Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
KDF33
Member
Posts: 988
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by KDF33 » 07 Jul 2021 01:35

Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Jul 2021 01:34
Probably because of a general lack of data. Overall, 1941-1945 the "Germans" (quite a bit of it was in non-German yards) produced about 288,000 tons of Hansa and KT, so 0.847% of American production rather than the OP's WAG of "0". Huge difference. Tremendous. :D
I initially assumed the '24' was for 24 cargo ships, overall.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 01:36

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 00:35

Why?
Because I misread the chart and thought Ellis was giving the number of merchant ships as opposed to the tonnage. And in my hasty research I found only 24 German long range transports that set sail during the war.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 988
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by KDF33 » 07 Jul 2021 01:37

historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 01:36
Because I misread the chart and thought Ellis was giving the number of merchant ships as opposed to the tonnage. And in my hasty research I found only 24 German long range transports that set sail during the war.
Makes sense. That was my initial impression, as alluded to above.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 01:38

To be clear, Ellis doesn't give any figure for German merchant shipping. He just leaves a question mark in Germany's column.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4384
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jul 2021 03:57

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 01:35
Richard Anderson wrote:
07 Jul 2021 01:34
Probably because of a general lack of data. Overall, 1941-1945 the "Germans" (quite a bit of it was in non-German yards) produced about 288,000 tons of Hansa and KT, so 0.847% of American production rather than the OP's WAG of "0". Huge difference. Tremendous. :D
I initially assumed the '24' was for 24 cargo ships, overall.
Yeah, its a bit odd on Ellis' part. At the minimum there were 58 ships completed.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 04:09

How does the total tonnage of war material produced by America compare with the total tonnage produced by Germany. From all the data presented, Germany didn't come close to 57%.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 988
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by KDF33 » 07 Jul 2021 04:38

historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:09
How does the total tonnage of war material produced by America compare with the total tonnage produced by Germany. From all the data presented, Germany didn't come close to 57%.
I don't know in terms of tonnage - it wouldn't be the appropriate metric anyway, if only for aircraft. In terms of value, however, Harrison provides the following:

Germany / U.S., billions of $ at 1944 U.S. munitions prices:

1940: 6 / 1.5 = 4.00-to-1
1941: 6 / 4.5 = 1.33-to-1
1942: 8.5 / 20 = 0.43-to-1
1943: 13.5 / 38 = 0.36-to-1
1944: 17 / 42 = 0.40-to-1

I would also dispute the value of the '57% figure' - on two counts. First, industrial workers constitute a much wider category than armaments workers. Second, comparing peak with peak creates distortion - it is much better to compare yearly averages with each other. If we do this, we get:

Germany / U.S., yearly average for workers employed in industry:

1942: 9,882,000 / 18,000,000 = 55%
1943: 10,673,500 / 18,500,000 = 58%
1944: 10,900,200 / 17,500,000 = 62%

Again, this category is much wider than 'armaments workers'. A better comparison would be to compare the number of workers employed in the belligerents' respective 'Group I' industries - there would still be some distortion, but far less than with the above.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 04:44

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:38
historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:09
How does the total tonnage of war material produced by America compare with the total tonnage produced by Germany. From all the data presented, Germany didn't come close to 57%.
I don't know in terms of tonnage - it wouldn't be the appropriate metric anyway, if only for aircraft. In terms of value, however, Harrison provides the following:

Germany / U.S., billions of $ at 1944 U.S. munitions prices:

1940: 6 / 1.5 = 4.00-to-1
1941: 6 / 4.5 = 1.33-to-1
1942: 8.5 / 20 = 0.43-to-1
1943: 13.5 / 38 = 0.36-to-1
1944: 17 / 42 = 0.40-to-1

I would also dispute the value of the '57% figure' - on two counts. First, industrial workers constitute a much wider category than armaments workers. Second, comparing peak with peak creates distortion - it is much better to compare yearly averages with each other. If we do this, we get:

Germany / U.S., yearly average for workers employed in industry:

1942: 9,882,000 / 18,000,000 = 55%
1943: 10,673,500 / 18,500,000 = 58%
1944: 10,900,200 / 17,500,000 = 62%

Again, this category is much wider than 'armaments workers'. A better comparison would be to compare the number of workers employed in the belligerents' respective 'Group I' industries - there would still be some distortion, but far less than with the above.
My initial post compared Group I Industry and included output of key industrial items - steel, rubber, aluminum. I compared peak labor to peak labor for each country, and peak annual output of each item. Looking at it year by year is helpful, so thank you for providing that information.

