Levels of Production
Levels of Production
In spite of exceptions, such as railway transport and electricity supply, the general tendency was for services to the public and to industry to be reduced during the war, while the rate of production of commodities increased more slowly than in normal times.
Apart from hospitals and some of the special services already discussed, most services received comparatively low priority for manpower purposes during the war and, since service industries tend to be labour intensive,1 this usually curtailed their activities fairly effectively.
1 That is, they require a comparatively large amount of labour (and often a comparatively small amount of capital) to produce a given output.
In August 1945 there were still 21,600 Grade I men1 aged under 36 who were withheld from military service on occupational grounds.2 Only 7 ½ per cent of these men were in servicing industries,3 but these same industries normally employed no less than a quarter of the entire male labour force.
The National Service Department listed wholesale and retail trade, land and estate and other agencies, finance and insurance among industries which were not declared essential. Of the non-essential industries the Department wrote:4
‘These industries and services all play their part in the economy of the Dominion and in the life of our people, and have varying degrees of importance. It was not necessary, however, to grant them the protection of a declaration of essentiality, as in practically all cases the production or service could be curtailed if necessary without impeding the war effort. It was the aim of the Department throughout, in the administration of manpower controls in these industries and services to permit them, as far as possible, to maintain sufficient staff to continue to function economically and thus be in a position, after the war, to rehabilitate employees who had entered the Forces. The Department assisted these industries and services from time to time by arranging the release of home servicemen and home servicewomen from the Forces where such action was deemed to be warranted. Armed Forces Appeal Boards in dealing with appeals, also permitted the retention from military services of limited numbers of Category “A” men holding key positions and a more substantial proportion of non-Category “A” men.5 The engagement of part-time labour, married women, and elderly persons was a prominent feature of the employment situation in these industries and services during the war period.’
1 Men medically fit for service.
3 For purposes of this comparison, electricity supply and transport and communications are excluded from services.
4 H–11a, 1946, p. 57.
5 Category ‘A’ men were those who satisfied the age, fitness and other requirements for overseas service. (Author's footnote.)
Chart 75 shows changes in the volume of production of goods.
Production changes in particular industries have been discussed in other chapters. Manufacturing–production, supported by an increasing labour force, rose progressively from year to year, but farm production fluctuated and, though tending to increase, was largely responsible for the occasional downturns in total production of goods. Building and other production also fluctuated.
Between 1938–39 and 1944–45 manufacturing output increased at an average rate of 4 3/4 per cent a year, farm production increased at 2 1/4 per cent a year,1 while building and other production declined.2 Production of all commodities increased 2 1/4 per cent a year on average.
1 Dairy factories, freezing works and other industries processing farm products are included with farming, for purposes of this analysis. On pp. 177–80 they were left with manufacturing.
1 p. 424.