In addition to emphasizing the need for observance of State and
Federal laws, this statement o f policy would establish 14 years as the
age minimum for entrance to the hired labor force, 16 years as the
age minimum for factory work, and 18 years as the age minimum for
hazardous work. It would also set up safeguards for keeping youth
in school and preventing excessive part-time employment and would
8 Statement of Policy on Employment of Youth Under 18 Years of Age. Reprint from
The Child, March 1943. Children’s Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D. C

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place special protection around all employment o f boys and girls under
18 years o f age.
Boys and girls 14 years o f age or over in school, under this policy,
should be employed during school hours only if the area or regional
manpower director has determined that temporary labor requirements
o f an emergency character cannot be met by full use o f other available
sources of labor. They should be employed outside school hours only
to the extent that school and work activities involve no undue strain,
with a maximum limit o f 8 hours a day for school and work combined,
at least for those under 16. I f school programs are adjusted to permit
their employment, provision should be made for safeguarding the
educational progress o f both those who go to work and those who do
For boys and girls between 14 and 18 whose employment is essential
to the war effort, it is pointed out that they should engage in work
suitable to their age and strength, avoiding especially occupations
hazardous or detrimental to their health or welfare. The m a xim um
hours o f labor standards specified for these young workers accord with
those generally recognized as making for greatest efficiency for work­
ers o f all ages—a maximum 8-hour day and 6-day week, with certain
specified deviations, and provision for lunch and rest periods. When
the plans for their recruitment involve transportation to and from
work, the total period of work and transportation should not exceed
10 hours a day. The protection o f young workers from night em­
ployment is contemplated by a proposed limitation of employment to
hours not detrimental to health and welfare.
As a measure o f fairness, and to prevent employment of young work­
ers as a means of lessening work opportunities for adults, this policy
calls for paying young workers under 18 the same wages paid adults
for similar job performance. Adequate facilities and safeguards for
health and safety, and safe and adequate means of transportation
whenever necessary to transport young persons to and from work, are
also urged.
For work requiring the child to live away from home, the precautions
proposed include: (1) no recruitment o f children o f 14 and 15 except
in connection with programs o f youth-serving agencies providing close
supervision; ( 2) for minors under 18 recruited for agricultural work,
provision of suitable living conditions, sanitary facilities, and health
protection and supervision; and (3) contact with the United States Em­
ployment Service or such other agencies as may be designated by the
War Manpower Commission by youth leaving home in search of work,
to insure that a specific opening in a legal job is available in a locality
where there are suitable housing arrangements.

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In general, the broad outlines of this blueprint for national policy
issued by the War Manpower Commission are in harmony with a num­
ber o f guides outlined by other national groups. These include:
(1) Program o f Action Adopted by the [Ninth National] Con­
ference [on Labor Legislation], in Résumé of the Proceedings of the
( 2) Statement sent December 31,1942, to State labor commissioners
by Federal Departments concerned with labor and production (War,
Navy, and Labor Departments, War Production Board, War Man­
power Commission, Maritime Commission, and Office o f Defense
(3) Statement o f principles adopted by the Children’s Bureau Gen­
eral Advisory Committee on Protection of Young Workers.10
For further assistance in dealing with employment o f young persons
under 18, State and local groups will find the following publications of
the Children’s Bureau useful :
(1) A Program of State Action developed by the Children’s Bureau
Commission on Children in Wartime, the Office o f Civilian Defense,
and the Office o f Defense Health and Welfare Services. A program
dealing with all phases o f child welfare in wartime.
( 2) Which Jobs For Young Workers?, a series of advisory standards
for employment o f young workers under 18 in war industries; de­
veloped by the Children’s Bureau with the advice of employers, labor
groups, and organizations interested in safety. The standards point
out types o f work suitable for young workers in various war industries
and types in which they should not be engaged because o f special
(3) Guides to Successful Employment o f Non-Farm Youth in W ar­
time Agriculture, prepared by the Children’s Bureau, U. S. Depart­
ment o f Labor, in consultation with the U. S. Department o f Agri­
culture, Office o f Civilian Defense, Office o f Education, War Manpower
Commission, and the Children’s Bureau Subcommittee on Young
Workers in Wartime Agriculture, and approved by these agencies.
•Obtainable from the Division of Labor Standards, Ù. S. Department of Labor Washing­
ton, D. C.
“ Obtainable from the Children’s Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D. C.

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