The Human Machinery of War

The Human Machinery of War: Disability on the Front Lines and the Factory Floor, 1941-1945
For every American military casuality, there were eight industrial casualties on the home front

During the Second World War, the U.S. Armed Forces suffered 1,077,245 military casualties. A total of 405,399 military personnel lost their lives, 291,557 in battle and 113,842 because of disease or other causes. Additionally, 671,846 military personnel suffered non-fatal wounds. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that between 1942 and 1945 some 8,931,900 industrial accidents occurred on the home front. These industrial accidents resulted in deaths, permanent total disabilities, permanent partial disabilities, and temporary total disabilities. This BLS estimate drew on a comprehensive survey of manufacturing, small sample studies of construction industry, data from the Bureau of Mines and the Interstate Commerce Commission, and fragmentary data on agricultural employment. The figure 8 to 1 draws on the BLS's estimates of disabling industrial accidents and total military casualties. While far more military personnel died during the war than civilians in industrial accidents on home front (the BLS estimated that there were 75,400 deadly or permanently totally disabling accidents between 1942 and 1945), American industry claimed more total casualties than the war.

Military and industrial statistics were drawn from: Scott Sigmund Gartner, “Military personnel and casualties, by war and branch of service: 1775–1991,” Table Ed1-5 in Historical Statistics of the United States, Earliest Times to the Present: Millennial Edition, eds. Susan B. Carter, Scott Sigmund Gartner, Michael R. Haines, Alan L. Olmstead, Richard Sutch, and Gavin Wright (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006); “Estimated Number of Disabling Industrial Injuries, By Major Industry Group: 1942 to 1946,” in Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1947 (Washington: G.P.O., 1947), 216.

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