Compulsory Labor Service

February 17, 1942

Report Outline
Draft Registrations and Manpower Inventory
Labor Controls, 1917–18; Universal Draft Plan
Problem of Allocating Labor in Present War
Labor Controls Among Foreign Belligerents

Draft Registrations and Manpower Inventory

Registration, February 16, of men aged 20 to 44, inclusive, not previously registered, is to be followed at an unannounced date by registration of men aged 18 and 19 and 45 to 64, inclusive. Under the terms of the Selective Training and Service Act, as revised December 20, 1941, liability to conscription for military service is restricted to the men from 20 to 44 years of age. Registration of the younger and older men will be carried out to provide a more complete census of the nation's manpower, through which will be ascertained not only the number of men in those age groups but their qualifications for civilian service contributory to the war effort.

Registrants of 18 and 19 years of age will become liable for military service when they become 20 years of age. The law at present imposes no compulsion on men above 44 years of age, beyond the obligation to register. However, data on occupational skills and training gathered by means of questionnaires from that group, as well as from registrants in other age groups, will comprise information of value in determining, from the standpoint of manpower, the nation's capacities for war production. Furnishing a guide to effective distribution of manpower as between the military and the industrial forces, such an inventory will be of assistance in developing improved deferment policies for men liable to conscription and can be used as a basis for efforts to direct the labor of other registrants into those channels where it will be of most service in forwarding war production.

Labor Conscription and Organization of Manpower

The latter efforts must now be confined to persuasion. The experience of other belligerents indicates, however, that the time may come when compulsion will have to be applied. Brigadier General Lewis B. Hershey, Director of Selective Service, testifying, February 3, before the special House committee investigating defense migration, headed by Rep. Tolan (D., Calif.), conceded that conscription of labor at some future date was possible, although no plans for it had yet been made. He declared that the war required every man to be put “n the place where he can render the maximum effort.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Military Draft
Aug. 19, 2005  Draft Debates
Jan. 11, 1991  Should the U.S. Reinstate the Draft?
Jun. 13, 1980  Draft Registration
Jun. 20, 1975  Volunteer Army
Nov. 17, 1971  Rebuilding the Army
Nov. 18, 1970  Expatriate Americans
Mar. 20, 1968  Resistance to Military Service
Jun. 22, 1966  Draft Law Revision
Jan. 20, 1965  Reserve Forces and the Draft
Feb. 14, 1962  Military Manpower Policies
Jun. 03, 1954  Military Manpower
Sep. 24, 1952  National Health and Manpower Resources
Oct. 24, 1950  Training for War Service
Aug. 21, 1950  Manpower Controls
Aug. 13, 1945  Peacetime Conscription
Sep. 09, 1944  The Voting Age
Apr. 15, 1944  Universal Military Service
Feb. 17, 1942  Compulsory Labor Service
Jun. 11, 1941  Revision of the Draft System
Aug. 14, 1940  Conscription in the United States
Apr. 24, 1939  Conscription for Military Service
Labor Standards and Practices
U.S. at War: World War II
War and Conflict
World War II