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War Economy

Employment Opportunities

Employment Opportunities

The general economic situation had an important influence on the progress of re-establishment of men in industry. It was quite apparent from the reduction in numbers of unemployed, the increase in vacancies in industry, and the clamour by employers for a more speedy reduction in the numbers of men serving in New Zealand, that, initially at least, there would be less difficulty in finding suitable employment for men who were demobilised than there had been after World War I.

As it turned out, the shortage of labour generally was to continue, and to make the problem of rehabilitation comparatively simple. The Rehabilitation Board, in its 1947 report, said:2

‘The continued buoyancy of demand for labour in industry, together with a marked and commendable inclination of exservicemen to “settle down” in employment within a reasonable time after discharge from the Forces, has rendered the problem of placement of ex-servicemen a comparatively light one.’

page 505

At this time 95,000 out of 167,000 demobilised ex-servicemen had been self-placed.1

Where servicemen had to be found employment, the newly-emerged National Employment Service2 acted as agent of the Rehabilitation Board. Of more direct concern to the Board was the employment of disabled ex-servicemen, who were placed through the agency of the Disabled Servicemen's Re-Establishment League.

Where necessary, certain expenses incurred in finding employment might be met by the Board, including fares, travelling allowances, costs of removal of furniture and effects up to £25, and a separation allowance if a man was obliged to maintain two homes.

Substantial numbers of women and older people, who had joined the labour force during the war, resigned as servicemen returned to work. However, there remained plenty of jobs for all who wanted to work. Even when general demobilisation was complete, factories, unable to get enough workers, were still paying in overtime £10 million a year more than before the war.

2 Parliamentary Paper H–18, p. 14.

1 J. W. Williams, The New Zealand Economy in War and Reconstruction, p. 59.

2 Previously the National Service Department. It amalgamated with the Labour Department to form the Department of Labour and Employment in April 1947. The name was changed to Labour Department in 1954.