Nevertheless, the volume of industrial output of the United States appears to dwarf that of Germany. Germany does not appear to come close to 57% of the USA's industrial output (or even 55%).

KDF33
Member
Posts: 988
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by KDF33 » 07 Jul 2021 06:00

historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:44
My initial post compared Group I Industry and included output of key industrial items - steel, rubber, aluminum. I compared peak labor to peak labor for each country, and peak annual output of each item. Looking at it year by year is helpful, so thank you for providing that information.
I'm confused - I reread your OP on this thread, and it doesn't appear to compare 'Group I Industry', but rather overall industry. For reference's sake, the USSBS defines 'Group I' as the 'metal, chemical and allied industries'. I lack U.S. figures for each year, but for Germany the USSBS provides a detailed breakdown.

Germany, 'Group I' / overall industry workforce, yearly averages:

1942: 5,780,667 / 9,882,000 = 58% of the industrial workforce
1943: 6,242,667 / 10,673,500 = 58% of the industrial workforce
1944: 6,579,600 / 10,900,200 = 60% of the industrial workforce

The balance of industry is made up of mining, sawmills, paper and assorted materials, building materials and construction, as well as light industry.

Data is calculated from the USSBS, Appendix Table 9.

For the U.S., using the table you posted in the other thread, and combining it with the data provided by the NBER, we can get figures for 1943. We can (at least) do a comparison for 1943:

'Group I' workforce, Germany / U.S., yearly average 1943: 6,242,667 / 12,008,000 = 52%

Now we can compare productivity for 1943. Data is armaments production value (Harrison) divided by average Group I workforce:

Germany: $13,500,000,000 / 6,242,667 workers = $2,163
United States: $38,000,000,000 / 12,008,000 workers = $3,165

This would suggest Germany having 68% of U.S. productivity in 1943. To figure 'fundamental' productivity, however, one would also need to factor in the impact on Germany of (1) strategic bombing and (2) disruptions caused by the draft of German workers (501,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43) and their replacement by slave labor (1,024,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43).

Source for German labor data is found here. Data is for basic materials and metalworking industry, however, which is a slightly larger category (by ~19%) than 'Group I'.
historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:44
Nevertheless, the volume of industrial output of the United States appears to dwarf that of Germany. Germany does not appear to come close to 57% of the USA's industrial output (or even 55%).
I don't think the data supports the idea of the U.S. 'dwarfing' Germany in industrial output, at least not when related to their respective labor inputs. Factoring in the aforementioned issues deflating German production, my best guess is that the U.S. had, ceteris paribus, ~125% of the war-industrial productivity of Germany.

User avatar
TheMarcksPlan
Member
Posts: 2798
Joined: 15 Jan 2019 22:32
Location: USA

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 07 Jul 2021 06:12

KDF33 wrote:To figure 'fundamental' productivity, however, one would also need to factor in the impact on Germany of (1) strategic bombing and (2) disruptions caused by the draft of German workers (501,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43) and their replacement by slave labor (1,024,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43)
Boming effects to include pre-44 "intra-site" dispersal, which USSBS highlights as the main flow arrangement difference between Germany and US and ascribes significance.

Then we'd have to compare how many Atlantic and Eastern walls each side built (Regelbau items for those fortifications being non-armaments industrial products), how much rebar for reinforced-concrete factories each side built, how many civilian bomb shelters, how much basic field kit each side built. Inter alia.

That would be counterbalanced - to what degree I can't say - by greater US civilian industrial output. And greater US investment in, e.g., naval base infrastructure (e.g. massive floating drydocks).

