Hours of Work After the War

July 5, 1944

Report Outline
House of Employment in Peace and War
Work-Hour Policies of Roosevelt Administration
Working Hours and National Productivity
War Efficiency and Postwar Working Hours
Special Focus

House of Employment in Peace and War

Plans for Postwar Return to 40-Hour Week

Prospects for a quick return to shorter working hours after the war have been strengthened by developments which indicate that the period between the end of hostilities in Europe and in Asia will be too short to permit a gradual transition from a war to a peace economy. Cutbacks in war production during the first six months of 1944 were somewhat smaller than had been anticipated and shortages of manpower still exist in many areas, but a downward trend in total employment is nevertheless in evidence. The Department of Commerce reported, June 20, that unemployment among war workers had increased at an average rate of 100,000 a month since Jan. 1, and unemployment among other workers at a rate of 50,000 a month. The Department of Labor reported, June 25, that “a shorter average work-week, coupled with a decline in employment, resulted in 15&sol12; million fewer hours in manufacturing time in the mid-week of April as compared with the mid-week of March.”

The program of the federal government to prevent an unmanageable acceleration of the unemployment trend when war production comes to a halt includes a general return to the basic 40-hour week established in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and prompt withdrawal by the states of all wartime concessions which have permitted employment of women and minors for more than eight hours a day.

Overtime Employment of Labor in War Period

No deviation has been permitted during the war from the requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act that time and a half be paid for all working time in excess of 40 hours a week. The time-and-a-half provision was intended to apply a punitive rate of payment to overtime work but it has not prevented a steady lengthening of the industrial work-week. Hours of work have increased during the war both in war industries and in industries turning out goods for civilian use. In areas of labor shortage a 48-hour work-week has been made mandatory by the War Manpower Commission.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Work Week
Jun. 12, 1987  Part-Time Work
Feb. 28, 1973  Leisure Business
Apr. 19, 1972  Productivity and the New Work Ethic
Aug. 11, 1971  Four-Day Week
Dec. 09, 1964  Leisure in the Great Society
Jun. 13, 1962  Shorter Hours of Work
Feb. 17, 1960  Sunday Selling
May 08, 1957  Four-Day Week
Dec. 03, 1954  Shorter Work Week
Mar. 05, 1948  Hours of Work and Full Production
Jul. 05, 1944  Hours of Work After the War
Nov. 16, 1942  Hours of Work in Wartime
Jan. 17, 1936  The Thirty-Hour Week
Mar. 10, 1932  The Five-Day Week and the Six-Hour Day
May 23, 1929  The Five-Day Week in Industry
Labor Standards and Practices