The cost of living in 1940Car: $800
Gasoline: 18 cents/gal
House: $6,550
Bread: 8 cents/loaf
Milk: 34 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Stock Market: 131
Average Annual Salary: $1,900
Minimum Wage: 30 cents per hour
The cost of living in 1949Car: $1,650
Gasoline: 26 cents/gal
House: $14,500
Bread: 14 cents/loaf
Milk: 84 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Stock Market: 200
Average Annual Salary: $3,600
Minimum Wage: 40 cents per hour

The Great Depression continued into the early part of the forties decade.

We were getting close to war anyway, but it was the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor that hurried us to war, abandoning our isolationism.

Only when our government  began rationing, recruited 6 million defense workers, drafted 6 million soldiers, and ran massive deficits to fight World War II, did the Great Depression finally end.

War production pulled us out. The historic high for unemployment was 21.2 percent during the Great Depression; the historic low was 1.2 percent in 1944, during World War II.

Pent-up consumer demand fueled exceptionally strong economic growth in the post war period. The automobile industry successfully converted back to producing cars, and new industries such as aviation and electronics grew by leaps and bounds. A housing boom, stimulated in part by easily affordable mortgages for returning members of the military, added to the expansion. The nation’s gross national product rose from about $200,000 million in 1940 to $300,000 million in 1950 and to more than $500,000 million in 1960. At the same time, the jump in postwar births, known as the “baby boom,” increased the number of consumers. More and more Americans joined the middle class.

Economic aid flowed to war-ravaged European countries under the Marshall Plan, which also helped maintain markets for numerous U.S. goods. And the government itself recognized its central role in economic affairs. The Employment Act of 1946 stated as government policy “to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.”

Be sure to visit the 1940s timeline: HERE A brief history of World War II: HERE

Word War II posters, click on any photo below for a better look. [photosmash=]