French portion of the Atlantic Wall cost 4.4bil RM.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 19:10

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 06:00
historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:44
My initial post compared Group I Industry and included output of key industrial items - steel, rubber, aluminum. I compared peak labor to peak labor for each country, and peak annual output of each item. Looking at it year by year is helpful, so thank you for providing that information.
I'm confused - I reread your OP on this thread, and it doesn't appear to compare 'Group I Industry', but rather overall industry. For reference's sake, the USSBS defines 'Group I' as the 'metal, chemical and allied industries'. I lack U.S. figures for each year, but for Germany the USSBS provides a detailed breakdown.

Germany, 'Group I' / overall industry workforce, yearly averages:

1942: 5,780,667 / 9,882,000 = 58% of the industrial workforce
1943: 6,242,667 / 10,673,500 = 58% of the industrial workforce
1944: 6,579,600 / 10,900,200 = 60% of the industrial workforce

The balance of industry is made up of mining, sawmills, paper and assorted materials, building materials and construction, as well as light industry.

Data is calculated from the USSBS, Appendix Table 9.

For the U.S., using the table you posted in the other thread, and combining it with the data provided by the NBER, we can get figures for 1943. We can (at least) do a comparison for 1943:

'Group I' workforce, Germany / U.S., yearly average 1943: 6,242,667 / 12,008,000 = 52%

Now we can compare productivity for 1943. Data is armaments production value (Harrison) divided by average Group I workforce:

Germany: $13,500,000,000 / 6,242,667 workers = $2,163
United States: $38,000,000,000 / 12,008,000 workers = $3,165

This would suggest Germany having 68% of U.S. productivity in 1943. To figure 'fundamental' productivity, however, one would also need to factor in the impact on Germany of (1) strategic bombing and (2) disruptions caused by the draft of German workers (501,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43) and their replacement by slave labor (1,024,000 between 30.9.42 - 30.11.43).

Source for German labor data is found here. Data is for basic materials and metalworking industry, however, which is a slightly larger category (by ~19%) than 'Group I'.
historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 04:44
Nevertheless, the volume of industrial output of the United States appears to dwarf that of Germany. Germany does not appear to come close to 57% of the USA's industrial output (or even 55%).
I don't think the data supports the idea of the U.S. 'dwarfing' Germany in industrial output, at least not when related to their respective labor inputs. Factoring in the aforementioned issues deflating German production, my best guess is that the U.S. had, ceteris paribus, ~125% of the war-industrial productivity of Germany.
Here are screenshots of the 3 sources I used for industrial employment in Germany, from Harrison, NBER and USSBS respectively:
Group I Industry Harrison.png
NBER Industry.png
USSBS GER Industry.png
Harrison counts 19 million U.S. workers in Group I industry and 14 million Germans in 1943. NBER counts 19 million U.S. workers in "Industry" and about 11 million Germans, which is about the same as USSBS. So I went with 19 million American industrial workers and 11 million German workers as an approximation of peak industrial employment in both countries.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 19:16

To get a sense of overall industrial output of Germany and the United States, the first three items on the initial chart I posted in this thread give a good approximation:
WW2 Labor productivity 1.png
As can be seen, the United States dwarfed Germany in peak annual steel, rubber and aluminum production:

82 million tons of steel (USA) vs 31 million tons (GER)
800,000 tons of synthetic rubber (USA) vs 117,000 (GER)
1,252,000 tons of aluminum (USA) vs 432,000 (GER)

The USA produced more than two and a half times as much steel as Germany.

The USA produced more than 6 and a half times as much synthetic rubber as Germany.

The USA produced more than 2 and a half times as much aluminum as Germany.

Despite having less than double the amount of industrial workers as Germany.

In short, U.S. industrial production and U.S. industrial labor productivity dwarfed that of Germany.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

KDF33
Member
Posts: 988
Joined: 17 Nov 2012 01:16

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by KDF33 » 07 Jul 2021 20:51

historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 19:10
Harrison counts 19 million U.S. workers in Group I industry and 14 million Germans in 1943. NBER counts 19 million U.S. workers in "Industry" and about 11 million Germans, which is about the same as USSBS. So I went with 19 million American industrial workers and 11 million German workers as an approximation of peak industrial employment in both countries.
Harrison doesn't 'count 19 million workers in Group I industry'. He shows that, in 1943, 19.0 percent of the U.S. workforce was employed in Group I industry, i.e. 12 million persons.

Thus, the best comparison is the following:

Germany: $13,500,000,000 / 6,242,667 workers = $2,163
United States: $38,000,000,000 / 12,008,000 workers = $3,165

As I mentioned previously:

'This would suggest Germany having 68% of U.S. productivity in 1943. To figure 'fundamental' productivity, however, one would also need to factor in the impact on Germany of (1) strategic bombing and (2) disruptions caused by the draft of German workers (...) and their replacement by slave labor. (...) Factoring in the aforementioned issues deflating German production, my best guess is that the U.S. had, ceteris paribus, ~125% of the war-industrial productivity of Germany.'

historygeek2021
Member
Posts: 433
Joined: 17 Dec 2020 06:23
Location: America

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by historygeek2021 » 07 Jul 2021 22:11

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 20:51
historygeek2021 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 19:10
Harrison counts 19 million U.S. workers in Group I industry and 14 million Germans in 1943. NBER counts 19 million U.S. workers in "Industry" and about 11 million Germans, which is about the same as USSBS. So I went with 19 million American industrial workers and 11 million German workers as an approximation of peak industrial employment in both countries.
Harrison doesn't 'count 19 million workers in Group I industry'. He shows that, in 1943, 19.0 percent of the U.S. workforce was employed in Group I industry, i.e. 12 million persons.

Thus, the best comparison is the following:

Germany: $13,500,000,000 / 6,242,667 workers = $2,163
United States: $38,000,000,000 / 12,008,000 workers = $3,165

As I mentioned previously:

'This would suggest Germany having 68% of U.S. productivity in 1943. To figure 'fundamental' productivity, however, one would also need to factor in the impact on Germany of (1) strategic bombing and (2) disruptions caused by the draft of German workers (...) and their replacement by slave labor. (...) Factoring in the aforementioned issues deflating German production, my best guess is that the U.S. had, ceteris paribus, ~125% of the war-industrial productivity of Germany.'
Thanks. It wasn't clear to me whether the chart was in percentages or raw numbers, but you've convinced me it is in percentages.

Harrison (Economics of WWII, page 104) gives gives a figure for U.S. workers in Group I industry in 1943 as 11,084. USSBS Appendix Table 15 gives the number of German workers in Group I industry in 1943 as 6,863.

So the number of workers in Group I Industry in Germany in 1943 was 61.9% of the number of workers in Group I Industry in the United States.

Where are you getting your valuation for total armaments production by each country?

Since Group I Industry is more than just armaments (it also includes steel, aluminum and synthetic rubber), it would still seem to be the case that looking at the gross weight of steel, rubber and aluminum is a good basis for comparing the total industrial output of each country. In this case, the industrial output of the USA dwarfed that of Germany, despite Germany having 62% of the industrial workers of the United States.

Edit: typo
Last edited by historygeek2021 on 08 Jul 2021 03:36, edited 1 time in total.

Richard Anderson
Member
Posts: 4384
Joined: 01 Jan 2016 21:21
Location: Bremerton, Washington

Re: Superior productivity of American industrial workers

Post by Richard Anderson » 07 Jul 2021 22:25

KDF33 wrote:
07 Jul 2021 20:51
Harrison doesn't 'count 19 million workers in Group I industry'. He shows that, in 1943, 19.0 percent of the U.S. workforce was employed in Group I industry, i.e. 12 million persons.
How is 19% of 36,527,000 "i.e. 12 million persons"? Why isn't it 6,940,130? Harrison's poorly defined "Group 1 Industry" has to be a subset of the NBER "Industry" doesn't it? Which would mean it is a subset of 10,998,000.

Of course, the real problem is trying to compare two different labor accounting systems calculated at what were probably slightly different time periods. M-H in P.005, Appendix I does break down the civilian labor force in "1943" (end of the German fiscal year of war year?)

Industry - 11,126,000
Agriculture and forestry - 9,008,000
Transport and signal communications - 6,500,000
Administration - 2,399,000
Foreign workers - 4,636,000
PW - 1,623,000
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

Return to “Economy”